Evaluating the Drew Ward for Correlle Prime Deal
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier evaluates the trade that sent infielder Drew Ward from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to the Milwaukee Milkmen for 1B/OF Correlle Prime.
Drew Ward Swapped for Correlle Prime
For the second straight off-season, the Milwaukee Milkmen and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks pulled off a blockbuster deal. This time, infielder Drew Ward was sent to Milwaukee as 1B/OF Correlle Prime was returned to the RedHawks a year after being sent to the Milkmen.
How Drew Ward Helps the Milwaukee Milkmen
Ward finished third in the American Association in batting last season, hitting .345 while adding 64 runs scored, 17 homers, and 48 RBI. He posted an impressive .467 on-base percentage and had a 1.052 OPS in his second season with the RedHawks. Ward was originally signed by the team in 2020 and, ironically, finished tied with Correlle Prime for the top batting average in the league (.335). Ward and Prime were teammates that season, so it is interesting to see the two dealt for one another.
Following his outstanding 2020 season, Ward was signed by the Detroit Tigers and spent the entire year at AA-Erie where he hit .240 with 16 homers in 78 games. He has eight years of minor league experience, posting a .254 batting average with 89 homers and 437 RBI in 800 games.
As of now, expect Ward to slide into the No. 3 in the Milwaukee batting order. While first baseman Keon Barnum has not been officially signed at this point, it is expected that he will return to the club, likely batting in the cleanup spot. That creates an incredible 3-4 in the batting order with the newly acquired Reggie Pruitt and the likely to re-sign Bryan Torres hitting in front of Ward. No one is going to pitch around Ward to get to Barnum, so this could be his best season yet.
How Correlle Prime Helps the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks
Last off-season, Prime was sent to Milwaukee along with catcher Dylan Kelly for catcher Christian Correa. Prime had been an absolute star for the RedHawks since joining the club in 2020, hitting .335 that year, then hitting .304 the following season. In 152 total games with the team, Prime clubbed with 22 homers with 91 runs driven in and 112 runs scored.
He is the type of hitter that a manager can plug into any spot in the lineup and expect he will deliver the big hits. Last season, he struggled out of the gate, hitting around .200 through much of the first few months of the season, but finished with a flurry, ending the season at .257 with 11 homers and 72 games.
Prime will likely fill the spot in the batting order vacated by Ward, meaning he will hit second. He will not get on base nearly as much as Ward did, but has a little more speed.
Both Ward and Prime battled injuries during the 2022 season. Ward was lost to an arm injury just before the All-Star break while Prime battled a hamstring injury down the stretch, keeping him out of the postseason.
The RedHawks-Milkmen Connection
This is one of those types of deals where both teams should benefit. Both Ward and Prime are professional hitters, and both can hit for power.
What makes this deal interesting is that it is the second straight year where these clubs have pulled off a blockbuster deal. What is clear is that there is a solid relationship between Manager Anthony Barone and General Manager Dan Kuenzi with the Milwaukee Milkmen and Manager Chris Coste and Player Personnel Consultant Jeff Bittiger with the RedHawks. That relationship has already led to some exciting transactions, and is the type of association that both teams will continue to benefit from in the coming seasons.
With their willingness to make deals with one another which greatly benefit both clubs, it is not surprising that they were the finalists in the American Association Championship Series last season.
By Robert Pannier