After months of unending Cubs trade rumors, it’s hard to imagine being truly shocked about a Cubs trade when it finally occurs. But count us officially SHOCKED by the move to trade Cubs sidearm reliever, Scott Effross.
Yankees receive: Scott Effross
We may explore a more comprehensive post about the Cubs MLB players moved this deadline, Effross included, but it’s absolutely critical to point out how impressive the young sidearmer has been. He made a major decision to change his mechanics and this season he’s been a truly dominant force out of the Cubs bullpen. Effross has a 10.23 K/9 (28.1K%), 2.25 BB/9 (6.2 BB%), 2.66 ERA all good for a 1.2 fWAR. He has been a dependable cog in (ironically) [David] Ross’s bullpen corps. Most importantly for his trade value, Effross wasn’t even arbitration eligible for several more seasons.
Cubs receive: RHP Hayden Wesneski
So why would the Cubs choose to trade an inexpensive, awesome reliever who is under team control for several more seasons. The reason is because it’s very difficult to acquire very close to ready MLB starting pitching who throw with serious “stuff”. The player they targeted was RHP Hayden Wesneski. Wesneski’s rankings generally have him in the top 10 of Yankees prospects with him being ranked 4th by Baseball America, 17th with Fangraphs (40+ FV), 5th by Prospectslive, and 7th by MLB Pipeline. Let’s explore his repertoire.
MLB Pipeline: Wesneski featured some of the best sink in the 2019 Draft, and he since has boosted the velocity on his two-seam fastball to where it now sits at 92-94 mph. He’s also added a four-seamer that can reach 98. He has upgraded his low-80s slider as well, adding more sweep that gets a lot of swings and misses by playing well off his sinker, which moves in the opposite direction. He can turn his slider into a harder cutter and is making progress with his fading low-80s changeup — two pitches that could increase his effectiveness against left-handers. Wesneski pounded the strike zone throughout his college career and has continued to do so in pro ball, even as his stuff has made a leap forward. He’s deceptive, too, and hitters don’t get good swings against him and struggle to lift the ball when they do make contact.
Baseball America Scouting Report: Wesneski works with a five-pitch arsenal of four- and two-seam fastballs, a slider, a changeup and a newly added cutter. The four-seamer, which parks in the mid 90s and has peaked at 99 mph with heavy sinking life. His slider has shorter, sweepier break, while his curveball is potentially plus and acts more like a powerful slurve with horizontal and vertical break. His changeup is a potentially average pitch and is thrown in the low 80s. Wesneski’s delivery features a deep shoulder load, a three-quarters slot and a wider release point. Some scouts believe he’ll have to improve his direction to the plate in order to help his stuff maintain its consistency.
Intriguingly, it’s Wesneski’s sweeper slider that has me the most intrigued. Pitchers who generate that much sweep to their slider likely throw low-efficiency fastballs. Another way to describe those fastballs are gyrospin fastballs, which Steven Pappas and I recently explored could have incredible benefits in pitch design.