Brewers beef up system in Gomez-Fiers trade
Houston sends two top 100 prospects to Milwaukee to strengthen its playoff push
Yet another example of how much progress the Astros have made in 2015 came on Thursday evening. Houston gave up four prospects in a trade, something it never would have considered at any other point this decade.
But these aren't the Astros that finished with baseball's worst record for three years running in 2011-13 or haven't had a winning season since 2008. They're leading the American League West in pursuit of their first division title in 14 years.
So in order to upgrade in center field with Carlos Gomez and bolster the back of its rotation with Mike Fiers, Houston sent outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, left-hander Josh Hader and right-hander Adrian Houser to the Brewers. The Astros also landed Milwaukee's third-round slot in the 2015-16 international signing pool, No. 76 overall and valued at $287,500.
Phillips (No. 39) and Santana (No. 87) both are part of MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. They double the Brewers' number of Top 100 Prospects, joining shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 14) and outfielder Trent Clark (No. 86).
Houston snagged the top two outfield prospects in the 2015 Draft, Daz Cameron and Kyle Tucker, making it easier to deal Phillips and Santana. Phillips was the best prospect in the Astros system eligible to be traded, ranking second behind only shortstop Alex Bregman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Players drafted in the current year can't change teams until after the World Series.
Phillips, 21, signed for an above-slot $300,000 as a sixth-round pick from a Florida high school in 2012. He has solid-or-better tools across the board, projecting as a possible .280 hitter with 20 homers annually who can play center field and has a well above-average arm. He's having a huge 2015 season, batting .320/.377/.548 with 16 homers and 15 steals in 97 games between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi.
Santana, 22, originally signed with the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and became an Astro in the Hunter Pence trade two years later. He fits the right-field profile well with plus power and arm strength and he mitigates his high strikeout totals with a healthy amount of walks. He has spent most of this year in Triple-A, batting .320/.426/.582 with 16 homers in 75 contests.
Hader, 21, also has been traded twice. Signed by the Orioles out of a Maryland high school in the 19th round of the 2012 Draft, he went to Houston in the Bud Norris deal the following year. A potential mid-rotation starter, he has a lively low-90s fastball but still is seeking consistency with his curveball, changeup, control and command. He has gone 3-3, 3.17 in 17 games (10 starts) in Double-A this year, with a 69/24 K/BB ratio in 65 1/3 innings.
Houser, 22, was a fourth-round pick from an Oklahoma high school in 2011. His raw stuff is impressive -- a fastball that can reach 95 mph, a curveball that shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch and an effective changeup -- but he has struggled this year and may be headed for the bullpen. In 19 games (13 starts) between high Class A and Double-A, he has posted a 3-4, 5.10 record with a 78/35 K/BB ratio in 83 innings.
The Astros have been on the other side of these types of deals for several years. But with a strong big league club and a deep farm system, they did what they had to in order to improve their chances of reaching the postseason and succeeding once they get there.