As of last winter, Shandler's* Baseball HQ outfit gave the following on Nick Wells:
- 3/4 stars fastball (86-92 MPH)
- 3/4 stars curve (77 MPH)
- 1/4 star changeup
- Grade 8E = 10% shot to be an above-average ML'er
And the text commentary,
- "Quick-armed" SP with long development in front of him
- Lean frame (6-5, 175) that projects to hotter fastball
- Strong delivery
- Potential "plus" curve ball "with nice depth"
- One to watch
Last week, he was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week after firing a 6-inning shutout* with two hits, no runs and 8 K's. He just turned 19 and has a Three True Outcomes of 31 strikeouts, 11 BB and 4 homers in 32 innings pitched, so 8.7 / 3.1 / 1.1. Billy Beane would be kewl with a gangly lefthander at this slash line, but Baseball America wasn't kewl with putting Wells into its "Top 15 Jays aged 25 and under" list.
26-year-old Rob Rasmussen has had 12.1 innings with the Jays the last two years, with a 10.2 / 5.1 / 0.7 jumpoff. Here are his pitch types: 93 MPH fastball and either a lefty curve (2014) or a lefty power slider (2015). By the look of things, the Jays had just swapped out his starter's 4-pitch arsenal for a conventional LOOGY arsenal fastball-fastball-slider approach.
Here he is grounding out David Ortiz in his ML debut last year.
Jake Brentz is a 20-year old lefty in the same rookie league, minus the production. Don't even ask about his statline. Nor whether he hit BaseballHQ's radar for this year.
Interestingly, he shows up on YouTube with a Mike Montgomery throwing motion (couldn't find Wells anywhere).
Perfect Game said this going into 2014:
Projected Draft Round: 1-2 (fell to 11th round due to signability - Dr D)
We’ll put this in the most simple manner possible. Left handed pitcher Jake Brentz is one of the more unique prospects, with one of the most unique resumes, that has come across the high school baseball prospect scene in the last two decades.
Brentz was recently moved up to the No. 8 position in the Perfect Game 2013 class rankings. The Perfect Game staff takes class rankings very seriously as an evaluation of our own opinion on the relative merits of a particular player. The next five players in the rankings are Reese McGuire, Jon Denney, Justin Williams, Ian Clarkin and Trey Ball, which pretty much says what needs to be said about what Perfect Game thinks of this Missouri based left-hander’s potential.
.... and that he "recently set a record for a LH" by hitting 97 on the radar gun at one of their events. JaysJournal.com has a nice deep article on him, claiming that he sits 95 MPH and getting up to 96-97 MPH:
With Brentz right now it’s all about the big fastball, sitting in the mid 90’s and getting up to 96 or 97mph. Coming from a left-hander thats the sort of fastball you can dream on, he is also working on a curve and a change-up but both secondary pitches are still along ways away from being a consistent weapon in his arsenal.
Risk, Outlook and ETA
Brentz is the definition of a high risk high reward draft pick, although some of that “risk was mitigated by him being picked in the 11th round. While the projectable frame and big fastball from the left side are all things an organization dreams of in a pitching prospect there are still a sea of question marks surrounding his trip to the major leagues. With Brentz being only 18 years old and new to being a pitcher his secondary pitches as well as his command, consistency and delivery are all extremely raw at the moment. Putting an ETA on Brentz at this time would be foolish as he still has a load of development ahead of him over the next few years, however if his secondary pitches can be developed he has a ridiculously high ceiling and could be a top of the rotation arm for the Jays way down the line.
This is what they were saying about the minor-league Randy Johnson back in the day, that he had nothing except the huge fastball but --- > the sheer velocity could get him to the HOF if he could ever harness it.
So, if we're trying to make sense of the deal, the trade looks to be sort of a poor-man's grab at a Randy Johnson / CC Sabathia lotto ticket. With an ML-ready (mediocre) reliever to replace Lowe for the here and now, and a rookie-league LHP starter that the M's liked into the bargain.
So the M's are calling Uncle on 2015, as they should be doing after the DBacks series. Looks to me like the Blue Jays wanted Mark Lowe pretty bad. Don't blame 'em. They're +100 runs differential with a .500 record and they gotta be thirsty for some results.