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.