With their place in the standings of the AL West and in the Wild Card standings not taking a decisive move in either direction for the better part of a month, the Seattle Mariners and GM Jerry Dipoto made a trade today that still doesn’t really answer the questions as to whether the team sees themselves as buyers or sellers as the trade deadline approaches.
Seattle sent left-handed starter turned reliever turned spot starter Mike Montgomery and Triple-A right-handed starter Jordan Pries to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Triple-A first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach and Double-A right-hander Paul Blackburn.
Montgomery, 27, converted to a bullpen role this past spring and saw a big jump in his fastball velocity as a result, getting his average up around 94mph from his standard 90-91 and hitting 96 several times in shorter work. After making 16 starts for Seattle in 2015, including back-to-back shutouts in late-June, Montgomery has a 2.34 ERA (3.20 FIP), 1.09 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings on the year in all, and he’s been even better than that in his 30 relief appearances. The added velocity has helped the 6-foot-5 southpaw become tougher on lefties, evidenced by their .164/.269/.254 slash against him this season as compared to their .303/.380/.461 mark from 2015.
Vogelbach, the Cubs’ 2nd round pick in the 2011 Draft, has hit .290/.389/.486 to date in his minor league career, including .318/.425/.548 this season in 89 games with Iowa in the PCL in his first action in Triple-A. The 23 year old left-handed hitter was seemingly blocked by Anthony Rizzo in Chicago, and the NL club’s lack of the designated hitter option likely lowered his trade value in the eyes of other clubs. Still, his combination of patience (13.8% career walk rate) and power (9.1% career extra base hit rate) make the 6-foot, 250 pounder an intriguing prospect.
Pries was Seattle’s co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014, but the former 30th round pick out of Stanford had a down year with Tacoma in 2015 before splitting time between Jackson and Tacoma (and starting and relief) this season. He heads to the Cubs’ system with a 40-24 record, a 4.41 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 552 2/3 minor league innings.
Blackburn, 22, has been pitching for the Cubs at the Double-A level for the first time this year and has had very strong results, posting a 3.17 ERA in 18 starts for Tennessee. The right-hander ranks sixth in the Southern League in WHIP (1.19), seventh in innings (102 1/3) and ninth in ERA while running a very strong 57.1% groundball rate. The right-hander is said to have three solid offerings in his fastball, curve and changeup.
Vogelbach will most likely be sent to Tacoma while Blackburn will likely join the Generals’ rotation for Seattle, and both will likely appear in our mid-season Prospect Ranking update.
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