After designating Jeff Keppinger for assignment eight days earlier, the Royals sent him to the Reds on Wednesday for Class A righthander Russell Haltiwanger.
The Big Leaguers
A fourth-round pick by the Pirates in 2001 after leading Georgia to the College World Series, the 26-year-old Keppinger never has found a niche in his three previous organizations. A career .315 hitter in the minors (including .323 in Triple-A), he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He has little power, draws few walks and isn’t much of a runner or a defender. The Mets acquired him in the three-team Kris Benson trade in July 2004, then sent him to the Royals last July in a straight-up deal for Ruben Gotay. Keppinger spent most of the year in Triple-A and September in Kansas City, seeing time at all four infield positions as well as the outfield. In 55 games and 176 at-bats in the majors, he has hit .278/.319/.386 with five homers and 17 RBIs.
Haltiwanger, 22, was a 29th-round pick out of Newberry (S.C.) in 2005. He spent all but one game in 2006 at low Class A Dayton, where he went 0-4, 4.15 in 40 games (five starts). He had a 78-45 K-BB ratio in 82 innings. Haltiwanger has a plus fastball and flashes a promising slider, giving him a chance to become a big league reliever if he can straighten out his command.
It’s a minor trade that could help both clubs. Keppinger might be able to stick with the Reds as an offensive-minded utilityman, while Haltiwanger is a worthwhile if unpolished arm to add for a player designated for assignment.