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Pirates Trade Brian Bixler... for a Prospect?

The Pirates have traded Brian Bixler to the Indians, getting minor league 3B/OF Jesus Brito in return. The move clears space on the roster to make official the signing of Brendan Donnelly. Bixler, who is from Sandusky, will compete to be the Indians' utility infielder.

I'm just flabbergasted that the Pirates got someone to trade for Bixler, let alone to give them something pretty interesting in return. Brito hails from the Dominican Republic and didn't play particularly well in the DSL in 2008, drawing a bunch of walks but not doing much else, but last year he finally made it to the states as a 21-year-old and went berserk, hitting .366 for their Arizona League rookie affiliate and .333 for the Class A- Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Brito was very old and very experienced for those leagues, but his numbers speak for themselves: OBPs of .439 and .419, OPSes of 1.081 and .875. He also hit for impressive power in rookie ball. And this isn't necessarily just a case of an unimpressive guy putting up unsustainable numbers at a low level, either, since Baseball America ranked Brito the 14th-best prospect in the Arizona League. (He's obviously unlikely to continue to hit .350 like he did this year, but BA's approval suggests that at least some of the skills he used to get those huge numbers are real.) Neal Huntington suggests that Brito is pretty shaky defensively, so he'll probably need to hit to progress.

Even adjusting for my bias against Bixler because of his hideous big-league performances, I just can't see how Neal Huntington got away with this. Bixler is 27, still has terrible control of the strike zone and has shown no real indication he's anything more than a AAA player. For the Indians to give up a guy who might one day be something, even if that's unlikely, is just weird.

John Sickels ranks Brito a Grade C prospect.