While much of the focus on the Washington Nationals' return in the three-team trade with Tampa Bay and San Diego that brought prospect Joe Ross and a Player to Be Named Later to the Nats, has been on the PTBNL, who is "rumored" to be 2014 Padres' 1st Round pick Trea Turner, several analysts have written in the weeks since it went down that Ross might be the steal of the blockbuster, eleven-player deal.
Ranked 10th overall in the Padres' system heading into the 2014 season by Baseball America, Ross, 21, and a 2011 1st Round pick out of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, CA, went (8-6) in 19 starts with San Diego's High-A affiliate this year, posting a 3.98 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 28 walks (2.48 BB/9) and 87 Ks (7.70 K/9) in 101 ⅔ IP and the 6'4'' right-hander was (2-0) in four games, three of them starts, at Double-A over which he put up a 3.60 ERA and a 2.67 FIP with one walk (0.45 BB/9) and 19 Ks (8.55 K/9) in 20 IP.
"You've got a big, physical, 21-year-old pitcher who's pitched in Double-A successfully and that can really command three pitches, and that we think is going to be a good performer for us in the near future,'" Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters including MASN's Pete Kerzel after the deal.
The three pitches Rizzo refers to?
According to ESPN.com's Keith Law, who titled his article on the deal, "Nationals make out like bandits in trade," Ross, who benefited from a "slightly lower arm slot than he'd had before," in 2014, features a fastball he throws from "92-97 mph with good two-seam tail," an, " ... above-average to plus slider and average or better changeup."
Law says the brother of Padres' major leaguer Tyson Ross projects as a no.2 or no.3 starter down the road.
Getting both Turner and Ross from the Padres while sending Steven Souza and Travis Ott to the Rays in the deal, Baseball America's John Manuel wrote last week, "was a master stroke," by Rizzo, akin to getting, "Doug Fister for spare parts from Detroit, Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps from the Twins."
The latest deal, Manuel noted, "may be the best one."
Manuel ranked Ross fourth among the prospects traded between the Winter Meetings and holidays, behind only Turner, Souza and LHP Max Fried, who went from San Diego to Atlanta in the Justin Upton trade:
"Ross has athleticism, a big-time fastball and decent feel for how to mix four pitches. He’s 21, has reached Double-A and has big league bloodlines with his brother Tyson."
Former Nationals' GM Jim Bowden listed Ross second on a list of his "Five hidden gems in offseason trades," this afternoon, writing that the righty's 92-94 mph fastball has, "riding life and can touch 97," his slider is a "power breaking ball" and, "... once he improves his changeup and overall command, watch out."
As noted above, Ross made just four appearances at Double-A last season, so he's likely to start the season at Double-A Harrisburg in the Nationals' system.
A potential future no. 2/3 starter and a player in Trea Turner that could potentially be the Nats' shortstop of the future in return for Souza and 19-year-old left-hander Travis Ott? What will Rizzo do next?