The Brewers have kicked off their trade season by sending 2B/3B Aaron Hill and cash considerations to the Boston Red Sox for two prospects: RHP Aaron WIlkerson and 2B Wendell Rijo. Trading Aaron Hill was the best case scenario from the start so this should please Brewers fans. It also helps make the Segura/Wagner trade look that much better—not that it ever looked anything but good from the start.
When the Brewers acquired Hill as part of that trade it was widely believed he was essentially a salary dump that allowed the Brewers to, in essence, purchase a better prospect in the deal; that being SS Isan Diaz. But I believe there to be a secondary reason. Should Hill regain and shred of his former self, he would be come an interesting trade commodity. That’s exactly what happened.
Hill played in 78 games for the Brewers at second and third base. Over that stretch of 279 plate appearances he hit 283/359/421 (107 wRC+). He’s already hit 8 home runs which puts him on a pace to hit the most home runs he’s had since 2012. He’s also proven to be a competent defender at second and third. It was that defensive versatility combined with approximately league average hitting that made him just an intriguing trade target. He pretty much improves any bench on any team.
The prospects coming back in the trade were never going to be big names, but the Brewers appear to have done well in this deal. Second baseman Wendell Rijo began the season in A+ hitting 270/364/324 but cooled off considerably when advanced to AA: 186/245/266. Still just 20 years old, there’s plenty of time for him to figure things out and it’s not uncommon to see young prospects struggled against advanced competition. MLB Pipeline ranked him 17th in a loaded Boston farm. He has the makings for average tools across the board, though power and defense might end up a tad below. It’s not an exciting profile, but if he could maximize his skill set, he could become an average major leaguer.
Right handed pitcher Aaron Wilkerson was technically un-ranked by both MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs. However he was the pick for “Cistulli’s Guy” on the FG list. That should be of interest to Brewers fans because Cistulli has hit on a number of pitchers that went otherwise unnoticed, including fellow Brewer Junior Guerra. Wilkerson has also been a regular feature in Cistull’s “Fringe Five” where he profiles under-the-radar prospects having statistically impressive seasons. You can find links on his FG player page.
It’s difficult to find a lot of information on Wilkerson’s pitch mix since he has been an under-the-radar guy (he was undrafted and then played in unaffiliated ball to start his career). But from the Fringe Five features I see that he at least has a low-90’s fastball and a change-up. Sounds like a few other pitchers I know.
Statistically Wilkerson has been electric this season. In 8 starts in AA he struck out 27.6% of batters faced, walked 8.1%, and notched a 1.83 ERA and 2.74 FIP. In 8 AAA starts he’s struck out 27.0% of batters faced, walked 5.5%, and notched a 2.44 ERA and 3.17 FIP. He was in discussion to start for the Red Sox major league team recently, so it’s possible we could see him do just that for the Brewers before too long.