ERIC FRYER, CATCHER
|Born: August 26, 1985
Height: 6′ 2″
Drafted: 10th Round, 311th Overall, 2007
How Acquired: Waiver claim (from St. Louis)
College: Ohio State
Agent: Joe Speed
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Fryer is on his second go-round with the Pirates. They first acquired him, along with RHP Casey Erickson, from the Yankees for Eric Hinske. Fryer is an athletic player 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. As he was coming up through the minors, he was very erratic as a hitter, with some very good and some very poor performances, and little in between. Fryer eventually settled in as a catching depth option, getting time in the majors with Minnesota and St. Louis, as well as in his two Pirates’ stints. He’s gotten the chances due to his glove, as he seems to have settled in as a weak hitter, although his plate discipline generally has been solid. For his career, he has just a 237/328/328 line in over 800 AAA ABs. He’s shown solid or better receiving and framing skills, and an average arm, with a 29% career CS% in the minors.
Played exclusively behind the plate in rookie ball and struggled to hit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and he refused assignment, later signing a minor league deal with Minnesota.
Fryer spent most of the season in AAA, splitting the catching duties. The Twins called him up in September after Joe Mauer went out with a concussion.
Fryer split his time between AAA and the majors, serving as a backup at both locations.
Minnesota outrighted Fryer to AAA after the 2014 season, where he had a good season with the bat. He stayed with the organization, and was called up and then outrighted three times. The last time occurred after the season and Fryer opted for free agency, signing a minor league deal with the Cardinals.
The Cards called Fryer up at the beginning of the season when backup catcher Brayan Pena went on the disabled list. Fryer spent nearly three months with the Cards, hitting very well in limited playing time. Pena returned in late June and St. Louis designated Fryer for assignment. The Pirates claimed him off waivers after the one remaining catcher out of their top three, Chris Stewart, went on the disabled list. He shared the catching duties with Erik Kratz initially, then backed up Francisco Cervelli until Stewart returned in September. Stewart didn’t last long before needing knee surgery, though, and Elias Diaz was already out for the year, so Fryer continued to back Cervelli up until Cervelli got hurt again. Fryer then closed out the season as the team’s starting catcher. He didn’t hit at all and didn’t play all that well defensively. Among other things, he threw out only three of 22 base stealers.
Despite the fragility of the Pirates’ top three catchers, there’s no reason for them to keep Fryer on the roster after the season. He didn’t play especially well for them and the fact that they were able to add him during the season at short notice suggests they should be able to find somebody better to provide depth given the entire off-season to conduct a search.
|Signing Bonus: $67,500
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 6/26/2011
MiLB FA Eligible:
MLB FA Eligible: 2021
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: June 25, 2011
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2011, 2012, 2014)
MLB Service Time: 2.108
|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; refused assignment and became a free agent on October 29.
November 10, 2012: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Minnesota Twins.
September 8, 2013: Called up by the Minnesota Twins.
December 23, 2014: Outrighted to AAA by the Minnesota Twins.
July 7, 2015: Called up by the Minnesota Twins.
August 6, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins; outrighted to AAA on August 8.
September 1, 2015: Called up by the Minnesota Twins.
October 21, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins; refused assignment and became a free agent on October 30.
November 12, 2015: Signed as a minor league free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals.
April 2, 2016: Called up by the St. Louis Cardinals.
June 28, 2016: Designated for assigment by the St. Louis Cardinals.
July 3, 2016: Claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals by the Pittsburgh Pirates.