Joe Blanton Trade: Scouting Reports

On Thursday, the Oakland A's pulled the trigger on a deal that sent right-hander Joe Blanton to the Philadelphia Phillies for three prospects. Scout.com's Philly Baseball News has been scouting all three prospects since they became professional players. Get the scoop inside on all three prospects.

The Trade

Oakland sends RHP Joe Blanton to Philadelphia for 2B Adrian Cardenas, LHP Josh Outman and OF Matt Spencer

The Prospects

Adrian Cardenas: Cardenas was ranked as the Phillies' number two prospect by Scout.com at the start of the season. He was the Phillies' supplemental first round pick in 2006 out of Monsignor Pace High School in South Florida. He was a shortstop at the start of his career, but was moved to second base, where he became one of the top second base prospects in baseball.

Only 20 years old, Cardenas is already playing at the High-A level. In 67 games for the Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League, Cardenas hit .309 with four homers, 23 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and an 818 OPS. He missed some time earlier this year with a back injury.

Before the start of the season, Philly Baseball News had this to say about Cardenas:

"Cardenas had a chance to show more of his offensive skills last season at Lakewood and hit 9 home runs for the BlueClaws, translating to one home run every 55 at bats, which isn't a great number but will get better as Cardenas - who just turned 20 last October - continues to develop. At times, it was obvious that he was trying to do too much with the bat and he got himself into some tough spots, but with maturity, those issues will disappear. The potential is there for him to hit 20 home runs per season and he should be able to keep his average in the .290 range without much trouble. As he faces better pitching, he'll have to get a little better at recognizing pitches faster, but again, he's got the ability to do that.

Last season, Cardenas swiped 20 bases and was caught 7 times for a 74% success rate. His speed is above average and he can keep his success rate at least around that level because he's smart enough to look for holes in a pitcher's delivery and exploit them. His natural instincts on the bases are very good and he's aggressive, without being stupid. This is one of those players who knows what they can and can't do and Cardenas doesn't run himself into many outs. If you get a little worried because he hit into 17 double plays last season, a big part of the reason is because he generally hits the ball very hard. His first step out of the box is a little slow, but nothing to worry about.

He has all the makings of an everyday Major League infielder."

Josh Outman: Outman was a 10th round pick of the Phillies in 2005 out of Central Missouri State University. The left-hander went 12-7 with a 2.99 ERA in 159.1 innings last season for High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He struck-out 151 batters, but he walked 71.

The southpaw's command issues continued into this season. In 70.1 innings, he has walked 37 while striking out 66 at Double-A. Outman was moved into the bullpen this season by the Phillies, but he is expected to be tried out of the starting rotation again with Oakland. He has allowed only three homeruns this season and has held left-handed batters to a .198 BA, so Outman could have a future as a lefty specialist if he doesn't succeed as a starter.

Before the start of the season, Philly Baseball News rated Outman as the Phillies' fifth-best prospect. They had this to say about Outman back in April:

"Outman continues to have a slider and change-up that are both a work in progress, but he showed a lot better command of them last season and has gotten much more comfortable with throwing them at any point in the count. His fastball is consistently in the low to mid-90s and he gives the impression of pitching downhill thanks to a high release point that he repeats well. He did find out that pitches he could get away with at lower levels, such as the ever popular hanging curve, are usually given a one-way ticket out of the park now that he's at Double-A ball. The five home runs that he allowed in just 42 innings at Reading were a much higher rate than he has allowed in the past, but as he gets better, those pitches will be fewer and further in between.

Outman depends heavily on control and keeping the ball down in the zone. He tried to put a little extra heat on his fastball when he got to Double-A and was sometimes guilty of leaving pitches up and over the plate, which got him into trouble. The fact that he was pressing once he was promoted was a little out of character for Outman since he's generally very poised and doesn't get rattled very easily. His walks per nine innings average (4.3) is a little high and he saw a mild dip in his strikeouts per nine innings number last season, but that was due to over throwing and he should rebound to get very close to his strikeout per inning standards that he showed in his first two seasons in the minors.

When Outman came to the Phillies, he had very unorthodox mechanics, but many believed that his style actually put less strain on his shoulder and elbow, so the Phillies were content to let him run with it, although they did offer some tweaking suggestions, which Outman took and has worked into his routine. His pitching style was actually developed by his father, who spent a lot of time studying biomechanics and kinesiology and Outman is somewhat of a guinea pig for his father's ideas on preventing pitching injuries.

With a little luck and continued development, Outman can be a middle of the rotation type starter in the majors. He's got one of the best pure arms in the organization and just needs more work on his slider and change-up to get to where he'll need to be and relaxing and fitting in at the Double-A level will go a long way toward making that happen."

Matt Spencer: Despite being a year and a half older than Cardenas, Spencer is the rawest prospect in this package. The outfielder was a supplemental third round pick by the Phillies in 2007. He was selected out of Arizona State, although he spent much of his collegiate career with North Carolina, where he was a teammate of fellow A's prospects Josh Horton and Andrew Carignan. Spencer was an outfielder and a relief pitcher in college.

Last season, Spencer hit .263 with nine homers in 51 games in the short-season New York-Penn League. He skipped Low-A and was sent directly to High-A this season. Spencer has struggled some this season, especially against left-handed pitching, against which he has hit only .191 with a 611 OPS. Overall, he is batting .249 with six homers in 84 games.

Before the season, Philly Baseball News rated Outman as the Phillies' 19th-best prospect. They had this to say about Spencer at that time:

"Matt Spencer appears to be the heir apparent as the [Philadelphia] system's leading home run prospect, but he'll need a little adjustment to get there. The main concern with Spencer is that he generally doesn't work pitchers well and will swing at one of the first few offerings that a guy throws up there, and often gets himself out when a pitcher is content to pitch around him. You expect some strikeouts from power hitters, but Spencer's problem isn't just the strikeouts, it's that he could do so much more if he were just a little more patient at the plate and could work himself ahead in the count more often. With added plate discipline, his home run numbers and average could go higher in 2008. As it stands now, Spencer has raw power.

Spencer has average speed, but isn't a great baserunner. He can occasionally find himself caught on the basepaths, but should be able to improve with a little work and more focus.

Spencer started the year playing in left field and then moved to right, with a couple of quick stops in center field, which won't be where he'll play long-term. He can handle either right or left field, but appeared more comfortable in right field. His arm, however, is more suited to playing in left field, so it's still a question on where he'll play. As for his arm, it's decent, but not anything more than average. He'll catch some runners who try to test him, but smart, speedy baserunners will be able to take an extra base on him here and there.

If he can develop some patience at the plate and work pitchers a little more, he should be able to boost his average into the .270s and show some real power numbers. If not, then he's going to struggle and his power won't make enough of a difference for him. When all is said and done, it looks like Spencer has the tools to be an everyday corner outfielder and could hit 25-plus home runs per season."


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