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Pirates release eight minor leaguers, three others retire

There was probably some more important news today, but the Pirates have released (sub. req’d) eight minor league players, all of them right-handed pitchers. The eight are Neil Kozikowski, Jake Burnette, Chris Plitt, Nick Hutchings, Nick Neumann, Henry Hirsch, Jose Regalado and Julio Vivas. For the most part, these were pitchers whose stuff needed to take a step forward and didn’t, or who were old for the levels they’d progressed to, or both.

Of the eight, the most notable were Kozikowski and Burnette. Both signed for above-slot amounts out of high school. Kozikowski hadn’t made it to full season ball after four years. Burnette had gotten only to low A in six years, and had struggled both with injuries and control problems. Hutchings was the last remaining Australian player in the system.

Three other players retired. The most notable was Danny Beddes, drafted in the 15th round out of college last year. He put up impressive numbers as a starter at Morgantown last summer, but doesn’t have overwhelming stuff. Shortstop Daniel Cucjen, signed as an undrafted free agent last summer to serve as a utility player, also retired. Another shortstop, Tyler Leffler, didn’t exactly retire but instead just left camp. He was a 27th round pick last year and struggled to hit in limited playing time at Morgantown.