Eight ex-Pelicans traded in blockbuster deadline deals

harrisonIn the midst of a bustling week of trades in Major League Baseball, eight former players from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, were moved in transactions between the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Former Pelicans players including catchers Jorge Alfaro and Tomas Telis, outfielder Nick Williams, pitchers Alec Asher, Luis Avilan, Cody Ege, Jerad Eickhoff, and Matt Harrison were all dealt in the final 48 hours before the deadline.

Late Wednesday night, the Rangers traded for left-handed starting pitcher Cole Hamels in an eight-player deal that sent six men to the Phillies, including Alfaro, Williams, Asher, Eickhoff, and Harrison.

On Thursday, the Braves sent Avilan to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 13-player transaction that also included Miami.

In the final moments before Friday’s trade deadline, Texas sent Ege and Telis to Miami in exchange for pitcher Sam Dyson.

Avilan and Harrison each pitched with Myrtle Beach when the organization was an Atlanta Braves affiliate, while Asher, Eickhoff, Alfaro, Williams, Ege, and Telis were members of the Pelicans during the Texas Rangers era. According to Baseball America, Asher, Alfaro, and Williams were all among the top 15 prospects in the Rangers system entering the 2015 season.

Alfaro, 22, played 103 games with the Pelicans between 2013 and 2014, spending 75 of those as a catcher. A native of Sincelejo, Sucre, Colombia, he batted a collective .259 with 13 home runs and 73 RBI during his time with Myrtle Beach and earned a Carolina League midseason All-Star selection in 2014. He began the 2015 season with Double-A Frisco, and has appeared in 49 games for the RoughRiders this season before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery. In his sixth professional campaign, Alfaro carries a .261 career batting average with 52 homers and 249 RBI. The Rangers signed Alfaro as a non-drafted free agent out of Colombia in 2010.

Williams, 21, spent only the 2014 season with the Pelicans, and the left-handed hitting outfielder batted .292 in 94 games, driving in 98 runs and scoring 61 times. That year, the Galveston, Texas, native ranked among the top five on the team in runs scored, hits (110), doubles (28), triples (4), home runs (13), and RBI, and like Alfaro, he made the Carolina League midseason All-Star team. In August of that same season, Williams earned his promotion to Double-A Frisco, and this season, he has led the RoughRiders in batting (.299), extra base hits (38), and OPS (.836), while also pulling in with the second-most runs scored (56) and second-most home runs (13). He was named the Texas League Player of the Week for July 2027, and was also selected as a Midseason Texas League All-Star. On July 12, Williams was chosen to participate on the U.S. Futures team in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati. He finished 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a run scored in the U.S. Futures’ 10-1 win over the World Futures team. The Rangers selected Williams in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Galveston Ball High School.

Asher, 23, carried a 9-7 record and pitched to a 2.90 ERA with the Pelicans in 2013. Like Alfaro and Williams, Asher was a Carolina League midseason All-Star, pitching an inning in the 2013 game in San Jose. That season, he led the team in starts (25), innings pitched (133 1/3), as well as strikeouts (139). He began the 2014 campaign with Double-A Frisco and was called up to Triple-A Round Rock in April of this season. With the Express, he is 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA. Asher was a fourth-round selection in the 2012 MLB Draft from Polk State College.

Eickhoff, 25, pitched with the Pelicans in 2013, compiling a 7-3 record in 21 starts with the club and a 3.41 ERA. A right-handed hurler, Eickhoff struck out 80 batters and walked only 26 in 116 innings pitched. He was called up to Frisco in early August of that year and has since split the past two seasons between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers picked up Eickhoff in the 15th round of the 2011 draft out of Olney Central College.

Harrison, 29, pitched with the Pelicans as a Braves farmhand in 2006 when he posted an 8-4 record while maintaining a 3.10 ERA. He made just 13 starts in his time with Myrtle Beach, including a pair of complete games, before he was promoted to Double-A Mississippi in June of that year. The left-hander spent six seasons in the Atlanta system before the Rangers via trade acquired him on July 31, 2007 in the trade centered on Mark Teixeira. A native of Durham, North Carolina, Harrison made his Major League debut with Texas, culminating in two starts for the Rangers in the 2011 World Series. In June of last season, he underwent spinal fusion surgery on two disks in his lower back in an attempt to alleviate severe pain due to spondylolisthesis. Harrison has pitched this season, three starts with a 1-2 record and a 6.75 ERA. Once the trade was made official with Texas, the Phillies placed Harrison on the 15-day disabled list.

Avilan, 26, played with the Pelicans as a Braves farmhand in 2010, going 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 31 relief appearances. In 48 innings of work, he struck out 37 and walked 16. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Avilan was promoted to Double-A Mississippi to begin the 2011 campaign, and made his Major League debut with the Atlanta Braves on July 14, 2012. In that game, he struck out the only batter he faced on four pitches. During his four seasons with the Braves, Avilan compiled a 12-5 record out of the bullpen, striking out 127 and walking 63 in 182 innings of work. The Braves signed Avilan out of Venezuela in 2005 as a non-drafted free agent.

Ege, 24, made 39 appearances, including two saves in his tenure with the Pelicans between 2013 and 2014. A left-handed pitcher from Sioux City, Iowa, Ege fanned 79 batters and walked 17 across 64 1/3 innings out of the Pelicans bullpen. He began the 2015 campaign with the Rangers’ Advanced-A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, before being promoted to Double-A Frisco in May. Ege was Texas 15th rounder in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Louisville.

Telis, 24, played all of the 2012 season with the Pelicans and batted .247 in 177 games with the club. During that season, the switch-hitting catcher ranked third on the team in hits (111), second in doubles (24), fourth in RBI (43), and seventh in batting average. He began the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the RoughRiders, and on August 25, 2014, he made his Major League debut with the Texas Rangers in a 2-0 win against Seattle. He finished his debut 1-for-4 with a strikeout at the plate, collecting his first big league hit with a bunt single to third base. Texas signed Telis out of Venezuela in 2007 as a non-drafted free agent.

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