Baseball America released their weekly minor league transactions today, with several transactions listed for the Pirates. Most of them we already knew about: the call-ups, players designated for assignment, and all of the other roster shuffling from the last week. However, there were a few moves announced that are new news.
First, the Pirates signed catcher James Skelton. Skelton was once a marginal catching prospect in the Detroit farm system, especially after putting up a .303/.456/.401 line in 297 at-bats between high-A and AA in 2008. Skelton was left unprotected by Detroit in the 2008 Rule 5 draft, and was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Skelton was in contention to make the Diamondbacks as the backup catcher, but was one of the last cuts, and was returned to Detroit. Arizona worked out a trade to keep Skelton, but released him prior to the 2010 season. Skelton spent a little bit of time in the Philadelphia farm system, then was released and signed by the Pirates.
Skelton has excellent on-base percentage skills, but not much power. He’s also struggled to take his game beyond the high-A level, and even regressed some at the level in 2009. Skelton has a good arm, throwing out 32% base stealers in his career. Right now he’s more in the organizational depth category, and will have to make a successful jump to AA and beyond if he wants to have a shot at the majors. His upside is a backup catcher, and maybe a super utility player, since he’s also played games at second base, first base, and the corner outfield positions.
It’s unknown where Skelton will play. He was placed on the disabled list by the Phillies at the start of the season, which means he could still be injured.
The Pirates released two players: Jason Cooper and Alexis Pacheco. Cooper was signed by the Pirates on March 18th, but didn’t make the roster of any of their affiliates. Pacheco played for the VSL Pirates last year. The 6′ 0″, 194 pound right handed pitcher had a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings, with a 6.3 K/9 ratio, a 1.86 K/BB ratio, and no homers allowed as a 21 year old.