Pirates claim Justin Thomas

The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed left handed pitcher Justin Thomas off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners. Thomas put up a 4.48 ERA and a 53:40 K/BB ratio in 60.1 innings at AAA in 2009.

In 2008, Thomas had a 4.32 ERA in 118.2 innings in AA, with a 106:56 K/BB ratio in 2008, and a 3.71 ERA with a 21:9 K/BB ratio in 17 AAA innings in 2009. He also pitched four innings in the majors, allowing three runs on nine hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.
Thomas entered the 2009 season as the Mariners’ 23rd best prospect, ahead of Nathan Adcock, Aaron Pribanic, and Brett Lorin. Thomas throws 88-92 MPH, with tailing life on his fastball. He relies heavily on his slider, which ranges in the low 80s and has lateral movement. Combined with the fastball, the slider helps Thomas keep the ball on the ground.
Thomas was effective against left handers in 2009, with a .234 BAA. He struggled against right handers, with a .310 BAA. That trend was the same in 2008, where he had a .217/.274 lefty/righty split between AA and AAA. Thomas throws a changeup against right handers, but it obviously hasn’t been effective looking at those splits. His control issues are also worse against right handers, with a 5.13 BB/9 last year, compared to a 2.08 BB/9 against left handers. This year he struggled some against left handers, with a 4.78 BB/9, but was worse against right handers with a 6.52 BB/9.
With the Pirates lacking left handed options in the majors, Thomas could be a good flier for the 2010 bullpen. He’s got some control issues, but if he can iron that out, he could be a reliable reliever. At the worst, he’s an intriguing LOOGY option.
The Pirates had two open spots on the 40-man roster, and this move fills one of those spots. They still have Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio on the 60-day DL, not counting towards the 40-man. I’ve updated the 2010 40-man roster page, and the Payroll Commitments Chart with the move.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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