The Reds announced that they have acquired right-handers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin from the Brewers to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade. Cincinnati originally sent Broxton to Milwaukee in exchange for a pair of players to be named later on Aug. 31 — the last significant deal before the deadline for newly acquired players to be eligible for postseason play.
Shackelford and Astin ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively, among Brewers prospects heading into the 2014 season, according to Baseball America. However, neither player cracked Milwaukee’s top 20 list on MLB.com’s midseason list.
The 25-year-old Shackelford is the more advanced of the two prospects, as he reached Double-A this season and posted a combined 3.69 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 70 2/3 relief innings between that level and Class-A Advanced. BA felt that he should have reached Triple-A, if not the Majors, this season in their preseason scouting report, but Shackelford’s Double-A struggled (4.86 ERA in 50 innings) may have held him back. BA noted that he can touch 97 with his fastball and gets whiffs on his slider, making him a potential late-inning reliever. They did, however, note that the slider can be inconsistent — something he’ll likely look to improve upon in 2015. However, the fact that he’ll turn 26 next season and has yet to reach Triple-A suggests that Shackelford is far from a sure thing to end up as a consistent piece in the Cincinnati bullpen.
Astin, 23 next month, was the Brewers’ third-round pick in 2013. He served as Arkansas’ closer as the team pushed to the College World Series, and BA noted that while he may not be durable enough to remain a starter, he could move quickly as a reliever. Indeed, Astin posted a 5.55 ERA as a starter this season in 96 2/3 innings, but he turned in a terrific 2.27 ERA in 26 relief innings. Overall, he posted a 4.96 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 1/3 innings at Class A.
While neither prospect is particularly highly regarded, GM Walt Jocketty picked up a pair of arms that could potentially help his bullpen within the next two years, and he shed more than $11MM in salary in the process. To this point, Broxton has done his job for the Brewers, firing four shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks, helping to bridge the gap to closer Francisco Rodriguez.