On Wednesday, which is the day before today, the Diamondbacks made a move that was perhaps unexpected. They called up Yoan Moncada to provide support at third base while the team is in the thick of the wild card race. Oh wait, wrong headline. A little further down the “breaking news” wire, it was announced that center fielder Michael Bourn was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, of course, are an actual playoff contender and were looking for a boost in the outfield. It’s not like Bourn is going to supplant Adam Jones, but he might end up spelling MLB home run leader Mark Trumbo defensively in late inning opportunities because, well, fate is the cruelest of mistresses.
In return, the club received minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich, a 20-year old who’s played this season for the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York-Penn League. That’s short season ball and Heinrich has been not-so-good in 44 games. A fifth-round pick in 2015 out of a Florida high school, the Alaska native will likely wind up with the Missoula Osprey to finish out the year. In his debut season, he hit well enough in rookie ball, posting a .270/.360/.382 line with seven doubles, two triples and a pair of homers in 45 games. His results this year have been less spectacular, hitting just .231/.301/.347 with eight doubles and three homers.
Performance aside, Heinrich has a right field profile, but isn’t a strong runner and it’s been projected that he could be forced to move to first base as he grows and fills out. That’s obviously a familiar profile for fans of the Diamondbacks’ organization. Limited athleticism has been a bit of a theme, one that’s not played out so well. He’s projected to hit for power, however, with what looks like good bat speed. And while he’s still learning how to tap into that power, he’s showed an ability to get on base while managing the strikeouts about as well as you’d expect for a 20-year old that’s trying to hit the ball hard. He ranked in the middle of the Orioles’ top prospect list from FanGraphs over the winter, so that’s obviously not a ringing endorsement. He’s a lottery ticket, essentially.
The good news is, he’s at least something and Michael Bourn wasn’t going to be with the Diamondbacks in 2017. The team picked him up in May from Toronto after his release from Cleveland to cover for the calamitous loss of A.J. Pollock and an injured Chris Owings. Bourn filled in admirably, but is a bench player at this point in his career. Because he was released, the D-backs only had to pay a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum salary, which should equal something like $400,000. That was a pretty cheap band aid to slap on, and trading that band aid for even a player like Heinrich should be viewed as a low-key success.
The Diamondbacks did well to turn a cheap move into a prospect with at least some upside. And while Heinrich won’t be a top prospect for Arizona this winter when lists roll out, he’s at least another player in the system to keep our eyes on. That’s a victory, even if a small one. The organization has done well at times with these smaller moves, and while the big blunders will always outweigh these little successes, it’s credit where credit’s due at this point. Getting something of small value for Michael Bourn should be considered just that, a small victory. We’ll settle for that at this point.
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