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As expected, the Philadelphia Phillies traded starting pitcher Cole Hamels for a haul of minor league prospects. Hamels went to the Texas Rangers along with reliever Jake Diekman for veteran pitcher Matt Harrison, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams and right-handers Alec Asher, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff. The Phillies chose this package of players after negotiating with at least seven other teams.
The move to the AL shouldn’t affect Hamels much. He has a terrific arsenal of four pitches that he can throw for strikes. These include one of the best changeups in the game and a curveball that’s been almost as devastating. Hamels is missing bats at the highest rate since his 2008 season, his velocity is up, good news for a 31-year-old, and his motion is as deceptive as ever; hitters simply have no idea what’s coming. One need only look at Hamels’ last start, a no-hitter against the Cubs in Chicago in which he struck out 13. Next season, Hamels will join a rotation that features Yu Darvish, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Martin Perez. Park factors won’t play much of a role either, as he’s accustomed to working in the hitter-friendly environment at Citizen Bank Park. If anything, Hamels may have a bit of an advantage over the AL hitters since they’ve never seen him before. Overall, Hamels’ Fantasy value might even get a small boost since the Rangers’ offense will offer more run support than the Phillies have given him this season.
Matt Harrison has pitched sparingly over the past few years, accumulating just shy of 44 innings in the majors since 2012, mainly due to a back injury, which required spinal fusion surgery in June of 2014. Harrison’s inclusion in the deal is primarily a salary dump for the Rangers, as the lefty pitcher is owed $26M over the next two seasons. He is not considered a usable Fantasy pitcher at the moment since he only recently returned and has only pitched 16 innings in three starts this season. Harrison is worth watching for the rest of the year, as it will determine whether he’ll have any Fantasy value in 2016.
Jorge Alfaro is the prize of the deal for Philadelphia. He’s a 22-year-old catching prospect currently at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .253/.314/.432 with five homers in 207 PA. Alfaro is a raw, toolsy player with tremendous power and questionable contact. He’s shown steady progress, though, and scouts project him to be an above average offensive catcher in MLB. He’s still at least a year or two away from the majors, buy dynasty league managers should keep a close eye on Alfaro’s progress.
Nick Williams has also spent the last two seasons in Double-A, where he’s put together a .299/.357/.479 line this season with 13 HRs and 10 SBs in 415 PA. Williams has taken a big step forward in plate discipline this year, slashing his strikeout rate down below 20 percent from nearly 30 percent in 2014, and almost doubling his walk rate in the process. At age 21, he’s an interesting hitting prospect who could find himself competing for a major league job with the Phillies by 2017.
Jake Thompson is considered the Rangers’ best pitching prospect. He has a very good fastball/slider combination and projects as a major league starter in a couple of years. Asher and Eickhoff are lower level pitching prospects that project as back of the rotation starters or middle relievers. All five rookies are expected to report to the Phillies’ minor league affiliates and none of them will have any Fantasy impact this season.