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11/30/11 11:43 PM EST
Rockies deal Iannetta, sign Hernandez
Team acquires Chatwood from Angels; alters catcher corps
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- The Rockies acquired right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood from the Angels on Wednesday for catcher Chris Iannetta in a deal that increases Colorado's stable of young pitchers and puts it in position to put the finishing touches on a two-year offer to free-agent catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Chatwood, who turns 22 on Dec. 16, went 6-11 with a 4.75 ERA in 27 games -- 25 starts -- for the Angels as a rookie last season. A second-round Draft pick of the Angels in 2008 out of Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High School, Chatwood becomes the third highly touted young pitcher the Rockies have acquired since last July.
Hernandez agreed a two-year deal with the Rockies, pending a physical, the team announced on Twitter. Hernandez, who turns 36 on May 20, hit .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 91 games last season with the Reds. A 2003 All-Star with the Athletics, Hernandez is a .266 hitter with 161 homers and 723 RBIs in 13 seasons with the Athletics, Padres, Orioles and, for the past three seasons, the Reds.
The Rockies received left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who turned 23 on Nov. 22, and right-hander Alex White, 23, from the Indians for former staff ace Ubaldo Jimenez in July, just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Hernandez gives the Rockies a veteran who can lead the club's young staff. Fellow Venezuelan Jhoulys Chacin, a right-hander who had his moments in 2011 during his first full Major League season, is a talented but raw potential ace. Chatwood, Pomeranz and White are joined by other young Major Leaguers, including Juan Nicasio and Esmil Rogers.
Chatwood had typical big league growing pains last season, which he finished with 74 strikeouts to 71 walks while allowing 14 home runs. He endured two demotions to Triple-A Salt Lake. But Chatwood possesses a fastball that can reach 96 mph and a curveball, and he is developing a cut fastball and a changeup. He could take a major step forward if he improves his command. The Rockies are excited about his competitiveness.
"He's young, he has a power arm, he's a tremendous athlete, and from what we have gathered, he's ultra-competitive," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "We're not looking at his numbers because of his age and where he was at when he reached the big league level.
"He had 100-plus innings at the Major League level [at 21]. He's a lot like Alex White in that he needs to dial it down a little bit, not overthrow and things of that nature. But he adds to our good, young arms and pitching depth of impactful pitching that we need to have."
Chatwood is often compared to veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt because he is an undersized (listed at six-foot) righty with a strong arm. He entered last season ranked by MLB.com as the No. 5 prospect in the Angels' system. Early-season injuries to Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir forced the club to call him up in April after just 6 2/3 Triple-A innings.
Iannetta, who turns 29 on April 8, has batted .235 with 63 home runs and 236 RBIs in 458 games over six seasons. A fourth-round pick out of the University of North Carolina in 2004, Iannetta hit .264 in 104 games in 2008, but he struggled the following two years and was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs each season. Last season, Iannetta regained his big league footing, playing in 112 games, and finished with a .238 batting average and .370 on-base percentage, with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs.
"It's hard with any of our guys, but he's a fantastic young man, a great husband, a great father, a hard worker and he wore the uniform extremely proudly," O'Dowd said. "But with the other young catchers we have coming along, we felt it was in Chris' best interest to be put in a position that's going to be a great, great opportunity for him. They got value and we got value out of it."
Hernandez does not necessarily need a heavy workload, so there will be playing time for a young catcher.
Wilin Rosario, who turns 23 on Feb. 23, spent most of last season at Double-A Tulsa and showed promise during a big league trial at the end of the season and during winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Jordan Pacheco, who turns 26 on Jan. 30, impressed the Rockies with his hitting approach during a late-season callup. Pacheco played several infield positions in the Majors but was trained as a catcher, and will be given the opportunity to compete for playing time there.