The three-team trade that sent outfielder Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners and brought three players to the Nationals, including the return of right-hander A.J. Cole, has provided a very positive addition to the strength of the pitching in the Nationals' minor leagues that has reached all the way up to the big club.
Cole, left-handed reliever Ian Krol and starter Blake Treinen were sent to the Nationals in the Morse deal. Ironically, Krol was the player to be named, and he has made it all the way to the show.
Krol made his debut on June 5 and has been important to a bullpen that had moments where it has struggled. He was a critical answer for a lack of production from left-handed relievers early in the season. Krol arrived with a 96 mph fastball and accurate location. He came into games in tough situations and has been able to get the Nationals out of them and maintained their opportunity to win.
His record speaks for itself: 0-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 13 games in 14 2/3 innings for the Nationals.
Treinen is on the disabled list for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, but has been very impressive as a starter at the Double-A level. Treinen features a power sinker that hits 94 to 97 mph and has been consistent until a couple of recent struggles.
Moving from reliever to starter, Treinen has a 6-7 record with a 3.84 ERA in 17 starts for Harrisburg. Over his last 12 innings. he has allowed nine earned runs against Bowie, but before that had had five consecutive starts with one earned run or less.
Cole was with the Nationals from when he was drafted in 2010 before he was traded to the Oakland A's in 2012, then returned to the organization in the three-player deal involving Morse.
With Oakland last season, Cole struggled at the high Single-A level before settling in at the low Single-A level and having some success. But in his return to the Nationals, Cole has been able to get into a nice groove and pitch well against high Single-A Carolina League competition. Cole has won Pitcher of the Week honors and has been named to the U.S. roster for today's All-Star Futures Game in New York.
Cole has consistently been able to throw at 95-96 mph and has touched 99 mph. Cole has a good breaking pitch that he is able to get on top of and it has late break. He continues to work on his changeup.
Cole, Treinen and Krol came to the Nationals in a time where the organization had traded away pitching talent, sending off prospects like Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock.
The Nationals have again built up pitching talent at Double-A and high Single-A and the starting pitching in Potomac was a huge reason why the club won the first half of Carolina League competition and the Senators have boasted 11 shutouts this season.
These three pitchers are a great example of that talent, and represent the organization's goal to build pitching strength at the major, Double-A and high Single-A levels.
If you were to give a mid-season grade for this trade, it looks very good for the Nationals.