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12/17/11 7:36 PM EST
Padres acquire Volquez, prospects for Latos
Five-player deal sends right-handed starter Latos to Cincinnati
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
The Padres added to what was already a deep pool of young talent by acquiring right-handed pitcher Edinson Volquez and three touted prospects from the Reds for right-hander Mat Latos on Saturday.
In addition to Volquez, a still-young former All-Star who's 30-18 with a 4.17 ERA and 424 strikeouts in 74 career games, the Padres received righty reliever Brad Boxberger, first baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Boxberger, 23, could be of immediate help as the Padres rebuild their bullpen. Alonso, 24, and Grandal, 23, are highly regarded prospects at positions where the Padres already have emerging players.
Latos, 24, is considered one of the National League's top young pitchers, striking out 413 and walking 135 in 72 career starts, and having compiled a 27-29 record with a 3.37 ERA. But pitching is a Padres strength, so the club was able to deal him, receiving a young, talented pitcher in Volquez and bolstering the talent level.
The Padres already have a top prospect at first base in Anthony Rizzo, and Alonso -- the seventh overall pick in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft and a player who can work in the outfield -- arrives with the same buzz. Behind the plate, 28-year-old Nick Hundley has been making strides toward realizing his potential. The addition of Grandal, a first-round pick in 2010, gives the Padres rare strength in numbers in a position difficult to fill.
The Padres, in fact, were deep enough at catching to designate Luis Martinez for assignment in order to stay at the Major League roster limit of 40. Martinez, 26, a strong defensive catcher, hit .203 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 22 games for the Padres last season, when he made his Major League debut.
"Our young starting pitching depth allowed us to make a move like this," Padres new general manager Josh Byrnes said in the club's press release. "We've added four credentialed young players who can help us win in the short and long term."
Volquez, 28, earned a trip to the All-Star Game in 2008, his first full season. He finished that season 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA, but has struggled since suffering a major elbow injury in 2009. Last season, Volquez started on Opening Day and finished 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA in 108 innings over 20 starts. Observers said that in his final starts he was regaining the high-end velocity that had made him special in the first place.
Last season, Boxberger pitched at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville and went 2-4 with 11 saves, a 2.03 ERA, a .152 batting average against, and 93 strikeouts to 28 walks. He also is another early Draft pick, having been selected 43rd overall out of the University of Southern California in 2009.
With the Reds already possessing 2010 NL Most Valuable Player Joey Votto at first base, teams often called in attempts to acquire Alonso, who has hit .293 with 36 home runs, 85 doubles, six triples and 149 RBIs in his Minor League career. He only added to the excitement last year by hitting .330 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and four doubles in 47 games for the Reds.
Alonso learned of the trade shortly after arriving in Spain for a vacation.
"I was kind of excited and shocked at the same time," Alonso said. "Cincinnati drafted me, gave me a chance and I went to the big leagues with them. But now I'm with a team that likes me, wants me and I can't wait to be there."
Grandal, like Alonso, is a University of Miami product. He made it to Triple-A last year in his first full professional season. He hit a combined .305 with 14 home runs, 31 doubles, 68 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage in 105 games at Class-A Bakersfield, Carolina and