The Atlanta Braves continued their rebuild on Thursday night when they traded 24 year old prospect Kyle Kubitza and Nate Hyatt to the Angels for left handed pitching prospect Ricardo Sanchez. The Braves add a high upside left handed starting prospect to their rejuvenated farm system at the cost of a prospect in Kubitza who has a higher floor than Sanchez but a much lower ceiling.
Sanchez is 17 years old and was ranked as the second best prospect in the Angels system. Now being the 2nd best prospect in the Angels system is akin to being the favorite in a foot race between Evan Gattis, Fredi Gonzalez and one of Chipper's latest mounted trophies. Neverthless, it is hard to find much to complain about in this deal. Hyatt is a nothing prospect and at 24 years old Kubitza is pushing the definition of prospect. Kubitza is likely to get some time at third base for the Angels at some point but that says more about a team that started David Freese last year than it does about Kubitza. Kubitza was a guy with a lot of promise at one point but the shine has definitely started to come off. The Braves traded Kubitza at what has to be considered his peak value and in return got a pitcher who has the tools to be a dominant starting lefty several years down the road.
The key part there is several years down the road. This trade improves the Braves farm system but it does so at the cost of a player who could possibly have done something to help the major league team in the next year or two. It is pretty clear at this point though the Braves front office isn't particularly concerned with 2015 or 2016. This is about building a winning team for the Braves new stadium when it opens in 2017. That is a perfectly valid strategy and this move fits right in with that.
Sanchez has the potential that you can dream on but can also break your heart. He is left handed and already throws 95 miles per hour. Baseball America calls Sanchez's curveball his best pitch and says he has a good feel for his changeup A left handed starter who throws 95, has feel for his changeup, and can boast a plus curveball is the kind of thing that GM's would sell their first born for. By the same token expecting big things from 17 year old pitchers is a good way to get your heart broken. Falling in love with Taylor Swift is a safer bet.
Overall, the Braves did well here. The farm system got better by exchanging a high floor, low ceiling 24 year old for a 17 year old Braves fans can dream on. John Hart continues to build a team that will likely put on quite a show for the folks in Cobb County. It is good to see the team fully committing to the future and not missing out on a guy like Sanchez just to save face in 2015. This is about 2017 at this point and that is a good plan even if it promises to be painful in the short term.