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Indians Trade Brito To Pirates, Acquire Bixler

January 18, 2010
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The Indians today announced they have acquired infielder Brian Bixler from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for third baseman Jesus Brito.

The acquisition of Bixler, 27, seemingly fills the Indians lust for a utility infielder this offseason, and his right-handed bat should be a good complement to the switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop and left-handed hitting Luis Valbuena at second base. With the addition of Bixler, the Indians 40-man roster now stands at 40.

Bixler is a Sandusky, OH native who spent the majority of the 2009 season at AAA Indianapolis where he batted .275 (111-403) with 71 runs scored, 23 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs and 43 RBI in 108 games. He was tied for 2nd in the International League in triples and tied for 7th with 71 runs scored. He also appeared in 18 games with the Pirates over three different stints hitting .227 (10-44) with 5 runs scored and 3RBI. The 6-1, 195-pound infielder appeared in 61 games at shortstop, 27 at second base, 15 in center field and 2 at third base while at Indianapolis.

The loss of Brito, 22, is tough to swallow after what many consider a breakout campaign in short-season ball last year. He hit .366 (49-134) with 36 runs scored, 12 doubles, 8 triples, 3 home runs and 25 RBI in 35 games with the AZL Indians before being promoted to Mahoning Valley where he hit .333 (30-90) with 16 runs scored, 7 doubles, 2 triples and 18RBI in 25 games.

Brito's emergence last year at rookie level Arizona and then at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley was a result of a much improved ability to make consistent, hard contact. His power is good, with an ability that Indians officials have said could someday translate into 20-25 home run ability in the big leagues. He made a solid conversion to third base last year after spending the three previous seasons as an outfielder in the Dominican Summer League.

It remains to be seen if the hit ability Brito showed in 2009 translates as he moves up the minor league ladder, and having never shown any success in the three years before, the jury is still out on him. He is still a very intriguing prospect as prior to the trade he was slated as my #35 prospect in the Indians system for 2010.

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