Giants agree to send top-10 prospects Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree to Sox

July 26, 2014 - 7:55 am

The Red Sox landed more than just a pair of pitchers with alliterative monikers on Saturday. According to an industry source, in exchange for right-hander Jake Peavy, the agreed to send a pair of pitchers who ranked among the Giants' top 10 prospects in Baseball America's preseason rankings of the system, albeit both of whom are enduring less-than-spectacular campaigns. The Sox added 25-year-old right-hander Heath Hembree, who has a 3.89 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings in 41 Triple-A relief appearances, and 22-year-old Edwin Escobar, who is 3-8 with a 5.11 ERA, 7.8 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings in 20 starts for Triple-A Fresno. Both were sent by the Sox to Triple-A Pawtucket. Hembree was ranked the Giants' seventh-best prospect entering the year, and described by Baseball America as a potential late-innings arm. The Sox scouted him as a big, tall, strong right-handed reliever who has dominated righties (.202 average against, 27 strikeouts, 2 walks, no homers). He was a Pacific Coast League All-Star this year, and has had success in limited big league exposure, tossing 7 2/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA, 12 strikeouts and two walks with the Giants last year. Hembree features a 90-95 mph fastball with good downward action and a slider. He has one minor league option remaining beyond this year, making him a controllable bullpen piece -- something the Sox may need given the presence of several potential free agents (Koji Uehara, Burke Badenhop, Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow) in their bullpen mix right now, and few controllable prospects who are performing well in Triple-A. The left-handed Escobar entered the year ranked No. 2 in the Giants system and No. 56 in the game by Baseball America, before his struggles this year. However, his struggles this year in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (at a young age) followed two standout years. In 2012, he had a 2.96 ERA with 8.4 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine in Single-A; in 2013, between High-A and Double-A, he had a 2.80 ERA with 10.2 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per nine innings. Escobar comes from a renowned Venezuelan baseball family that includes Kelvim Escobar and Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. He shows an 89-94 mph fastball in which he shows good conviction and with which he throws lots of strikes, while his changeup and breaking ball project as potential average pitches. His high-end projection would be that of a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, with a floor as a left-handed reliever. He has two options remaining beyond this year. Entering the year, Baseball America described Escobar thusly: "Escobar always had size and strength, but he got himself in better condition and made an adjustment to raise his elbow in his delivery, allowing him to locate his 92-93 mph fastball, and for the first time, throw a dependable breaking ball. He gained confidence in his slider and it's a plus offering at times that he can throw early in the count or as a put-away pitch. His changeup also ranges from average to plus, and he held righthanded hitters to a .222 average. Escobar has a durable arm and likes to throw a lot between starts, so a bullpen role isn't out of the question. He was pitching in that role in the Venezuelan League, but his three-pitch mix offers too much potential as a starter. He figures to start 2014 at Triple-A Fresno." Both Hembree and Escobar are on the 40-man roster. However, the Sox had an open spot on their 40-man, so with the deal to part with Peavy, they could accommodate the addition of both pitchers without another roster move.