The Norfolk Sharks and Louisville Sluggers have agreed to a trade that will see SS Zack Zaphod go to the Sharks, and LHP Ryan Hightower join Louisville.
The Sluggers are picking up a young back-of-the-rotation starter in the deal, a 24-year-old with a solid rookie season under his belt already, and the promise of more down the road.
Norfolk picks up a veteran utility infielder, who can play three positions well, and has enough speed to pick up key stolen bases through the year. Zaphod has struggled at the plate, to be sure, and the Sharks already have one of the best middle infields in the league, in Danny Sanchez and Miguel Ortega. But adding Zaphod allows Sanchez, the weaker infielder, to move to the DH role, and free up his shortstop spot for Zaphod, should the team want to shore up their defense.
Louisville had one of the worst rotations in baseball last year, but have worked hard this off-season to improve. Hightower could join a rebuilt rotation that might include former Jacksonville Ravens RHP Tomas Maldonado, a solid choice for a mid-rotation starter in Louisville, and who had a great finish to 2017, with two sub-2.00 ERA months to end the season, along with LHP Lozaro Lozano, who despite the poor 5-8 finish, had great fundamentals in 2017: a 2.95 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and .243 BABIP.