Late Wednesday afternoon the Washington Nationals announced they had acquired left-handed pitching prospect Ian Krol from the Oakland Athletics as the Player To Be Named Later in their offseason trade of Mike Morse. When the trade was made, the Nationals sent Morse to Seattle, the Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to Oakland and the Athletics sent right-handed pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen and now Krol to complete this three way deal. The Oakland organizational pitcher of the year in 2010, Krol was the Athletics 7th round pick in the 2009 draft, signing for an above slot bonus of $925,000.
The 21-year-old Krol posted a 2-9 record with a 5.20 ERA last season in both High-A and Double-A, allowing 106 hits and 26 walks against 89 strikeouts in 97 innings pitched. In his four career minor league seasons, he has a 3.75 ERA and a 1.157 WHIP in 64 appearances and 244.2 innings pitched, 47 of which were starts. Krol throws a fastball around 90mph, a demoralizing curveball, and an above-average changeup, which in addition to his excellent control has allowed him to steadily rise through the Oakland minor league system. Unfortunately Krol is equally well-known for his questionable reputation, as he was suspended as a high school senior for an infraction with alcohol and again suspended by Oakland for two months in 2011 for an insensitive tweet.
Assuming his off-the-field issues have resolved themselves with age, general manager Mike Rizzo did well to buy low and acquire a young left-handed pitcher with the potential to pitch professionally. His two impressive off-speed pitches and average fastball velocity portends an eventual career as a reliever, as the shorter outings could allow his velocity to slightly increase. However his youth, left-handed pitching arm, and excellent career strikeout to walk ratio gives Krol a reasonable chance to carve out a career in the major leagues. The Nationals made a difficult decision parting with fan favorite Morse, but the addition of high ceiling talent Cole along with quality pitching prospects Krol and Treinen makes this one of the most lopsided trades this winter in favor of Washington.