In November 2019 the Rays and Phillies made a trade that didn’t garner many headlines, swapping two international prospects in the beginnings of their professional careers. For Philadelphia the deal was meant to bolster an uninspiring crop of pitching talent in the minor leagues, as they acquired fire-balling Dominican southpaw Cristopher Sánchez. As for Tampa Bay, they acquired 21-year-old infielder Curtis Mead of Adelaide, who has become one of the hottest prospects in their system.

Sánchez, now 25, made his major league debut in 2021, tossing 12.2 innings of 4.97 ERA ball for the Phillies. While his ERA and 1.82 WHIP are uninspiring to say the least, Sánchez’s 3.80 FIP points to some bad luck. The Phillies are hoping that he can ride a blazing fastball and wipeout slider to a productive sophomore campaign, and bring a solid lefty arm to a bullpen that sorely needs it.

The Australian Curtis Mead is entering 2022 off of a very successful campaign. Having skyrocketed from Low-A all the way to Triple-A over the course of the 2021 season, Mead jumped up to sixth in MLB.com’s 2022 rankings of Rays prospects. His .321/.378/.533 slash line across three levels last year shows a well rounded approach at the plate, while he chipped in 15 home runs and 11 steals over his 458 plate appearances.

Mead’s outstanding year earned him an invitation to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he continued his raking ways, slashing .313/.360/.530 with three dingers over 89 plate appearances. While his bat is clearly his calling card, Mead holds his own in the field, logging the majority of his playing time at first and third base, but also gaining reps at second base and the corner outfield. With such tremendous versatility and a bat well beyond his years, the Rays will likely give Mead his first taste of major league action in 2022.

Before Curtis Mead came into his own as a blue chip prospect for Tampa Bay, the Phillies were the first to see his potential, signing him as an amateur free agent in May 2018. He would go on to spend 2018 and 2019 learning the ropes in rookie ball, while spending his winters back home playing for the Australian Baseball League’s Adelaide Giants. Mead has found lasting success Down Under, owning a .799 OPS over 419 career plate appearances. He has done all this despite being one of the youngest players in a league populated by loads of MLB-caliber talent, including former ALCS MVP Delmon Young and longtime Braves relief ace Peter Moylan among others. 

With such a special talent on his hands, former Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak ought to have known better than to flip Curtis Mead for an unproven pitching prospect. However, this adds to a voluminous catalog of Klentak moves that don’t line up with reason. The Phillies are set at first and second base for a few years with Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura, respectively, but given third baseman Alec Bohm’s massive struggles last year Mead would be a very nice insurance policy at the hot corner. Unfortunately, we Phillies fans must watch as the next Chase Utley works his way through another team’s system, and hope that Cristopher Sánchez can help last year’s beleaguered relief corps.

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