Baseball trades involving prospects should not be evaluated for several years, because it takes time for prospects to develop.
The Arizona Diamondbacks traded starting pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Padres for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, right-handed relief prospect Matt Stites and a compensation B round Draft pick.
Stites, who moved into the No. 18 spot on the D-backs' Top 20 Prospects list, may become a very important component of the deal.
I saw Stites pitch extensively in the 2012 Arizona Fall League. Three San Diego Padres pitchers caught my eye in the Fall League last season. They were left-handed starter Robbie Erlin, right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush and Stites.
I concluded that Stites has a very good chance of being an efficient, effective relief pitcher.
Stites earned All-State honors at Festus High School (Mo.) before going on to Jefferson Junior College and ultimately to the University of Missouri.
The Padres selected Stites in the 17th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. In fact, it was the second time Stites was chosen. The Cubs picked him in 2010, but he elected not to sign.
Stites is in the midst of his third Minor League season. Last year, he had an outstanding 0.74 ERA in 48 2/3 innings for Fort Wayne in the Class A Midwest League. He walked only three batters, while striking out 60. His command and control have been focal points of his success to date.
This season, Stites pitched at Double-A San Antonio until an emergency appendectomy ended his season late in July. He worked in 46 games as a reliever, throwing to an ERA of 2.08. Covering 52 innings, Stites gave up only 37 hits and a miniscule eight walks. The net result was an 0.86 WHIP.
Stites' composite WHIP over 135 1/3 innings pitched is a fantastic 0.72.
D-backs fans have several reasons to be enthusiastic about his arrival. He throws strikes, makes quality pitches when needed and uses a complete repertoire.
Stites throws a high-velocity fastball and can hit the mid-90s with little effort. He also throws an effective slider and changeup. Those three pitches consistently change the eye level and alter the balance of hitters.
At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Stites does not have an overwhelming physical presence on the mound. But don't be fooled: looks can be deceiving.
Stites is a fierce competitor. He doesn't mess around. He looks intimidating. He likes to take charge. There isn't anything passive about his demeanor. I don't want to say he's overly aggressive; aggressive will suffice.
Using what I would call almost a "herky-jerky" motion, Stites doesn't always repeat his delivery. But he rights the ship quickly and doesn't fall into prolonged mechanical lapses. His good arm extension at the end of his delivery is consistent.
Stites is the type of pitcher a team greatly appreciates. He knows how to pitch and he wants to win. Now it's a matter of him finishing his development.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.