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Pirates Sign Seven Minor League Free Agents

The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced the signings of seven minor league free agents today. We had heard previously about Michael Martinez and Brandon Mann, while Kyle McPherson has returned to the organization. On top of those names, also announced today were LHP Adam Wilk, LHP Daniel Schlereth, 1B Travis Ishikawa and RHP Elvin Ramirez. Ishikawa, Martinez, Schlereth, Wilk and McPherson were all invited to Spring Training as non-roster players.

Travis Ishikawa is a 30-year-old lefty/lefty first baseman, who has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers and in 2013, he played six games for the Baltimore Orioles and one game for the New York Yankees. He has a .260/.324/.398 slash line over 382 major league games.

Adam Wilk is a 6’2″ left-hander, who just recently turned 26 years old. He pitched in Korea in 2013, going 4-8, 4.12 in 91.2 innings. Prior to that, Wilk pitched parts of two seasons in the majors(2011-12) with the Detroit Tigers, going 0-3, 6.66 in three starts and five relief appearances. He was an 11th round pick in the 2009 draft.

Elvin Ramirez is a 26-year-old, 6’3″ right-hander, who has pitched 20 games in the majors with the 2012 New York Mets. He went 0-1, 5.48 in 21.2 innings, with 22 strikeouts and 20 walks. In 2013, he split the season between AA and AAA in the Los Angeles Angels organization, going 1-1, 5.46 in 61 innings over 49 appearances. He missed all of 2011 with right shoulder surgery after being picked by the Washington Nationals(from the Mets) in the Rule V draft.

Daniel Schlereth is a 27-year-old 6’0″ lefty, who has played in the majors with the 2009 Detroit Tigers and 2010-12 Arizona Diamondbacks. In 94 career games, all in relief, he is 5-6, 4.35 in 93 innings, with 91 strikeouts, 60 walks and one save. In 2013, he pitched 12 games in AAA for the Baltimore Orioles. He missed most of the season, going down to injury in early May and returning late August to pitch two games.

Brandon Mann pitched in Japan last year after failing to make the Washington Nationals out of Spring Training. He has never pitched in the majors, making it as far as AA in eight seasons in the minors. He is a 29-year-old, 6’2″ lefty, who looks to be an option for a bullpen spot in Altoona.

As mentioned above, McPherson has been invited to Spring Training, but he will miss at least half of the season recovering from the Tommy John Surgery he had in July. The Pirates designated him for assignment on November 25th.

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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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  • CalipariFan506

    I really like Schareth. IMO he could be a viable option at some point this season if an injury comes around.

    • Jeff

      Replacement for Wilson or Watson if one of them traded?

      • JRIcentral

        I thought the same. I think Wilson, Watson or Locke may be on the move! (if it’s Locke, maybe the thought is to have Wilson in the rotation in 2015, as we’ll be out of Lefty starters!)
        With that many Lefty choices we’re getting, I’m hopeful Searage can turn one around for our pen!

    • leefoo

      I don’t like Schlereth (dunno who this Schareth guy is, tho). Just another talking head.

      oh wait…. :)

  • leadoff

    I could not be happier that they got McPherson back, don’t know why they invited him to ST, last I heard he won’t be ready until mid season.

    • emjayinTN

      leadoff: Of the bunch, my most satisfaction is getting Kyle McPherson back. From there, I like putting a LH hitting 1B in there in Travis Ishikawa, and Adam Wilk had great numbers all the way up the ladder, but could not carry that success over to the Majors. With the Tigers, you go very fast and if you get up to the show and fail, you are sent packing. Take a look at the ERA’s he posted through the minors and this kid does know how to pitch. Schlereth was a blip on the Tigers radar for a few years, but has really bad control issues. Wilk will hang on at AAA and could be up with the Pirates later in 2014.

  • leadoff

    Also, John, thanks for the breakdown on these players.

    • John Dreker

      No problem. The ST invite is more of a favor to the player, a thanks for resigning after they dropped him from the 40 man. He will be there strictly on rehab and be one of the first cuts.

  • freddylang

    This is a huge bonus getting McPherson back. I am shocked no other team grabbed him even with the injury. Guessing he might have to become a reliever with all the injuries but even if he could be a swingman like Karstens was it would be great. Nice to add him back in the mix as depth for the long haul.

  • freddylang

    Ishakawa and Schlereth too….these are great signs…not your average minor league FAs…these are guys that have had a good amount of mlb success.

  • ncap

    ishikawa is insurance at the triple A level, maybe to platoon with Hague that way if there is ever an injury they both will be accustomed to platooning if we ever need to call one up. Wilk was a top 10 prospect for the tigers at one point to. And like others have said the Tigers are classic for rushing pitchers.

    • leefoo

      Yes…Ishikawa is essentially James Loney-lite.

      Schlereth hardly pitched at all.

      As someone on our blog mentioned, minor league free agents are like throwing slop at the wall and hoping something sticks.

  • freddylang

    Schlereth averages 91.8 mph as a lefty for his career so he fits the Pirates’ hard throwing lefty out of the pen mold. If they can get him down to a 2:1 ip:bb ratio he could be extremely effective as a lefty specialist at least. He does have a big platoon split though and the Bucs have two stud lefties that get everyone out.

    Ishikawa is nice insurance if 1B turns into a mess. Nice to get a guy with 3000 mlb AB. .737 OPS vs righties so he is serviceable in a platoon in a pinch. He has a 1.4 WAR so really I don’t see a huge difference between have him or Moreland…except Ishi is practically free. But hopefully they get a better option. Ishikawa will be a beast if he is at AAA all year. He is better than most AAA hitters.

    • IC Bob

      I think Ishikawa has barely over 700 ABs in the majors (he has seen over 3000 pitches though). Like others have said you grab a bunch of these minor league FA eventually one or two will jump out and thats all you need to make it a success. This is the time of the year when all of major league baseball plays a form of pass the trash.

      • freddylang

        Thanks Bob I screwed that up on the ABs.

  • deacs

    Great news on McFear. That was a nice calculated gamble on the Pirates part. With a little luck you could throw his name into consideration for the 2015 rotation.

  • Stephen Brooks

    Just for fun check out the list of minor league free agents. Lots of familiar faces and formerly famous:

    You could almost build a roster out of the former Pirates on this list: C Ronny Paulino/Jason Jaramillo, 1B Jeff Clement, 2B Drew Sutton, 3B Yamaico Navarro, SS Brian Bixler, OF Xavier Nady, OF Jason Michaels, OF Gorkys Hernandez, SP Jonathan Sanchez, RP Joe Beimel, RP Daniel McCutchen, RP Sean Gallagher, RP Evan Meek.

    Also FWIW Tim Alderson and Clint Robinson are still unsigned.

    • deacs

      More than a few bad memories on that list there. Shame about Meek though. When he was on he was unhittable. Jason Michaels took a swing at a cop when he was in Philly not too far from my house.

      • buster09

        Michaels probably misses on that swing too ?

    • Scott Skink

      In addition to your 16, let’s add Nate Adcock, Jake Fox, Argenis Diaz, Jim Negrych and Mike Crott. So we’re at 21. Need four more for a full roster.

      • deacs

        Was Adcock the Rule 5 guy that got plucked by the Royals or am I thinking of someone else?

        • Patrick Kelly

          You are correct. KC basically ruined any chance for him to have a successful career.

    • emjayinTN

      Jeff Clement – can we give him another opportunity? And, if I am not mistaken, is Yamaico Navarro not leading the Dominican League in hitting? I know it is one of our former SS possibilities – is he the one we were using in LF because we had committed to d’Arnaud?

    • Stephen Brooks

      Meanwhile, over in Japan you have 1B Brad Eldred, IF Casey McGehee (soon to be signed back in the US), 2B Aki Iwamura, OF Nyjer Morgan, OF Lastings Milledge. OF John Bowker. SP BRIAN BULLINGTON(!!!), RP Chris Leroux, and RP Wil Ledezma. I think between the minor league free agents and those playing in Japan, you could practically rebuild the late Littlefield/early Huntington-era Pirates.

  • leadoff

    I don’t subscribe to the fact that the Pirates brought in 7 guys to throw at the wall and hope one of them sticks, most of them have specific purposes and all of them should be in the Pirate organization thru 2014 unless trades or injuries occur.
    The Pirates should be moving at least 10 to 12 of their AAA players to the majors during the course of the year and the players that they brought in will serve if nothing else as organizational depth.

  • Sfogg115

    Eric Chavez signed with diamondbacks. I thought he’d be a half decent option for us but o well. In NH I trust.

    • Stephen Brooks

      Learn to love Ike Davis (or Justin Smoak, or Mitch Moreland).

    • Mr. Goodkat

      No idea whether they were even interested in him, but I think he would have been a solid (though not ideal) option.

      MLBTR had something about an NL team being in on Morales. HOU may make more sense, but as others have thrown out, at what point (price-tag-wise), if any, does he become worth sacrificing the 1st rounder? 8 mil? 5 mil?

      Definitely wouldn’t be Option A for me, regardless of the pricetag, but if the Mets/Mariners/Rangers all want back a Top 10 Prospect for their guys, I think you have to consider it.

      That is, if you don’t have faith in Lambo or full-time-Gaby.

      • buster09

        Read what Mike Petrillo in Fangraphs has to say about Morales playing in the NL .

      • Jeff

        If Bucs sign Morales, they lose 1st round pick along with draft pool money. I don’t think NH will go that route.

        • Mr. Goodkat

          I don’t either, but giving up a top prospect (Top 10-12) for a guy like Smoak or Moreland or Davis would be even dumber, in my opinion.

          If the asking prices remain ridiculous, you either roll with Gaby and Lambo, look at a pricier guy like Morales, or bring in a few “roster fodder” type guys and hope to catch lightning in a bottle.

          Again, far far FAR from “Plan A”, but it’s something I think they need to (and probably have) entertained the idea and done a value analysis on.

      • Sfogg115

        Scott Boras is up to his ole tricks to hike up the value of his client in Kendray Morales. The guy cant play first base. I really like the player though nothing against him. At this point I’d just give the slot to Sanchez. Lambo aint hitting anything down south.

  • Dean Manifest

    A guy I’ve always had a bit of interest in who became a minor league FA this fall is Tyler Colvin. Anyone know if he’s still available? He fits the profile of the Huntington post-prospect ML invitee…

    .290/.327/.531 in Colorado in 2012
    .275/.377/.480 in AAA in 2013 (plus 78 awful AB with the big club)

    • John Dreker

      Looks like Colvin is still a free agent

  • Monsoon Harvard

    Most intriguing to me on the list is Adam Wilk. Look at those strikeout to walk ratios season by season in the minors! Such magnificent control! Not an easy find for a journeyman minor league lefty.

    Decent enough hits to innings ratios to boot make him the breakout candidate of the lot. Can’t see why he wouldn’t be able to have a good degree of success at the major league level, given a legimate amount of time to truly get his feet wet., which it looks like he’s never had previously. Nice find, Neal! Could be a real diamond in the rough there.

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