Cubs trade for Braves second baseman
The Chicago Cubs acquired second baseman Tommy La Stella from the Atlanta Braves, for right-handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino. Atlanta also received the Cubs second, third and fourth international signing bonus slots with the Cubs getting the Braves fourth.
The Braves have been rumored to Cuban SS Yoan Moncada and acquiring the extra slot money (just over $800,000) lessens their fine if they sign Moncada. Cubs went over their slot limit last year and cannot sign any international prospects for more than $250,000 this year.
The Cubs waited two years for Vizcaino to recover from Tommy John surgery, after being acquired in 2012 for Pat Maholm and Reed Johnson. Calcium deposits delayed his return in 2013 and the right-hander made his way through the Cubs minors this year before a September call-up. In some games I saw him pitch at Iowa and Tennessee, he looked uncomfortable on the mound and had trouble getting into a rhythm. His fastball was in the mid-90s and fanned 42 in 41 IP in three stops in the minors. After over powering hitters in the Florida State League and Southern League, Vizcaino was promoted to Iowa and had control problems with 5.4 BB/9 in 17 games (18. IP) The Cubs have Armando Rivero waiting in the wings but the traded does weaken the Cubs bullpen depth.
According to the Cubs press release, La Stella made his major league debut with the Braves last season and led National League rookies with 36 walks and a .328 on-base percentage (min. 300 plate appearances). In 93 games, he hit .251 (80-for-319) with 16 doubles, one home run and 31 RBI, and compiled a .984 fielding percentage (6 E/368 TC) in 88 games at second base. He began the year at Triple-A, his first time at that level, and hit .293 (49-for-167) with a .384 on-base percentage in 47 games for Gwinnett prior to his promotion to the majors.
The 25-year-old was named the Braves ninth-best prospect by Baseball America heading into last season. He owns a .322 (326-for-1,013) batting average and a .407 on-base percentage in 288 career minor league games since he was selected by the Braves in the eighth round of the 2011 Draft. La Stella has 136 walks compared to 102 strikeouts in 1,197 minor league plate appearances.
In 2013, La Stella was named Double-A Mississippi's Most Valuable Player after he led the team with a .343 batting average (97-for-283) and a .422 on-base percentage in 81 games. He recorded a franchise-record 23-game hitting streak, July 5-August 5, in which he batted .386 (34-for-88). Additionally, La Stella was named to the 2013 Arizona Fall League's Top Prospects team after batting .290 (18-for-62) in 18 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions.
La Stella, a left-handed batter and right-handed fielder, was named a Carolina League mid-season All-Star in 2012 with Single-A Lynchburg, a season in which he hit .397 in 23 games following the All-Star break. In 2011, his first pro season, he led Single-A Rome with a .328 batting average (76-for-232) in 63 games.
His best tool is his bat and ability to get on base but don’t expect La Stella to be the everyday second baseman as he’s a below average fielder. Its likely Logan Watkins’ days are numbered for the Cubs on the 40-man roster.
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