The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and while major league players on the move have stolen most of the headlines, a wealth of minor league talent has changed hands as well. Unlike the 2010 deadline that saw few impact prospects switch organizations, 2011 saw future aces, power hitters and MLB-ready arms exchange uniforms with regularity.
The 10 best prospects who switched teams at or during the days leading up to the deadline are ranked below. Most of these players won't see the majors until next season at the earliest, but they'll aim to ensure that at future trade deadlines, their organizations are looking to add talent for deep playoff runs.
10. Charlie Furbush, pitcher, Seattle Mariners
Furbush was a part of the deal that saw Doug Fister and David Pauley shipped to Detroit, and the 25-year-old left-hander offers the Mariners some versatility going forward. Should the M's choose to put Furbush in the rotation, he has the ceiling of a No. 4 starter, and his tendency to give up the long ball would be somewhat mitigated by spacious Safeco Field. Furbush's lack of a true out-pitch means his future may lie in the bullpen, though, where he would likely become a solid set-up man or high-leverage reliever. Either Drew Smyly or Chance Ruffin is rumored to be the PTBNL in the Fister deal, and either would bump Furbush off this list. A case can also be made to place Joe Wieland, dealt from Texas to San Diego, here on the list instead of Furbush.
9. Francisco Martinez, third baseman, Seattle Mariners
Until the final player is named, Martinez is the best prospect the Mariners received in the Fister trade. While he may not be an industry-consensus Top 100 prospect, he's likely not all that far off either. Martinez won't turn 21 until September, yet he is holding his own at Double-A with a .282 average, 46 RBIs and seven home runs and seven steals. His .319 on-base percentage leaves much to be desired, but he looks like a future everyday player, and has the tools to be an outstanding defensive third baseman. It's hard to find many impact positional prospects in the Mariners' system, and Martinez immediately becomes one of their best.
8. Zach Stewart, pitcher, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox were largely slammed for dealing Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to save payroll while in the midst of a pennant race, but they did little to harm their starting pitching depth by acquiring Stewart in return. Dealt from the Reds to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen at the 2009 deadline, Stewart has been a consistent if not phenomenal performer at Double-A over the past two years, and started three games for the Jays earlier this season as well. Stewart could use a little more minor league seasoning, but is still just 24, and should compete for a spot in the White Sox rotation next year. He profiles as a No. 3 starter if he continues to improve his command.
7. Trayvon Robinson, outfielder, Seattle Mariners
Perhaps no move during this year's trading deadline was as odd as the Dodgers' decision to give up Robinson, who is exactly the type of young, cost-controlled talent they should be looking to acquire. Robinson has seen his value increase this year with a phenomenal Triple-A campaign, as the switch-hitter has hit .297-26-71 with eight steals and a .375 OBP through 416 plate appearances. Scouts believe the uptick in power may be a fluke, but Robinson should reach double-digit homers and steals in the majors. He can play an above-average left field or be an adequate defender in center. The Mariners will likely keep Robinson in Triple-A until the minor league season ends, but expect him to be up with the big league club in September, and to complete for a starting job next spring.
6. Alex White, starting pitcher, Colorado Rockies
White is the most major league-ready piece the Rockies received from the Indians in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, but is currently on the disabled list with a finger injury -– a worse fate for White than for most pitchers, since his best pitch is a splitter. White has flown through the minors since being drafted 15th overall in 2009 and has less than 200 innings pitched in his professional career. If he can continue to induce ground balls at an above-average rate and improve on his slider, he has the chance to be a No. 3 starter. If not, he still profiles as a late-inning reliever or possible closer.
5. Robbie Erlin, starting pitcher, San Diego Padres
The main piece going to San Diego in the Mike Adams trade, Erlin is widely considered a Top 50 prospect and should absolutely thrive at PETCO Park. Erlin's fastball sits only in the 88-91 mph range, but both his curveball and changeup are above average, and he knows how to use them effectively. Erlin features ridiculously good control –- he's walked 12 batters in 101 1/3 innings pitched this season -– and is left-handed, which only adds to his value. Still only 20 years old, look for Erlin to begin 2012 in Triple-A and end the year in the middle of the Padres' rotation, where he should remain for years to come.
4. Jonathan Singleton, first baseman/outfielder, Houston Astros
Singleton was far and away the best positional prospect to be dealt at the 2011 deadline, and represents part of the solid return the Astros got for Hunter Pence. Singleton has an extraordinarily good grasp of the strike zone for a 19-year-old, and although it doesn't show up in his stat lines, he projects to have 30-homer power in the future. With Ryan Howard entrenched in the majors the Phillies had experimented with Singleton in the outfield, but his defensive home is clearly at first base. Singleton is unlikely to see the majors until late 2013 at the earliest, but should be a middle-of-the-order hitter once he gets there.
3. Jarred Cosart, starting pitcher, Houston Astros
The Astros were fleeced badly in the Michael Bourn deal, but did well to acquire both Singleton and Cosart for Pence. The prospect on this list with the most boom-or-bust potential, Cosart is likely to become a legitimate ace, a terrific closer, or flame out spectacularly. There are few pitchers in the minors who can boast the kind of one-two punch that Cosart has with his fastball and curveball combination. He comes with a troubling history of injuries, though, and has underperformed to this point in 2011. The fastest way to rebuild is through acquiring stars, and while Cosart is far from a sure thing, he could also be an elite starter by 2014.
2. Zack Wheeler, starting pitcher, New York Mets
The Mets likely acquired their ace of the future in Wheeler, and they couldn't have hoped to receive a better prospect in return for Carlos Beltran. Wheeler has a dominating fastball, projectable body and improving command, and is pitching quite well with a 10.02 K/9 rate in high Class-A. He's cut down on his walks from a season ago, and if one of his curveball or changeup becomes a plus pitch as he grows, he could shoot through the Mets' system very quickly. Some have cited concern over Wheeler's delivery, but with just 146.2 innings under his belt, he has plenty of time to learn to repeat his motion with more regularity. Wheeler has the highest upside of any player on this list.
1. Drew Pomeranz, starting pitcher, Colorado Rockies
Pomeranz cannot technically be traded to the Rockies until Aug. 15, but he was the crown jewel of the surprising Jimenez deal. Pomeranz doesn't have quite as much promise as Wheeler or even Cosart, but he has a significantly higher floor. The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Pomeranz has already pushed his way to Double-A and has struck out 112 batters through his first 91 professional innings. With pitching prospects Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich struggling in the Rockies' system, Pomeranz easily becomes their No. 1 prospect. All that's left for Pomeranz to do in the minors is continue to improve his control, and it's not hard to envision him as an MLB-ready No. 2 starter in the Andy Pettitte mold by this time next season.