Seattle, WA, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Brent Lillibridge (23) waits for the pitch during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Boston defeated Seattle 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
First, let's just say what we're all thinking: Brent Lillibridge is a pretty neat name, as far as names go, but Jose De La Torre just sounds splendid. Rolls off the tongue, even. On that alone, Boston is the winner of this minor trade.
As much as it pains to say this, though, trades are gauged on more than just names alone, so let's take a look and see who it is the Red Sox picked up. Jose De La Torre is a 26-year-old who has yet to pitch in the major leagues. It's not because he's been terrible, either. He was property of the Mets from 2006 through 2011, and missed his entire age-22 campaign back in 2008 thanks to Tommy John surgery, halting his progress through the minors temporarily. The Indians picked him up this past off-season, without a spring training invite attached to the deal.
His control seems to be either phenomenal or problematic, depending on the year more so than the level, as he's put up walk rates over five per nine over random 20-inning or more samples, and also similar stretches where it seems as if he can't walk anyone. All told, he's kept them a bit on the high side, though, especially in the upper minors against more advanced hitters.
De La Torre has thrown 97-1/3 innings at Double-A, and another 79-1/3 in Triple-A, with some solid results:
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||2.59||60||97.1||403||1.233||6.7||0.1||4.4||9.3||2.10|
|AAA (3 seasons)||AAA||2.50||58||79.1||336||1.197||6.7||0.6||4.1||10.3||2.53|
The strikeout rates are better than impressive, but also necessary given the constant free passes. He's also seen success on the ground, too (more than twice as many ground outs as fly outs in 2012), helping to erase some of those extra baserunners, and has generally seemed hard to hit throughout his minor-league career.
That being said, not a single word has ever been written about Jose De La Torre at Baseball Prospectus, in spite of these performances, and the 5-foot-9 right-hander has never received any kind of ranking from Baseball America, if his player page there is to be believed. He's not a prospect, but he is an arm with all of his options intact, and, even better, wasn't on the Indians' 40-man roster, either. That means he doesn't need to go on Boston's, who can for once avoid some kind of crunch while acquiring someone.
De La Torre is kind of interesting in the sense that some of his numbers pop -- the strikeouts, the grounder rates, and only 13 long balls allowed in 321 innings, for instance -- but at the same time, it's clear he has some inconsistency in his control. He's a bullpen guy, if he's anything. It might be worth seeing what he can do eventually, but for now, he's likely just organizational depth that Boston now gets a closer look at. In a way, though, with the Red Sox current bench situation, there's probably more need for a guy like that in the system than there is for Lillibridge.