Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Mallex Smith sent by Padres to Braves in Justin Upton trade
A.J. Preller is a man on a mission and has turned the San Diego Padres into a completely different team in a very short amount of time on the job.
The first-year GM has acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Derek Norris among others. On Friday, he acquired Justin Upton from the Braves for a handful of players. The acquisition of Upton, who clubbed 28 home runs last season, gives the Padres a major boost. They now have Kemp, Upton, Myers and Norris in the middle of the lineup, which suddenly is really looking legitimate. Plus, Preller plans to add Will Middlebrooks at third base next.
The issue is that acquiring Upton came at a cost to San Diego.
The Padres sent Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith to Atlanta in return for only one guaranteed season of Upton, who is a free agent after the year. That is a big risk.
Fried is the centerpiece of the return for Atlanta, as he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 6-foot-4 lefty from Harvard-Westlake School in LA has gone 6-9 with a 3.59 ERA during his pro career. He got a late start in 2012 because he signed late, and then he missed nearly all of last season after injuring his elbow/forearm and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. Fried is expected to miss the entire upcoming season as he recovers, but then he should be back in 2016. He will probably be a 22-year-old Single-A ball, meaning his development is somewhat behind schedule, but the Braves probably believe he will still be a good pitcher.
Jace Peterson was the No. 58 overall pick in 2011 by the Padres. A middle infielder from McNeese State, Peterson made it up to the bigs last season but only went 6-for-53 (.113) in his debut. A speed and average guy, Peterson has batted .287/.381/.411 during his minor league career while stealing 148 bases. He might struggle to hit at the big league level, but he should be a good fifth infielder at the least.
Dustin Peterson was another one of San Diego’s top prospects. He was the No. 50 pick in the 2013 draft out of Gilbert High School in Arizona. A third baseman, Peterson showed some pop last season by hitting 31 doubles and 10 home runs in 126 games at Single-A Fort Wayne. He had low walk totals (25) and high strikeout numbers (137) last season and hit just .233. If he can improve his batting average in his second full season in the minors, he will be in good shape. Perhaps San Diego feels that his high strikeout total and low average were concerns.
Mallex Smith was a 5th-round pick by the Padres in 2012 out of Santa Fe Community College in Tallahassee. He is small at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, but he has great speed and good bat control. A left-handed batter, Smith shined in half a season of high-A ball last season. He batted .327/.414/.475 with five home runs and 40 stolen bases in 55 games for Lake Elsinore last year. He had 88 stolen bases on the season in 120 games playing Single-A ball. His speed is good enough to get him to the big leagues. As long as he can keep hitting, he’ll be a very valuable player.
Upton isn’t the only thing the Padres are getting from Atlanta, though. They also received pitcher Aaron Northcraft.
Northcraft is a 24-year-old right-hander from Orange County in SoCal. An above-average starting pitcher in High-A and Double-A ball, Northcraft struggled last season at Triple-A. He went 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA in 12 starts. For his minor league career, Northcraft is 40-43 with a 3.91 ERA in 118 starts. He would probably be a No. 10 or 11 starting pitcher option in the organization at best.