The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed left handed pitcher Aaron Thompson off of waivers from the Washington Nationals, according to the team’s official Twitter feed. To make room, they designated reliever Wilfredo Ledezma for assignment.
Thompson was a first round pick for the Florida Marlins in 2006. He was acquired by the Nationals in 2009 in exchange for Nick Johnson. Thompson reached the AAA level for the first time in 2010, making one start with one run allowed on five hits in five innings. He has made 68 starts at the AA level over the last three seasons, with a 5.01 ERA in 365 innings, with a 6.2 K/9 and a 3.6 BB/9 ratio. In 2010 he had a 5.80 ERA in 26 starts at the AA level, with a 6.3 K/9 and a 3.5 BB/9 ratio.
The left hander throws a 90-91 MPH fastball, which touches 93. He has a good feel for a four seam fastball, a two seam fastball, a solid-average changeup, and has recently added a cutter. His breaking ball is a work in progress, but can show hard, sharp break at times. Thompson rated as the #12 prospect in the Nationals’ system heading in to the 2010 season, with the upside of a #4-5 starter. The Pirates could move him to the bullpen in AAA, considering how many starting options they will have at the AAA level to start the season. He could also compete for a bullpen role at the major league level out of Spring Training, although that’s unlikely considering he’s pretty much making the jump from AA to the majors.
The Pirates will have ten days to trade Ledezma. If they can’t work out a trade, they can outright him to the minors. He has the right to declare free agency, although they will likely keep him around, since he agreed to a split contract early in the off-season, paying him $700,000 at the major league level, or $300,000 in the minors.