The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired third baseman Stephen Parker from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for right-handed pitcher Darren Byrd.
Parker, 25, was selected by Oakland in the fifth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Brigham Young University. Over four minor-league seasons, he is a career .277 hitter with 43 HR and 262 RBI in 448 games. His best season came in 2010, when he batted .296 with 21 HR and 98 RBI in 139 games at Class-A Stockton and was a midseason and postseason California League All-Star.
Byrd, 26, spent three seasons in the Brewers’ farm system (2010-12) after signing as a minor-league free agent on June 28, 2010. He appeared in one game this spring before he was returned to minor-league camp on March 7.
…that I’m aware of, anyway.
Wednesday, January 30th finds us 61 days removed from Opening Day of the 2013 regular season. The Brewers open at home this year against the Colorado Rockies on April 1st.
Being 61 days away find us focused on a pitcher who will be wearing #61 on the Major League field at Maryvale…
Darren W. Byrd is a 25-year-old right-handed relief pitcher from Pensacola, Florida. Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 18th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Byrd signed right away and got to work as an 18-year-old. He was released by the Phillies in 2009 and pitched in independent ball to begin 2010. It was as a Fargo-Moorhead Redhawk that Byrd impressed a scout of the Milwaukee Brewers. He was signed and made his debut with the Brewer’ Class-A Advanced affiliate on July 2, 2010 as a Brevard County Manatee.
Now the veteran of parts of eight minor league seasons, Byrd is knocking on the door of The Show thanks to a full-time move to the bullpen in 2011. He pitched out the ‘pen with the Class-AA affiliate Huntsville Stars the last two years, totalling 91 appearances (50 in 2012). The change was definitely for the better as Byrd’s stuff plays up better when he doesn’t have to worry as much about managing in-game fatigue.
With respective ERAs of 2.95 and 2.59 in each of the last two seasons, Byrd has pitched his way onto the radar screen of the big wigs in Milwaukee who wanted a chance to see what he could offer in big league camp this March.
Since last season was Byrd’s best as a pro, let’s review it a bit more closely. First, his stat line:
3-5, 2.59 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 50 G, 6 SV, 73.0 IP, 58 H, 36 BB, (1.288 WHIP), 27 R, 21 ER, 2 HR, 71 K, .211 BAA
Those numbers work out to these ratios:
7.2 H/9, 4.44 BB/9, 0.25 HR/9, 8.75 K/9, 1.97 K/BB
First thing that jumps out at me is that the walk rate needs to come down but otherwise these are very encouraging numbers and it’s easy to see why Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff want a closer look at what Byrd has to offer. Byrd allowed multiple runs in an inning only six times all year and compiled 35 scoreless appearances overall. He wasn’t a match-ups guy either as Byrd recorded more than three outs in just over half (26 of 50) of his outings.
About the only disconcerting thing as I delved deeper into Byrd’s splits is that he was much better at home (1.69 ERA) than he was away from “The Joe” (4.29 ERA). Some of that was due to an increased BABIP on the road, but really his walk rate spiked, he struck out far fewer, and the dangerous duo of an increase in line drive percentage and decrease in ground ball rate hurt. I don’t have the time to compare road vs. home splits by opponent and their effectiveness, so I’m not sure if any significant impact is there though I’d suspect not.
Looking forward to 2013, chances are very good that Byrd will break camp with Class-AAA Nashville and be one of the players counted on should injury befall the rebuilt bullpen. Results with Nashville will help paint a more complete picture of where Byrd stands on the prospect watch list. As I’ve said more than once already in this series, many a relief pitcher has blossomed late so his age is starting to get up there a bit but certainly isn’t cause for concern yet.
Back when he was drafted, Byrd stood 6’3″ and weighed only 170 pounds and was said to have a fastball that sat “mostly 86-87 w/ occasional plus, hard, sinking action. Loose arm action, good extension front and back. Will challenge hitters. Right rotating on CB when he’s on top. Good projection.” He’s still stands 6’3″ but during his career has added 30 pounds to now be listed at 200 even.
That added weight is no doubt helping Byrd’s fastball which now averages 93 MPH and reached as high as 96 MPH. Byrd also tells me that he’s still throwing that curveball (78-83 MPH range now) and throws an 84-89 MPH slider as well.
As for the immediate future, expect Byrd to see some action late in games during Spring Training, especially while both John Axford and Jim Henderson are with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Again, the odds of a plane ticket to Milwaukee at the end of camp are virtually nil, though stranger things have happened. Regardless, keep tabs on how Byrd does as he could certainly be called on by the parent club at some point in 2013. Getting his name firmly on the short list of options officially begins in just under two weeks.
You can follow Darren Byrd on Twitter: @D_byrd26
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #63 Tyler Thornburg
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Miguel De Los Santos
- #67 Santo Manzanillo
- #68 Jesus Sanchez
- #70 Nick Bucci
- #71 Johnny Hellweg
- #73 Ariel Peña
- #74 Michael Olmsted
- #75 Travis Webb
- #77 Jed Bradley
- #78 Taylor Jungmann
- BONUS ARTICLE: #91-94 Adam Weisenberger, Hunter Morris, Kentrail Davis, Rafael Neda
Murphy, who turns 30 in March, batted .216/.281/.379 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 52 games with the Miami Marlins in 2012. He was a member of their organization over the past three seasons. Murphy made his big league debut in 2004 as a member of the Kansas City Royals. Murphy has played in the Majors as a member of the Royals (’04-’05), Oakland Athletics (’07-’08) and Marlins (’10-’12). He also spent the entirely of 2009 in the Baltimore Orioles organization at the Triple-A level.
He’s a utility infielder by trade, rostered for versatility and his glove, certainly never displaying much of a bat during his career. His career minor league slash line is .279/.347/.461 after all, so he’s never been expected to hit a whole lot. Throughout his MLB service time, Murphy has made 70 appearances at shortstop, 66 at third base, 63 at second base and even one start in left field (for Oakland in 2008). He made 17 starts at third base, eight at second base and one at shortstop in 2012 for the Marlins.
When reached for comment by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said that Murphy was the first of a group of utility infielders under review who accepted Milwaukee’s offer.
#Brewers asst GM Gord Ash told me team was looking at several utility infielders but Donnie Murphy “stepped up and accepted our offer.”
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 17, 2012
If nothing else, this signing is of a baseball veteran to challenge for the backup shortstop role on the 25-man roster. It’s a spot that needs to be filled on every team so why not import some competition for Jeff Bianchi.
The Brewers now have seven official non-roster invitees to Major League camp in Spring Training.
Here they are listed alphabetically by surname:
- RHP Jairo Asencio
- C Dayton Buller
- RHP Darren Byrd
- INF Hector Gomez*
- C Blake Lalli
- INF Donnie Murphy
- LHP Travis Webb
* Hector Gomez was injured while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He is expected to miss a significant portion of the 2013 regular season.