The Milwaukee Brewers have hooked up with the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates for yet another swap involving depth players in the upper minor leagues. It was less than two weeks ago that the Brewers picked up outfielder Troy Stokes, Jr. and reliever Jandel Gustave from the Pirates for a teenage catching prospect, and yesterday Milwaukee and Pittsburgh consummated a deal involving utilityman Kevin Kramer and left-handed pitching prospect Nathan Kirby.
Kramer, 27, was taken by the Pirates in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He made it to the big leagues in his age-24 season in 2018, and appeared in 43 games at the highest level during 2018-19. In 90 plate appearances, Kramer owns a .152/.222/.165 slash line, with one extra-base hit and 37 strikeouts versus 8 walks. Kramer missed the 2020 season after hip surgery.
Though he hasn’t hit much in the big leagues, Kramer does have a track record as a performer in the minors. He owns a .277/.353/.416 batting line across six minor league seasons and 2,218 plate appearances, including an .880 OPS at the Double-A level and a .775 OPS in 293 games at Triple-A. Kramer had been struggling so far in 2021 with Triple-A Indianapolis, though, hitting .196/.318/.296 through 51 games. A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Kramer has plenty of experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, and has also spent some time in the corner outfield spots.
Kramer will ostensibly replace Hernan Perez on Milwaukee’s minor league depth chart, as the fan favorite utilityman has received his release from the organization after spending a couple months in Triple-A. Perez will head over to Korea, where he is signing with the Hanwha Eagles to replace another former Brewer, Ryon Healy, on that team’s roster.
Like Kramer, 27 year old Nathan Kirby was also chosen in the 2015 Draft, with the Brewers picking him at #40 overall. The left-hander’s career has been marred by significant injuries so far; Tommy John surgery, then a subsequent nerve issue in his elbow, and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome have limited him to just 49 appearances and 102.1 innings as a professional, with most of that action coming in 2018. Kirby has pitched to a 4.40 ERA with 8.9 K/9 but also 5.8 BB/9 in his professional career; he had been working in Double-A Biloxi this year, posting a 1.93 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 13 walks across 18.2 innings.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference