With the exception of first-rounder A.J. Puk, the A's farm system wasn't considered heavy in high-ceiling arms ahead of this year's trade deadline. That changed in a hurry Monday.
The A's acquired right-handed pitching prospects Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton from the Dodgers in a deal that sent Major League left-hander Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick to Los Angeles. Holmes, Montas and Cotton were ranked as the No. 5, 8 and 13 prospects, respectively, in the Dodgers system by MLB.com with Holmes slotting in at No. 82 among the game's top 100 prospects.
Holmes is in the midst of his second full Minor League season after being a first-round pick (22nd overall) by the Dodgers in 2014. The 20-year-old was 8-4 with a 4.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 100 strikeouts and 43 walks in a career-high 105 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga before the deal. He's earned plus grades for his fastball and curve but has struggled with his control at times. That's especially been the case of late as he walked 16 batters in 30 1/3 innings in July. That aside, he has youth on his side and projects as a No. 3 starter in the Majors a few years down the line.
The hurler with the highest ceiling of the group might be Montas, who has been limited to 16 innings between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season due to rib injuries. The 23-year-old has touched triple digits with his fastball, including during a trip to the 2015 Futures Game, and possesses an above-average slider. As a result, he has struck out Minor League batters in droves with a career 9.3 K/9. He fanned 22 batters and issued only three walks in 16 frames between May and June before the rib issue popped up again, forcing him back to the disabled list.
Given Montas' velocity and lack of an established third pitch, his best value might be out of a bullpen, but he has the stuff to become an impressive starter, if everything falls into place. The A's will be the Dominican Republic native's fourth organization. He had also been traded from the Red Sox and White Sox organizations in previous deadline deals and joined the Dodgers last December in a three-team trade headlined by Todd Frazier heading to Chicago.
Cotton seems like a surer bet to head to a Major League bullpen, given his 5-foot-11 size and rougher mechanics. The oldest member of this trade group, the 24-year-old was 8-5 with a 4.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 119 strikeouts and 32 walks in 97 1/3 innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City entering Monday. He has earned plus grades for his fastball and changeup, while his cutter and curveball received below-average 45 grades on the 20-80 scale from MLB.com. Like Montas, Cotton will have to be added to Oakland's 40-man roster.
In picking up Hill and Reddick, the Dodgers hope to address two major holes as they try to hunt down the Giants in the National League West.
Hill, who is currently on the disabled list with a blister, should provide a boost to a Los Angeles rotation that has been hampered by injuries. The 36-year-old has gone 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 76 innings this season after signing a one-year, $6 million deal last offseason.
The Dodgers hope Reddick will provide the lefty-hitting outfield help they've desired this season. The 29-year-old owns a .296/.368/.449 line with eight homers and five steals this year and has thrived against right-handed pitching with a .341 average, .955 OPS and eight homers over 201 plate appearances against them in 2016. He is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.