The Cincinnati Reds have claimed right handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla off of waivers. He was designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates last week. By picking him up, the Reds 40-man roster is once again full.
He was outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America, who had him listed in the depth chart for the Pirates right handed starting pitchers (but unranked). The 26-year-old made five appearances with the Texas Rangers in the big leagues in the 2014 season. He posted a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings that season with 12 walks and 17 strikeouts. He hasn’t been in the Major Leagues since.
After missing all of the 2015 season with Tommy John surgery, he returned to the minors for 2016. He started out in Triple-A, pitching out of the bullpen. He struggled over the first two months of the season, posting a 5.09 ERA in 35.1 innings. His control wasn’t there, walking 20 batters in that span, but he struck out 42 batters and posted good ground ball rates. The Dodgers sent the righty to Double-A in late June and also put him into the rotation.
In the new role at the new level he performed quite well. In 37.1 innings he posted a 3.38 ERA with 13 walks and 39 strikeouts. After making seven starts Lisalverto Bonilla moved back to Triple-A Oklahoma City and was kept in the rotation. Things kept on rolling as he made six starts to finish the season. In that span he threw 38.1 innings with a 3.52 ERA, walked just seven batters and had 37 strikeouts.
It was a tale of two halves, of two different guys during 2016 for Lisalverto Bonilla. Let’s take a look at how he performed as a reliever in the first half versus a starter in the second half:
It’s not unusual for control to be back immediately upon the return from Tommy John surgery. That would appear to be the case for Lisalverto Bonilla. In the second half of the season his walk rate declined big time. The walk rate he showed in the second half would be the best of his career outside of rookie ball.
He’s not a young pitcher by any means – he will turn 27 in June. But given how his second half played out, Lisalverto Bonilla is certainly an intriguing name to keep an eye on as spring training gets underway.