The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired right-handed pitcher Pat Light from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The 25-year-old (turns 26 on March 29th) Light saw time in the majors last year with the Twins and Boston Red Sox, posting an 11.34 ERA in 16.2 innings over 17 appearances. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated right-handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla for assignment. More on this shortly.

Light was the 37th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Red Sox. He stands 6’5″, 220 pounds, so he has good size. He was a starter in the minors for his first three seasons before moving to the bullpen in 2015. He pitched well in Double-A that year, posting a 2.43 ERA, with an 0.98 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. While he maintained the strikeout rate in Triple-A that season, he struggled with the jump. Light had a 5.18 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 33 innings over 26 outings.

In 2016, he had a 2.37 ERA in Triple-A, with 42 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 38 innings. The jump to the majors was brutal, though the Red Sox gave him just one appearance during each of his two trials in the majors, before he was sent to Minnesota in an August trade. He had a 2.28 WHIP, with 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in those 16.2 big league innings. During his career he has a 1.30 GO/AO ratio in the minors, which went up to 2.60 during his brief time in the majors.

Light was ranked as the Twins 14th best prospect by Baseball America. He can touch 100 MPH with his fastball, mixing it with a splitter and a slider that needs work. His control needs work as well, but the arm is intriguing enough to call him a potential back-end reliever if he can make those improvements. He still has two minor league options left, so that gives him time to work on those control issues and improve his slider.

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Bonilla was signed back in December when the Pirates cut ties with Jeff Locke. The Pirates will hope to keep him as depth if he clears waivers. Here is the recap from that article:

Bonilla is a 26-year-old righty, who has 20.2 innings of Major League experience with the Texas Rangers at the end of the 2014 season. He missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery, then got claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched all of 2016 in the minors, splitting his season between Double-A and Triple-A. He had a 3.97 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 111 innings. That ERA and WHIP are slightly inflated by spending half of the season in the Pacific Coast League. The Dodgers non-tendered him after the 2015 season, then re-signed him to a minor league deal, so he was a free agent this off-season.

Bonilla was the #12 ranked prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 according to Baseball America. The next three seasons, they had him rated between 29th and 31st in the Texas Rangers system. The last report from BA had him sitting 90-93 MPH with his fastball, which touched 95 MPH. He’s a strike-thrower, who flashes a plus changeup and a slider that needs work. The changeup is a strikeout pitch. His ceiling in 2014 was as a #5 starter, who might work better from the bullpen with his control and strong two-pitch mix. Bonilla has 56 starts and 145 relief appearances during his minor league career. He started 13 times in 2016.

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  1. He sounds intriguing, although this guy’s previous struggles further illustrate that velocity alone is not enough. Maybe the Pirates can catch lightning in a bottle again…….low risk, with the potential of being a contributor in the bullpen. Pretty good pickup, just based on previous first round pick status and his obvious physical skills….

  2. The Twins make some terrible decisions so you almost feel like this will work out for the Pirates and make the Twins look bad yet again.

  3. Someday the Bucs will adjust their obsession with velocity. That day is not yet here.

    I guess it’s good he’s not yet another lefty.

  4. This move reminds me of the move for Caminero. Hard FB with lots of GBs. Obvious strikeout potential. Walk issues. Like Caminero, he’s had trouble in his first go in the bigs. If he can be Caminero 2.0 that would be really ideal. I like the move.

  5. Its seems like the Pirates have found a competitive advantage focusing on tall pitchers near 6’3″ and above. I think we’ve heard before that the extra height reduces the reaction time for opposing hitters, as well as makes the fastball seem 3-5 MPH faster. All these guys the Bucs have added recently to the 40 man roster are near 6’3.” Any thoughts?

    • The running joke during the draft for years now is about how many 6’3″ or 6’4″ right-handed pitchers will the Pirates draft. That’s been their sweet spot for awhile and they have a lot of them in the minors.

  6. Going by this alone it seems to have avoided. Hopefully for this reason he can be a better version of Holdzkom

  7. We pick up a guy with physical skills, athletic
    and we have two years to fix him and we did
    not have to give up a left handed bullpen arm
    to get him (and we have a lot of those).

  8. Seems like a nice depth option, but also seems like the first one to be DFA’d when we need a 40 man spot in the future.

  9. Thought Bonilla was signed to a major league contract, which is why he was added to 40 man? In either case, don’t see any room for him or Light in the majors or even AAA to start the season. Perhaps extended Spring Training for both if they are still with the organization come April.

    • Bonilla was signed to a Major League deal, which is why he was on the 40-man and why he needed to be DFA’d to make room. If he was on a minor league deal, he wouldn’t have been on the 40. Light is a legit big arm, he will be in the Indianapolis bullpen and if Bonilla is still around, he will be there too. There is room for both of them.

      • My pre-Spring Training depth chart has Cole, Taillon, Nova, Kuhl and one of Hutchison/Glasnow/Brault as the starting five in the majors with Watson, Nicaso, Rivero, Hudson, Bastardo, Hughes and Webb or LeBlanc in the bullpen. In AAA that leaves a log jam of starting pitchers with two of Hutchison/Glasnow/Brault, Williams, Kingham, Eppler, Holmes and Duncan all worthy of starting there. In the bullpen I see at least one if not two of the prior seven pitchers, plus LeBlanc or Webb (if retained), Schugel, Santana, Neverauskas, Lakind, Rosario, DuRapau, Sadler, Sanchez and Kuchno all in the running for the bullpen. Throw in Light and Bonilla and it is going to be tight to start the year between the majors and AAA, which of course is not a bad thing. Not many other teams can even come close to matching this kind of depth.

          • Yes, but Altoona already has Waddell, McRae, Garcia, Brubaker, Dickson and Coley in the running for the starting five there with Scioneaux, Creasy, Anderson, Lopez, Street, Heredia and Regaldo in the running for the bullpen, in addition to whomever does not make the rotation. And Bradenton is even more crowded without even keeping anyone down there who should be in Altoona.

            • Regalado was picked up in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates will find spots for those players, some might open at Bradenton, plus you have to factor in injuries, and at least 2-3 pitchers always open up in Extended ST, then end up filling in somewhere or being released. Not everyone you mentioned above and in the previous post will survive the cuts.

        • There are other pitchers too like Stoffel, Ogando, Lindblom and Ruzler, but Light and Bonilla would be above many of those last names you mentioned. Sadler and Sanchez will probably be behind to start the year we were told, so they would go to Extended ST. Kuchno isn’t close to the prospect of Light or Bonilla and will likely end up in the Altoona bullpen. Lakind, Rosario, DuRapau could all be back in AA. There will also be some injuries I’m sure, and we could see some of those starting pitchers from Altoona stay there until a spot opens up.

          Every year the Pirates go into Spring Training with too many pitchers and every year they make it work. A pitcher who can hit 100 MPH and had AAA success won’t have trouble finding a spot though unless he looks horrible in spring.

      • Reading both write up, I see the attraction that Light has, but I rather have a strike thrower who has a strike out quality change! Hope Bonilla clears waivers.

  10. I do like that arm…

    On the other hand, I guess Patty Ice wasn’t available, so we had to get Patty Light.

  11. Ha, nice! You’re not a real Pirate message board addict if you haven’t targeted Light in a hypothetical trade from the Red Sox between ’13 and ’15.

  12. I don’t know much about Light…other than I saw some Red Sox fans on message boards say that they were upset when he got traded to the Twins last year. So, I’ll take that as a good sign. First round draft pick…

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