Braves trade for LHP prospect Ricardo Sanchez

The Atlanta Braves continued to improve their farm system today by acquiring one of the Los Angeles Angels’ top prospects, left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez. In exchange the Braves sent third base prospect Kyle Kubitza and right-handed relief prospect Nate Hyatt to Anaheim.

This trade is about getting maximum potential into the Braves’ minor league system. While Kubitza seemed to have a future (maybe a year or so away) as a solid major league regular at the hot corner, the 17-year-old Sanchez represents a pitching prospect who, while young and far away from contributing, has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter.

While ranking him as the No. 2 prospect in their 2015 Angels top prospects, Baseball America describes Sanchez as a prospect with “tantalizing upside.” He has a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s, as well as a curve ball in the low-70s that already grades at plus. Sanchez was signed out of Venezuela in 2013 for $580,000. It should be noted, however, that the Angels’ farm system is one of the worst in all of baseball.

Kubitza became a personal favorite of mine in the Braves system, so I’m sad to see him go. I’ve described his major league potential as that of Chris Johnson, but with the ability to take a lot of walks. He should see the majors late this year or early next year.

I also liked Hyatt as a relief prospect, but the Braves didn’t push him last year and had him repeat High-A Lynchburg, when most folks expected to see him at Double-A Mississippi by now. He’s like many other relief prospect in the Braves system, with the ceiling of a decent middle reliever. Both he and Kubitza will be 24 this season.

This seems like a great trade for the Braves, and perhaps the Angels. Atlanta swaps a poorly thought-of relief prospect and a third base prospect blocked by Chris Johnson (and recently acquired prospect Jace Peterson) for another high-upside young pitching prospect–echoing a theme for this offseason’s acquisitions.

In the short term this trade might look real good for the Angels, as both of the guys they got should reach the majors before Sanchez does. But in the long run, the high upside of Sanchez was too much for Atlanta to pass up–seemingly an easy decision to make when the stated intent this offseason was to rebuild the system, beginning with left-handed starting pitching.

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