This one stings. Nick Tropeano had just four starts under his belt in the major leagues. Just four starts with the Houston Astros. He did not publicly, anonymously, bash the upper management to the point that a trade was necessary.
A few days ago there was news that the Houston Astros acquired catcher Hank Conger from the Angels. A former first-round pick, Conger has frankly disappointed at the major league level. There is a plus side, so to speak, in his pitch framing abilities.
My answer is none. For what the Astros gave up for a first-round bust, this trade is pure stupidity. I am still pissed off.
Nick Tropeano was projected to be a backend starter when he was taken out of college in the 2011 draft. At the time he received comps to Greg Maddux due to an upper 80’s fast ball as his ceiling. If this was the Nick Tropeano that made his MLB debut in 2014 then maybe I would be okay with a trade like this. But Tropeano was an entirely different pitcher at the end of 2014 compared to at the beginning of his professional career.
The Crawfish Boxes noted this as his floor back in 2011:
"“Any time you hear 86 MPH fastball, there’s a pretty low floor. If he can’t keep hitters honest, he won’t get past Lancaster or Corpus. He also isn’t a good bet to stick as a reliever with that stuff, though his fastball might play up a bit coming out of the bullpen. If that’s the case, he might turn into a Brandon Lyon-type reliever.”"
But was that the Tropeano that emerged in the major leagues 3 years later? No. Brooks Baseball recorded his pitch averages as a 91.43 mph 4-seam fastball, a 90.66 mph sinker, a change-up just south of 82 mph and a slider that complemented everything in the upper 70’s.
Not only did Nick survive both Lancaster and Corpus, he thrived. He was at the top of the system in terms of strikeouts by a minor league starting pitcher in the Astros system. And then he continued to develop and made AAA look like a video game with an opposing batting average in the low .200’s.
Tropeano advanced through the minor league system limiting home runs and limiting base runners. His minor league average in HR/9 and BB/9, respectively, were 0.7 and 2.7. And perhaps the best ratio was his 3.42 SO/W mark.
Perhaps it’s true that the Astros are just dealing from a perceived surplus in pitching. But most of the advanced arms such as Mark Appel, Josh Hader and Vincent Velasquez have barely got their feet wet at the AA level. Velasquez has yet to pitch for the Corpus Christi Hooks, although, he has dealt with some injuries since being drafted in 2010.
But the return just does not make sense. I hope that Nick Tropeano makes the most of his opportunity with the Angels and the rest of his career as a major league pitcher.