Another ‘who saw this one coming’ move from the Giants.
The San Francisco Giants’ official Twitter feed reports that the club signed left-hander Dontrelle Willis to a minor-league contract with Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday. The Giants are Willis’ third team this season, after he was designated for assignment by both the Tigers and Diamondbacks within the last two months. No matter where he has played in 2010, Willis’ struggles have continued — he has a 5.62 ERA in 15 appearances (13 of them starts) and only an 0.84 K-BB ratio.
Oh, how far you’ve fallen, D-Train. At one point in his career Dontrelle Willis was one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball and one of the most entertaining.
At 21-years-old he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award for his 2003 season (160.2 IP, 127 ERA+, 3.45 FIP). From 2004-06 he put up WAR seasons of: 2.8, 6.2, and 2.9 wins. Quite good. That’s production that any rotation would love to have. However, as they often do, things change in baseball. Since 2007 Dontrelle has been almost a total lost cause. On field his control went from average, to disastrous. Since 2008, he’s only pitched 127 innings while walking 8.7 batters per 9. There are no words to describe how bad that is. Off the field he was charged with a DUI in ’06 that was eventually reduced to a lesser charge with probation and community service work. He also missed a large portion of his ’09 season dealing with anxiety issues.
As a minor league signing, Willis carries almost zero risk. If he pitches well in the minors, the Giants might consider pitching him at some point, but for now he’s rotation filler for the Fresno Grizzlies. Stuff-wise Dontrelle has lost some zip on his fastball. He works around 88 mph these days rather than the low-90′s he was with the Marlins.
It will be weird seeing him in a Giants uniform if he makes it that far. The signing has that going for it. He was born in Oakland and that probably influenced him to sign with the G’s.
Bottom line: No risk, AAA filler, will have to drastically fix his control if he wants a MLB career.
Update: It’s hard to believe that he’s only 28-years-old. Feel like he’s been in the league for much longer.