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Oakland A’s prospect watch: Logan Shore to Tigers in Mike Fiers trade

The Fiers trade is now complete.

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

When the Oakland A’s acquired starting pitcher Mike Fiers from the Tigers in early August, the return was initially listed as two players to be named later or cash. The first of those prospects turned out to be relief pitcher Nolan Blackwood, and now the second has been identified as starting pitcher Logan Shore, the team announced Wednesday.

The right-handed Shore was Oakland’s 2nd-round draft pick in 2016, but his pro career hasn’t yet matched that high pedigree. He was billed as a polished fast-track candidate out of college, with a chance to rise up the minors quickly and find a home in the back of a rotation. However, injuries have significantly slowed his progress, and he didn’t even clear 100 innings in either of his full pro seasons. He finally reached Double-A this summer at age 23 but got torched.

Shore, 2018 AA: 5.50 ERA, 68⅔ ip, 49 Ks, 19 BB, 7 HR, 4.27 FIP

Last year Shore got to showcase himself at the Arizona Fall League, but that also went poorly with a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings. One thing that has always held strong, though, is his K/BB rate, which offers hope that he’s at least got a major building block for potential future success. He’s struck out four batters per walk over his pro career.

Shore profiles as command-over-stuff, with a plus changeup but an otherwise unremarkable arsenal that plays up because he knows how to use it. His fastball sits low-90s according to MLB Pipeline. Among major prospect lists, entering the season he made the Oakland rankings of Keith Law (8), Baseball America (10), Oakland Clubhouse (11), John Sickels (12), Pipeline (12, down to 14 at midseason update), Athletics Nation (13), and FanGraphs (17).

Update: Shore finished the 2018 season on the disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. That’s in addition to the lat injuries that cost him so much time the last two years.

Hot takes

I’m totally fine with this. Shore is a solid prospect, but his luster has more than worn off in my eyes. His entire upside was based around getting to MLB quickly, and that already hasn’t happened, so now he’s just a low-ceiling arm aspiring toward the back end of a rotation someday. Don’t get me wrong, the A’s can use as many of those as possible, but if they were going to have to give up an actual prospect then I’m glad it was the one who was out of favor and often injured.

Not everyone in the community will agree with me on this, but at this point I have fellow starters Parker Dunshee and even maybe Brian Howard above Shore on both my depth chart and my overall prospect list. Shore ranked No. 13 on our preseason Community Prospect List, but after another poor showing this year he would barely crack my current Top 20, if at all. Maybe that could be considered selling low on Shore, but at this moment I’m most interested in which prospects are more likely to help in the majors over the next year or two while the team is contending.

I look at it this way. When the A’s drafted Shore, the hope was that they were adding a pitcher to their rotation by 2018 or 2019. They did! But his name turned out to be Mike Fiers instead, and he’s been wonderful so far at the exact moment when the A’s desperately needed him.

We can now close the book on the Fiers trade. Detroit has their two prospects, and they turned out to be Shore and Blackwood. I’m perfectly happy with that swap, and I think both teams did well for themselves. The Tigers were never going to get a blue chipper for eight months of Fiers (final two months of this season, and 2019 at likely a full market-rate salary in arbitration), but they did come up with two decent pitching prospects who entered the year in our Top 30. They absolutely got something for their trade asset, but the A’s did not overpay.

Best of luck to Blackwood and Shore in the Tigers organization!