Jeanmar Gomez, 24, is the latest addition to the fifth man competition in the 2013 Bucco rotation. He had been DFA'ed by the Indians, and the Bucs decided to roll the dice on the righty.
The Pirates swapped Altoona OF Quincy Latimore, 23, for the Indian hurler. Latimore was a prep draftee from Middle Creek HS, selected in 2007 as the Bucs' fourth round pick. He hit .252/.321/.433, with 15 home runs and 71 RBI for the Curve last season. In six ML seasons, his slash was .252/.310/.419.with 66 HR and 337 RBI.
In 2010, he was a Florida State All-Star and milb.com Organizational All-Star, but two years at Altoona soured the Bucs on the North Carolinian. The rap on him was that he didn't show much plate discipline, striking out 100+ times in each of the past four years, and he was treading water at Altoona.
Gomez made his big league bow in 2010. Last year he appeared in 20 games (17 starts) for Cleveland, and was 5-8/5.96 in 90-2/3 IP with 47 whiffs and 34 free passes. He was 3-2/3.19 after May 19th, but his season went downhill pretty quickly after that, including a couple of months in Class AAA Columbus. Overall, Gomez is 14-16 in parts of three MLB seasons with a 5.18 ERA (4.88 FIP), five K and three walks per nine, compiling a 49% ground ball rate.
He does a perfect game to his credit, tossing a no-no in 2009 for Class AA Akron. The Indians signed Gomez out of Caracas, Venezuela, in 2005 during the Neal Huntington era with the Tribe. He throws a sinker as his primary pitch, with a low-nineties four seamer, slider and change in his tookit.
Gomez, who is out of options, was placed on the 40-man roster, which is now full, replacing Rick Van Den Hurk. He'll join Andrew Oliver, Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson in the battle of the back end. The Bucs are said to still be talking to Frankie Liriano's people, and the way the off season has been going, they may want to smoke a peace pipe with Jeff Karstens' camp, too.
That also could draw RHP Chris Leroux, 28, back into the picture. The Bucs had him start in the Dominican Winter League in 2011 to develop his secondary pitches. He made the club out of camp as a reliever last year, injured his pec and landed on the 60 day DL. Leroux had to clear waivers to stay with Pittsburgh, which had run out of 40-man space, and he did.
He was tossed into the Indy rotation in July when Rudy Owens was traded, and was called up in September with half of the Indian staff, rejoining the 40 man roster. Even if he doesn't get a sniff at starting, he does have a strong chance of filling a multi-role spot in the 2013 pen.