Pirates Acquire Steven Brault as PTBNL in Travis Snider Deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday that they received 22-year-old left-handed starter Steven Brault from the Baltimore Orioles as the player to be named later in the Travis Snider trade. The Pirates also received lefty Stephen Tarpley from the Orioles when the trade was made back on January 27th.

Brault had a 2.77 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 146.1 innings in 2014, splitting his season between Low-A and High-A. He finished the season strong, posting a 1.58 ERA in his last ten starts, including an 0.55 mark in three starts for High-A Frederick. Brault walked just 30 batters all season, while holding hitters to a .216 BAA. He also had a strong 1.21 GO/AO ratio.

Baseball America ranked Brault as the 18th best prospect in the Orioles system, two spots below Tarpley. They called Brault a “command-and-control” lefty, with a fastball that ranges from 88-92 MPH. He has a good change-up and he also throws a slider. Brault was an 11th round pick in the 2013 draft.

UPDATE 5:26 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…

When the Snider trade was first rumored, Brault was the name that was initially brought up. It makes you wonder why they waited so long to make this official, when he could have been traded at any time. I liked the addition of Tarpley over Brault when the deal was announced, because Tarpley has better stuff and a chance for more upside. Brault seems like the type of left-hander that you shouldn’t trust too much until he has success above A-ball.

Earlier this week I wrote about the Bradenton rotation, and how there looked to be an open spot on the team. I’d project Brault in that spot. He made three starts in high-A last year, and showed off good control in low-A, with a good strikeout rate. Again, I don’t take those seriously until he starts doing the same in the upper levels. He might get that chance by the end of the season. Brault turns 23 at the end of April, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him moving up to Altoona in the second half, especially if he continues putting up numbers like he put up last year.

My thoughts on the Travis Snider trade are about the same as after the deal. The Pirates got what could be described as fair value for Snider, although they made a trade from the present to re-load the future. That’s never a bad approach for a small market team to take, but it requires that you have someone ready to step in who can be just as good as the guy you traded away. All of the projections have Andrew Lambo being just as good, or better than Snider, and he seems to be the guy who will take Snider’s place. If the Pirates can get two lefty pitching prospects — with both having the upside to one day start in the majors — and they can do so without losing any production at the MLB level, then this deal will end up looking very nice.

  • Get the kid a smoke machine and a nice collection of mirrors. It seems to be the way “control” lefties succeed in the Majors. At least it’s more likely for a control lefty to stick than a control righty, though.

  • John/Tim: Where would you see Tarpley and Brault in the P2 rankings? Whodathunkit – Brault and Joe Musgrove played on the same HS team in San Diego. Musgrove went high in the draft in 2011 and Brault went to Regis College, and now Brault is pitching at a higher minor league level?

    • Going by the P2 Prospect Guide, which differs slightly from my own top 50, I would have Tarpley 14th and Brault 33rd(34th if you put Tarpley on the list). Brault put up great numbers, but I’ve seen plenty of lefties put up strong Low-A numbers relying mainly on command. His velocity is low, his secondary pitches don’t stand out and he doesn’t have great size, plus his age works against him at this point. He will have to look good at AA before I rank him much higher

      • Interesting that the O’s 18th best is only the 33rd or 34th best in our system. And I thought they were known for their stocked minor league system.

        • I tend to be harder on soft-tossing lefties than most sources because they rely on results, while I go by what I’ve seen similar pitchers do in the past. Until a lefty reaches AA and looks good there, he will never get ranked high from me unless his stuff is legit. Based on everything I read about Brault, he gets by with command and command lefties(that don’t throw hard) can breeze through the low levels until they get sorted out in AA. I’ve seen lefties throw strikes with mid-80’s stuff in low-A and dominate. I’m guessing batters just don’t see enough lefties before they reach a certain point.

          Pirates have had Eliecer Navarro, Jhonathan Ramos and Orlando Castro fit that mold recently and even guys like Rinku Singh and Mike Jefferson put up good stats at WV with well below average stuff.

          That #33 was just my ranking. When everyone from the site gave their opinion, Brault ended up 27th http://18.206.184.11/2015/02/where-would-steven-brault-rank-in-the-pirates-2015-top-50.html?wt=4

  • I must be missing something here. His WHIP in the Penn league was 1.409, and it looks like he was age appropriate for the league.

    • I’m assuming you looked it up on Fangraphs and saw his Steamer projection for if he played in the majors this year. He had a 1.04 WHIP in A ball last year and 0.55 in A+.

  • Good trade, only question is can either of them grill a steak?

  • I like it. Restocking lefties after the loss of Blake Taylor and Joely Rodriguez

    • Ben: This kid has already climbed high after coming from a D-II or D-III school like Regis College. He signed quickly, got 12 good starts at Short-season in 2013, and then 21 Starts last year in Lo A – good numbers both years, so he has not been overwhelmed by the level of competition. Tarpley is the guy with the gaudy velocity, and this kid obviously uses a lot more finesse.

  • Could be the future Tony Watson replacement. 88-92 as a starter might be 91-95 in the bullpen. Brault has similar numbers in the minors as Watson did too although Brault has a better BB/9.

  • A decent seemng ptbnl. “Command and control” lefties arent the most exciting thing, but they don’t exactly grow on trees either. Seems like someone you eventually move to the pen and hope for a couple mph bump. An 88mph fastball isn’t likely to cut it anymore, but if he can get over 90 to go with his decent secondary offerings and good control, all while throwing with his southern paw, he could make a career out of that.

    • Not the most exciting, mostly because people like big shiny things. John is certainly correct in that they won’t really know much until he succeeds at higher levels, but guys with good command and changeups are said to be habitually underrated compared to high velo and big breaking balls.

  • risefromtheashes89
    February 20, 2015 5:35 pm

    With the lack of quality lefties in the minors, this could be a great deal for the Bucs. I loved Snider and would have been a great 4th outfielder this year. However, the Pirates have a wealth of 4th outfielder types that one should be able to take the few at bats that Snider would have had in Pgh this year. Glad for him he will gain some playing time in Baltimore. If either pan out for the Bucs, then a good deal If both should pan out, a steal for Neil H.

    • Agreed. I’m infatuated with Brault’s Frederick numbers. I also wonder if there’s a chance to bring that FB speed up to 90-94 with the Bucs crew working with him. I don’t think you can stack up too many upside lefties.

      And I just looked at the Altoona 40-man roster. There’s only one lefty under 25. Could definitely use one or both of these guys to advance to Double-A.

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