The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers made a prospect-for-prospect trade this evening. Detroit sent left-handed pitcher Andrew Oliver to Pittsburgh, in exchange for catcher Ramon Cabrera. Here's the scoop.
Ramon Cabrera, C: The Pirates signed Cabrera out of Venezuela in 2008. He emerged as an intriguing prospect by hitting .343/.410/.471 for High-A Bradenton in 2011, but he saw his offense decline after a promotion to Double-A Altoona in 2012, where he hit .276/.342/.367. Overall, he is a .292/.360/.400 career hitter in the Pirates organization.
Cabrera is a 5-8, 195 pound switch-hitter, born November 5, 1989. His home run power is quite limited, but he's a skilled contact hitter who controls the strike zone reasonably well. He is a good receiver with impressive mobility, and he has a good reputation as a field general, but his arm is weak and he has thrown out just 22% of runners in his career. He profiles as a solid backup catcher.
Andrew Oliver, LHP: The Tigers drafted Oliver in the second round of the 2009 draft, out of Oklahoma State University. He has spent the last two seasons pitching for Triple-A Toledo in the International League, with spotty results. He posted a 4.71 ERA with a 143/80 K/BB in 147 innings in 2011, and a 4.88 ERA with a 112/88 K/BB in 118 innings in 2012. He also made five starts for the Tigers in the major leagues in '11 and two more in '12, resulting in an 0-5 record, a 7.11 ERA, and a 23/21 K/BB in 32 innings.
Oliver is a well-built 6-3, 210 pound southpaw, born December 3rd, 1987. There's nothing wrong with his fastball: he can hit the mid-90s, but his control is unreliable and he's had persistent problems with his secondary pitches. He's made some progress with his changeup, but his slider remains more of an idea than a workable out-pitch. This is strange, since he threw a very good curveball in college, but he lost the touch on the bender a couple of years ago and hasn't been able to get it back, or develop something new to replace it. Oliver still has good arm strength and seems like he would benefit from a change of scenery.