Last time, we handled the case of a first-rounder off to a rough start. This is a storyline that Pat Light is all too familiar with. In 2013, his first ful year in the system, Light threw just 34 innings between the GCL team and Greenville between a string of injuries. The result? An ugly 7.34 ERA.
Only in the context of that performance could Light's 2014 look good. He was promoted to Salem after 17 halfway decent innings in Greenville, and proceeded to throw 115 frames of 4.93 ERA ball in High-A, with just 57 strikeouts to 33 walks.
Even in 2015, after switching to relief and putting on a strong performance in Portland, Light stumbled again when he hit Pawtucket to the tune of a 5.18 ERA with 26 walks in 33 innings.
So how is this guy number 11? Well, his fastball sits in the mid-to-high-90s, and he combines it with a splitter that has the look of a pitch that will inspire no little frustration for major league hitters. Perhaps it's because we've been spoiled with Koji Uehara of late, but man, the allure of a great splitter is strong. When you combine it with overpowering heat? It's a pretty excellent recipe for a quality reliever.
But he just can't control it yet. Pat Light is a fundamentally different pitcher as a reliever than he was in 2013-14. He's dumped the pitches that weren't working for him in order to focus in on his excellent fastball-splitter combination that the team had for some reason tried to move him off of. He just needs to actually hit his spots with them. Some of his struggles can perhaps be chalked up to tipping pitches, but the fact is that often as not opponents can just sit around and ignore the weapons he does have because he can't force them to swing. And with that uncertain control, when Light does fall behind in the count, with so little to his effective repertoire, hitters can take advantage.
It's do or die time now for Light, which seems a bit unfair given that he's basically a different player than the one who struggled through 2013 and 2014. But it's hard for players to really break through once they've reached the top and stalled out rather than simply been blocked. As of now, that hasn't happened for Light. Even at 24-going-on-25, his Pawtucket performance is not damning by virtue of coming after a mid-season promotion. But he can't keep struggling there in 2016. He has to show he's ready for the big leagues, and earn his chance to prove himself in Fenway.
- Yoan Moncada
- Andrew Benintendi
- Rafael Devers
- Anderson Espinoza
- Michael Kopech
- Brian Johnson
- Sam Travis
- Luis Alexander Basabe
- Deven Marrero
- Michael Chavis
- Pat Light
You know how it goes. Vote in the comments below with recs. If your choice isn't there, make your own and I'll replace your vote.