The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up catcher Eric Fryer from the Indianapolis Indians, and have designated Dusty Brown for assignment. Fryer was originally acquired by the Pirates in June 2009, in exchange for Eric Hinske. The Pirates paid the remainder of Hinske’s 2009 salary to get Fryer and Casey Erickson, who was released prior to the season.
Last month, I broke down how Fryer has been blocked at every level by top catching prospects. When he was with Milwaukee, he was blocked by Jonathan Lucroy, who is the current Brewers starter. With New York, he was blocked by Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. Even for the last two years with the Pirates he’s been mostly blocked by Tony Sanchez. His promotion to Indianapolis was the first time he was the number one catcher on the roster. He responded by hitting for a .262/.377/.446 line, and catching 19 of his 21 games, which was three more games than he caught in Altoona this year.
Fryer is very athletic, and has some good defensive skills, mostly with blocking pitches. He’s also a leader on the field, and has displayed a good arm, with a career 30% caught stealing rate, including 33% with Indianapolis. As good as Michael McKenry has been defensively, Fryer should take over the starting duties, as his bat plays better in the lineup. He’s got some power potential, with a career .438 SLG, and gets on base at a great rate, with a .376 OBP. Ultimately, Fryer profiles as a strong backup to Tony Sanchez, although if he can carry his hitting over to the majors, he could be a decent starter. Fryer will be active tonight.
Kris Watts has been promoted from Altoona to Indianapolis to replace Fryer. The Pirates have ten days to trade, waive, or release Brown. The 40-man roster and the 25-man roster have both been updated with the moves.