Former Midwest Leaguers Sean Newcomb and Erick Aybar were part of a three-player package the Los Angeles Angels sent to the Atlanta Braves for Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Thursday.
Newcomb was widely considered to be the Angels’ top prospect. The lefty made 11 starts for the 2014-15 Burlington Bees — four in 2014 and seven in 2015. In 2014 he went 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA, 15 strikeouts and five walks in 11.1 innings for the Bees. In 2015 he went 1-0 with a 1.83 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 19 walks in 34.1 innings for the Bees before moving up to High-A. He ended the season in Double-A. Cumulatively he went 9-3 with 2.38 ERA, 168 strikeouts and 76 walks in 136 innings (27 starts) this year.
Aybar batted .270 with 3 HR, 44 RBI and 15 SB in 156 games for the Angels in 2015, his 10th season in the major leagues. He played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2003, batting .308 with 6 HR, 57 RBI and 32 SB in 125 games. (Prince Fielder was the Midwest League’s MVP and Prospect of the Year that season.)
The Angels included another of their top prospects, RHP Chris Ellis, in the trade. He started the 2015 season — his first full one as a professional ballplayer — in High-A and ended it in Double-A. He cumulatively went 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 63 walks in 140.2 innings (26 starts).
This was Simmons’ fourth season in the big leagues. He batted .265 with 4 HR and 44 RBI in 147 games. He is considered one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
Pierzynski returning to Braves
In other Braves news Thursday, veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski will return to the team for another year after agreeing to a $3 million deal for the 2016 season.
Pierzynski played 136 games for the 1995-96 Fort Wayne Wizards, cumulatively batting .280 with 9 HR and 84 RBI. As I wrote in this recent post, Pierzynski is one of only two active players left from when Fort Wayne was affiliated with the Minnesota Twins (1993-98).
Ward traded to Padres
Former Clinton LumberKings middle infielder Nelson Ward was traded Thursday to the San Diego Padres. He and fellow minor-leaguer Enyel De Los Santos, a right-handed pitcher, were swapped by the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit.
Ward played 64 games for the LumberKings in 2014-15, cumulatively batting .260 with 2 HR and 19 RBI. He also played in High-A this year.
De Los Santos made 13 starts for short-season teams this year, going 6-0 with a 3.47 ERA, 71 strikeouts and 18 walks in 62.1 innings. He likely will start the 2016 season with the TinCaps.
Hicks, Herrera traded to Yankees
The New York Yankees acquired two former Beloit Snappers in separate trades Wednesday.
They sent catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for outfielder Aaron Hicks, who played for the Snappers in 2009 and 2010. Hicks batted .269 with 12 HR, 78 RBI and 31 SB in 182 Midwest League games.
The Yankees also acquired RHP Ronald Herrera from the Padres for utility infielder Jose Pirela. Herrera split the 2014 season between the Snappers and the TinCaps, cumulatively going 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 25 walks in 132.2 innings (26 games/25 starts).
Palka traded to Twins
The Twins acquired power prospect Daniel Palka from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Chris Herrmann on Tuesday.
Palka batted .248 with 22 HR and 82 RBI in 118 games with the 2014 South Bend Silver Hawks. He spent the 2015 season in High-A, batting .280 with 29 HR and 90 RBI in 129 games with the Visalia Rawhide.