ERIC FRYER
CATCHER
Born: August 26, 1985
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 10th Round, 311th Overall, 2007
How Acquired: Trade (for Eric Hinske and cash)
College: Ohio State
Agent: Sterling Sports Management

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates acquired Fryer and RHP Casey Erickson from the Yankees for Eric Hinske.  He’s a very athletic catcher with good speed for a catcher and a strong arm.  His athleticism is good enough that he’s moved back and forth between catching and the outfield during his career.  He’s been very erratic as a hitter, with some very good and some very poor performances, and little in between.

2007
R+:  209/288/324, 139, 7 2B, 3 HR, 14 BB, 28 K, 4-7 SB

Played exclusively behind the plate in rookie ball and struggled to hit.

2008
A:  335/407/506, 385 AB, 26 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 43 BB, 74 K, 15-18 SB

The Brewers started playing Fryer a lot in left in low A; he got in 55 games there and 39 behind the plate.  He had a big season at the plate, even doing very well as a base stealer.

2009
A+ (NYY):  250/333/344, 224 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 27 BB, 43 K, 11-16 SB
A+ (Pgh):  242/360/369, 157 AB, 11 2B, 3 HR, 22 BB, 25 K

Opening the season in high A with the Yankees, who had acquired him during the off-season for LHP Chase Wright, Fryer caught only five games.  He instead played left most of the time and struggled at bat.  After the Pirates acquired him, he became the starting catcher at Lynchburg over Kris Watts.  He showed a bit more power and patience than before the trade, but getting out of pitcher-friendly Florida State League may have helped.  He threw out 36% of opposing base stealers with Hillcats.  His plate discipline on the season was good.

2010
R:  143/500/143, 7 AB, 5 BB, 1 SB
A+:  300/391/474, 287 AB, 16 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 37 BB, 64 K, 10-11 SB

The Pirates sent Fryer back to high A, where he started the season as a backup and DH due to presence of Tony Sanchez, but Sanchez’ shoulder problems got him more time behind the plate than expected.  An opportunity seemingly arose when Sanchez suffered a fractured jaw, but ironically Fryer also was hit in the face just a few days later.  Unlike Sanchez, Fryer returned before the season was over and served as the regular catcher for most of August.  He caught 52 games total and threw out 37% of base stealers.  He also had a big year offensively, despite hitting only .185 in April.  He hit for power and average, although you have to take into account the fact that he was repeating the level and, at 24, was old for it.  Unlike most of his teammates, Fryer hit better on the road than at home.

2011
AA:  345/427/549, 113 AB, 4 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 16 BB, 21 K, 1 SB
AAA:  203/333/314, 118 AB, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 21 BB, 30 K, 3-3 SB
MLB:  269/345/269, 26 AB, 3 BB, 7 K, 1-2 SB

Fryer opened the season backing up Sanchez again, this time at Altoona.  He also saw time in both outfield corners and at DH.  He was hot at bat in the early going, hitting posting a .976 OPS through late May.  At that point, the Pirates were losing catchers left and right and ran short in AAA, so they promoted Fryer.  He hit well initially and, dissatisfied with Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas, the Pirates acquired Mike McKenry and added Fryer to the roster to serve as the backup.  He saw only limited action but held his own, going 7-for-26 with three walks.  He threw out three of ten base stealers and had no passed balls in eight games, although his inexperience showed at times.  When Ryan Doumit returned, the Pirates sent Fryer back to AAA and he struggled badly, hitting 132/281/151 in 17 games while sharing the catching with Jason Jaramillo.  He had a good walk total, but he fanned in a quarter of his ABs.  Between Altoona and Indianapolis, Fryer threw out 27% of base stealers.

2012
AAA:  204/257/247, 162 AB, 7 2B, 10 BB, 38 K, 1-1 SB
MLB:  250/400/250, 4 AB, 1 BB, 1 K 

After the 2011 season, the Pirates designated Fryer for assignment.  He cleared waivers and was assigned to AAA.  Generally, his playing time at Indianapolis depended on what other catchers were around.  Jose Morales was hurt initially, so Fryer got to play regularly.  Later, he backed up Morales or Tony Sanchez, or during some stretches both.  He ended up catching 40 games in AAA and also playing in 13 in the outfield.  He had a dismal season, not hitting at all and throwing out only four of 39 base stealers.  The Pirates nevertheless called him up in late June when Rod Barajas sustained a minor knee injury.  Barajas never went on the disabled list, though, and Fryer saw no action behind the plate.  He went back down after about a week and stayed in AAA until the Pirates called him up for September.  They did so merely to have a third catcher available, which made it safer for them to use Mike McKenry as a pinch hitter, or to pinch run for Barajas.  Fryer again saw no time behind the plate, although he played a few innings in the outfield.

The Pirates removed Fryer from the 40-man roster again in the off-season.  It’s possible they’ll be able to bring him back on a minor league contract, but with Tony Sanchez and Ramon Cabrera both likely to be in AAA he may want to try his luck elsewhere.  His prospect window is pretty much closed.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2013:  Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $67,500
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 6/26/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: 2013
MLB FA Eligible: 2018
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: June 25, 2011
Options Remaining: 1 (USED:  2011, 2012)
MLB Service Time: 0.040
TRANSACTIONS
June 8, 2007: Selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round, 311th overall pick; signed on June 12.
February 4, 2009: Acquired by the New York Yankees from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Chase Wright.
June 30, 2009: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the New York Yankees along with Casey Erickson in exchange for Eric Hinske and cash.
June 25, 2011: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 18, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; assigned to AAA on November 23.
June 26, 2012: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 25, 2012: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.