Will Williams Jerez assume the role of Lefty Specialist for LA Angels
By David Rice
The LA Angels made a decision in mid-July of 2018 to be sellers at the trade deadline. Unfortunately a few of their players that teams would want got injured. So the only move the Angels could make was to trade Ian Kinsler to the Red Sox, but it reaped some dividends.
When the LA Angels traded Ian Kinsler to the Boston Red Sox in late July Angels general manager Billy Eppler did his homework and picked up two strong prospects from the Red Sox organization in relievers Williams Jerez and Ty Buttery.
Both Jerez and Buttery pitched for the Angels over the last two months of the season. Buttery looked pretty good in his stint with the club, while Jerez struggled with his control, but he still showed tremendous potential.
Jerez pitched in 17 games for the Angels and did not gain a decision. He finished with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 15 innings of work. He did strike out 15 batters and walked eight during those 15 innings which is almost a 2 to 1 ratio of strikeouts to walks which is usually a gauge of how effective a pitcher is.
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Jerez showed a mid 90’s fastball and mixed in an assortment of breaking pitches. He has made the minor league all-star team in 2016 and 2017 in the Eastern League while pitching for the Portland Sea Dogs which is the Red Sox Double-A Affiliate.
Jerez pitched in 171 games all in relief over five seasons in the minors for the Red Sox going 14-15 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 307 innings of work. Jerez struck out 322 batters while walking 121 during that time. He also recorded 15 saves over that time period when he was used primarily as a set-up man and lefty-specialist.
Jerez is 26 years old so he is just coming into his prime and he has a live arm. If he can harness his control and learn to work ahead in the count instead of falling behind he could be an effective major league reliever and could be exactly what the Angels are looking for in a lefty-specialist.
Jerez will compete in Spring Training for that role with Dillon Peters and possibly Greg Mahle. Peters has very little relief experience, and Mahle like Jerez has good stuff, but has yet to show he can consistently get batters out in the majors and throw strikes.
This will be a very interested competition to follow and Jerez could be the front-runner going in with his extensive bullpen experience and his high-end fastball. We will watch this closely and see how things shake out.