The Oakland A's made another off-season splash on Thursday, dealing popular outfielder Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox for three highly touted prospects: pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
Swisher was the A's first pick in the 2002 MLB draft. The switch-hitting outfielder batted .262 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs. He appeared in 150 games, playing in center and right, at designated hitter and at first base. Swisher had a career year in 2006, when he hit .254 with 35 homers and 95 RBIs. He was second on the team in both categories in 2006. Swisher was a rookie in 2005, when he batted .236 with 21 homers and 74 RBIs.
Over the past three seasons, the colorful Swisher had become one of the most popular players in the A's organization. He was also one of the team's most patient hitters, drawing a team-high 100 walks in 2007. His career on-base percentage is .361.
Gonzalez is the top prospect in the group the A's acquired from the White Sox. The left-hander led all of minor league baseball with 185 strike outs while pitching for Double-A Birmingham in 2007. He was selected in the supplemental first round of the 2004 draft by the Chicago White Sox and was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Jim Thome deal. He was then sent back to Chicago in the Freddy Garcia swap.
The Florida native has a career ERA of 3.49 in four minor league seasons. He has averaged a little more than 10 strike outs per nine innings during his career. In 2007, Gonzalez went 9-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 27 starts for Birmingham in his second season at the Double-A level. He allowed only 116 hits in 150 innings. Gonzalez features an above-average fastball-curveball combination and he projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter. He just turned 22 in September.
De Los Santos is coming off of a banner year for Kaanapolis of the Low-A level South Atlantic League. The right-hander was named the league's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. He went 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 21 games for Kaanapolis. De Los Santos also made five starts for High-A Winston-Salem, going 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 24.2 innings. On the season, he struck out 153 and walked 43 in 122.1 innings.
The 2007 season was De Los Santos' first in the US. He spent the 2006 season in the Dominican Summer League, where he went 3-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 48.1 innings. De Los Santos is a native of the Dominican Republic and will be 22 next season.
Sweeney has been one of the White Sox top prospects for a number of years. The outfielder was selected in the second round of the 2003 draft by the White Sox. He is a centerfielder who bats left-handed and has a strong arm. Sweeney spent most of the 2007 season with Triple-A Charlotte, where he hit .270 with a 746 OPS as a 22-year-old. He also appeared in 15 games for the White Sox, batting .200 with one homer.
Sweeney had 18 games with Chicago in 2006 and he hit .229 with five RBI. He is a career .289 hitter in the minor leagues in five seasons. Sweeney has been added to the A's 40-man roster, taking Swisher's spot.
Gonzalez, De Los Santos and Sweeney join Aaron Cunningham, Chris Carter and Fernando Hernandez as former Chicago White Sox farmhands added by the A's this off-season. Cunningham and Carter were acquired by Oakland from Arizona in the Dan Haren trade after both had been traded to Arizona from Chicago earlier in 2007. Hernandez was selected by the A's from Chicago in the Rule 5 draft.
Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of this trade in the coming days...