A's net steady player from Indians in Wendle
Left-handed-hitting second baseman has ability to hit ball to all fields
SAN DIEGO -- Dealing from a deep inventory of middle infielders, the Indians acquired first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Brandon Moss from the Athletics on Monday for highly regarded second-base prospect Joe Wendle.
There may be those who question whether Wendle was enough of a return from Cleveland for the left-handed-hitting Moss. However, those who have watched Wendle play regularly have high praise for the 5-foot-11, 190-pound left-handed-hitting second baseman.
The Indians thought enough of Wendle to name him their 2013 Lou Boudreau Award winner, which goes to the top organizational position player. He played at Class A Advanced Carolina and hit .295 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs. He also stole 10 bases in 12 attempts.
Cleveland selected Wendle in the sixth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. From Avon Grove (Pa.) High School, he had played for Division II West Chester University of Pennsylvania. In his four years playing for the Golden Rams, Wendle ranked in the Top 10 all-time West Chester players in 11 offensive categories.
Wendle, 24, is the type of player who puts his team ahead of his individual statistics. He comes to the game bound and determined to beat the opposition with his hustle, his excellent contact hitting and his boundless energy. Wendle won't need any motivational pep talks to move the needle on his overall attitude or game production.
I scouted Wendle when he played for Surprise as part of the Indians' contingent in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. He hit .311 with four doubles, two triples and a home run in 16 games. He made only two errors at second base in 65 chances.
Wendle's fine season earned him a promotion to Double-A Akron to begin 2014. However, his season was interrupted in June when he broke a hamate bone in his right wrist. Overall, he played 87 games for Akron and hit .253 with eight homers and 50 RBIs in 370 plate appearances. He was a bit young for the league, but he finished well during the month of August after his rehabilitation from the injury.
Wendle is ranked No. 14 by MLB.com on the Athletics' Top 20 Prospects list. He was No. 9 for the Indians before the trade.
Wendle is a line-drive hitter with the capability of using the entire field. Most important, he doesn't waste at-bats. He has mature pitch recognition and plate discipline. In short, he's a very tough out. Unlike a lot of left-handed hitters, he is very capable hanging in against left-handed pitching. This past year, he went to the plate 132 times against lefties and hit .282. He faced right-handers more often (263 plate appearances) and hit .258. Those statistics were an improvement over his 2013 season when he scuffled much more against left-handers.
Wendle has some home run pop in his bat. He should be able to hit the gaps and stretch a long single to a double with useable speed. He isn't a burner on the bases, but he's an average runner with an ability and knack for making good decisions. It wouldn't surprise me if he stole more than a handful of bases, picking the right spots and times to run.
Wendle is a good second baseman and can be counted on to make all the routine plays. When I saw him in Arizona, he wasn't flashy or slick. He was steady and reliable with average range and a solid arm. I'm not sure he has the first-step quickness and range to play shortstop. Second base seems comfortable for him. He plays that position with confidence.
Having demonstrated at the end of the past season that his wrist is healthy, and with the Indians deep in middle-infield prospects, Wendle was made available to help fetch a power hitter like Moss. The deal is one that helps both clubs address organizational needs.
It's likely Moss will assume a role in the middle of the Indians' lineup. Wendle, however, may be at least a year away from his Major League debut. When he arrives, his capable bat should pay dividends.