According to Dejan Kovacevic, the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees for two prospects: outfielder Eric Fryer and pitcher Casey Erickson.
Fryer is 23 years old and was in high A ball in the New York system. He was taken in the 10th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, and traded to the Yankees in February in exchange for Chase Wright. So far this season he is hitting .250/.333/.344 with 2 homers in 224 at-bats. Last year he hit .335/.407/.506 with 10 homers in 385 at-bats in the South Atlantic League (he actually played for West Virginia when they weren’t a part of the Pirates system). Fryer was ranked as the 4th best left field prospect in Milwaukee’s system before the trade to the Yankees.
Erickson is also 23 years old, and playing in A ball in the South Atlantic League. Erickson was taken in the 10th round of the 2006 draft by the Yankees. In 21 games this year, mostly as a reliever, he has a 2.25 ERA and a 37:13 K/BB ratio. It seems that this is a trend with any pitcher Neal Huntington trades for: Erickson has an excellent ground ball ratio, at 66% this year, and 60.1% for his career. He was a starter in Class A short-season last year, posting a 2.76 ERA and a 77:17 K/BB ratio in 75 innings pitched. Erickson was ranked as the 16th best right handed starter by Baseball America coming in to this season.
Fryer will be assigned to Lynchburg, and Erickson will be assigned to West Virginia, the same assignments they had in the Yankees’ system. My guess is that Erickson will return to a starting role with West Virginia.
Hinske had a lot of success off the bench last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting for a .247/.333/.465 line with 20 homers in 381 at-bats. This year he hit for a .255/.373/.368 line. The average was expected, and the on-base percentage looks solid, but the main problem was a lack of power. Hinske was expected to bring power to the Pirates off the bench, and he only managed one homer in 106 at-bats.
Garrett Jones gets the call from Indianapolis to replace Hinske. Jones has been solid at AAA this year, batting for a .307/.348/.502 line with 12 homers in 277 at-bats. Jones is a very interesting case. He’s only 27 years old, and has very limited time in the majors. That’s mostly because he was blocked in Minnesota by Justin Morneau.
In his career at AAA (which spans over 2200 at-bats), Jones has a .265/.321/.463 line with a homer every 23.84 ABs. However, in the last three seasons he’s hit for a .286/.339/.484 line, an improvement over his first two seasons at AAA where he combined for a .241/.299/.437 line.
Jones only has 77 at-bats in the majors, but has two homers in those at-bats. Jones has never been in the majors longer than 45 days, and has 63 days of total service time. I’m not sure how the rules work, since he was signed as a minor league free agent, but I assume Jones follows the same arbitration rules as everyone else, which means he has three years of league minimum time, plus three years of arbitration ahead of him. I’ll research this, but there’s a chance the Pirates could have him under control for six seasons.
The Pirates will also send $400 K to the Yankees to help pay for Hinske’s remaining contract, according to John Perrotto on Twitter (@jperrotto). So far this season the Pirates have paid Hinske $708,791, according to my calculations. The Pirates save $391,209 on Hinske’s salary this season after the $400 K payment, although they’ll pay about $210 K for Jones for the remainder of the season, so the savings is a little less than $200 K on the deal.
I’ll be at the Lynchburg game tonight, although I don’t think Fryer will make his debut since he’ll be coming from Florida.
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