A glance at prospects in Bourn deal
The Houston Astros were busy again on Sunday, sending Michael Bourn to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Jordan Schafer and three Minor League pitchers. Here's some more information on Houston's new trio of young arms, all of whom are at the upper levels.
Paul Clemens, RHP: Clemens was ranked No. 8 on the Braves' Top 10 at the time of the trade, an eighth-round pick out of junior college in 2008 who was in Double-A Mississippi's rotation. A swingman in the past, Clemens has always impressed with his power stuff, though he hasn't always been consistent with it. A Southern League All-Star this season, Clemens was outstanding over the season's first two months, posting a 2.08 ERA. He's scuffled a bit lately, with ERAs of 6.85 in June and 4.81 in July, though he was still ninth in the Southern League in ERA for the season. He's already surpassed his career high for innings pitched in a season, perhaps a reason he's hit a bit of a wall.
Clemens, 23, can run his fastball up into the mid-90s, and the development of his breaking ball and changeup give him the weapons to be an effective starter. Most scouts see him as a No. 3 or 4 starter at the Major League level. If he doesn't reach that level, the Astros know they can always move him back to the bullpen if needed.
Brett Oberholtzer, LHP: One talent evaluator felt Olberholtzer was the best player in this deal. The Braves selected the 22-year-old left-hander in the eighth round of the 2008 Draft from the junior college ranks as well. He was right behind Clemens in the Southern League with his 3.74 ERA.
Oberholtzer has the chance to have at least three average pitches at the big league level. He'll throw his fastball in the 87- to 92-mph range, with a solid cutter and an above-average changeup. All of his stuff plays up because he has above average to plus control and command. He may not dominate, but he fits the profile of a "pitchability" lefty who can make a major contribution in the middle or back end of a rotation.
Juan Abreu, RHP: Abreu, 26, has been around the block a time or two, but he's still got the kind of power arm people covet in the bullpen. Originally signed in 2003 by the Kansas City Royals, he joined the Braves organization in 2010.
Abreu is all about arm strength. He's got a plus fastball that has hit triple digits several times and he couples it with a good breaking ball. He misses plenty of bats, with a 10.9 K/9 ratio in his career (12.8 in 2011). Command has been an issue -- he's walked 5.4 per nine (5.1 this season) -- and he has had some injuries in the past. He's having the best season of his career now, and the Astros think he'll be able to compete in the big league bullpen moving forward.