Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pirates Add Trevor Williams, Jorge Rondon: The 411

The Pirates first move of the year was picking up righty Trevor Williams, 23, from Miami for righty Richard Mitchell, 20, who tossed in the GCL.

Williams, from Arizona State, was the Marlins' second-round pick (#44 overall) in 2013 out of Arizona State. He pitched for AA Jacksonville (7-8/4.00) and had a cup of coffee with AAA New Orleans (0-2/2.57 in three starts). He should open the coming campaign at Indy. In three seasons in the minors, his line was 15-19/3.35. While not a big K guy - he averaged less tham seven whiffs per nine - he is a ground ball machine.

Trevor Williams (photo Mark LoMaglio/Tampa Yankees)
John Sickels' report on him is "Listed at 6-3, 230, the 23-year-old Williams features a fastball that tops in the low-90s to mix with a curve, slider, and change-up. He throws strikes and is durable but none of his pitches project as outstanding or overpowering. His best attributes are control and durability, giving him a shot at being a fourth or fifth starter."

Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America thinks a little more highly of him. "A sum-of-his-parts pitcher, Williams’ polish and cerebral approach help him overcome the lack of a plus pitch. He does a good job keeping the ball low, allowing just 14 homers in 309 pro innings. He throws both a four- and two-seam fastball from a drop-and-drive delivery and mixes in a curve and slider, although the organization wants him to settle on one of those. The curveball showed the most promise, flashing plus. With the depth and power of his curveball improving, Williams projects as a mid-rotation arm as soon as 2016."

Mitchell hasn't shown much as a Pirate, but apparently Jim Benedict saw something he liked about the youngster. Maybe he represents a hit-or-miss lottery pick on the part of the Fish. At any rate, he wasn't one of the Pirate projectables, and he did bring back a potentially useful arm in Williams. With Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham & Casey Sadler returning from injury and Brandon Cumpton & Angel Sanchez out for the year, Williams joins Tyler Glasnow to provide a little young pitching depth for the organization later this season.

The Pirates also claimed Venezuelan righty Jorge Rondon off waivers from the Orioles. He was DFA'ed to make roster room for Vance Worley, so it's all in the family.

Rondon put up a 3-1-1/2.23 ERA slash over 60-2/3 IP in AAA last year for two teams (he started the season in the Rockies' organization), with 50K and 19 BB. He has a workmanlike career AAA line of 24-48-39/3.03, 6.9 K/9, and 4 BB/9 over four seasons. Rondon was converted from a swingman in 2011 and has been used as a set up guy and occasional closer since.

Jorge Rondon (photo Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press)
He hasn't gotten much work at the major league level, and with pretty good reason. His line in 15-1/3 MLB innings is 0-1/12.33 with a WHIP of 2.478 (28 hits, two homers) and ten walks to go with just nine whiffs. Rondon has put up a zero in only four of his 11 big league appearances, with the look of a AAAA poster child all over him.

It's not that he doesn't have tools; his fastball, both four and two seam, averages 95 with some sink and he's touched triple figures. His slider clocks in at 87, and he's trying to develop at least a show-me change up. But for that stuff, he's never been a big strikeout guy and his control has been erratic; some compare him in a way to Charlie Morton, who some days has all the movement in the world but no idea where the ball is going to end up sixty feet later.

He's out of options, so Ray Searage will have to get him up to speed in a hurry. It's been done before, with the most recent example being Arquimedes Caminero (10.80 ERA in 2014 with 5+ walks per game), but that's the exception rather than the rule. So we'll see if he makes it to camp and then through it, or if he's just the first of the 2016 off-season reliever grab bags.

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