Former Hickory Crawdads third baseman Christian Villanueva has been traded to the Chicago Cubs as part of a deal that sends big league pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers.
Villanueva, a 21-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico native, played in 126 games last year for Hickory, batting .278 with 130 hits, 30 doubles, three triples and 17 home runs.
Most of Villanueva's 126 games for the Crawdads were played at third base (122). He also played shortstop for the club.
Villanueva was promoted this season to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, where he again played mainly at third base, but also spent time at second base and served as the team's designated hitter.
In 100 games with the Pelicans, Villanueva was batting .285 this season with 107 hits, 19 doubles, one triple and 10 homers.
Villanueva was named the Carolina League Player of the Week for the first time on Monday after batting 14-of-25 (0.560) in seven games last week with one double, two homers, 11 RBIs, two runs, two walks and one stolen base.
The trade allows Dempster to return to the organization that drafted him in the third round of the 1995 MLB Draft.
Dempster had been long rumored to be traded to a number of teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, but the Rangers completed the deal for him two minutes before Tuesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
A two-time All-Star selection (2000, 2008), Dempster is 5-5 this season with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts with Chicago in 2012. He will take the spot in the Rangers pitching rotation once held by Roy Oswalt, who moves to the bullpen.