3:49pm: The Rays and Diamondbacks have now announced the trade.
2:51pm: The Rays have acquired righty Sam McWilliams and southpaw Colin Poche from the Diamondbacks, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. That pair of hurlers will make up the final portion of the late-February swap that brought outfielder Steven Souza to Arizona.
The Tampa Bay organization had insisted it only relented to moving Souza because of the quality of the return. Today’s news does help to bolster that claim, as the two newcomers are not just throw-in assets.
McWilliams, 22, is a big right-hander who was tabbed as the 13th-best prospect in the Arizona system coming into the season by Baseball America. He has opened eyes since, turning in 25 2/3 innings of 2.10 ERA ball in his first turn at the High-A level. Importantly, he has drastically increased his strikeout rate (to 11.2 K/9, nearly double his career rate) while maintaining his typically reliable control (2.1 BB/9). Arizona had initially picked him up in the trade that sent right-hander (and former Ray) Jeremy Hellickson the Phillies, though McWilliams has raised his profile a bit since that time.
The 24-year-old Poche is closer to the Majors, though unlike McWilliams he does not carry the potential upside of working as a starter. He has enjoyed some success in the past, but nothing like what he has shown thus far this season at Double-A. In 11 shutout innings, Poche has allowed just three hits while compiling a whopping 23:2 K/BB ratio.
It seems reasonable to think that he could be on the MLB radar in the relatively near term — he was included on Jason Martinez’s first Knocking Down the Door feature of 2018 — if he can sustain anything approaching that level of production. Baseball America rated Poche 29th among Arizona farmhands this past offseason, though like McWilliams, his early work has likely elevated his status to an extent.