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.
The Pirates have acquired RHP Pat Light (@Pat_Light) from the Twins in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.
— Pirates (@Pirates) February 9, 2017
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.