Latin Link: Swaps create hope for Hispanic prospects
Jean Segura was the number-one minor league prospect for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and a shortstop with incredible skills. The only problem was his path to the big leagues was blocked by a guy named Erick Aybar, who just happens to play the same position. And having just signed a four-year extension worth $35 million, it was clear that Aybar wasn’t leaving any time soon. Segura was spinning his wheels until a stroke of luck altered his fate.
In one of the more significant trades prior to the July 31 deadline, the Angels would deal for Milwaukee Brewers mound ace Zack Greinke. The price they paid sent Segura, plus promising pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg to Wisconsin, opening a door of opportunity. The “Brew Crew” were probably going to lose Greinke to free agency anyway, and they’ve been looking for a promising shortstop ever since losing Alex Gonzalez to a season-ending injury right out of spring camp.
“This is the chance I’ve been waiting for,” noted Segura, a speedy 22-year-old Dominican. “I’m very excited.”
Pena, 23, is an outstanding prospect himself. The right-hander has a lively, upper 90s fastball with a hard slider, and played with Segura for the World Team in the recent Futures Game.
The Chicago White Sox, anxious to land a counterpunch after the rival Detroit Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez, picked up Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins as an addition to their starting rotation. In doing so, however, Sox GM Kenny Williams gave up promising pitcher Pedro Hernandez, 23, who he previously acquired in the Carlos Quentin deal with the San Diego Padres. The Venezuelan lefty, who would be best described as a young Jamie Moyer, is hoping his third team will be a charm, as the Twins are desperate for fresh arms. The Sox also sent middle infielder Eduardo Escobar , who is a countryman of Hernandez, to sweeten the pot.
As for the “name” Latino players who are wearing new colors, the Pittsburgh Pirates certainly helped themselves for the stretch run by grabbing Wandy Rodriguez, and the veteran southpaw is happy to get the hell out of Houston. Marco Scutaro, I’m certain, feels the same way about leaving the struggling Rockies in Denver, and the contending San Francisco Giants have been pleased with his leadership skills and ability to play multiple positions.
The Chicago Cubs were able to continue cleaning house by sending oft-injured catcher Geovany Soto to the money-slinging Texas Rangers. But Cubs president Theo Epstein, unfortunately for him, will still have to deal with the bloated contract of veteran Alfonso Soriano.
And then there’s Hanley Ramirez, who made a splashy debut in his badly needed change of scenery in Los Angeles. And although he’s cooled off a bit, there’s little doubt that his talents will benefit the Dodgers in their quest to play again in October. How long the honeymoon will last, though, is anyone’s guess.
Whether it’s “Hanleywood” or “Mannywood,” the last name is still Ramirez. Apparently, the Dodgers aren’t superstitious.