Jake Thompson, Corey Knebel Scouting Reports: The Texas Rangers have traded Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers for righthanded pitchers Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson. Here what you need to know about the two newest Rangers:
Corey Knebel was the Tigers' second of two first round draft picks in 2013, being selected at #39 overall out of the University of Texas. A pure reliever, Knebel was ranked the #4 prospect in the Tiger system in the Baseball America mid-season updated rankings. Knebel has 15 innings at AA this season, with a 1.20 ERA, 23 Ks and 8 walks, and 18.1 innings at AAA, with a 1.96 ERA, 20 Ks and 9 walks. Knebel has a mid-90s fastball and a curve that has been described as "plus-plus," and is said to have a closer's mentality and makeup. Knebel has appeared in 8 games in the majors this year, with a 6.23 ERA in 8.2 IP (albeit with a 1.64 FIP), and I'm guessing he will be in the major leagues and in the Ranger bullpen once he reports. (UPDATE -- Knebel is being assigned to AAA Round Rock)
Jake Thompson is a big, 20 year old righthander who was the Tigers' 2nd round pick in 2012. BA ranked him as the #2 prospect in the Tigers' system, and he profiles as a potential mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors. Thompson spent the 2013 season in the low-A Midwest League, putting up a 3.13 ERA in 83.1 innings, and has spent most of 2014 in high-A, though he has one start in AA. For the season, he is at 89 IP, with 81 Ks, 27 walks, 3 home runs allowed, and a 3.13 ERA. Thompson throws in the low-90s, with a curveball and a changeup, and will likely join the Frisco rotation.
With this deal, the Rangers are continuing to load up on arms in the upper levels of the minors. Aside from Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez, currently in the majors, the Rangers have Thompson, Luke Jackson, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher in AA and AAA, plus Sam Wolff and Andrew Faulkner in high-A. As far as relief arms go, Knebel joins Roman Mendez, Matt West, Wilmer Font, Lisalverto Bonilla, Ben Rowen, Alex Claudio, Keone Kela, Phil Klein, Will Lamb, Jose Leclerc, and some others I'm probably forgetting. Point being, the Rangers have a lot of interesting arms in the upper levels that they can use both to build their own pitching staff, and to potentially use as trade chips this offseason if they wanted to make a run at a quality starting pitcher or an impact corner outfield bat.