Pirates Claim Right-Handed Pitcher Eli Villalobos from the Marlins; Oneil Cruz Heads to 60-Day IL

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they have claimed right-handed pitcher Eli Villalobos from the Miami Marlins. To make room on the 40-man roster, shortstop Oneil Cruz has been transferred to the 60-day injured list. Cruz had surgery yesterday on his fractured left ankle. Villalobos has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.

The 25-year-old Villalobos was a 14th round draft pick of the Marlins in 2018 out of California State University. He has been a reliever for a large majority of his minor league career, except for a short time during the 2019 season when he made a handful of starts.

He had some real success last year over a somewhat small sample size in Triple-A. After posting a 3.38 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 75 strikeouts in 61.1 innings with Pensacola of the Double-A Southern League, Villalobos made 12 appearances with Jacksonville of the Triple-A International League. He had a 1.04 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 17.1 innings during that time.

Villalobos went to Spring Training with the Marlins this season, where he allowed two runs over 4.2 innings in four appearances. He struggled in his three appearances for Jacksonville this season, allowing runs in all three games, to the tune of a 11.57 ERA and a 2.36 WHIP, though he had seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

Baseball America has never rated him among the top 30 prospects for the Marlins. He had solid results in 2021, but the 2022 season was clearly a breakout performance for him. His stats before the lost 2020 season were poor at best.

He added a splitter to his arsenal last year, with outstanding results from the pitch right away. He was a catcher until early in his college career, so he doesn’t have a long track record of pitching like some players his age. He throws a lot of strikes and he’s posted an 11.3 SO/9IP rate throughout his career.

Villalobos was just added to the 40-man roster, so he still has two options remaining after this season.

Cruz is scheduled to miss four months, so the 60-day injured list assignment has no effect on his return. He had no chance of being back before 60 days will be up.

Tim Williams looked at how the Pirates could replace his loss yesterday, once we found out how much time he will miss.

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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They just could not wait to claim someone, anyone, it didn’t really matter who.

b mcferren

how is it that the Rays can call up Taj and they don´t care about his service time???


The sure cared enough to bullpen the 5th starter in their rotation to start the year instead of rostering him on Opening Day…


Who said that the Rays don’t care about his service time? This most likely will be a very short call up and then back down with just smidge of service time used. Glasnow and or Eflin will be back in the lineup sooner than later and Rise of Taj will be tabled for a while.

b mcferren

so you can call up a starting pitcher on the day of his start and then send him down for the other four days and then he does not accrue service time for the days he does not start?



Pirates did some of that with Roansy to an extent. Taj will be up most likely until Eflin or Glasnow is ready. A couple of weeks. A lot of teams will do that kind of thing.

b mcferren

sources saying Nick and Quinn are heading to Cleveland for Gimenez


Maybe I’m mistaken but didn’t you also say something like Choi being traded and Reynolds extension announcement on home opener day?

b mcferren

I am just the messenger

never heard about reynolds extension – I am ready to trade him


Sources say Pittsburgh close to announcing new police chief from list of 3 finalists

b mcferren

downtown sure needs it


prove that.


He just talks shit. It isn’t meant to be factual.

b mcferren

anybody want to win around here?

b mcferren

if we don´t win this year, then Shelton could lose his job


Who wants to watch losing baseball?


Another of many interesante relief arms in Indy. Hopefully we never need him. Cherrington must surely think an angel cries every time there’s an open roster spot.

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