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Cardinals trade Jack Flaherty to O’s

Flaherty is heading to Baltimore for a package of players.

Just minutes before the 5:00 pm CST trade deadline, the Cardinals finalized a deal that will send RHP Jack Flaherty to the Baltimore Orioles for Cuban INF Cesar Prieto and LHP Drew Rom. Jeff Passan was among the first to report the information, along with Francys Romero.

César Prieto is the #16th rated prospect in the Baltimore system according to MLB. Rom is #18.

Update: There’s a late addition to the trade. And it might be the most interesting piece!

César Prieto is a Cuban defector who has just two seasons in the minor leagues. He started at AA this season, but after busting out with a 143 wRC+ there, reached AAA. In 115 PAs he has a 106 wRC+. Prieto’s primary skill is a plus hit tool that he’s translated into a .364 batting average at AA and .317 at AAA. That has come with a little power — 6 homers and 20 doubles at both levels combined. He makes a lot of contact. His walk rate is right at 7% and his K rate at just 8.7%. Fangraphs lists him as a below-average fielder, but that could change with more time with state-side training and conditioning. Still, with a contact-only bat and only average upside defensively, it’s hard to envision him as anything more than a potential utility player in the majors.

Drew Rom is a lefty starter with 18 starts in AAA this season and a solid 4.21 FIP (5.34 ERA). The Cardinals have said they want more swing-and-miss stuff on the major league roster. Well, in two stints at AAA he has a carried 26.1 and 25.1% strikeout rate. That’s somewhat surprising as he has an underwhelming fastball. It sits in the 92 range, occasionally touching 95 and rates out as a 30/30 pitch on Fangraph’s prospect rankings. However, he does command his breaking pitches. And those K rates are consistent throughout the minors. He’s doing something right. If you’re looking for a very quick and very dirty projection, I think he’ll get a look as a starter but the Cardinals won’t hesitate to give him a look in the bullpen where they might get a little more traction out of his fastball.

Zach Showalter was an 11th-round pick in the 2022 draft. Though a long way from the majors, he might be the most intriguing piece in this deal. In the Complex League last year - the year he was drafted - he had a K rate of 40%. I guess that’s good! This year, at 19 years old, he has 5 starts in A ball and is K’ing 28% of the batter he faces. His ERA is 3.10. His FIP is 3.78. This is a guy that’s worth keeping an eye on.