We've been conducting our annual BCB Community prospect poll this month and it's been a lot of fun. Next week will see the votes for places 16-20 after which the voting will conclude. I myself have a personal prospect list that I keep and occasionally update. Mine runs a little bit longer than 20. Though at a certain point the list goes from truly being a "top prospect" list to more of a "his name came up once or twice but either he's still really far away or he's not done much to suggest he's going to have a major league career" list. The 44th player on my list is actually pretty interesting in and of himself, but I think what he might tell us about David Stearns is even more interesting.
No. 44 on that list is RHP Daniel Missaki. Some of you are probably wondering who in blazes is Daniel Missaki? Others may recall that he was one of three teenage pitchers the Brewers received from the Mariners in exchange for 1B Adam Lind. Freddy Peralta and Carlos Herrera were the others.
The trade return was divisive at the time. Some people hated it. I think a lot of people--myself included--were too ready to overlook Adam Lind's deficiencies--can't hit LHP, mediocre defender, extensive injury history--and were therefore overvaluing the first baseman. So they felt three teenage pitchers wasn't good enough value. At first I felt underwhelmed as well. But then I tried seeing the value in the deal. And I realized it's a smart tactic.
If it works out with one of them, Stearns got him before he broke out. Essentially he'll have bought low. And by getting three of these guys, Stearns gave the Brewers a better chance at getting a break out player. At the time of this trade, his reasoning was only something we could guess at. But now we can more definitively say this is going to be part of Stearns' rebuilding strategy. It might even be a permanent strategy of his.
Since the Lind trade, Stearns has also added Trey Supak and Bubba Derby in separate trades. Their names were more high profile than the previous three. But Supak is another teenager and while Derby is 21, he was just drafted last year and hasn't pitched above low-A yet. So each fits the "get them before they break out" mold.
I really like this tactic. It's certainly risky--but at least in the deals that netted Supak and Derby there were other players. But it also could payoff huge. If any of them breaks out, they might be able to help out the next competitive team. And even if none of these guys end up as anything more than back-end starters or relievers, if they can pitch well over the next couple of years their own trade value could rise exponentially. And when the Brewers eventually do become competitive again, they could use them to upgrade the major league roster that way.
Buy low and reap the rewards, or buy low and sell high. It's an interesting tactic and one I'll be looking to see if Stearns indeed does continue to employ.