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Pirates Designate Jeff Locke For Assignment; Sign Pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla as a free agent. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates have designated left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke for assignment. More on these moves shortly.

Bonilla is a 26-year-old righty, who has 20.2 innings of Major League experience with the Texas Rangers at the end of the 2014 season. He missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery, then got claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched all of 2016 in the minors, splitting his season between Double-A and Triple-A. He had a 3.97 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 111 innings. That ERA and WHIP are slightly inflated by spending half of the season in the Pacific Coast League. The Dodgers non-tendered him after the 2015 season, then re-signed him to a minor league deal, so he was a free agent this off-season.

Bonilla was the #12 ranked prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 according to Baseball America. The next three seasons, they had him rated between 29th and 31st in the Texas Rangers system. The last report from BA had him sitting 90-93 MPH with his fastball, which touched 95 MPH. He’s a strike-thrower, who flashes a plus changeup and a slider that needs work. The changeup is a strikeout pitch. His ceiling in 2014 was as a #5 starter, who might work better from the bullpen with his control and strong two-pitch mix. Bonilla has 56 starts and 145 relief appearances during his minor league career. He started 13 times in 2016.

No surprise that Jeff Locke got DFA’d. He made over $3M in 2016 and was due a raise in his second year of arbitration, with $4.2M being mentioned as his projected salary for 2017. Locke had a 5.44 ERA in 2016, making 19 starts and 11 relief appearances. He led the Pirates with 127.1 innings pitched. The 29-year-old Locke had a 4.41 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 644.1 innings with the Pirates.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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