The 24-year-old left-hander spent most of 2006 with Triple-A Tacoma, going 8-11 with a 4.59 ERA in 23 games, including 22 starts. The 6-3 Texan was originally a fourth round pick for Pat Gillick’s exalted Seattle dynasty.
I won’t pretend to know much about Livingston apart from a Google search, but Gillick must have been keeping a book an inch thick on this former pick. Livingston was a teammate of Gavin Floyd this fall, which is where Gillick and company have spent plenty of time sipping cocktails since the season. The report suggests he was in the team's crosshairs before they lost him to the Devil Rays who claimed him after Seattle placed him on waivers. The Phillies then sent an undisclosed amount of cash to the D-Rays. The quote in the news release indicate he'll get a look in the bullpen, and being a left-hander, he damn well should.
Sarcasm aside, it’s a nice addition to their spring inventory, even if he’s another ex-Mariner. He young, he’s a lefty and has not been tested in relief. He struggled in Arizona, finishing with an ERA over 10 in 6 appearances. He was also torched in his cup-o-coffee with the M's back in May. However, he ended his regular season quite strong, posting a 3.09 ERA over his last five starts with Tacoma.
One wonders why he became available. Livingston has been a sound minor league pitcher and was held in fairly high regard early in his career, even posting a 141/30 K/BB ratio in high Class-A. At this stage, his best trait may be his durability, pitching into the high-100 IP each season. He’s probably at the point where a shot in bullpen is the next best step, because he's kind of reached a plateau as a starter. The Phillies are fortunate to get him while he's still young. New teammate Matt Smith is a fair comparison. The 27-year-old left-hander was converted to reliever at about this stage.
Based on the scouting reports, he doesn’t have Smith’s stuff. He’s not a hard thrower and relies on a plus change and hitting his spots. Prior to the 2005 season, Baseball America rated him as having the best control of any pitcher in the Mariners' system. The photo above was taken mid-summer, so it looks like he’s filled in past his 6-3, 190 media guide measurements. The reports praise his poise and ability to shake off adversity, which is an important characteristic for any reliever.