Late on Thursday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox announced that they had acquired infielder Aaron Hill and cash considerations from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor-league pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo.
So far this season, the six-foot-three, 190-pound right-hander Wilkerson is having a banner year, posting a combined 2.14 ERA with 102 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 92.1 innings between Double-A Portland (1.83 ERA, 44.1 IP) and Triple-A Pawtucket (2.44 ERA, 48.0 IP). Dating back to his promotion to High-A Salem on May 5 of last year, Wilkerson owns a 2.71 ERA with 226 strikeouts over his last 219.0 innings pitched. According to SoxProspects.com, the 27-year-old Wilkerson currently ranked as the #30 prospect in the Red Sox organization.
Rijo has been having a decidedly less successful year than Wilkerson, but is unanimously considered a more valuable prospect due to a few plus tools (hit, run) and significant age advantage (Rijo turns 21 in September). The Dominican Republic native hit .270/.364/.324 in 11 games with High-A Salem before being promoted to Portland early this season. Since the promotion, Rijo owns a .186/.245/.266 line and has made nine errors in just over 400 innings at second base for the Sea Dogs. Rijo came in at #11 on my preseason organizational prospect rankings, and was currently ranked as the #49 prospect in the system by SoxProspects.com, sliding all the way down from #22 on their April rankings.
After a lackluster pair of seasons in Arizona following red-hot 2012 and 2013 campaigns, Hill has quietly put together a solid 2016 with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 78 games and 292 plate appearances, Hill has amassed a respectable .283/.359/.421 line with his OPS+ and wRC+ identical at 107. Hill has also added eight home runs and eleven doubles and put together a solid 43:30 K:BB ratio.
In the field, Hill has played nearly three-quarters of his games at third base, where he’ll likely slot into the Red Sox’ lineup against left-handed pitching, as current third baseman Travis Shaw has struggled against southpaws this season. For his career, Hill owns a .267/.332/.431 line against lefties. However, he sports a similar .269/.322/.420 line against righties, indicating he would not suffer immensely if deployed against right-handers.
Hill will add some much-needed depth to a thin Boston bench, with the ability to play both second and third base. This flexibility should allow super-utilityman Brock Holt to continue playing left field regularly in the absence of the injured Chris Young and Blake Swihart.
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