The Houston Astros continue dumping veterans, today sending third baseman Chris Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for first baseman Bobby Borchering and outfielder Marc Krauss. Let's take a look at the newest additions to the Houston farm system.
Bobby Borchering, OF-3B: Borchering was drafted by Arizona in the first round in 2009, from high school in Fort Myers, Florida. Considered one of the top high school hitters in the draft, he earned a $1,800,000 bonus. He's shown plenty of power in pro ball, hitting 24 homers last year for High-A Visalia in the California League, and another 20 this year between Visalia and Double-A Mobile in the Southern League. However, he's had persistent problems with contact, whiffing 162 times last year and 123 times already this season. Contact issues have been particularly difficult in Double-A, where he's hitting .130 with three walks and 27 strikeouts in 77 at-bats.
Borchering is a 6-3, 200 pound switch-hitter, born October 25, 1990. His best tool (as mentioned) is power, but his pure hitting skills have been less effective than anticipated when he was in high school, and bringing the strike zone under control has been a challenge. He also has issues on defense. He has a good arm, but the Diamondbacks gave up on him as a third baseman due to poor range and excessive errors. His arm works well in right field, but his below average speed makes him a mediocre defensive outfielder.
Marc Krauss, OF-1B: Krauss was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round in 2009, from the University of Ohio. He has strong power from the left side of the plate, hitting 25 homers in High-A in 2010, 16 more last year in Double-A, and 15 more this year in a return engagement to the Southern League, where he has an overall .283/.416/.509 line for Mobile. He has a strong eye for the strike zone and draws plenty of walks, 73 so far this season. Like Borchering, he has issues with contact and will rack up some strikeouts, but Krauss' feel for hitting is considered stronger.
Krauss is a 6-2, 235 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born October 5th, 1987. He is considered a below average athlete, limited defensively to left field or first base by lack of speed and a mediocre arm. His power is well-regarded but he's somewhat streaky and occasionally has issues with left-handed pitching. Many scouts see Krauss as a platoon bat going forward, albeit one who can be productive due to his power and patience.
Like most of the prospects that the Astros have acquired this summer, Borchering and Krauss have some flaws, and both were considered surplus in the Arizona system, passed by other prospects. However, there is quality in quantity, the Astros doing everything they can to build depth. Overall, I think this is a pretty good return for Johnson, who wasn't going to be part of the next good Houston team.