The Tigers, in need of another starter and some help help in the middle of the infield (especially on defense), traded for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez from the dysfunctional Marlins. To complete the trade, the Marlins and Tigers swapped lottery picks and the Tigers sent top prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. Turner has pitched in 6 MLB games with a 91-92 MPH fastball. In this article, I will focus on the other two minor leaguers in the trade.
Robert Brantly is a 23 year old catcher that has split the year between AA and AAA for the Detroit Tigers. In AA, he hit pretty well, with an OPS of .803 (versus a league average of .723). He has found AAA much tougher in 36 games, with an ISO of just .031 with a .580 OPS.
He is a little skinny, especially for a catcher. However, he looks like a decent pitch framer and blocker behind the plate. His arm looks pretty good too, as he looks like the complete package behind the plate.
At the plate, Brantly is a left handed hitter. He doesn’t have a good swing, it’s a little wild and his hip flies open and the swing isn’t flat. He was late on fastballs and fooled on breaking pitches. Brantly doesn’t have much plate discipline, and is an aggressive hitter on fastballs. So far in AAA, he saw just 3.36 pitches per plate appearance (league average is 3.84). It looks like he has some real contact problems, and all the plate discipline statistics in AAA show that he chases more than average, swings more than average, and misses more than average. However, it appears he has some power and strength, and he drove both low and high pitches pretty well. He can pull the ball, but can also hit it the other way. It is important to remember that while he has struggled in his initial stint in AAA, he is younger than league average. An adjustment period is expected, and the sample size is only 139 plate appearances. The previous stops suggest that he can hit a little bit, and you can see some promise in his bat. He is just lost right now. Whether he finds it again is remained to be seen. He also seems to run well for a catcher, which makes sense considering his size.
Brian Flynn is a 22 year old pitcher that was drafted in the 7th round by the Tigers. The big lefty (6’8″!) has a really easy looking delivery, which may offset some of the mechanical problems caused by a tall pitcher. He is slow to the plate and lets runners run all over him. His fastball doesn’t appear to have much velocity, certainly below average. Scouting Reports said he sits at 88-93 MPH, but it didn’t look good when I saw him. It is pretty straight as well.
Flynn also has a slider that moves from left to right with a big slowish curve. He can throw it for strikes but doesn’t get down. It is sort of his feature pitch to lefties. He also has a change that he throws relatively often, but he doesn’t have a lot of control over it. Overall, he throws a lot of strikes, but that also comes with a lot of balls in the middle of the plate.
It is hard to imagine that this is big league stuff (especially as a starter), despite his assortment of pitches. He just doesn’t appear to have swing and miss stuff with really any of his pitches. His best bet is probably his slider or his curve if it improves and he is able to get it down consistently. In 18 starts in A +, he had a league average strikeout percentage with a below average walk rate. He was pretty good there, but not overwhelming with a 3.22 FIP and 4.02 SIERA. His one AA start is the one I saw, but he was about average last year in class A.
For the Marlins, this trade hinges on what Jacob Turner does. If he is able to become a good above average starter, the Marlins will feel good. If they get a decent backup catcher in Brantly with a MLB starter or reliever with Flynn, they will be ecstatic. However, neither of them really project to be key players on any team. Brantly is the most likely to be a successful MLB player, as he is both closer to the Majors and is good defensively.