Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired minor-league pitchers Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando in two separate trades on Saturday. (AP)
CHICAGO – Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando are far from sure things. Neither is a slam-dunk big-league pitcher in waiting. But they both have a chance to make it, and at a cost of two post-prime infielders who weren’t going to be back in 2014 …
What the heck?
The Phillies acquired Rasmussen and Ogando in deadline-beating deals Saturday night. Rasmussen, a lefty, came from the Dodgers for Michael Young; Ogando, a right-hander, from the Red Sox for John McDonald. Young and McDonald both join first-place clubs and will be eligible for the postseason because they were dealt hours before the calendar turned from August to September.
“I’m happy for Johnny Mac and Michael Young,” Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said. “They are two of the most professional guys I’ve been around, right up there with Jim Thome, Mike Sweeney, Aaron Rowand. Super makeup guys. That’s the one downside. Our young guys can learn a lot from those guys and I think they did.”
So what did the Phillies get in these deals?
“Good arms,” a rival scout said after reviewing some reports. “But both have command issues.”
Rasmussen, 24, has a good pedigree. He pitched with Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer on a star-studded staff at UCLA and was a second-round pick of the Marlins in 2010. The Marlins traded him to the Astros as part of the Carlos Lee deal last summer and the Astros sent him to the Dodgers for John Ely in the offseason. The Dodgers had liked Rasmussen for a while; they drafted him out of high school in the 27th round in 2007 but he did not sign.
Rasmussen, who stands just 5-9, opened the season at Double A and earned his way to Triple A. He was sent back to Double A after struggling at Triple A. He ended up 0-7 with a 6.46 ERA in 12 games, 10 starts, at Triple A and 3-4 with a 2.55 ERA in 16 games, 14 starts, at Double A. In 135 2/3 innings at both levels, he struck out 113 and walked 60.
Joe Jordan, the Phillies’ director of player development, scouted Rasmussen as an amateur and liked him.
“He’s a smaller lefty with a big arm,” Amaro said. “He’s starting now, but he could be a guy later on who could pitch in the bullpen. Left-handers are always valuable. He’s viewed as a really strong makeup kid with a big arm.”
The Dodgers had planned to send Rasmussen to the Arizona Fall League. Amaro said the Phillies weren’t sure whether that would still happen. The Phillies need to get a quick read on Rasmussen because he has to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter or be exposed to other clubs in the Rule 5 draft.
Ogando, also Rule 5 eligible this winter, is a 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He stands 6-2. Amaro said Phillies scouts had seen his fastball reach the high 90s this season.
“I guess one of our scouts saw him up to 100,” Amaro said.
Ogando had a 4.09 ERA in 33 relief appearances in the Single A Carolina League this season. In 55 innings, he allowed 49 hits, struck out 44 and walked 22. Clearly, his control needs to improve.
“He has a real big arm,” Amaro said. “We’ll take a chance on a big arm.”
The Phillies had an opportunity to trade Young to the Yankees before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. According to CBSSports.com, the Yankees offered Double A reliever Tommy Kahnle.
On Sunday, Amaro was asked whether he could have gotten more for Young in July.
“Nope,” he said.
Amaro was asked about the Yankees' reliever.
“Nope,” he said. “We like this guy (Rasmussen) more.
“The guys that we talked about with other teams had other issues. At the trade deadline we were not out of it completely. We were still trying to win games. Different circumstances. Now we’re out of it, basically. Now we’re giving other guys chances to play. (Cody) Asche has to play, (Darin) Ruf has to play.”
Kahnle, 24, has a 2.45 ERA for the Yankees’ Double A Trenton club. Control is an issue as he has walked 42 in 59 1/3 innings. In August, Kahnle pitched 15 innings and allowed 14 hits while walking 12 and striking out 21.
With Young and McDonald gone, the Phils added infielders Michael Martinez and Cesar Hernandez from Triple A for Sunday’s game against the Cubs. Both can also play some outfield. Freddy Galvis is expected to join the club on Tuesday after the Triple A season ends.