SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Vallejo Admirals General Manager Noah Oppenheimer made his first trade since returning to the CBL on Friday, acquiring shortstop Corey Seager from the Charlotte Knights. The Admirals sent four top prospects, including first baseman Don Smith, middle infielder Chase Strumph, and pitchers Turner Larkins and Sam Barr, getting Seager in return as well as injured pitcher Dylan Bundy, relievers Ernesto Frieri and Josh Edgin, minor leaguers Joe Hardy and Kevin Lott, and cash considerations. The 25-year-old Seager is regarded as one of the league’s best shortstops, a position which Vallejo was in need of help at following the untimely injury to Starlin Castro earlier this year. “We really like him and think he is one of the final pieces to solving this puzzle,” Oppenheimer said of Seager, who is batting .285 with 14 home runs this season. “All around, Corey is a very good player. He can get on base, hit for power, and play strong defense, so we were willing to give up a considerable amount of talent to get him.”
The players shipped out of Vallejo are headlined by the 20-year-old Strumph and 21-year-old Smith. Strumph is a five-tool player who was rushed to the major leagues following Castro’s injury. Drafted in the second round as a centerfielder, he was moved to shortstop but many scouts believe his future lies as a second baseman. Smith is an elite hitting prospect, but his lack of power development sparked worries among Vallejo scouts. Said Oppenheimer, “it was tough to move him, but we decided to go with the safer bet [in Seager].” Oppenheimer said he loved the flexibility that comes with this trade. “We are glad we were able to keep [starter Alex Brantley],” he said. “We now have a lot of possibilities to improve this ballclub.” The A’s’ biggest need is thought to be at starting pitcher, although the team could look to improve at designated hitter or first base. Bundy could provide a solid playoffs #3 when he returns in 6-7 weeks. Frieri and Edgin combine with incumbent closer Scott Elbert, shore up the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings for Vallejo.
Currently, the Admirals own a 48-40 record, trailing Richardson City by one game for the HL West lead. Vallejo faces a challenge, however, in the injury to first baseman Jon Singleton, although he is expected to return in four weeks. The next two weeks will be vitally important for the Admirals, as they face the Heartland League’s top four other teams in Syracuse, Dayton, Richardson City, and Altoona, respectively. Said team leader Albert Almora, “We try not to get ahead of ourselves and try to treat every game the same, but these ones could make or break the season. I can tell you the guys in the clubhouse are fired up, and we’ll be going on all cylinders over the next couple of weeks.” “This is an exciting time to be an Admiral and I can’t wait to see what other tricks Noah [Oppenheimer] has up his sleeve,” manager Mike Scioscia was quoted as saying.