Joely Rodriguez's transition to the Double-A Eastern League may have brought a dip in his numbers, but with offseason success, his value appears to be as high as ever.
On Wednesday, the Pirates traded the left-handed starter to the Phillies for Major League reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Rodriguez became MLB.com's No. 19 Phillies prospect.
"He's kept coming on, and has shown his best velocity in winter ball," said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington before the trade was announced.
After a smooth transition from Class A to Class A Advanced in 2013, Rodriguez found the adjustment to Double-A a little harder. The 23-year-old hurler went 6-11 with a 4.84 ERA and just 73 strikeouts over 134 innings with Altoona.
Rodriguez's first offseason stop was in the Arizona Fall League, where he tied for the circuit lead with three wins over seven starts. He also improved his strikeout rate with 22 punchouts while issuing just six free passes over 22 2/3 frames en route to being named to the AFL Top Prospects Team.
The Dominican Republic native then headed home for Winter League action, where he sported a 1.38 ERA in his first three outings.
"He wasn't the same guy in Spring Training, then had some early challenges in Double-A, but then continued to get better and better," Huntington said.
Bastardo has spent most of the past six years at the Major League level, notching a 3.94 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 67 appearances with the Phillies this past season.