After designating Tony Campana for assignment last week the Cubs have traded him to the Diamondbacks for a pair of 17-year-old pitchers named Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.
Leal and Castillo aren’t considered significant prospects, but getting two live arms with any sort of upside for Campana is pretty solid work for the Cubs considering he’s a fairly standard fourth outfielder-type who combines elite speed and range with a poor bat.
Campana has hit .262 with a .605 OPS in 184 games as a big leaguer, which is about what you’d expect based on his minor-league track record. If he ever got a chance to play regularly he’s capable of stealing 60-plus bases, but at age 27 that’s unlikely. He’s often described as “gritty,” though, and the Diamondbacks seem intent on cornering the market there.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.