"This may be the toughest decision we have made in my time with the organization," said Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. "Nate is a quality player and person, but as we have said several times, tough decisions will need to be made as we build and sustain a championship caliber organization. Nate has worked as hard as any player to become a starting Major League Player, proving wrong anyone who may have doubted him. When we signed Nate to a long-term contract we did so with the intent on having him remain part of our core of homegrown talent. But the quality and quantity of talent we are receiving in this trade moves us closer to our goal of building that sustainable championship caliber club and compelled us to move a very good player and an outstanding young man."
Gorkys Hernandez hit .316 (67-for-212) with 11 doubles, 19 RBI, 10 stolen bases and 33 runs scored with Double-A Mississippi this year at the time of the trade. The 21-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder entered the season ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America. Hernandez, who was originally signed by Detroit as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 out of Venezuela, has been a two-time All-Star Futures Game representative (2007 and 2008) in his five years of professional baseball. Entering today's action, he ranked 10th in the Southern League in hitting, third in hits and tied for eighth in stolen bases. In 2007, he took home Midwest League mid-season and post-season All-Star accolades while also being named the league's Most Valuable Player after hitting .293 with a league-leading 54 stolen bases.
"Gorkys Hernandez is a dynamic player who has the potential to become an above average major league outfielder," said Huntington. "He is a quality athlete with plus speed and plays above average defense. He has bat speed and the upside to develop into a productive table setter."
Charlie Morton went 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA (64.2ip/18er) and 55 strikeouts in 10 starts this year for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves of the International League. At the time of the trade, he was tied for first in the International League in wins, and was ranked eighth in ERA and third in innings pitched. In his last outing on May 29 at Syracuse, he struck out seven batters while tossing a seven-hit shutout while winning his fifth consecutive start. The 25-year-old Morton made his Major League debut with Atlanta in 2008 and went 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA (74.2ip/51er) and 48 strikeouts in 16 games (15 starts).
"Charlie Morton is a power right-handed starting pitcher who is excelling at Triple-A," said Huntington. "He is close to being ready for the big leagues and has the upside to become a quality Major League starting pitcher."
Jeff Locke allowed three earned runs or less in seven of his 10 starts this year for Single-A Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League. The 21-year-old southpaw, who entered the season ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America, was originally selected by Atlanta in the second round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft from A. Crosby Kennett High School in New Hampshire. During his second professional season in 2007, Locke finished tied for second in the Appalachian League with seven wins and 74 strikeouts and third in strikeouts per 9.0ip (11.17).
"Jeff Locke is an intriguing young left handed starter with the frame, athleticism and stuff to become a quality major league starting pitcher," said Huntington.
Andrew McCutchen was hitting .303 (61-for-201) with 10 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 20 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 41 runs scored, a .361 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage with Triple-A Indianapolis at the time of his promotion to Pittsburgh.
The 22-year-old McCutchen, who was Pittsburgh's first-round selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, was leading the International League in runs scored and triples heading into today's action. McCutchen, who entered the season as Pittsburgh's best prospect according to Scout.com, was Pittsburgh's Minor League Player-of-the-Year in 2006, a 2008 International League All-Star and All-Star Futures Game representative at Yankee Stadium. He also entered the 2009 campaign rated as the "Best Athlete" and as the "Best Defensive Outfielder" in Pittsburgh's minor league system according to Baseball America.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Charlie Morton the Pirates have transferred pitcher Craig Hansen from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.