Notes: Zach Duke, Jack Taschner, Draft Pick Rumors, Kevin Mort

Some notes from the last two days, plus some news items that I’ve mentioned on Twitter, but have yet to post to the site:

-Zach Duke has a minor muscle strain near his left elbow, and will miss his next scheduled start on Tuesday.  Duke has struggled this year with a 5.49 ERA in 80.1 innings, which is his worst total since 2007 when he had a 5.53 ERA.  Duke has an 8.18 ERA in his last four starts, which probably would have been worse if it wasn’t for his outing against Washington that yielded two earned runs in five innings.

-Jack Taschner has refused his outright assignment to AAA, and has declared free agency.  The Pirates are on the hook for his $835 K salary, although if Taschner gets signed by a Major League team and added to the Major League roster, the signing team will pick up some of that salary.  If Taschner were to sign today, that amount would be about $231,694 for the remainder of the season.  That’s only about $250,000 less than what a team would have picked up if they would have claimed Taschner, which makes it unlikely he will be added to a Major League roster anytime soon.

-Dejan Kovacevic reports that the Pirates are “deep in negotiations” with eighth round pick Dace Kime, and are also starting talks with fourth round pick Nick Kingham.  Kime, who has a commitment to Louisville, comes from the same high school that produced Major League pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathon Niese.  Kingham, who has a commitment to Oregon, has been mentioned as one of the best prep pitchers the Pirates drafted, outside of Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.  Kingham had a 2.01 ERA last year in 59.1 innings, with a 73:17 K/BB ratio.

-Andy LaRoche has been working at second base.  I can’t see him stealing much time from Neil Walker, who is hitting for a .293/.337/.446 line in his first 92 at-bats this season.  However, it’s good to get LaRoche moving around to different parts of the infield.  It will either increase his trade value, or increase his value to the Pirates as a bench option for the 2011 season.

-I Re-Tweeted this on Twitter last week, but the Pirates signed un-drafted infielder Kevin Mort out of Mississippi.  Mort hit for a .284/.339/.364 line with Mississippi in 236 at-bats in 2010.  He’s the former teammate of 2009 draft picks Nathan Baker and Phillip Irwin.

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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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