By Jason Shetler
Over the last few years, the Pirates have been contenders in the National League because of solid pitching. While pitching coach Ray Searage mainly receives the credit for their success, and rightfully so, pitching guru Jim Benedict deserves that credit as well for helping to turn around pitchers such as Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez and J.A. Happ. This past offseason, Benedict left the organization to join the Miami Marlins.
As compensation for losing Benedict, the Pirates obtained Trevor Williams from the Marlins in late October. MLB Pipeline rated him as the 24th best prospect in the Pirates system entering 2016. Williams started off this season pitching for AAA Indianapolis. His organizational debut for them began very unfortunate, as he dealt with shoulder discomfort and was put on the disabled list. He returned from the DL and rejoined Indianapolis in late May. Williams has been pitching extremely well as of late for the Indians. Since June 12th, spanning eight starts, he’s posted an ERA of 1.79, while allowing just a total of seven walks.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington recently said that they will look to add at the trade deadline. Last week, the Pirates had expressed interest in Nathan Eovaldi of the New York Yankees and reportedly scouted the Tampa Bay Rays Chris Archer. Another Rays pitcher Matt Moore is likely to be moved, and would seem like a more realistic option than Archer. Williams could become a very attractive trade piece based on his stellar numbers over a month plus. Because of the Pirates assortment of young pitching depth with Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault, they may feel motivated to sell high on Williams for a good return, which would allow him to pitch in a big league rotation right away with another team. On the other hand, the Pirates could just hang onto Williams, since it’s been a very long time that they’ve amassed this much quality pitching depth at the upper level of the minors.