Pirates Prospects has learned that the Pittsburgh Pirates re-signed catcher Jackson Williams to a minor league deal on Tuesday and also signed minor league free agent pitcher John Stilson.
Williams split 2017 between Indianapolis and Altoona, hitting .201/.276/.249 in 55 total games. He has two brief stints in the majors, seeing time with the San Francisco Giants in 2015 and the Colorado Rockies in 2014. The 31-year-old Williams is better known for his defense, especially the last three seasons, where he has topped out at a .591 OPS. He threw out 32% of runners in 2017 and has thrown out 36% of runners in 11 seasons in the pros.
While he isn’t as good as Jacob Stallings in the glove department, his defense makes him a depth option at backup short-term in the majors if the need should arise. He will likely fill the same role he had in 2017, splitting time between Indianapolis and Altoona. Jin-De Jhang is currently getting his elbow checked out for an injury that caused him to leave winter ball in Australia, so that could affect where Williams plays.
Stilson spent most of 2017 in Triple-A for Buffalo (Blue Jays) where he had a 3.14 ERA in 34 relief appearances, posting a 1.25 WHIP, with 46 strikeouts and a .224 BAA in 48.2 innings. The 27-year-old right-hander does not have any Major League experience. He was a third round draft pick in 2011 and was rated as the seventh best prospect for the Blue Jays in 2012. He had a torn labrum in 2014 and missed all but one game in 2015. Before the injury, he sat mid-90s with his fastball and matched it with a changeup and slider that were both plus offerings, though he didn’t have the best command. He should take a spot with Indianapolis in the bullpen, although the Pirates seem to be crowded at the upper levels with pitching options.