No more Notorious B.I.G. for the Astros. On Monday, Houston sent catcher Chris Wallace to the Cleveland Indians for minor league left-hander Eric Berger, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Wallace was a 16th round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Houston. He went from a defense-first organization pick to a full-fledged prospect by slamming 30 home runs in his first two seasons in the minors. Wallace's bat slowed down in 2012, but he still reached Triple-A and seemed likely to get a shot as a backup catcher at the very least.
Instead, he'll be providing depth for the Cleveland Indians while Houston shores up its Oklahoma City rotation with the acquisition of Berger. The 27-year old left-hander (actually, he'll turn 27 on April 22) was drafted in the eighth round in 2008 out of the University of Arizona.
Berger has shuttled between the starting rotation and the bullpen in the minors, never pitching more than 144 innings in a single season. Even then, Berger hasn't topped 112 innings since 2009 and only threw 71 innings in 2011 before returning to the starting rotation in 2012. Apparently, the switch to the bullpen had nothing to do with an injury and more to do with the Indians wanting to rush him to the big leagues (without success).
Berger throws in the low 90s with his fastball that had arm side sink, according to John Klima back in 2009. Berger also features a slider, a changeup and a 12-6 curveball. That's helped him post some very good strikeout rates in his career, consistently topping 8 Ks per nine innings. The problem is his walk rates have not been very good, either.
At face value, this seems an insignificant move, but we can follow the ripples from news that surfaced this weekend. With John Ely going under the knife, Houston needed more ready-made MLB depth at Triple-A. One thing Luhnow has done a good job of is building up catcher depth, so Wallace became expendable when they found a pitcher who could fit that role.
What do you think? Does this trade do anything for you? Are you excited to see Berger's awesome mustache at the major league level?