The Padres swung a big trade on Tuesday evening and landed the Cincinnati Reds’ number one prospect in the process.
Anytime there is a big trade that involves trading major leaguers for prospects; some fans will scratch their heads or look for reasons to poke holes in it.
It’s especially uncomfortable when a player like Franmil Reyes departs, a fan-favorite with a big swing, big smile, and big personality. Logan Allen and Victor Nova head to the Cleveland Indians’ organization with Reyes.
What the Padres gained was the Reds’ number one prospect and the 30th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, outfielder Taylor Trammell.
Trammell was selected in the Compensatory Balance Round A of the 2016 draft (meaning he was selected before the official second round). In 2016, the Padres selected Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer before Trammell and Buddy Reed after he was selected by Cincinnati.
Trammell was a multi-sport athlete drafted right out of high school in Georgia. He had an opportunity to play football at Georgia Tech but chose to play baseball and signed with the Reds. With that athleticism, Trammell projects as a solid center fielder. At 6’2″, 215 pounds, he may eventually become a corner outfielder if he fills out his frame, but for now, he is a true centerfielder. He has played most of this season in Double-A Chattanooga in left field.
He is a natural athlete who can make plays in center field that no player in either the high-level minor leagues or major league roster of the Padres can make. Manuel Margot is currently the only true center fielder on the big league roster. Trammell likely will not play for the Padres this season; he could debut sometime next year, which makes Margot available in trades in the winter.
MLB Pipeline has Trammell graded with a 45 arm, which is concerning, especially for a centerfielder. That is certainly something he needs to work on to be a full-functional major league centerfielder. He has a 55-grade fielding score, which is average-to-slightly-above-average. He does not project as a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder just yet, but he certainly is a good enough athlete to make up for any defensive shortcomings.
Part of being a quality center fielder is just having good old fashioned speed, something you can’t teach. Trammell has speed and speed to spare, with a 65-grade speed tool, one of the best in the minor leagues. Entering this season, he has never stolen less than 24 bases in any minor league season. The outfielder stole a whopping 41 bases in 2017 for Single-A Dayton. This season, he is on a similar pace with 17 swipes in 94 games and should easily eclipse the 20-threshold once more.
In this inside-the-park homer, you can see Trammell’s impressive speed on display as he scores without a throw. He was running hard out of the box from the start and scored standing up. That type of speed is rare in a baseball player, as athletes like that frequently choose football or basketball over baseball. Trammell is an exception and is exceptionally fast. He has 107 career stolen bases in under 400 games in his minor league tenure.
His speed also helps maintain a high on-base percentage, which the Padres covet. Before this season, he had never posted an on-base percentage lower than .368 and this year, is at .349 despite a down year. Speed is Trammell’s most valuable tool, which translates into his defense and hitting.
Speaking of hitting, Trammell may never win a Silver Slugger, but he has been more than respectable at the plate during his almost-four seasons of pro ball. He is given a 55-grade hit tool with 50 power, both serving as perfectly average, which with his speed, athleticism, and fielding, makes him a well-rounded ballplayer.
Perhaps Trammell was especially attractive to San Diego because he is a left-handed bat. Most of the Padres’ outfielders that are with the big club or even remotely big league-ready are right-handed. Trammell is not yet big-league ready, but among outfielders now in the Padres’ system, he is the one that projects the best as a long-term fix in center.
With that lefty bat, he has a lifetime .273 average since entering pro ball in the summer of 2017, along with a .775 OPS. In Single-A in 2017, he hit .281 with 13 home runs and a .819 OPS, adding up to an impressive 131 wRC+. In 2018, in High-A Daytona, he maintained his solid wRC+ at 129, despite a dip in power numbers. An on-base percentage of .375 helped with that.
He is not void of power, as he displayed at the MLB Futures Game in 2018 when he won MVP with this tie-breaking home run and a triple to boot.
Trammell has swatted 29 home runs in 394 games to this point, averaging about 13 home runs per 162 games. As he gets stronger, the power will no doubt follow. He likely won’t become a 25-plus homer outfielder, but again, with the rest of his tools, he finds other ways to impact a baseball game.
This season, he is having a dip in production, playing in Double-A, the highest level he has played thus far. Understandably, there is a learning curve at each level, as the pitching increases in quality. However, his 107 wRC+ is still above average despite a less-than-inspiring .686 OPS. The kid can get on base; it’s just a matter of how much damage he does.
His high OBP is also much thanks to his high walk rate as he is consistently walking more than 12 percent of the time and even with his offensive struggles this season, he is at 14.2 percent, which is the second-best in the Southern League.
All in all, the Padres got a stud prospect that won’t need much more seasoning in the minor leagues beyond this season. If the Padres were to move on from Manuel Margot after this year, Trammell could be ready to step in and learn on the fly, patrolling the vast outfield at Petco Park. The Padres needed more speed and athleticism in their outfield, without taking a significant dive offensively, and that’s exactly what they got with Taylor Trammell.