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Bucco breakfast: Minor league free agents who reached Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Texas Rangers

Since I’ve been doing trivia all week, I figured I’d do one last installment. So I made a list of all of Neal Huntington’s minor league free agent signings who ended up playing for the Pirates. I don’t know that there are any great lessons to be drawn. There’ve been three signees who brought big returns, and a few others who made very solid contributions. If you want to skim through the flotsam, of which there’s a lot, I highlighted all of these.

Realistically, a few of these guys weren’t minor league signings in the sense of players who figured to serve as depth and get called up at need. It was clear from the start, for instance, that Matt Joyce and Brandon Inge were going to make the 25-man roster. The Pirates just didn’t have to make roster moves until the start of the season.

(With one player — Luis Cruz — the transaction listings I can find aren’t clear about how the Pirates acquired him, but minor league free agency seems the most likely route. Also, as usual, I’ve probably missed one or two.)

2008

Doug Mientkiewicz, UT: 103 OPS+ in 125 games. Mientkiewicz did a good job for the Pirates, even giving third base the old college try, but for some reason he played in only another 20 major league games.

Luis Rivas, IF: 54 OPS+ in 79 games.

Raul Chavez, C: 64 OPS+ in 42 games.

Luis Cruz, IF: 43 OPS+ in 49 games in 2008-09.

T.J. Beam, RHP: 4.14 ERA in 32 games in relief.

Jason Davis, RHP: 5.29 ERA in 14 games, 4 starts.

2009

Garrett Jones, 1B/OF: Still Huntington’s best minor league signing, Jones produced a 113 OPS+ and 100 HR over 5 years.

Craig Monroe, OF: 70 OPS+ in 34 games.

Jeff Salazar, OF: -44 OPS+ in 26 PAs.

Chris Bootcheck, RHP: 11.05 ERA in 13 games in relief.

2010

Erik Kratz 1.0, C: -21 OPS+ in 9 games.

Brian Burres, LHP: 4.82 ERA in 93 IP as a swing man in 2010-11. Burres made 13 starts in 2010.

Wil Ledezma, LHP: 6.86 ERA in 27 games in relief.

Jack Taschner, LHP: 6.05 ERA in 17 games in relief.

Justin Thomas, LHP: The Pirates originally acquired Thomas on a waiver claim, then re-signed him to a minor league deal for 2010. He had a 6.23 ERA in 12 games in relief.

Brian Bass, RHP: 12.27 ERA in 4 games in relief.

2011

Dusty Brown, C: -30 OPS+ in 30 PA (the Pirates used eight catchers to survive catcherpocalypse).

Wyatt Toregas, C: 0-for-4 in 3 games.

Jose Veras, RHP: 3.80 ERA in 79 games in relief.

Joe Beimel, LHP: 5.33 ERA in 35 games in relief.

Tim Wood, RHP: 5.63 ERA in 13 games in relief.

2012

Juan Cruz, RHP: 2.78 ERA in 43 games in relief.

Doug Slaten, LHP: 2.77 ERA in 10 games in relief.

Rick van den Hurk, RHP: 13.50 ERA in 4 games in relief.

2013

Brandon Inge, UT: 25 OPS+ in 50 games.

Felix Pie, OF: 5 OPS+ in 27 games.

Jonathan Sanchez, LHP: 11.85 ERA in 5 games, 4 starts.

Ryan Reid, RHP: 1.64 ERA in 7 games in relief,

Kris Johnson, LHP: 6.10 ERA in 4 games, one start.

Kyle Farnsworth, RHP: 1.04 ERA in 9 games in relief.

Mike Zagurski, LHP: 15.00 ERA in 6 games in relief.

Jose Contreras, RHP: 9.00 ERA in 7 games in relief.

2014

Michael Martinez, UT: 5 OPS+ in 44 PAs.

Travis Ishikawa, 1B: 80 OPS+ in 38 PAs.

John Holdzkom, RHP: 2.00 ERA in 9 games in relief.

2015

Gorkys Hernandez 2.0, OF: 0-for-5 in 8 games.

Deolis Guerra, RHP: 6.48 ERA in 10 games in relief.

Chris Volstad, RHP: 2 IP.

2016

Matt Joyce, OF: 132 OPS+ in 140 games.

Cole Figueroa, IF: -7 OPS+ in 27 PAs.

Wilfredo Boscan, RHP: 6.46 ERA in 15 IP.

Cory Luebke, LHP: 9.35 ERA in 9 games in relief.

Kelvin Marte, LHP: 0.00 ERA (5 unearned runs) in 2 games in relief.

Curtis Partch, RHP: 40.50 ERA in 2 games in relief.

2017

Danny Ortiz, OF: 1-for-12 in 13 games.

Angel Sanchez, RHP: Originally a waiver pickup, he was released and re-signed, and had an 8.76 ERA in 8 games in relief.

Dan Runzler, LHP: 4.50 ERA in 8 games in relief.

2018

Ryan Lavarnway, C: 4-for-6 in 6 games.

Richard Rodriguez, RHP: The second best signing, Rodriguez had a 2.47 ERA and 11.4 K/9 in 63 games.

FanPost Fridays

  • Crow’s Eye continued his great work on the Pirates’ farm system with one on prospects’ ERA- and FIP- at Indianapolis and Altoona. Being park-adjusted, the numbers at both affiliates turned out better than you’d think for hitters and worse for pitchers. His other posts are here, here and here.
  • Maddog41386 wonders whether Corey Dickerson could break out if he stops swinging at every. freaking. pitch.
  • UPDATE: Cocktailsfor2 pointed out this FanShot from NW Pirate Fan, which chronicles the sad, unsuccessful story of Chad Hermansen.

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