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.
Pirates claim Justin Thomas
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.