Lisalverto Bonilla. That would have been fun to say seventy times a season for the next half dozen years. Instead, the diminutive Dominican is taking his interesting prospect profile and Grade-A moniker to the Texas Rangers system as part of the Michael Young trade. While all sorts of hullabaloo (I had to spell check “hullabaloo”) has been focused on what the Phillies might be able to get out of Young, I’d like to poke my head into the discussion and educate everyone about what the Phillies gave up. For me, Bonilla is the principle return in the deal because Lindblom’s fly ball rates terrify me. I have a feeling that the fat kid who always seems to be the first one in the batter’s eye in Arlington will add a few souvenirs to his collection courtesy of Lindblom’s fastball. I’ll be quick here, since the guy isn’t going to be playing for the team you root for anymore.
Lisalverto Bonilla is a 22 year old Dominican righty who stands an unimpressive 6’1” and weighs in at a slender 164lbs. He really accelerates his arm well, though it comes through late and his mechanics are difficult to repeat. Bonilla’s frame is small enough that evaluators have concern about his ability to hold up under a starter’s workload. The Phillies (who are hard pressed to give up on anyone as a starter until they absolutely have to, which I love) conceded this and moved Bonilla into the bullpen for the 2012 season.
Bonilla’s repertoire is interesting enough that Texas, a franchise that is not interested in babying pitchers, may try to move him back to the rotation and see how things shake out. Bonilla pitches with a fastball in the low 90s that I’ve seen touch 94mph but reports say he’s kissed higher. Bonilla compliments that with a changeup that is comfortably plus. He maintains his arms speed and generates terrific action on the pitch. He’ll get swings and misses with it in the big leagues. Third pitch status belongs to a mediocre (that might be generous) slider. It will flash average but not consistently so. That would need an uptick if Bonilla was going to have any chance to transition into a rotation.
More than likely, Bonilla is going to fit nicely in a middle relief role in Texas after another year and change in the minors. He’s pitched well in the in pro ball to this point and would have represented the Phillies in the Futures Game this past season if he hadn’t sustained a…uh….self inflicted hand injury the night….er…a…morning before the game. It was reported that he was “rough housing.” The only concerns I have are that he struggles to throw strikes due to the delivery and maybe has issues generating downhill plane which could lead to lots of flyballs in a home park that doesn’t forgive that sort of thing.. He’s a nice little arm, one of about eight the Phillies have from Double-A on up who’d still need to pay an underage fee to rent a car. They traded from surplus. Not a huge loss.