Trade deadlines are never predictable. For the first splash of this year's rendition the obviously selling Oakland Athletics traded obvious trade piece....Billy Burns? To the Royals? Who are also should be sellers? Interesting.
You very well know Billy Burns, his flaws and his skill(s). He had an excellent run in 2015, being a solidly average player overall in his rookie year. He wasn't nearly as good this year, ultimately being sent down to AAA before being shipped out.
In return, the A's received Brett Eibner. Who is Brett Eibner you ask? Let's find out.
Originally born in San Diego, Eibner eventually moved, playing his high school ball at The Woodland High School near Houston Texas. There, he led his team to a state championship with the help of Kyle Drabek. Thanks Wikipedia!
From there, Eibner went on to play his college ball at the University of Arkansas, turning down the opportunity to go pro after being drafted by the Astros in the 4th round of the 2007 draft. He was a key cog in a successful Razorbacks team on both the mound and as a hitter, winning numerous accolades including being named an All American.
Following the 2010 season, Eibner was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, where he'd remain until today's trade.
Eibner started his career at Single-A Kane County in 2011, OPSing .748 in a successful but not overwhelming initial campaign. From there he moved to A+ Willmington, where he struggled to the tune of a .687 OPS. After two more lackluster seasons in 2013 and 2014, Eibner seemed to hit his stride in 2015, his first full campaign at AAA. There, he dominated opposing pitchers while showing immense power with 19 homeruns. He picked up where he left off in 2016 and then some, cutting his strikeout rate while walking more frequently and OPSing at a .902 clip.
That lead to his first big league cup of coffee in which Eibner hit a respectable .231/.286/.423. He struckout 26 times in 26 games, showing the same swing and miss tendencies that led to his early career struggles. Of course, that all came in a small sample, and Eibner will certainly be back in the big leagues before long.
The scouting reports
Eibner possesses real power, but his inability to make contact has kept his average down and prevented him from sticking in the bigs. He's made huge strides in the contact department this year, and combined with an above average and versatile glove with a plus arm, he's got a chance to stick around, at least as a fourth outfielder.
Brett Eibner, OF, Kansas City Royals
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 210 DOB: December 2, 1988
2011: Grade B; 2012: Grade B-; 2013: Grade C; 2014: Grade C+; 2015: Grade C
At age 27 Brett Eibner has fallen off most prospect lists to the point that his excellent 2015 season in Omaha is generally written off as an older guy dominating the high minors. That's true as far as it goes, but there are hints of something more here. Note the sharp reduction in his strikeout rate. That fits reports from Omaha observers that he learned to lay off the breaking stuff that flummoxed him in the past. He still runs pretty well, has good power, and is a fine defensive outfielder with a strong arm. The tools have always been there and if the hitting skills took a real step forward, he's a valuable asset. The Royals don't seem to have room for him and it would be a good idea to test his bat outside the Pacific Coast League to see if the improvement is real, but he is still worth tracking. Grade C.
It took Eibner six years to make it to the majors after being picked by the Royals in the second round of the 2010 draft out of Arkansas. Eibner was a two-way star for the Razorbacks, one many teams preferred as a lefthanded pitcher with a 95-mph fastball, but he preferred to hit, and the Royals were enamored enough with his power/speed combo to give him a shot. Eibner has made a number of significant and needed tweaks to his swing over the years. He hit .196/.299/.388 in a disastrous 2012 season at high Class A Wilmington, but to his credit, he slowly and steadily improved to the point where he hit .303/.364/.514 for Triple-A Omaha last year. Eibner's hitting ability is still his greatest weakness, and considering he's 27, it likely always will be. He is a plus runner who has base stealing ability, even if he is too passive on the basepaths to normally take advantage of it. He can play all three outfield spots, with enough arm for right field and enough range for center. Given everyday at-bats, he could hit 15 home runs, but he would likely do so while providing a below-average batting average and on-base percentage. The biggest impediment to Eibner serving as a backup outfielder is his high-maintenance swing. He is the type of hitter who does better with regular at-bats.
The .300+ average isn't likely to stick once he comes to the majors and his OBP isn't likely to be a big asset, but Eibner's broad tool and skill base is enough to make him a viable fourth outfielder even if he can't replicate the PCL average and OBP.
Scout here in Cleveland has seen Eibner lots past few years, says, "He's a strong kid, really looks the part. Just lacking consistency."'— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 30, 2016
Team control and options
Eibner has all six years of team control remaining so if he can stick, he can wear the green and gold for a while. He's got two option years remaining, meaning the A's can stash him in the minor leagues if he isn't performing.
While Eibner was assigned to Triple-A Nashville immediately after becoming a member of the organization, there's a good bet we'll see him up before long. He's got little to prove at that level and the A's are lacking quality defenders in the outfield. Plus, that little trade deadline thing is looming a few days away meaning a spot could open up in the outfield.
The A's increased their handsome factor
Brett Eibner also has real nice hair pic.twitter.com/hdMpZrAo0s— Joe Serrato (@joeserrato) July 30, 2016
See the man in action!
Welcome to the A's, Brett Eibner!