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Pirates release seven minor leaguers

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About this time every year the Pirates do some paring down of their minor league rosters. This year, in addition to RHP Brandon Bingel, whom I mentioned yesterday, they released RHPs Yoandy Fernandez, Chris McDonald and Angel Vasquez; LHP Hector Garcia; IFs Huascar Fuentes and Nick King; and OF Justin Maffei. The closest to noteworthy among these players would be Fernandez, Garcia and Maffei.

I’m a little sorry to see Maffei go. He was a good backup outfielder at the upper levels, but hadn’t gotten much playing time the last couple years. His skill set is very similar to that of Todd Cunningham, whom they just signed as a free agent.

Fernandez was one of two Cuban RHPs the Pirates signed a little over half a year ago, the other being Dany Hernandez. Neither figured to be a prospect, as the Pirates continue to ignore potential major league talent from Cuba. Fernandez did strike out 13 batters per nine innings in the New York-Penn League this year, but he was 7-10 years older than the hitters he was facing.

Garcia looked like a good prospect a few years ago, but was derailed by Tommy John surgery. He’s had trouble staying on the field since then.