When the White Sox traded Jesse Crain and his sore shoulder to the Tampa Bay Rays, they received future considerations that hinged on Crain's future contributions. It basically turned the deal into a game show, as Crain had the chance to unlock levels of prospects based on his performance. The more he could pitch, the better the return.
Crain never pitched for the Rays, shorting the entertainment potential of the deal on both sides. Still, the Sox will get a consolation prize, and left-handed pitcher Sean Bierman will be half of it. Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish relayed the Bierman part of the transaction, and Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times added that another player will head Chicago's way to complete the deal by Wednesday.
Bierman's had success in his limited minor-league travels:
Three things that jump out:
- The strong ERAs
- The advanced control
- The advanced age
Tommy John surgery is the cause of the third part. Bierman pitched at Vanderbilt in 2008 and 2009, but transferred to the University of Tampa in 2010. He underwent Tommy John surgery after that season, which kept him out of action in 2011. He returned in 2012 as a redshirt senior and had a nice year, and the Rays picked the hometown guy in the 10th round. That's not necessarily indicative of his true draft stock, but he signed for $125,000, so it looks like more than a "random college senior" pick.
Listed at 6'0" or 6'1", Bierman is a lefty on the smaller side who works with a high-80s fastball and command of a changeup and a curve (with rumors of a slider). He also keeps the ball down, if there's anything to his 55 percent career groundball rate. That combination can often get a pitcher to Triple-A before having major struggles, but Bierman also has a rocky injury history to contend with (elbow soreness ended his season a couple weeks early). Basically, a lot of things will have to go right in order to get major-league value, but that's commensurate with Crain's Rays career.