Minor League Trade with Major League Implications: Twins Retain Scott Diamond by Sending Billy Bullock to Braves

At first glance this seems like a fairly lop-sided deal in favor of Atlanta. And I won't lie, even after breaking it down and putting the best spin on it that I can, it still looks like a lateral move by the Twins at best. Because here's how I can explain this to myself in the most simple terms possible: Minnesota sent the Braves one of their top minor league bullpen arms for the right to send a player the Braves didn't want, and the Twins didn't think was good enough for the Major League team, to their own minor league system.

Here's your side-by-side comparison.

Billy Bullock

Name

Scott Diamond

23

2011 Age

25

2

Years

3

AA

High Level

AAA

107.2

Innings

442.1

91

Games

76

0

Games Started

74

12.5

K/9

7.3

4.7

BB/9

3.0

0.4

HR/9

0.4

1.46

WHIP

1.37

On top of this, if you look at some of the extended peripherals from their minor league experience you get an even better idea of what kind of pitchers these guys are.

Bullock's Profile

Bullock is a champion of whiff, at times striking out nearly two-fifths of the batters who step up to the plate, but his batting average on balls in play is scary. Looking back at the three minor league stops he's made with a decent sample his BABIP against was .397 in 36.2 innings in New Britain in 2010, .411 in 37.1 innings at Fort Myers in 2010, and .410 in 26.1 innings for Beloit in 2009. It's something to keep in mind for all of the pro-Bullock people in the audience: in his last 100 innings batters have raked. He's powered through by...well, powering through. He's over-powered the opposition, and it's helped him keep his FIP in the lower to mid-three's.

Diamond's Profile

Diamond, on the other hand, has almost exclusively been a starter. In his one extra season in the minors Diamond hasn't posted the incredible strikeout numbers, but his command is mediocre instead of suspect and he's posted ground ball rates higher than 52% at each stop. It's helped him keep the ball in the yard just as well as Bulluck but in a larger sample that includes longer appearances. His BABIP has been up and down, but has never been a red flag like Bullock's. Diamond has also kept his FIP in the lower to mid-three's.

It's those peripherals that keep me from jumping on the "this is a terrible trade for the Twins" bandwagon. I don't think the Twins got the short end of the stick here, at least not in the short term. Bullock is projectable arm with amazing strikeout numbers, but Diamond is closer to being Major League ready and his peripherals don't raise the same red flags.

So those Major League implications are straight forward. Diamond will make a contribution at some point this season, and it's very possible that he becomes a big part of this bullpen in 2012 with both Matt Capps and Joe Nathan could be gone. Who wins this trade in the end will depend on how Bullock progresses. If he continues to strike out more than a man per inning and gets his command together, then nobody will be looking favorably on this deal.

Ultimately I've come to the conclusion that this is what the Twins were thinking with this trade. They obviously like Diamond and believe that he can be of some help in the future, and a future that's closer than Bullock even if it's just by a year. Was Bullock too much to pay for a guy like Diamond? Probably. But I'm not willing to call this one quite yet, no matter what their Baseball America rankings were.

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