The Myrtle Beach Pelicans might be in a tight battle for first place in the Carolina League, but the team’s look throughout the remainder of the 2016 season will look vastly different.
Two of the team’s top performers, shortstop Gleyber Torres (Cubs No. 1 minor-league prospect) and outfielder Rashad Crawford were traded to the New York Yankees organization on Monday in a deal for one of the MLB’s most coveted relief pitchers, Aroldis Chapman.
Chicago announced the move on Monday, sending Torres and Crawford to the Yankees system along with another pair of prospects: outfielder Billy McKinney and right-handed pitcher Adam Warren.
McKinney headlined an impressive lineup for the early-season 2015 Pelicans, batting .340 in 103 at-bats in Myrtle Beach.
Warren is a former Yankee who will return to the organization after spending parts of four seasons between 2012 and 2015 playing for the historic big-league club. This year, he struggled at the big-league level with the Cubs, totaling a 5.91 ERA in 29 outings.
Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey spoke about the loss of both players in the four-for-one trade, noting that sometimes, the business of baseball pulls situations in unforeseen directions.
“You had guys who were batting two and three in the lineup, one was batting in the .250s [Crawford] the other in the .270s [Torres]. Both of them were hitting over .340 for the month of July,” the skipper said. “But it’s interesting, it’s just what you have to do.
“The organization took on a premier closer, high-quality guy, so what happens when you want to trade to get quality? Nobody is going to trade you those kind of guys without getting quality back, so it’s just one of those things.”
Both Torres and Crawford played integral roles in the success of this year’s Myrtle Beach team.
The 19-year-old Torres hit .275 in 94 games with the Pelicans, hitting nine home runs and knocking in 49 runs at the dish. Flashing the leather up the middle at shortstop, he quickly found a home as a fan favorite at TicketReturn.com Field.
Crawford’s role as a staple in the Pelicans lineup will, too, be missed. His consistency in the field and at the plate shined early and often during the 2016 season, hitting .255 with two errors in the outfield over 689 innings.
Both, Bailey says, were caught a bit off guard by the move.
“For Gleyber and Crawford, it was kind of a shock,” he noted, adding that leaving friends in the clubhouse is often a forgotten-about aspect of major-league trades.
“You’re young, you’re with an organization for three or four years and then you leave them, part of your heart has grown with that organization… it’s a tough deal. But the bottom line is, to get quality you have to get quality and that’s what the trade came down to.”
The Pelicans will now work the rest of the season with fresh faces at the top of the order, with the likes of infielder David Bote and outfielder Charcer Burks playing more integral roles in the lineup.