Miguel Olivo, catcher of the future (Getty)
The long-awaited trade of Freddy Garcia finally went down on Sunday as the Seattle Mariners pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Garcia, C Ben Davis and cash to the Chicago White Sox for C Miguel Olivo, OF Jeremy Reed and SS Michael Morse.
Here’s a look at each of the new Mariners:
At age 25 – he turns 26 on July 15 – Olivo has been the White Sox’s No. 1 catcher this season, appearing in 45 games. Regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the American League, Olivo has an arm that rivals that of Ivan Rodriguez. Offensively, he has speed rarely seen in catchers, and has shown steady improvement at the plate.
In 141 at bats with Chicago this season, he has batted .270 with seven home runs, seven doubles, three triples, 26 RBI and five stolen bases.
Last season, his rookie year, he batted .237 in 317 at bats in his first full season in the big leagues, and struggled with his discipline at the plate. He struck out 80 times and walked just 19.
This season, that’s changed. He’s fanned just 29 times and walked 10, showing that he’s been able to cut down on the strikeout.
Defensively, Olivo has thrown out 9 of 29 base stealers this season, having gunned down 19 of 53 last season.
Look for Olivo to quickly become the M’s main option at catcher as the club looks to begin building toward the future around their newest backstop. Wilson, who’s been one of the M’s best hitters this season, is 35 years old and a free agent after the season. He’ batting .279 with two homers and 24 RBI this year.
The key to the deal, the 6-foot, 180-pound Reed is a toolsy outfielder that was rated as Chicago’s top prospect by Baseball America. He batted .333 in 222 at bats at High-A Winston-Salem last season before being promoted and batting .409 in 242 at bats at Double-A Birmingham. The hot-hitting earned him the 2003 Topps Minor League Player of the Year honors. More recently, he was named as one of Chicago’s two minor league representatives in the July 11th Futures Game in Houston.
At Triple-A Charlotte this season, the recently-turned 23-year-old has batted .273 with eight homers, 36 RBI, 14 doubles, one triple and 12 steals.
With speed to burn and aggressiveness that can’t be taught, Reed has compiled 74 steals in his two-plus years as a pro. In the mold of a Chris Snelling, only faster and stronger, Reed has good instincts in the outfield and an average arm. He projects as a centerfielder or right fielder, most likely.
Without Reed, this deal wouldn’t have went down. The M’s knew they needed to acquire some promising young bats for the future, and they got one in this athletic former 2002 second round draft pick. Look for Reed to be assigned to Triple-A Tacoma for a bit more minor league seasoning before getting a look in the bigs once the 25-man roster expands.
At 6-foot-5, Morse is a shortstop who, like Jose Lopez, could slide over to play third base. He has busted out offensively this season at Double-A Birmingham, batting .287 with 11 homers, nine doubles and three triples. On the down side, he has shown little speed on the basepaths, having yet to record a single stolen base.
The offensive production is a good sign for the 22-year-old 2000 third-round draft choice. In his first four professional seasons, Morse batted just .256, .227, .257 and .245 in the Rookie League and Single-A levels.
As a 21-year-old last season, the infielder struck out 91 times and had just 25 walks in 432 at bats. He’s struggling with that ratio again this year – 46 K to 15 BB - and will need to continue to try to cut it down in the M’s organization.
Look for Morse to be assigned to Double-A San Antonio, and get a good look at third base, the spot Greg Dobbs vacated early last week when he was promoted to Tacoma. That would allow Hunter Brown to move back to second base and Eriberto Menchaca to stay at shortstop.