We're up to 20 NRI's for Spring Training. Fortunately, the Pirates' page at MLB.com seems to have an up-to-date list:
We all recognize that most of these guys will wind up as minor league depth or will be gone before the end of Spring Training. On the other hand, there are some interesting names on the list, especially among the pitchers:
- Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon: Pirate fans recognize that the team has made a recent practice of inviting top prospects to participate in ST, even though they have little or no chance to make the team. My guess is that we'll see Cole around mid-season in 2013, with Taillon following in mid-season 2014.
- Jonathan Sanchez: Signed as starting depth during the Liriano saga, Sanchez also seems to be a candidate as a lefty out of the bullpen. I wonder if he has some kind of "out" clause in his contract.
- Vin Mazzaro: This guy DOES have major league experience (much of it as a mediocre starting pitcher) over each of the past 4 seasons. I have little confidence that Mazzaro will contribute, and was happy that the team has enough depth to DFA him. On the other hand, he's only 26 and has been assigned a low uniform number (32) for Spring Training..... which seems to indicate that management thinks he has a decent chance of making the team.
- Kris Johnson: Perhaps the most intriguing NRI pitcher is this 28-year-old beanpole (listed at 6' 4" - 170 lb.) lefty starter. He seemed to find himself after joining the Pirates' organization in 2012. He had been a mediocre performer in the past, but finished a successful 2012 season pitching like an ace in the Dominican. Johnson is a real long-shot, given the Pirates' starting pitching depth, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him tried as a bullpen lefty. Johnson's minor league career:
...and Johnson's finish in the Dominican:
- Of the remaining pitchers, I'm guessing that Kyle Waldrop and Mike Zagurski have a non-zero chance of making the bullpen..... Waldrop due to his decent performance in 17 appearances out of the Twins' bullpen in 2012, and Zagurski because he's a lefty, made 45 relief appearances for the D-Backs last year, and has been assigned a low uniform number (47).
- Anything can happen, but I see little potential help among the position players. In fact, the list scares me a bit. If we wind up with Ivan DeJesus or Anderson Hernandez on the bench as a back-up middle infielder..... that contributes to a weak bench. But the guy who scares me most is Brad Hawpe. As a Hurdle favorite, and having been assigned uniform number 2, I gotta feeling that Hawpe is almost a sure thing to come north with the team. I guess Hawpe could turn out OK, but I fear that he will prove to be far over-the-hill (off the cliff, in fact). Hey..... is it possible that Felix Pie is still only 28? Finally, I believe Matt Hague's window of opportunity has closed.