Gio Gonzalez earned his second win of the season last night, tossing six shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out six. By every measurable account, the decision to acquire the hard throwing left-hander via trade has been a smashing success thus far. While he's only four starts into the season, you could make a reasonable argument that he's been the team's best starter through the first four weeks of the year. After a poor first outing against the Chicago Cubs April 7, he has pitched 20 scoreless innings over his last three starts, and has allowed just six hits in that stretch.
While it's still early to measure, early on it seems the trade has been a pretty successful move for the Oakland Athletics as well, who received four of the Nats top 10 prospects in return for the All-Star hurler. Let's take a look at what those prospects have done so far:
Tommy Milone: Milone is the only member of this trade to currently be playing for the MLB Athletics, but man, has he made his mark. Through four starts this year, Milone is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA. In his start last night, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five. In his first start of the year, he also threw a three hit shutout. The big question mark for Milone though was whether his stuff would allow him to be consistently successful at the Major League level, so we'll have to see how he does as the season progresses. It's very possible that American League batters are just figuring him out right now, but if we know one thing about Tommy Milone, its that he likes to prove people wrong.
Derek Norris: Norris was a big fan favorite as a prospect for a lot of years in Washington, but the problem was that he always seemed too far away from the majors, and was more often than not injured. With the emergence of Wilson Ramos and the return of Jesus Flores, the slugging Norris became expendable for the right price. So far, he's been killing it in Triple-A Sacramento. Through 17 games he is hitting .357/.364/.614 with three home runs and seven doubles.
Brad Peacock: Last year if you had asked Nationals fans if they would rather have Brad Peacock or Ross Detwiler in the team's rotation this season, 9/10 would have said Peacock. The promising right-handed starter melted Triple-A hitting last year en route to earning his first cup of coffee at the end of the season. Peacock didn't make Oakland's rotation out of spring training, but has been earning his stripes well alongside Norris in Sacramento. In four starts he has posted a 3.86 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 23 innings. It is likely that Billy Beane will look to give him as much experience possible at each level before he throws the talented righty back into the rotation.
A.J. Cole: Cole may have been the least known prospect in this deal, but he very well could have been the most talented. Last year at the age of 19 he went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA in low-A ball for Washington while striking out 108 batters in 87 innings. He has a very live arm, and while he's far away from the show, he has the build and approach to be a top-level starter in the Major Leagues if he develops correctly. The right-hander is off to a slow start, however. Through three starts in high-A Stockton he has posted a 4.80 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.
Remember that Pacific Coast League stats tend to be inflated for hitters and deflated for pitchers. Happy to see Norris doing well, but you have to discount his numbers a bit because of the parks in which he's playing. Similarly, Peacock's ERA is probably a bit inflated. Wishing them both -- make that all four of them -- well.