By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Those who followed the ins and outs of the Mookie Betts trade rumors and reports had grown quite familiar with the name Alex Verdugo. So when the deal finally went down, it was no surprise to see that Verdugo would be heading to Boston.
Yet when it was reported that Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol would be joining the Red Sox, the news was one with a collective ” … WHO?” from the people of the greater Boston area.
Fortunately it’s the internet age, where ignorance need not last very long. Here are the details on both players heading to Boston in the three-team deal that sent Betts and David Price to Los Angeles.
Alex Verdugo – Outfielder
MLB Experience: 158 games over three years
Verdugo was the top prospect in the Dodgers’ system, ranking as the sport’s 35th-best prospect by Baseball America prior to last season.
Verdugo actually started the year on the big league roster and remained there until early August, when an oblique strain sent him to the IL. He showed notable strides from his first taste of the big leagues, when he compiled a .240 average and .669 OPS in 111 MLB plate appearances in 2017 and 2018.
In his last season at Triple-A in 2018, he batted .329 with an .863 OPS, hitting 19 doubles and 10 home runs and driving in 44 runs.
He’s shown decent if not overwhelming speed, stealing 44 bases on 60 attempts in the minors and successfully stealing four bases on six attempts in the majors.
Defensively, Verdugo has shown versatility, playing at all three outfield spots. In his major league career, he’s started 61 games in center field, 20 games in right field, and 21 games in left field.
The MLB profile of Verdugo in 2018 detailed his strong arm, among other things:
One of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, Verdugo recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone better than most players his age. He uses the whole field, repeatedly barreling balls with a quick left-handed stroke geared for line drives. Though he homered just seven times in 132 games last season, his hitting ability, bat speed and strength should translate into average power if he adds some loft to his swing.
As good as he is in the batter’s box, Verdugo’s best tool actually is his plus-plus arm. Despite average speed, he has spent much of his pro career in center field, where his instincts help him get the job done. Scouts are split on whether he can handle center on a daily basis in the Majors, but no one doubts that his arm would play in right.
While Verdugo is not exactly Mookie Betts, he’ll be under team control for the next five seasons, as he won’t hit free agency until 2025.
That Verdugo hustle. pic.twitter.com/fNLkzcejF3
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 25, 2019
Alex Verdugo getting things started early. pic.twitter.com/sYgGMFLkmf
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 31, 2019
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 28, 2018
ALEX. VERDUGO. pic.twitter.com/PWr9xAwE2Z
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 25, 2019
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 19, 2019
The Dodgers’ inclusion of Verdugo in the trade helps explain why the Red Sox will reportedly pay close to $50 million of the remaining $96 million on David Price’s contract.
Brusdar Graterol – Pitcher
Throws – Right
MLB Experience: 10 games
Start here with the top line: Brusdar throws gas.
At 6-foot-1 and 265 pounds, the Venezuelan has limited big league experience but solid stats during his minor league career.
In 2019, Graterol spent most of 2019 in Double-A, where he posted a 1.71 ERA, a 6-0 record and a 1.006 WHIP in 12 appearances, nine of which were starts. He struck out 50 batters — and walked 21 — over 52.2 innings.
In a limited sample at Triple-A, though, the results weren’t quite the same. He pitched four times for Rochester, compiling a 5.06 ERA and 1.125 WHIP, striking out seven batters in 5.1 innings.
In 10 big league relief appearances in 2019 for Minnesota, Graterol allowed five runs on 10 hits in just 9.2 innings, good for a 4.66 ERA and 1.241 WHIP. He did record 10 strikeouts with just two walks in the majors.
Graterol did get some postseason experience in October, pitching a clean inning in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. He struck out two of the three batters he faced (Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin) in the loss for Minnesota.
Clearly, the young pitcher is not a finished product. But he physically offers some enticing tools. The task this year will be figuring out his role as either a starter or a reliever.
Graterol has huge velo, so an obvious chance at plus or plus-plus fastball, a chance for a plus slider, and a functional changeup. One evaluator sees him as having the ceiling of a starter who could be a No. 3 or better; and there's a floor of a late-innings arm or opener.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) February 5, 2020
MLB Pipeline has the following scouting report:
Graterol’s stuff continues to get better the more he matures and the further removed from [2016 Tommy John] surgery he gets. His fastball touches triple digits and will often sit in the 96-98 mph range, with an ability to maintain velocity deep into starts. Throwing with plenty of sink, Graterol misses bats and gets a ton of ground-ball outs off of his fastball. When he committed to throw the harder version of his slider, in the 87-89 mph range, it trended toward plus, but he would back off of it at times. Continued separation between that and his slower curve will help, as will further refinement of his changeup.
The right-hander filled up the strike zone in the Midwest League and was still pretty consistent up a level as a teenager, pointing to perhaps better-than-average control in the future. His stuff, command and strength all add to a big up arrow next to his name, with a future as a frontline starter a distinct possibility.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 5, 2020
Have a debut, Brusdar!
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 1, 2019
101 mph sinker pic.twitter.com/VjAn1Of44a
— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) February 5, 2020
— Jeff (@MNTwinsZealot) February 5, 2020
With very little MLB service time, Graterol will be under Red Sox control until 2026.