A busy nonwaiver trade deadline day for the Orioles ended Tuesday when they snuck in a trade that sent star second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers for a three-player return, the fifth major trade the team has made since declaring they’d undergo a full-scale rebuild.
Of the five trades — including the deal that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Zach Britton to the New York Yankees, Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves, and then Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Braves — the Schoop return is most in line with what a long-term rebuilding club looking for impact should do.
Infielder Jonathan Villar fills a short- and long-term need on the major league team, right-hander Luis Ortiz has no-doubt major league rotation potential and infielder Jean Carmona is a lottery ticket who can develop in the low minors with a possibly impactful future.
Here’s more on the return for Schoop, the Orioles’ All-Star second baseman whose last two weeks likely made this return as strong as it is.
Infielder Jonathan Villar
A versatile piece with plenty of major league experience, Villar adds stability the Orioles will need at the major league level with Schoop and Manny Machado gone. They simply don’t have much quality depth or versatility in the high minors in terms of infielders, and Villar, who has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop, plus third base and outfield, will be the utility player manager Buck Showalter has long craved.
When given the chance to play full-time, he’s delivered in a big way. He played in 156 games in 2016, homering 19 times with 38 doubles and 62 steals while batting .285. He’s been a bit marginalized on an emerging Brewers team of late, and while he was out with a thumb injury, Milwaukee traded for Schoop and Mike Moustakas to take more opportunities away from him.
Villar, 27, provides some major league quality to a team that’s now lacking it at several positions, and has two seasons of club control remaining after this season.
Right-hander Luis Ortiz
With Ortiz in the fold, the Orioles now have a pair of top picks from the Texas Rangers in their organization, after this month’s trade for Dillon Tate in the Zach Britton trade. Ortiz was the 30th overall pick for Texas in 2014, thanks to a mid-90s fastball that filled up the strike zone and the potential for a legitimate four-pitch starter’s mix.
He’s already changed organizations once as part of the Jonathan Lucroy trade in 2016, but much of the promise that made him a top pick still remains. He appeared in the 2018 MLB All-Star Futures Game and threw just one pitch — a 95 mph fastball — but also features a biting, swing-and-miss slider and a developing changeup. He’s in his third season in Double-A despite being just 22, but had a 3.71 ERA in 68 innings with 65 strikeouts to 18 walks and a 1.19 WHIP. He keeps the ball in the ballpark and limits most of the contact he does allow to the ground.
One scout said he has “all the stuff to be an impactful pitcher in the show.”
The only thing keeping him from what could be a mid-rotation future at this point would be physical. Listed at 6 feet 3 and 230 pounds, Ortiz has battled his weight and conditioning throughout his career, and dealt with several injuries along the way. If he stays healthy, Ortiz will be able to simply pitch and build innings and continue his development.
But as a 2014 high school draft pick, the clock will start ticking on him soon — Ortiz will need to be added to the 40-man roster and protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason.
He was rated No. 4 in the Brewers’ system in the Baseball America midseason Top 10, and No. 7 in the MLB Pipeline rankings.
Infielder Jean Carmona
An athletic infielder signed by the Brewers out of the Dominican Republic for $725,000, Carmona was the 16th-ranked international prospect in the 2016 signing class by Baseball America.
After batting .266/.367/.406 over two rookie levels last year at age 17, Carmona was at Short-A Helena batting .239 with four home runs and eight doubles in 39 games at the time of the trade.
A projectable 6-foot-1 switch-hitter, the Orioles have plenty to dream on in Carmona, who has the abilities to stay in the middle of the infield at shortstop or second base going forward. He’s showing some power early in his career, but his tall, lean frame suggests there’s plenty more in there. He’ll be on a much longer timeline than any of the other prospects acquired this month, but represents the type of prospect the Orioles don’t have with any of their short-season teams.
MLB Pipeline had Carmona, 18, ranked No. 14 in the Brewers’ system.