When the Milwaukee Brewers signed Chris Carter last offseason, everyone knew what they were getting. An affordable bat who could lead the league in both homers and strikeouts. Little did anyone know, the most important move of their offseason came on October 7th after newly minted GM David Stearns claimed a taxi-squad swing man, Junior Guerra, off of waivers from Chicago.
Every year, these moves fly under our noses, but wind up playing a major impact. The same thing is likely to happen yet again somewhere this season. Let's take a look at the Under the Radar Acquisitions Team of this offseason thus far.
C — Luis Torrens, Padres, Rule V
Torrens is just 20 years old and spent 2016 in Lo-A for the Yankees, but that didnt stop the Padres from taking a chance on the 9th ranked catching prospect in the game. While Torrens may not light the world on fire in 2017, the Padres have a shallow enough organization that they will be able to keep him on the 25-man roster all season. By 2019, the Padres could have a name other than Hedges vying for the "catcher of the future" role.
1B — Balbino Fuenmayor, Braves, Minor League Deal
Fuenmayor had a monster season in 2015 taking the PCL by storm. He came back down to Earth in 2016, however his slight decline in production came due to an injury. While I do not anticipate a repeat of 2015 in Triple-A, I do believe he can earn his first MLB at-bats with the building Braves knocking the ball out of SunTrust on a regular basis.
2B — Orlando Calixte, Giants, Minor League Deal
Calixte is a defense first shortstop with the ability to knock fastballs out of the park. The Giants liked him enough to protect him from the Rule V Draft by adding him to the 40-man roster in November. If Calixte can learn how to hit the offspeed stuff, we could be looking at an amazing safety blanket for the injury prone Panik.
SS — Lourdes Gourriel Jr, Jays, 7-year, $22M
This was the best move of the offseason, in my opinion. Gourriel was exempt from the pool limits, and came to Toronto at a price considerably lower than anticipated. With a floor of an inexpensive super utility with power and a ceiling of a 20-20 three-hitter who can be used like Ben Zobrist, Shapiro may have struck gold.
3B — Richie Shaffer, Reds, Waivers
Shaffer has bounced around quite a bit, but that doesn't change the fact that the power is legit and he has found himself in a good situation in Cincinnati, where he should see his fair share of at bats. The Phillies and Mariners could regret discarding this potential diamond.
LF — Arismendy Alcantara, Reds, Waivers
The first move of the Reds' offseason, the former top-100 prospect Arismendy Alcantara fell to them on waivers. With solid power and plus speed, the versatile Alcantara seems likely to earn himself a spot on a weak Red's roster. If the tools click, we could see a potential buildings block in Cincinnati.
CF — Reymond Fuentes, D-Backs, Minor League Deal
Fuentes, known for his speed and his glove, has the potential to play a legitimate role for an uncertain Diamondbacks' outfield. One thing is for sure, Hazen was a part of the team that brought him into the league. His speed and defense could make him a solid fourth outfielder.
RF — Rymer Liriano, White Sox, Waivers
The White Sox are in fire sale mode. While this isn't fun for fans to hear, for young players who need a chance, this is music to their ears. Liriano could begin the season in a right-field platoon. He has an intriguing mix of power and speed that give him a ceiling of a 20-20 hitter. At the very least, I see Liriano as a strong fourth outfielder.
DH — Adam Brett Walker, Orioles, Waivers
Walker has done one thing since being drafted by the Twins, and that is hit home runs. He has at least tied his league in home runs every year he has been a pro. With the Orioles in need of power, Walker could slide into the line-up.
SP — Norge Ruiz, A's, Minor League Deal
Norge has been a personal favorite of mine since his name was first mentioned. He is a high floor guy with a 94 mph fastball. He could represent a rotation option for Oakland by the end of 2017. He has a ceiling of a number 3 starter and a floor of a strong reliever, as his stuff could play up in the pen.
SP — Cionel Perez, Astros, Minor League Deal
Perez could be a front-line starter, but comes with some risk. He has plus velocity but injury and durability concerns. He'll probably start the season off in Class A, but could play a role as soon as late 2018. I personally think his stuff would play up in the pen, possibly allowing him to hit triple digits.
SP — Mike Hauschild, Rangers, Rule V
Easily the most likely Rule Fiver to stick, Hauschild made the hitter paradise PCL look like he was pitching in Petco. While his ceiling is limited to a 3-4 starter, he seems likely to reach it. He will probably spend 2017 as a long-reliever/spot starter.
SP — Vicente Campos, Angels, Waivers
Acquired off of waivers from Arizona, Campos will likely miss the first half to injury, but he brings with him a ceiling of a mid- rotation starter. The former Yankees' prospect will have an opportunity once he's healthy.
RP — Edwin Escobar, Indians, Waivers
Escobar was used primarily as a starter by the Diamondbacks last year, however, the results were not pretty. Seeing as he is out of options, a permanent move to the pen could give the tribe a great young option to set-up for Miller. His already solid velocity seems likely to play up in the pen too.
RP — Tyler Wagner, Rangers, Waivers
Wagner was a solid starting pitcher prospect, but ran into some injury trouble last season. Scouts no longer see him as a workhorse, but a multi-pitch reliever with the ability to throw an extra inning or two on a moments notice. He could be Tolleson's replacement by June.
RP — Maikel Cleto, Cubs, Minor League Deal
The velocity is not good, it's amazing! Cleto has hit triple digits with ease and hasn't received any major league time since 2014, when he was a decent reliever for the White Sox. His Triple-A numbers have always been amazing, and I believe its just a matter of time until he turns the corner.null