xml:space="preserve">

The Orioles' ability to acquire utility player Ryan Freel from the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Ramon Hernandez was a solid move, but the trade was even better because they also obtained two minor leaguers in the deal.

Adding Freel to the mix in the outfield will help boost the energy on the Orioles, and it's always a good thing to improve the depth in the minors. Furthermore, the trade allows the organization to free up a place for the much-anticipated debut of top prospect Matt Wieters, whether that's at the beginning of the 2009 season or sometime in the middle of the year. It's a win-win situation, in my opinion, even if Hernandez excels due to the change of scenery in Cincinnati.

Advertisement

I'm not sure of the specifics of the deal, but the money sent to the Reds to offset Hernandez's salary in 2009 – reportedly about $2 million – appears to have helped the Orioles to land a couple more players for the organization. It's a gamble worth taking, and the club hopes at least one of the two players will eventually contribute in the major leagues. Still, even if neither player makes it to the majors, the Orioles were able to rid themselves of Hernandez while gaining a quality role player.

As I'm sure you're aware, the Orioles acquired 24-year-old second baseman Justin Turner and 22-year-old third baseman Brandon Waring in the transaction. Neither player was rated among the elite prospects in the Reds' minor league system, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Turner split time between the Single-A Sarasota Reds and the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in 2008. He hit .316 with 11 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 33 games for Sarasota. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound infielder batted .289 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 78 games for Chattanooga. Turner has primarily played second base throughout three seasons in the minor leagues, but he's also received limited time at third base, shortstop and in the outfield.

During the 2007 season, Turner hit .311 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in 117 games for the Single-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League. He had 25 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 70 runs scored. The infielder received a brief promotion to Sarasota at the end of the season, and he was 4-for-20 with two runs scored in six games.

Prior to playing at the professional level, Turner was a four-year player at Cal State Fullerton. He was honored as a Freshman All-American after batting .326 with 39 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 40 runs scored in 62 games in 2003.

Overall, Turner's statistics dropped slightly during his sophomore season with the Titans in 2004, but he still hit .304 with 16 doubles, 34 RBIs and 45 runs scored in 64 games. Turner batted .324 with three home runs and 41 RBIs for Cal State Fullerton during the 2005 season. He had 11 stolen bases and 54 runs scored in 62 games.

After his junior season in 2005, the New York Yankees selected him in the 29th round of the MLB draft. Turner didn't sign, however, and returned to hit .355 with four home runs and 43 RBIs in 65 games for the Titans as a senior in 2006. He also had 19 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 63 runs scored. Following the season, Turner shared Big West Player of the Year honors with Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who was playing for Long Beach State. The Reds picked Turner in the seventh round of the 2006 MLB draft.

Although he's only in his second professional season, Waring seems to have a lot of power. The third baseman hit .270 with 20 home runs and 71 RBIs in 119 games for Dayton in 2008. It sounds pretty promising, but he also strikes out a lot. This season, Waring finished second in the Midwest League with 156 strikeouts.

Waring struck out 83 times in 68 games for the rookie-level Billings Mustangs during the 2007 season. He batted .311 with 20 home runs, 61 RBIs and 63 run scored.

Defensively, Waring struggled during his first two seasons in the Reds' minor league system. He committed 29 errors in 153 games at third base. In 13 games as a first baseman, Waring made two defensive miscues. It looks like he might have a future at designated hitter, but the strikeouts will have to be reduced for Waring to have a career in the major leagues.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound infielder played college baseball at Wofford in South Carolina. Waring didn't emerge as a superstar until his junior season in 2007, when he batted .401 with 27 home runs and 74 RBIs in 63 games. He also had 12 stolen bases, 13 doubles and 73 runs scored. Cincinnati selected him with the 229th overall selection in the seventh round of the 2007 MLB draft.

What does everyone think of the trade? Does it depend on the success of the two minor leaguers, or are you just happy that the Orioles have cleared room for Wieters?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement