Today, the Phillies traded away one of their best players in Ken Giles to the Houston Astros for starters Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, outfielder Derek Fisher and another player to be named. The deal was reported by Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston.
First off, the Astros get the right handed pitching need off their checklist, but one that include velocity on his fastball, which last year most Astros’ relievers lacked. Giles had a brilliant 2015 season by posting a 1.80 ERA in 69 appearances by only throwing in 70 innings. Giles also is a flamethrower that punched out 87 batters. The 25 year old was the Phillies’ closer in 2015 after they parted ways with Papelbon, Giles picked up 15 saves. Now, Giles is under control for many years and it was smart to pick him up for 4 prospects that may or may not pan out. Also, Giles should be the closer in Houston and let Gregersen return to his old spot as the setup man, which he seems to be more comfortable in.
Next, the main prize for the Phillies in this deal is Vincent Velasquez, who is a 23 year old starter that was expected to have a role in the Astros’ bullpen, but will now get a chance to pitch every 5 days in the rotation. Velasquez made it to the pros last season and played in 19 games, but started 7 of those 19. Velasquez threw 55.2 innings and posted a 4.37 ERA with 58 K’s. When the season ended he finished with a 1-1 record. Velasquez was to believed to have the highest ceiling in the Astros’ farm system.
In addition, Velasquez has an explosive fastball that registers 92-95 mph that plays up because of late life and pairs that with a plus changeup. The curve is still developing, but has the promise of at least an average offering. Velasquez has a loose, quick arm, is athletic and brings an assertive approach to the mound. Also, Velasquez has a big frame, but lengthy frame by standing at 6’3″ and weighing 205 pounds. He has all the elements of at least a mid-rotation starter.
Futhermore, the next prospect the Astros traded away to Philly is Derek Fisher. Fisher is a 22 year old outfielder that played between low and high Single-A. He finished the 2015 season with playing in 123 games and producing a stat line of .275/.364/.483/.847 with 8 homers and 22 RBIs. Fisher stole 31 bags.
Also, Fisher’s smooth left-handed swing allows him to produce power and hit for a solid average. Fisher is a plus runner, but more important he steals lots of bases. Also, Fisher’s speed allows him to cover ground well in the outfield, but has a glass like arm that limits him to left field/center field defensively. His lack of arm in the outfield puts more pressure on his bat to carry him through the Minor Leagues, but his tools give him the chance to be an impact hitter. Fisher could be up in the pros in two years.
Last, Brett Oberholtzer needs a fresh start and he got it. The 26 year old has a chance to pitch in the Phillies rotation and if not he could be a key bullpen piece. The southpaw has a lot more experience than most of the Phillies rotation candidates. Oberholtzer owns a career 11-20 record with a 3.94 ERA in 253.2 innings of work. Oberholtzer did pitch for the Astros in 2015 and went 2-2 on the year with a 4.46 ERA in 38.1 innings, plus only striking out 27 batters in 8 starts. Oberholtzer will be more of a stop gap for a year or 2 until the Phillies better pitching prospects are ready to produce at the MLB level.
Note: David Hernandez signed with the Phillies before Giles was dealted and now it seems that Hernandez will be the Phillies closer for the 2016 season.