The Boston Red Sox’ trade to acquire Tyler Thornburg just got even more expensive.
Even before the Red Sox sent 18-year old Dominican shortstop Yeison Coca to the Milwaukee Brewers, Dave Dombrowski gave up one of the more impressive hauls in Brewers history for Tyler Thornburg. Coca joins Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington as the players sent to Milwaukee in exchange for the right-handed reliever.
Who is Coca? He entered the season as the 25th ranked prospect in the Red Sox system, having played just one prior season of professional baseball. He hit .308/.372/.408 over 62 games in the Dominican Summer League last season to go along with nine triples, 12 steals, and 26 runs batted in.
Sox Prospects views Coca as a small, quick athlete that will need to increase his size as he develops to project as a major league talent. He’s currently listed as 5’10” 155 lbs, which may be generous. His true value comes in his plus speed and above-average defensive potential. While he doesn’t have any power now, and may not even at his peak, his soft hands and quick feet should keep him in the conversation as long as he doesn’t lose that athleticism as his body develops.
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The Red Sox aren’t losing much by giving up Coca as the Player to Be Named Later in their trade for Thornburg, though the announcement is a reminder of how expensive the reliever has been.
Travis Shaw is hitting .292 with 10 home runs for Milwaukee and leads his team in hits (59) and RBIs (40). While he hasn’t been spectacular defensively (-8.2 UZR/150), he’s been an upgrade over his replacement, Pablo Sandoval (-12.6 UZR/150).
Meanwhile, 22-year-old middle infielder Mauricio Dubon is hitting .294/.346/.383 with two home runs and is 25/32 in steal attempts at Double-A Biloxi this season.
As for Thornburg, he’s yet to throw an official pitch as a member of the Red Sox. He’s missed the entirety of the season with a shoulder impingement suffered in Spring Training, that may or may not have had to do with the team’s offseason workout program. After being momentarily shut down in March, his throwing program restarted on April 12 before another setback limited him to a workout regimen.
He only just began throwing last week, reaching a long-toss distance of 90 feet. He’ll still need to reach 150 feet before the team is comfortable with him pitching bullpens, which would be the next stage of his rehab process. Fulling successful bullpen sessions, he would presumably pitch in a simulated game, then make his rehab appearances in the minor leagues before joining the club.
The deal has been a loss for the Red Sox so far, but that doesn’t mean Thornburg won’t be worth the wait. In 67 innings last season, he posted a 2.15 ERA with 90 strikes while supplanting the Jeremy Jeffress as the team’s closer.
Thornburg’s placement on the 60-day DL was retroactive to the start of the season, meaning he was eligible to come off as early as June 2, though that is an afterthought now. He’s still early in the recovery process, and without a set timetable, looks to be on the shelf for the foreseeable future.