When the Royals attached Joakim Soria and his $9M salary in 2018 to Scott Alexander in a trade this past offseason, there were plenty of people that were upset with the decision. Why on earth would you hamper the return on your most valuable young reliever by adding in a bad contract to him? The Royals are rebuilding they need to maximize as much value as possible if they’re going to trade controllable assets.
All of these things are true. Attaching Soria’s contract to Scott Alexander was a straight salary dump that made it impossible for KC to maximize the return on Scott Alexander. While it assures us that the Royals can probably never get a perfect 10/10 grade on this trade, it could still wind up being a very good one, thanks to Trevor Oaks.
Trevor Oaks is an interesting prospect. He’s not over powering. His fastball sits in 89-92 range and doesn’t induce many strike outs. Yet, he’s found a way to be incredibly effective nonetheless. Through 70.1 IP (12 starts) in AAA Omaha this season, Oaks has posted an ERA of 2.05, good for 2nd in the PCL, which is typically a very hitter-friendly league. He’s not striking many batters out (5.25/9), he’s walking a few too many (3.07/9), but he’s allowed merely one home run all season and is inducing ground balls at a rate of 51.9%, tied for 5th in the PCL.
Oaks, while not having an overpowering arsenal, certainly has an interesting one. I was at his Major League Debut on 4/28 against the White Sox, and he was filthy for the first few innings. He was so filthy in fact, that MLB’s Pitch f/X algorithms couldn’t even figure out what he was throwing. The scoreboard would consistently read “SLIDER” after Oaks would throw an 89 mph sinker. I don’t know much about a lot, but I know for fact that Trevor Oaks doesn’t throw an 89 mph slider that breaks down and in to a RHH.
Along with having the 2nd best ERA (among qualified pitchers) in the PCL, here’s some other impressive feats from Oaks this season:
- .223 BAA, 2nd in the PCL
- .262 BABIP, 2nd in the PCL
- 79.4% LOB%, 6th in the PCL
- 1.15 WHIP, 4th in the PCL
- 0.13 HR/9, 2nd in the PCL
- 1.58 GB/FB, 12th in the PCL
- 15.2% LD%, 4th in the PCL
He’s been really, really good. He’s allowing a lot of contact, but he is allowing hardly any of it to be hard contact. Lot’s of ground balls, very few line drives. This is a formula for success that Oaks has begun to master at the age of 25. It’s not one that will be easily repeated in the major leagues, though I don’t expect him to go out and put up a 2.05 ERA in the bigs either.
Oaks has a filthy sinker/slider combination, despite a lack of impressive velocity. He controls the ball fairly well and has a great feel for the game on the mound. He’s in Omaha for now, but I am currently on a “move Jason Hammel to the bullpen” train and would like to see Oaks in the big league rotation sooner rather than later. He’s rolling in Omaha, and helping to reconcile that Scott Alexander trade every time he toes the rubber.
Photo Credits: Getty Images