By Jason Shetler
Prior to the 2015 season, the Pirates acquired Arquimedes Caminero from the Miami Marlins for cash considerations. Caminero was once a promising arm in the Marlins system, but fell out of favor because of control issues. The Pirates had a strong bullpen in 2015, and Caminero certainly played a huge part in their success. Heading into this season, the Bucs have another hard-throwing reliever in Pat Light.
In the 2012 MLB Draft, the Boston Red Sox selected Light as a first round supplemental choice (37th overall) out of Monmouth University. The 6’5 right-hander was used as a starter his first few seasons before being moved to the bullpen prior to 2015. Light saw a spike in velocity as a reliever, touching as high as 101 mph on the fastball. Following the 2015 season, he was ranked as the 18th best prospect in the Red Sox system by MLB Pipeline.
Light joined the Red Sox in April of last year, where he made just two appearances before getting sent back to AAA Pawtucket. On August 1st, he was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for veteran lefty reliever Fernando Abad. Combined with the Red Sox and Twins, Light posted an ERA of 11.34, thanks in large part to bad control (16 walks in 16.2 innings).
On February 9th, Light was traded to the Pirates for either a player to be named later or cash. Because he has a couple of minor league options remaining, he will most likely start out this year pitching for AAA Indianapolis. While Light’s 2016 big league showing certainly seemed disastrous, he does have an impressive arsenal of pitches. According to FanGraphs, Light had an average fastball velocity of 95.0 mph last year. He also threw the slider at 90.4 mph, which is superb velocity for that pitch. Perhaps his best weapon though is his splitter, an offering that is considered a plus pitch. If Light can limit the number of free passes, and can display more consistent control, then the Pirates may have themselves an elite level reliever at some point down the road.