Yesterday, I broke down the deal between the Mets and Pirates that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh in exchange for second base prospect Dilson Herrera. Overlooked at the time was the fact that there was a Player to Be Named Later to be included in the deal.
Typically PTBNL's aren't impact players or prospects of major significance, which is why they are largely overlooked, but occasionally they are more than that.
Neil Huntington just said on the #Pirates radio broadcast that the PTBNL in todays trade is an 'ouch' prospect not a 'who?' prospect.— Jeff Moore (@MLBPW) August 28, 2013
I tweeted that Tuesday evening, before the PTBNL had been announced. The quote from the Pirates GM suggested that there was more significance to the PTBNL than perhaps we had originally expected.
It was reported on Wednesday that the mystery player was Vic Black, reported Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Black, a power-armed reliever who made a brief appearance in the majors earlier this season, isn't exactly a huge "ouch" in the Pirates deep farm system, but he's not your typical nondescript PTBNL either.
Black has the velocity you simply can't teach, consistently sitting in the upper 90's with the ability to reach triple-digits. That alone makes him an intriguing prospect. Serving as a closer in Triple-A, Black struck out 12 batters per nine innings for the second straight year (having also done it in 2012 in Double-A) and lowered his walk rate to a career low. Unfortunately, that career low is still 4.0 BB/9, which is the Achilles heel of Black's game.
The past two years, Black has been extremely effective in each of the minor league's highest two levels. He's already 25-years-old, so he's ready for a test in the majors, and if the Pirates major league bullpen hadn't been as good as it was all season, he likely would have already gotten it.
As for this trade, the addition of Black does add to the lopsidedness, but not so much so that the Pirates shouldn't have done it. I said in the original piece that the general consensus was that the Pirates slightly overpaid, but could afford to do so with a deep farm system and needed to make a move to solidify their roster for the post-season. The addition of Black is a small blow to the farm system and means they overpaid by a little more, but Black shouldn't have been enough to have prevented the Pirates from making the move.