Monday, August 19, 2013

That Other Guy

Sometimes when trades are made baseball fans get caught up in the players on the Major League level and forget all about the other players involved in the transaction at the minor league level.  During this past off-season the Rays made a large off-season trade with the Royals sending their front line starting pitcher James Shields to the American League Central in exchange for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard.  The Rays also gave up Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson, but most of the evaluation of the trade has focused on Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery, and Shields.

While Shields is only sporting a .500 record at 8-8, he has been an innings eater and provided quality starts for the Royals.  The Royals are 8 games behind the Tigers in the Central and 5 behind the A's and Rays for the Wild Card spots, but when have the Royals been close enough to sniff the playoffs?  The Rays have certainly done well with Myers and Odorizzi and Montgomery pitching well in the minors.  The trade may very well tilt further in the Rays favor if Odorizzi or Montgomery evolve into a solid Major League pitcher capable of providing the Rays with a quality starts and innings.

There is also that other guy in the trade: Patrick Leonard.  Not much has been said about the inclusion of Leonard in the trade, but he's definitely an intriguing talent for the Rays to try to develop.  He spent his senior year of high school playing for former Astros second baseman, and future Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio.  At 6'4 and 225 Leonard has some serious size and serious power.  The Royals selected the former third baseman, turned outfielder, in the fifth round of the 2011 Major League Draft.

Since his trade to the Rays, Topps has included him in their Bowman, Topps Debut, and Bowman Platinum releases.  I was able to pick up a copy of his Bowman Platinum card last week, which features a large chunk of bat and an autograph.


2013 Bowman Platinum Patrick Leonard Bat/Autograph 


There are 200 copies of this cool Leonard card, but almost every single copy of the card is probably on Ebay, or has been on Ebay.  The price is rather low for the potential player that Leonard could be down the road.  Copies can be acquired for less than $5 shipped.  Even if you do not like the Rays this is a pretty sweet card for that price.

Part of the lackluster card market for Leonard could be a slight decline in his performance on the field this season.  However, it seems like many card collectors ignore the performances of minor league players and purchase and trade blindly solely on the word of experts and prospect rankings.  Why isn't everyone buying George Springer cards?  Leonard's average and homers have both dropped in his step up from Rookie League to A Ball, but his doubles have almost tripled.

Leonard is still only 20 and given the Rays ability to constantly stock their Major League team with ready and able bodies from the Minor Leagues, $5 seems a small gamble to take on a player like Leonard getting some opportunity to produce someday down the road in Tampa.  While WIl Myers hit for a high overall average, he also experienced droughts in power before his breakout performance in 2012 playing in AAA.

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