The 2019/2020 MLB off-season continues to be active with the news of a big trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In this trade, the 27th ranked player on the ESPN Player Rater last season and the 21st ranked player on the Pitcher List Hitter List for 2020, Starling Marte, was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2 prospects. Those 2 prospects going to the Pirates are SP Brennan Malone and SS Liover Peguero. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the prospects involved in the trade below!
Brennan Malone (RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 19, Level: A-
Malone was a well-known entity going into the 2019 MLB draft, notably possessing a quick arm that produced mid to upper 90’s velocity as part of a 4-pitch mix that all had a chance to be at least average. An inconsistent summer on the showcase circuit where he battled command and consistency led him to fall to the 33rd overall selection in the draft where the Diamondbacks selected him in the compensation 1st round. The command and consistency issues in his career have largely stemmed from an inconsistent arm slot. He’s made strides as a pro though, and when coupled with his athletic and smooth delivery, many believe he projects to have average command going forward. If that is the case, the ceiling could be pretty high for Malone.
Standing at 6 foot 4 and 205 lbs, Malone has an ideal pitcher’s build with a lot of strength already that helps him maintain his velocity deep into starts. He’s touched 99 MPH with the fastball which gets on hitters quickly thanks to quality extension and plays well up in the zone despite being fairly flat. His best secondary weapon is a hard, late-breaking sider that currently sits in the low-80’s that consistently receives above-average grades and flashes plus. He throws it predominantly to the glove-side and can generate swings and misses with it both on the corner and off-the-plate. He mixes in a developing mid-70’s MPH curveball that is loopy but comes with a significant amount of downward break. It’s an average pitch. Finally, there’s also a rarely used changeup in his repertoire that needs further refinement. Many scouts project that it can be an average pitch in time as he has feel for it, but because he slows down his arm, he telegraphs the pitch and doesn’t sell it well. The result is that in Malone’s small professional sample, lefties have teed-off on him to the tune of a .308 average against and a 5.40 ERA. Here is a good look at his repertoire from the guys over at Fangraphs:
To me, Malone offers a pretty similar pitch mix to a guy like Luis Patino of the San Diego Padres farm system, who is a consensus top 50 prospect at this point. I would say that Malone is a bigger and more physical pitcher, but is more raw at this point. Still, that’s the sort of upside range we could be looking at for Malone going forward if he takes positive strides. If he puts it all together, it’s a mid-rotation power-pitcher sort of profile.
Liover Peguero (SS, Pittsburgh Pirates) Age: 19, Level: A-
Peguero was part of an impressive group of international free-agent signings for the Diamondbacks back in 2017 that notably included now consensus top-100 prospect Kristian Robinson. While Robinson was the big-name signing who earned a $2.5 million signing bonus, Peguero earned a much more modest $475,000. Don’t let the money difference fool you, Peguero is a very intriguing player fresh off a breakout 2019 season. He began his season at the rookie-level Pioneer League and promptly hit .364/.410/.559 with 5 HRs and 8 SBs over 156 PAs which was good for a 153 wRC+. Among those with at least 150 PAs in the league in 2019, that ranked 7th best which is especially notable when you consider that Peguero was 2.6 years younger than league average.
He showed average contact skills with a 21.8% strikeout rate supported by a 10.1% swinging-strike rate, but the hit tool plays up thanks to a special ability to find the barrel with consistency. His game power right now plays down due to a low-lying launch angle that resulted in an elevated 54.7% GB rate at the level, but he has average raw power that he may learn to tap into going forward. He got a late-season promotion to Low-A where he held his own with a 101 wRC+ while again being very young for the level. He notably delivered a walk-off double in the playoffs for the Low-A Hillsboro Hops that highlights his ability to find the barrel well:
He also has plus speed which helps him both on the bases and in the field as he projects to be an above-average defensive SS. The tools are there for a well-rounded above-average MLB SS, with Fangraphs even suggesting he’s Jean Segura starter kit. He still very young and has a long way to go before realizing that potential though. Still, he’s a guy with easy top 100 prospect potential and I think he’s worth a spot in mid-sized dynasty leagues now.
(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)