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Minor League Free Agents

The first wave of minor league free agents has hit the market, according to the latest minor league transaction report from Baseball America. Here is the list:

RHP Greg Aquino
RHP Josh Banks
3B Brian Barden
C Edwin Bellorin
RHP Kris Benson
1B Wilson Betemit
LHP Travis Blackley
RHP Bryan Bullington
LHP Brian Burres
RHP Vinnie Chulk
RHP R.A. Dickey
3B Joe Dillon
RHP Brandon Duckworth
OF Chris Duffy
RHP Geoff Geary
RHP Enrique Gonzalez
C Michel Hernandez
RHP Philip Humber
OF Mitch Jones
2B Matt Kata
LHP Javier Lopez
RHP Shane Loux
RHP Edwin Moreno
RHP Joe Nelson
C Guillermo Quiroz
RHP Steven Register
LHP Royce Ring
RHP Connor Robertson
LHP Glendon Rusch
OF Jeff Salazar
C Dane Sardinha
RHP Chris Schroder
3B Chris Shelton
2B Jason Smith
3B Craig Stansberry
RHP Denny Stark
LHP R.J. Swindle
LHP Jon Switzer
The only player from the Pirates’ organization in 2009 to opt for free agency in this list is Jeff Salazar. You can see the full list of players eligible for minor league free agency on the Minor League Free Agents page of the new BUCCO Fans.com Wiki site.
There’s a few interesting names here, and a few ex-Buccos, with the notable names being Kris Benson, Bryan Bullington, and Chris Shelton. Of the above list, some players who caught my eye:
Josh Banks: In 511.2 innings pitched at AAA (yes, over 500 innings, he’s been there for four of his seven minor league years), Banks has a 4.68 ERA, but a 7.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 1.1 HR/9 ratio. Those are all solid ratios. Banks has carried that control over to the majors, with a 3.0 BB/9 ratio in his 115.1 career innings pitched, but his strikeout rate has only been a 4.2 K/9 ratio in that time. Banks turned 27 in July, and would be worth a look. Banks was the number 12 prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system in 2007.
Wilson Betemit: Betemit has been in the American League the last three years, which may not have suited him. In five years in the National League, Betemit has a .263/.338/.441 line in 825 at-bats. In three seasons in the American League, Betemit has a .245/.285/.409 line in 318 at-bats. Betemit has played all four infield positions, plus the corner outfield positions in his time in the majors. He would be a great flier for a bench spot with the Pirates, especially if he returns to his NL-hitting ways.
Philip Humber: This would be a typical Neal Huntington move, adding a former top prospect who has fallen off, but is still young enough to rebound. Humber was the seventh best prospect in the Mets’ system before being a key part of the Johan Santana trade with the Minnesota Twins. Humber has struggled in AAA, although his ratios look decent. He’s 6′ 4″, 210 lbs and turns 27 in December. Humber had Tommy John surgery in 2005, and hasn’t been as dominating since, throwing in the 87-91 MPH range. He throws 93-94 in shorter outings, and has a plus curveball. He could revive his career as a reliever, although I’d like to bring him in to see if he can be the pitching version of Garrett Jones.
Joe Nelson: Nelson is only one year removed from a season where he made 59 appearances in relief, with a 2.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, and a 3.7 BB/9. Nelson struggled with his control in the American League playing with the Rays this past season, with a 6.0 BB/9. He’s 35 years old in a few weeks, but has shown success in the majors.
Royce Ring: Left handed reliever with a major league career .229 batting average against left handed batters.
R.J. Swindle: Swindle hasn’t had much time in the majors, but in the minors he’s posted a .165 batting average against left handed hitters. He hasn’t been bad against right handers either, with a .230 BAA, so maybe he could be more than a LOOGY.
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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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