The Aroldis Chapman era ended Monday, as the Reds traded their star closer to the Yankees for four minor leaguers: right-handed starter Rookie Davis, corner infielder Eric Jagielo, reliever Caleb Cotham, and infielder Tony Renda.
After Davis, Jagielo is regarded as the second-most important piece in the deal for the Reds. Here’s what we know about him…
The 23-year-old Jagielo is a 6-2, 215-pound prospect whose primary position is third base. The Notre Dame product was selected by the Yankees with the 26th overall selection in the 2013 amateur draft. A pick later, the Reds took outfielder Phillip Ervin, who reached Double-A Pensacola last season. (I’m told the Reds would have taken Jagielo over Ervin.)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the 50th round of the 2010 draft out of Downers Grove (Ill.) High School, Jagielo reached Double-A last summer before a knee injury cut short his season in mid-June. Jagielo has played third base in 156 of his 159 career minor league games; he played first base in the other three.
Prior to the 2015 campaign, Jagielo, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system by FanGraphs after being ranked No. 3 by FG prior to the 2014 season. Jagielo failed to crack the top 10 in Baseball America’s ranking of New York’s system (published on Dec. 21), but was slotted as the sixth-best Yankees prospect by MLB.com before the site reorganized its database post-trade. Baseball America had Jagielo ranked as New York’s No. 5 prospect after the 2013 season.
Because of the Reds’ shallow position player talent pool at the Double-A and Triple-A level, Jagielo instantly becomes the Reds’ top prospect at third base and possibly their top infield prospect altogether, depending on how one feels about Jose Peraza.
What The Scouts Say
FanGraphs: “Jagielo is a pretty straightforward prospect: he has plus power from the left side and the hope is he’ll have a 50 bat and 50 defense at third base, but both are a little fringy right now for scouts. If it all clicks, he’s an above average regular and those two tools hold at fringy or below average, he’s a borderline 45/50 FV first baseman.”
MLB.com: “Jagielo offered some of the best left-handed pop available in the 2013 Draft, so the Yankees made him their first of three first-round selections and signed him for $1,839,400. … Jagielo has provided the power that was expected of him, slamming 24 homers in 147 games during his first two years as a pro. He’s strong and features good loft in his swing, allowing him to drive the ball to all fields. His tendency to swing and miss may preclude him from hitting for a high average, but he does draw enough walks to post healthy on-base percentages. With well below-average speed and just average arm strength, Jagielo still has to prove he can stay at the hot corner. Some scouts think he’s better suited for first base, though he’s already the Yankees’ most advanced third-base prospect and won’t move anytime soon. He was hit in the face by a pitch during instructional league, fracturing the zygomatic arch near his left eye and requiring surgery, but shouldn’t have any long-term issues.
Pinstriped Prospects: “Many scouts agree the best position for in the field for Jagielo, with his excellent power potential, is first base.”
Aside from Jagielo’s brief stints in rookie ball in 2013 and 2014, here are his key minor league numbers. Note: PAs=plate appearances.
Two freak injuries have curtailed Jagielo’s ascension in the minors. Jagielo needed surgery to fix a broken bone in his face after being hit with a fastball late in the 2014, and he underwent a lateral meniscus scope on his right knee in late July after injuring himself sliding into home in mid-June.
When he has been on the field, Jagielo has flashed his publicized pop; he notched 27 extra-base hits in 58 games in 2015. While Jagielo’s strikeout rate is certainly concerning, it’s mitigated by the fact that he’s proven he can draw a walk. Some talent evaluators believe Jagielo is better suited for first base — reports indicate he’s not athletic enough to move to a corner outfield position — but as long as Joey Votto is a Red, there’s no chance of that happening. So, the Reds will probably have to go through some growing pains with Jagielo’s fielding at the hot corner, but given his relatively small sample size, that seems like a fine option.
Had Jagielo undergone a full season at Double-A in 2015, it’s likely he could’ve seen playing time with Cincinnati in 2016. That may still happen, but a big-league promotion would likely need to be preceded by a trade of Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips, which would allow presumed Opening Day third baseman Eugenio Suarez to move over to shortstop and place Jose Peraza, the crown jewel of the Todd Frazier trade, at second base.
With the Reds continuing to target prospects closer to playing in the majors instead of higher-ceiling farmhands further away from the bigs, the organization has to hope Jagielo is ready to be their everyday third baseman sometime during the 2017 campaign. In the end, Jagielo is the player who will determine how this trade looks in five years for the Reds. If Jagielo can evolve into a league average third baseman, the Reds will have won this trade, regardless of how the other three prospects pan out.