After clearing them off the 40 man roster by designating them for assignment, the Royals traded first baseman Clint Robinson and pitcher Vin Mazzaro to the Pirates for a pair of rookie league pitchers, Luis Santos and Luis Rico.
Santos is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic who had thrown 86 innings over the last two years for the Pirates DSL team. He’s surrended zero homers in those innings, struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings and had a 2.51 ERA. Those are all great stats, but he’s also turning 22 in February and hasn’t pitched in the United States yet. He, along with Rico, was assigned to Surprise Arizona and may end up being there all spring until short season play.
Rico is a lefty. At 19 years old, he’s got some room to grow, but he definitely needs to refine his performance. In 2012, he walked more than he struck out in 23 innings in the DSL on his way to a 7.06 ERA. The year before, he was in the Venezuelan Summer League and pitched much better, throwing 26.1 innings with a 3.76 ERA while striking out 7.9 batters per nine innings and walking 3.8 per nine innings. Across both seasons, he’s got 49.1 innings as a pro with a 39/32 K/BB ratio.
Greg Schaum passed on some comments from a source of his who categorized both pitchers as “fringe” guys, but who noted that Santos is more likely to be a reliever down the line and that Rico may be the better long-term acquisition. Being left-handed and younger probably helps that.
Thus ends the Clint Robinson Royals story. I’d imagine the Royals probably could have gotten more out of him in past years when he was younger and still mashing the ball, but the market may not have opened up either. He’s not projected by many to be a regular at the big league level, but he sure wasn’t going to get the opportunity in Kansas City with Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer ahead of him. In Pittsburgh, he may be more of a platoon option, but he’ll definitely see more than just four plate appearances.
Mazzaro is forever haunted by the drubbing he took against the Indians in May 2011. He could probably be a fine middle relief guy at some point.
The other option for the Royals would have been to release the two, so they at least got something for them rather than nothing.