Brewers Acquire Utility Infield Prospect As Erik Kratz Heads To Giants
With a crowded catcher depth chart and no roster spot for Erik Kratz, the Brewers found a way to turn their unlikely 2018 playoff hero into a prospect with a minor trade that sent the 38-year-old catcher across the country in return for a potential utility infielder.
C.J. Hinojosa, SS/2B
Hinojosa was a star of Texas’ 2014 College World Series team, but he struggled mightily as a junior and slid to the 11th round in 2015. He quickly established that he was better than the run-of-the-mill 11th-rounder, but after reaching Double-A in 2016, his limitations also became apparent. Hinojosa has a contact-oriented swing and approach at the plate. An Achilles injury and a second positive test for a drug of abuse (which resulted in a 50-game suspension) meant he got a late start to the 2018 season before spending a third consecutive season at Double-A Richmond. Hinojosa was left unprotected and unpicked in the Rule 5 draft last December. Hinojosa doesn’t play shortstop well enough to project as a regular there, but he is able to play it well enough as a fill-in. Hinojosa faces an uphill battle to ever get significant big league time, but he could find a way to a utility role.
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Erik Kratz, C
Kratz’s trade comes just months after the highlight of the veteran catcher’s long career—he was a 2002 draftee, making him one of the oldest remaining players in the major leagues. A career backup, Kratz didn’t make it to the major leagues until he was 30, and he’s never reached 250 at-bats in an MLB season. But he’s proven to be a reliable No. 3 catcher who can step into a larger role if needed. Kratz was signed to be Manny Piña’s backup with Milwaukee last season, but he played well enough to get regular playing time for the Brewers in the second half of the season. He went 5-for-8 in two games of the NLDS, which earned him the everyday job during the NLCS. Alas, the magic wore off and he hit .125 (2-for-18) in that seven-game series. Kratz’s position in Milwaukee was tenuous from the day the team signed Yasmani Grandal. With Grandal and Piña under contract and Kratz out of options, Milwaukee spent much of spring training looking for a landing spot. He’s expected to serve as Buster Posey’s backup in San Francisco.