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Pirates Sign Two Minor League Free Agents

The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced the signing of two minor league free agents, right-handed pitcher Cody Eppley and catcher Nevin Ashley. Both were signed to minor league contracts and received non-roster invitations to Spring Training.

Cody Eppley is 28 years old, 6’5″ righty with major league experience each of the last three years. He fits the Pirates mold of ground ball pitchers, posting a GO/AO ratio above 2.50 in each of his last five seasons in pro ball. He is strictly a reliever, making every appearance as a pro out of the bullpen. Eppley was a 43rd round draft pick by the Texas Rangers in 2008 out of VCU, so he really defied the odds of making it to the pros.

In 71 big league appearances, he has a 4.61 ERA in 56.2 innings, with 39 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP. This past season for the New York Yankees, he gave up four runs over 1.2 innings in two appearances. In the minors, Eppley has posted a career 10.0 SO/9 rate in 276.2 innings.

Nevin Ashley has spent his entire eight year pro career in the minors. The 29-year-old backstop was drafted in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays back in 2006 and was a member of the Rays organization through the 2012 season. He spent this past year playing at Louisville, the Cincinnati Reds AAA affiliate, where he had a .235/.328/.374 line in 80 games.

Ashley was twice named the best defensive catcher in the Rays system by Baseball America. He will likely provide depth at AAA, taking the spot of Lucas May and Ali Solis, who are no longer with the organization.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

    These two don’t even look like quality organizational depth.

    • John Dreker

      The major league numbers might not be great, but the ground ball rates from Eppley are outstanding and that works well in the Pirates system. His minor league strikeout totals are also very strong, so he is a legit candidate for some time with the team in 2014. Teams will sign plenty of depth players like this and hope for something from at least 1-2 of them. Ashley looks like a AAA candidate with experience and strong defense, which is what you want behind the plate for your young pitchers. He may not see Pittsburgh, but he could definitely have a positive effect on the organization.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

        Cody Eppley is from Dillsburg (Northern HS), which is south of me about 7 miles. I once lived there. Nice town.

        I believe he is a side armer?

        • John Dreker

          According to BA, he is a side-armer that throws 88-90 with lots of sink, a low 80s slider and a quality change-up with good seperation from his fastball

        • pirateradio

          I tried to look up his HS stats to see how he did against the other area teams, but they (as well as the newspaper articles) seem to be gone now. Either that or I’m not persistent enough.

      • Silt

        Check out his statline from 2012 with the Yankees. ERA+ of 128 with 32 Ks in 46 innings. Not to mention the great groundball %. Not great, but I’d say that’s quality organizational depth for the Pirates in 2014.

      • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

        I’m not even considering the major league stats for either. But I am considering their ages (old for AAA).

      • https://profiles.google.com/110948599175395199247 Paul Cillo

        Are there any Minor League free-agent shortstops worth looking at for the Pirates? They look very weak at SS in the minors.

        • John Dreker

          I don’t see anyone interesting among the name, lots of former Pirates players Bixler, Josh Rodriguez, Robert Andino, Argenis Diaz. Only two players are under 25 and both had trouble hitting in High-A ball this year. You’ll probably see Alen Hanson at Altoona, maybe Adam Frazier makes the jump to Bradenton, while Moroff repeats WV. Trea Arbet and Carlos Ozuna have some potential in the low levels.

  • cabbo80

    I am no detective but seems as though a big trade involving the bullpen is brewing. Why not? Track record seems buy low and sell high. NH got to be thinking he’s the Syd Thrift of identifying relievers by now. No doubt he’s rummaging. Stay tuned.

  • dr dng

    Where did Ali Solis go?

    Released?

    Free agent and signed with another team?

    • John Dreker

      Minor League free agent, signed with the Rays earlier this week

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.martin.9003 Bob Martin

    You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know their going to release Vin Mazarro soon because he arbitration eligible. They don’t pay middle relievers because they know they can find them anywhere. Just look at these past two days. They brought in two guys to compete for a roster spot.

    • John Dreker

      Mazzaro is only scheduled to make $800k next year, which isn’t bad yet considering the MLB minimum next year goes up to $500k. He still has another year before he gets to be an expensive middle reliever, so he should be safe. At that cost, he would at least have trade value, but based on what he did in 73.2 innings this year, he still seems like a good player to keep.

      • michaelbro8

        Yep, I expect my cousin Vinnie to have another solid year as a middle reliever for the Bucs

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