Adam Ottavino undoubtedly is the headliner of Monday’s rare trade between the Red Sox and Yankees.
But don’t sleep on Frank German, a 2018 fourth-round pick whom New York also shipped to Boston as part of the deal.
The trade, which saves the Yankees money amid their effort to stay below the $210 luxury tax threshold, bolsters the Red Sox’s bullpen, as Ottavino has an excellent track record despite struggling during a condensed 2020 Major League Baseball season.
It also gives Boston a pitching prospect with intriguing upside, as German has enjoyed success in the minors and presumably is on the cusp of reaching the majors at age 23.
Ian Cundall, director of scouting for SoxProspects.com, spoke with one scout who saw German pitch in the Florida State League, where the right-hander went 4-4 with a 3.79 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings across 16 starts (15 appearances) in 2019.
Here’s what the scout said:
German isn’t a perfect prospect. And it’s quite possible, as the scout suggests, that he’ll wind up in the bullpen rather than the rotation.
But there’s obviously still value in that, especially as the Red Sox look to build their organizational pitching depth on the heels of an underwhelming 2020 season. It’ll be interesting to see whether Boston can tap into German’s full potential.
After working with a 90-95 mph fastball with the Ospreys, German has operated at 94-96 and peaked at 98 with running action as a pro. He also has made progress with his changeup, which has the makings of a solid pitch with some fade and sink but can get too firm at times. He’ll need to tighten up his breaking ball to remain a starter and have more success against right-handed hitters, and New York tried to help him turn his college slurve into more of a true slider.
German’s walk rate nearly tripled from 1.5 per nine innings between college and pro ball in 2018 to 4.2 in the Minors in ’19. He has sound mechanics and a history of repeating them well, so the hope is that he regains his former control, improves his slider and develops into a rotation option. If not, he’ll have to make it as a fastball-oriented reliever.
Ottavino might make the bigger impact in 2021, even if German debuts with Boston. The former, an 11-year veteran at age 35, had some really good years with the Colorado Rockies before joining the Yankees in 2019, and it’s fair to assume his 2020 woes were an aberration.
The Red Sox need to be creative in their quest to add young, controllable pitchers, though, and Monday’s trade seemingly represents that, with German a name to watch moving forward.