The Red Sox made their first trade of the 2020 season on Friday night, sending Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies in exchange for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold, a pair of right-handed hitters. We’ll have more on Pivetta in the coming days, as he is already a big leaguer and someone we’ll see pretty much immediately, but for today I want to focus on Seabold. He is the prospect coming back in this deal and probably the player about whom Red Sox fans should be more excited.
The righty was a three-year player at Cal State Fullerton after getting drafted in the 19th round by the Orioles out of high school but opting to go to college instead. That was a fine decision as he upped his stock to that of a third rounder by the 2017 draft, when he was selected by the Phillies and signed with that organization. After pitching well in a small sample size in the New York Penn League to start his career, he was aggressively moved to High-A in his first full season as a 22-year-old. He ended up splitting that season between High-A and Double-A and pitched fine, ending the year with a 4.28 ERA across the two levels over 130 1⁄3 innings with 132 strikeouts and 32 walks.
He was looking to take a leap forward in 2019, but right towards the end of camp he ended up tweaking his oblique, and injury that caused him to miss significant time early in the season. He’d end up being able to pitch about half the year, and after a few rehab outings he made his way back to Double-A. Once he got back to the mound Seabold impressed at Reading, pitching to a 2.25 ERA over seven starts and 40 innings with 36 strikeouts and ten walks. The Phillies understandably wanted to get the righty more work after he missed so much time so they put him in the Arizona Fall League, where he really started to open some eyes. Seabold pitched to an impressive 1.06 ERA in the AFL over 17 innings with 22 strikeouts and just three walks.
Now 24 years old, we’re not talking about a pitcher with a huge ceiling but there is plenty of optimism for Seabold to develop into a very solid starter. Listed at 6’2”, 190 pounds, the righty doesn’t really have a putaway pitch. Instead, he has a solid fastball that sits in the 90-93 range, along with a changeup that is getting better reviews of late and a breaking ball that has gotten mixed reviews. Some have graded it as high as average while others think it’s a bit more fringy. Where Seabold has his success, though, is hitting the edges, not walking batters and mixing his pitches. This profile doesn’t project to being one that leads a rotation, but there is value in a guy who is relatively close to the majors — he was at Philly’s alternate site and in a normal year likely would have been in the conversation for a late-season call-up if he pitched well at Triple-A — who profiles as a back-of-the-rotation arm.
As for where he fits in the system, he is certainly not in the top couple of tiers but he should be somewhere towards the bottom of the top 20. After the draft when I was tiering things out I had Blaze Jordan at number 18 behind Connor Wong and Brayan Bello. After that are guys like Aldo Ramirez, Ryan Zeferjahn and Brainer Bonaci. That’s roughly where I’d slot Seabold, which probably puts him right at number 20 if I had to put a hard number on it.