We know that the Twins have been quite high on left-hander Scott Diamond for a few years, back to the days he was pitching at Binghampton University in New York. The Braves signed him and he has become a solid starting pitching prospect for the Braves. However, following the 2010 season, Atlanta made the decision not to protect him on the 40 man roster. They left Billy Wagner on their 40 man roster, and they protected just 39 on their 40 man roster.
The Twins, who drafted late in the Rule 5 draft, had him as the top player on their wish list. They were shocked that Diamond was available to them with their selection.
The Twins like his four-pitch mix, his presence on the mound, how he works quickly, etc. He has just ten games at Triple-A and another half-season or more in the minor leagues would be beneficial for him. However, the rules of the Rule 5 draft dictate that the Twins have to keep him on their 25 man roster all season or offer him back to the Braves.
Diamond has struggled at times this spring. The coaching staff expressed disappointment in him control and in his slow pace on the mound. They said that it was not the Diamond that they had been scouting for years. Clearly the Twins will trust what their scouting reports over the past several years over what they saw in spring training's first week or two of games.
Diamond is still with the Twins, and he is still a candidate for one of three bullpen spots believed to be remaining. Dusty Hughes appears to all but have one. Glen Perkins is out of options and pitching well again this spring. Diamond likely would not make the Twins 25 man roster, so reports indicate that the Twins will attempt to work out a trade with the Braves in order to keep him.
Oddly enough, next week the Twins will play two exhibition games in Atlanta against the Braves. This situation could go right up to that series. At the end of those two games, Diamond could pack up his stuff and head back to Gwinnett to play for the Braves Triple-A affiliate again. He could pack up his bags and make the trip to his native Canada, joining the Twins in Toronto for Opening Day. The other option is that the Twins and Braves work out a trade and he goes back to Ft. Myers before heading up to Rochester and joining the Red Wings.
The question I often get is "What would the Braves need to get back in return for Diamond?" or "What would be a fair deal to keep Diamond?" The general feeling on Diamond is that his ceiling is probably a #4 starter and his fall-back would be a bullpen spot.
I assume that the Braves will ask for too much. Bill Smith will wisely say no. The two teams will go back and forth. For some reason, I assume that the Braves woujld prefer to get a non-40-man roster player.
If the Braves would require a Top 10 type of prospect for Diamond, well, he will be going back to the Braves. In my Twins Prospect Handbook, I rank Scott Diamond as the Twins #28 prospect. According to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, they rank Diamond as the Twins #29 prospect. I wanted to look at which Twins prospects Baseball America and myself ranked in that 26-30 range to determine fair return..
Seth's Rankings: 26.) Niko Goodrum, IF, 27.) Steve Singleton, IF, 28.) Diamond, LHP, 29.) Martire Garcia, LHP, 30.) Tom Stuifbergen, RHP.
Baseball America's Rankings: 26.) Bruce Pugh, RHP, 27.) Tom Stuifbergen, 28.) Anthony Slama, RHP, 29.) Diamond, 30.) Brian Dozier, SS.
John Sickels is another well-respected minor league evaluator. In his The Baseball Prospect Book 2011, he gives Diamond a grade of C+. Other Twins with that same ranking include: Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Pat Dean, Carlos Gutierrez, BJ Hermsen, Angel Morales, Nate Roberts, Eddie Rosario, Manuel Soliman, Tom Stuifbergen.
Again, the Twins aren't going to trade Benson, Bromberg, Gutierrez, Hermsen, or Morales for Diamond. 2010 draft picks (Goodrum, Dean, Rosario, Roberts) can't be traded until July (1 year after they sign). I would have a hard time trading Bruce Pugh and Martire Garcia because the Twins don't havce a lot of guys that would classify as 'hard-throwers.'
There is one name that appears on all three of these lists, Tom Stuifbergen. The 22 year old went 6-4 with a 2.98 ERA last year in Beloit. He struck out 88 in 93.2 innings on the season. Unfortunately, he had a couple of stints on the Disabled List with arm issues. If he can stay healthy, he can jump quickly up these rankings. We all remember what he did in his 2009 WBC start against the Dominican Republic team. He is very smart and knows how to pitch. I have heard rumblings on a couple of occasions that Stuifbergen's name has appeared in trade discussions this spring, so it would not surprise me if a Diamond for Stuifbergen deal went down. I would be disappointed, but it would be a very fair trade.
The other name that jumps out to me is Steve Singleton. He spent the entire 2010 season in New Britain and led the organization in doubles. He has played a lot of second base, but also is solid at SS and 3B. The fact that the Twins loaded up on minor league veteran middle infielders makes me think he could be a trade candidate. It might be a great thing for him to get an opportunity with another organization.
If the Braves are fair and are asking for a 'fair' return for Diamond, you've seen some names here that might make sense. Of course, it is also possible that it would take two minor leaguers to get the job done. It's possible that the Twins would not want a pitcher. Maybe they would want a middle infielder and names like Brian Dozier and James Beresford would be in this range.
It would be great to be a fly on the wall of the discussions between the Twins and the Braves. Hopefully this helps people understand what would be fair return for Diamond.
Sometime on Wednesday morning, the Maple Street Press Twins 2011 Annual will be updating its price to just $9.99 PLUS free shipping in the U.S. It's really a very good deal for the 128 page, full-color, ad-free magazine full of terrific Twins content.