Pirates Acquire RHP Pat Light, DFA Lisalverto Bonilla

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.

Here’s a video for your viewing pleasure

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.

+ posts

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kerry Writtenhouse

Frank Duncan to Arizona for Phil Gossellin.


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….

joe s

What for?


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.


In other relief pitcher news, this Tweet.


Matthew R

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.


That day will be the day all of the Orginizations “adjust their obsession with velocity.” That is the criteria all prospects are judged on today in case you haven’t noticed.


And as someone who can’t hit a fastball, I totally get the obsession.

Bruce Humbert

And you are smarter than the folks that get paid to make these decisions?

What an ass…

Matthew R

I happen to be of the opinion that while velocity is good, its overemphasis ignores a long tradition of skilled and aged baseball pitchers that get major league hitters out with great control and great off-speed stuff. And I see how the Pirates stockpile young arms that look alike. And God forbid I should second-guess the strategy and respectfully comment in a forum without receiving a decidedly disrespectful response.


Absolutely agree with your last statement. I don’t comment much, but I do read the comments section quite a bit. I find it funny that someone that consistently complains about the Pirates FO especially in the Handling of Bell/Osuna can make a statement like that and then call you an ass.


What makes you think people who run or coach sports franchises are all so smart? Did you watch the Super Bowl, and see Atlanta’s play calling with 4 minutes to go?

Matthew Kruth

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.


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?


Let’s hope Bonilla clears waivers. Having a player with 4 l’s in his name has to count for something.


I don’t like my relief pitchers having four L’s.

Scott H

I want him to clear so we can cheer for a “Bonilla” in a Pirates jersey again.


I just want a Pirate pitcher named “Lisa”.

I’ve always been jealous of teams who employed “Annabelle Sanchez”


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


Is his nickname “Bud”?

dr dng

How is just about anyone going to
keep from calling him “Bud”?

dr dng

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).


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.


I would rather have Dragmire. 🙂


My first thought was, “But what about Dragmire?”


Can’t argue with that, thought for sure we were going to claim him again from the Rangers.



Darren G

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.


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.

Darren G

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.


Plus, couldn’t one or more of those players be sent to Altoona if there is too much of a log jam?

Darren G

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.


I do like that arm…

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


I’ll be here all week because work is stupid and I’ve lost control of my life.


comment image


This is me. Daily.


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.

Scott H

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…

Pirates Prospects Daily


Latest articles

Latest comments