Former top prospect Jerome Williams returns to majors with Angels

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Jerome Williams, who was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts with the Nationals in 2007, is back in the majors after being promoted by the Angels on Wednesday.

Williams, a native of Hawaii, debuted with the Giants in 2003, finishing 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie.  Along with Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth, he was part of a trio of Giants right-handers all ranked among the game’s top pitching prospects in the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, none of those three went on to have substantial careers, while Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, who were dealt to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, turned into big-time successes.

Unlike Foppert and Ainsworth, Williams didn’t deal with any major arm problems.  He just lost his best stuff early on, and while he possesses a perfectly respectable career record of 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA (from back when a 4.25 ERA was actually above average), he wasn’t viewed as having any upside because of his lack of a consistent low-90s fastball or a strikeout breaking ball.  It also certainly didn’t help matters that he wasn’t too concerned about conditioning; he probably weighed over 250 pounds by the time he was let go by the Nats in 2007.

Williams is getting the call now after going 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 60/15 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.  That he gave up 10 homers in 10 starts and one relief appearance doesn’t bode well, but that is a very tough environment for pitchers.  At best, maybe he’ll hold his own and prove to be a decent middle reliever for the Angels.  It doesn’t seem likely that he could succeed as a starter in the AL.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.