This week the Rangers traded minor league right-handed pitcher Johnny Lujan to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Chris Stewart. In order to make room for Stewart on their roster, the Rangers designated Drew Meyer for assignment.
Johnny performed great in college and in the minors until last year when he had a 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA in 38 appearances with the Blaze. Before last year he was a good prospect and dominated the league with a very low BAA. Last year his BAA was .281. In this three-year minor league career, he is 7-9 with a 3.68 ERA in 83 appearances, including 6 starts.
He was a 12th round draft pick out of New Mexico College even though he had an ERA just above 1.60. He struggled before and after his minor injury last year. Last year he also became much more home run prone. He had been a ground ball pitcher but was a fly ball pitcher last year. So if he stayed here and pitched in the majors he probably wouldn’t do very well unless he recovered his previous form.
Chris went through the Chicago system surprisingly fast. His batting is okay (.252 average in 5 minor league seasons) but his fielding is outstanding. Last year, he threw out 52 percent of base runners and threw out Grady Sizemore 2 out of 2 times. He went hitless in the majors last year (8 at-bats after a September call up) but hit well in the minors (.265 in 272 AAA at-bats).
Chris will compete for the back up job in Spring Training but being the only one with options he is the least likely to get the job. He is a very good catching prospect even if he doesn’t make the team this year. But being behind Gerald Laird he will probably be a back-up catcher for the time he’s in Texas.
Lujan has a very good potential but chances are he won’t reach his potential, while Stewart has a lower potential and has already reached it. Stewart will be a back-up catcher in the majors or a starting catcher in the minors for the time he’s in Texas. Lujan probably wouldn’t pitch well here (since this is a home run stadium and he has become a fly ball pitcher) while Stewart will probably bat well here (because it’s a hitters’ ballpark). I think this is a good trade for both teams because Chicago already has both Pierzynski and Toby Hall locked up for two years.
Drew Meyer is not that great of a prospect. He hasn’t gotten much better in the minors over what he was in college. His potential seems to be as a utility player in the majors, at most. He has really struggled hitting above the AA level but is a great fielder. Hopefully Meyer will make it through waivers and the Rangers will keep him.
Come back next week for an analyzation of every team in the AL West’s off-season so far.