NIC LAIO, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: July 28, 1997
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 20th Round, 599th Overall, 2018 (Rangers)
How Acquired: Rule 5 Draft, Minor League Phase (from Rangers)
College: Western Michigan University
Agent: N/A
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
Laio was a starter in college, but Texas moved him to the bullpen after drafting him.  His velocity jumped from the upper-80s to 93-95 mph.  The fastball has arm-side run and he also has good movement on his slider.  He throws a change that isn’t good enough at this point for him to start, and his command could still improve.  Laio has had strong walk and K rates in the minors so far, but has gotten hit hard at times, including significant gopher ball problems in 2021, so it’s not clear his stuff will work at higher levels.  The Pirates selected him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

2018
INJURED

Laio signed a little over a week after the draft, but he missed the season due to a collapsed lung.

2019
A-:  4-1-2, 3.74 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 11.4 K/9

In short season ball, Laio pitched solely in relief.  He had impressive walk and K rates, but got hit some, with opponents batting .275 against him.  Some of it may have been bad luck, as he had a .366 BABIP and 2.50 xFIP.  He had a reverse platoon split.

2020
IND:  0-0-0, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 13.5 K/9

Laio was one of a small number of minor leaguers who got permission from their ballclubs to play independent ball.  He pitched mostly in relief for East Side in the United Shore League and did very well.

2021
A:  3-2-0, 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 13.3 K/9
A+:  0-1-1, 7.80 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 12.0 K/9

Texas sent Laio to Low A for the first month and a half of the season.  He did well there, although he had trouble with gopher balls, allowing about one every five innings.  In late June he moved up to High A and had a rough time, giving up a longball nearly every three innings.  He at least maintained good walk and K rates.  Laio’s numbers took a big hit in a wild game against Greensboro, when he allowed eight earned runs in an inning and two-thirds.  He also had a meltdown against another powerhouse offensive team, Bowling Green.  It wasn’t a good performance in any event, as Laio gave up earned runs in 11 of 14 games at the level.

Laio could be an interesting project for the Pirates.  A lot may depend on whether he can add some velocity, considering his height.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2022: Minor league contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2019
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2024
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2016: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 20th round, 599th overall pick; signed on June 15.
December 8, 2021: Selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Texas Rangers in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
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