Yesterday, I wrote a piece talking about the two bigger name prospects that were sent out for Aroldis Chapman, and if you missed it then you can read it here. Much of the argument of the return has been based around Rookie Davis and Eric Jagielo, but there were two other players sent in the deal. Tony Renda and Caleb Cotham are more filler pieces in a deal like this, but each look like they could spend some time with the Reds major league team in some capacity. Whether, that is good or not is yet to be seen, obviously.
Tony Renda, 2B, RHB
24 years old, 5 foot 8 inches, 175 pounds
Tony Renda is a little guy with little to no power, but does many other things well to compliment his game. Renda was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft out of Cal Berkeley. He was traded to the Yankees when they designated relief pitcher David Carpenter for assignment in the middle of 2015. So, he was the return for a pitcher the Yankees no longer wanted. The Nationals had to trade something to get a pitcher that most likely would have been scooped up on waivers rather quickly. This kind of transaction usually doesn't happen quite that often.
If you look at the measurements, Renda is of slight build. That accounts for the total of six home runs in his professional career. That isn't his game. What Renda does is control the bat and the strike zone. He has 185 walks to 196 strikeouts in his career for a .380 OBP. In 2015, he spent the whole season at AA where he slashed .269/.330/.358. His walk to strikeout ratio was 43/39, which is pretty dang good. At least, it seems to be something the Reds don't usually target. He also hit 3 dingers, 2 triples, and 30 doubles in 532 plate appearances. He's also good for 20 something steals a year in the minors.
None of those numbers are suppose to wow you. They also aren't the kind of numbers and physical athleticism that gets you put high on the prospect lists. Prior to the 2015 season, Renda was ranked 12th in the Nationals system by Baseball America, 22nd by MLB.com, and 18th by John Sickels. Tony Renda has primarily played 2B in his career, with a few stints at short stop. However, by all accounts, the only position he can realistically play is 2B. He's not good enough for SS and has never played 3B.
Renda is a high floor kind of player that will never be spectacular do to his lack of power and other skills. He could get a look at AAA this season, and maybe be some kind of bench player moving forward. I like his on base skills but that's really all you're getting in this kind of player, especially if all he can do is play 2B. I've also seen scouting reports that says he's scrappy and plays with a lot of grit. Ladies and gentlemen, our new Skip Schumaker?
Caleb Cotham, RP, RHP
28 years old, 6 foot 3 inches, 215 pounds
Caleb Cotham was the ultimate throw in to this trade, but is the most likely to see time with the Reds in 2015. In fact, I'd say he has a great shot to make the team out of spring training (because our bullpen is trash). Catham was a 5th round pick out of Vanderbilt University in 2009, and has been used as kind of a tweener pitcher most of his career. It looks like he has fluctuated from a starter to a reliever almost every season.
Early on, Cotham had no trouble striking out batters being a college pitcher player against young kids, but as he moved up the ranks his stuff became less effective and he started walking batters at a higher rate. At no point were his numbers overly impressive for any extended amount of time. He would struggle with injuries (particularly a knee injury) that flopped him around from starter to reliever. He's never been in top prospect discussions, but in 2013 Baseball America rated as having the best control in the Yankees system.
Eventually, Cotham fell of the prospect map altogether and the Yankees made him a full time reliever, and that seems to have resurrected career. A scouting report I found for 2014, as a starter, had him throwing in the low 90 consistently and mid 90's on occasion. He also throws a high 80's slider, and a passable changeup and curveball. In the short sample he showed with the Yankees this year, he threw a slider more than he did a fastball. The fastball showed an average velocity around 92.5 MPH with a max of 95, and he threw his slider around 85 MPH with a max of 90. He showed strikeout capability with both pitches.
Cotham absolutely dominated AA and AAA batters this season with ERAs in the 1.5-2.5 range. He limited his walks, struck out around 9 batters per nine innings, and kept the home runs at a minimum. With the Yankees, he pitched 9 innings where he gave up 4 home runs and 14 hits. All that hard contact gave him a 6.52 ERA. One silver lining to his cup of coffee was 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. Because of the improvements he has made in the bullpen, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make the team out of spring training. He could also just be AAA fodder. I don't know, but we might as well see what he's got.