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Examining the prospects in the Montero deal

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What do we know about Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia, the two young pitchers received from the Cubs in exchange for Miguel Montero?

There's something to be said for getting really raw prospects in a trade. It's like being a gift marked, "Do not open until Christmas 2018", with no way of knowing whether what you'll find inside will be a shiny pony or a coupon for free pizza, that's now well past its expiry date. It's likely this piece will be the last time you'll see these names mentioned outside of perhaps a minor-league report, at least for the next few years. But maybe - just maybe - one day, we'll see one or other in the majors for the Diamondbacks, and I [or whoever is running the 'Pit at that point!] can link back to this article in a "My, how far they have come" kind of way.

To start with the lesser prospect, Zack Godley is 24 years old - and that's largely why he's the lesser prospect. While his numbers at the start of 2014 for  A-ball Kane County were impressive [a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 15 innings[, he was a full two years older than average for the league. Those numbers were good enough to get him a promotion to High-A Daytona, and even though he was still older than most there, his line there was significantly less impressive. Godley posted a 3.57 ERA, and his K-rate declined as well, though was still respectable, with 52 strikeouts in 40.1 relief innings.

Godley was a 10th round pick for the Cubs in 2013, but signed for below slot ($35,000 as opposed to $139,000) and it's likely he was a lower pick, bumped up so the money saved could then be re-routed toward signing another, more expensive choice - Before the draft, Baseball America had him #487, almost 200 slots behind where he went, and said "His fastball sits 88-90 mph and he fills up the bottom half of the strike zone. His curveball is fringe-average and flashes better. His changeup was a solid-average to plus pitch in 2012 but backed up in 2013 as his curve improved. Godley hit 95 mph as a reliever and probably fits better in that role as a pro."

More intriguing is Mejia - and yes, it is Jeferson with one F. [Between him and Welington Castillo, seems the Cubs have something for consonant-deficient players named after famous people] He turned 20 in August, and after spending 2013 in the DSL, appeared 12 times this year for the Cubs of the Arizona Rookie League. He went 2-4 with a 2.48 ERA, holding opponents to a .204 average, with a K:BB ratio of 45:17 in 40 innings of work. The right-hander was particularly tough on RHB, who hit .192 against him, with a 33:9 K:BB ration. He began in relief, but his final three games were starts, allowing two earned runs in 12.1 IP, with 15 walks and four K's.

Whether he can stick in the rotation is likely to have a significant impact on his future value. One possible warning light is Mejia's size: while certainly tall, at 6'7", he is officially only 195-pounds, which seems very light for that height  However, if more bulk might be nice, that kind of size is not necessarily a show-stopper. Brandon McCarthy is the same height, and is listed at 200 pounds, though the average major-league pitcher that tall, tends to be in the 230's weight-wise. Additionally, I'm not sure how accurate that weight is: when signed in July 2013, Baseball America had him listed at 220 pounds, and added "although that might be a light estimate".

[I note his signing was delayed due to an MLB investigation. The link is vague on the details of that, but it may have been another case of Dominicans shaving their ages, as the article says [emphasis added], "Mejia is now using an Aug. 2, 1994 date of birth."] Minor League Ball had him at #20 among Cubs' prospects in October, giving him "good reviews for mid-90s heat, promising breaking ball," with John Sickels saying "I think he is a terrific breakthrough candidate." Also worth noting: Sickels thinks the Cubs have one of, if not the best farm system, so a #20 ranking there is no disaster. At the top is video of Mejia, who was ranked #17 by MLB.com before today's trade.

Obviously, there's a long, long way to go, before we know whether the lottery tickets which these two players represent, will be worth even their cost. But it's the kind of deal which I don't mind, especially given my opinion that the team is unlikely to contend this year, with Montero certainly on the wrong side of the aging curve, and his salary ballooning into eight digits. Neither Mejia nor Godley are meaningless throw-ins, simply possessing a pulse, and if the odds are against them having value in the majors, those odds are still greater than zero.