Carlos Paulino

Pirates Invite Four Players to Spring Training

The Pittsburgh Pirates have invited Matt Hague, Carlos Paulino, Jameson Taillon, and Zack Thornton to Spring Training, per a team press release. We heard last week that Taillon received an invite, but this is the first we’ve heard about the other three.

Hague has been invited to Spring Training in each of the last two seasons. His most notable Spring was in 2012, when he showed off some impressive power. He made the team out of camp that year, but only spent a short amount of time on the Major League roster before returning to Triple-A. The power from that Spring never returned, but Hague does do well against left-handers, and could be an option as an injury replacement for Gaby Sanchez in the first base platoon. He has also played some third base, and could be an option there, although his defense at the position isn’t as strong as it is at first base. Hague doesn’t project to make the team out of camp.

Paulino is one of the best defensive catchers in the system, with the best arm among the catchers. However, he has struggled to hit in Altoona, making him more of a defensive only depth option. It will be interesting to see where he starts the 2014 season. Tony Sanchez is expected to get the bulk of the playing time with Indianapolis. Paulino might be better off working out of Altoona again, to maximize his playing time. If the Pirates experience injuries behind the plate this year, Paulino could eventually make it to the majors as a backup. As for Spring Training, he will serve as an extra catcher, which is always a position that is in need, due to all of the pitchers in camp.

Thornton had a great season in 2013, after being acquired for Chris Resop last off-season. He doesn’t have the best stuff, but gets great results thanks to an extreme ground ball ratio. He went unselected in the Rule 5 draft this off-season, despite being named as a top prospect in the draft by several outlets. Due to the amount of bullpen options the Pirates have, it doesn’t seem likely that Thornton will make the majors out of camp. He should start the season with Indianapolis, and seems like a strong option to make the majors at some point this year as bullpen depth.

None of the four players invited project to make the Opening Day roster. Taillon is expected up in June, and the other three players profile as depth at their respective positions.

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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, 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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  • babeadamsforthehall

    What kind of “stuff” does Zack Thornton posess? He had a very interesting year climbing the ladder. Not a high draft pick and was not very good in 2012. What do you make of him?

    • Tim Williams
      • dr dng

        Been holding these three (maybe four) questions for some time.

        1) I thought Hague was a free agent, I not realize that Hague had signed. I guess back to Indy.

        2) Here is a concern that I have not heard anyone address. Who are our backup options at 3rd base?
        What if Alvarez was hurt (help us). Do we have any solid option? Harrison?

        3) Following up on that. This should be right up in Tim’s wheelhouse. I think Alvarez is ours at least through 2015. Who is our option after that? I have not heard anyone talk about this.

        4) Suppose we sell/trade Alvarez with high value after the 2014. Do we have any option to replace him?

        If not, we better start saving up the every nickel and dime now so we can sign him for the future.

        (Wonder if he would sign now for $60 m. for the next 5 years?… I doubt it…)


        • Tim Williams

          1. Hague isn’t FA eligible until after the 2014 season.

          2. Harrison would probably be the backup at 3B. The depth at that position is thin at the top.

          3. There’s a reason you don’t hear much about this. 3B is thin in the system. There are a few highly projectable and extremely raw guys in the lower levels. The upper levels don’t have any answers. Just guys like Josh Harrison or Adalberto Santos who profile better as utility players. It is possible that Mercer could move over if needed, but that means you’re replacing Pedro offensively with Barmes.

          4. There’s no need to do this, unless you’re getting a replacement 3B back. And I don’t know why a team would do that.

          • buster09

            God bless us all if we ever have to see Santos at 3d base in PNC !

  • dr dng

    Well at least I had it correct in reading between the lines over the last several months that we are a little thin down the road at 3rd. Do you have a solution? Trade for a prospect? Develop internally?

    I was not a big Pedro fan but he converted me this past season with his improved defense, offense and it just seemed to me much better attitude.
    I guess we just hope he has another good and healthy season.

    • Tim Williams

      I don’t think you need a solution until Alvarez leaves. He’s still around for three more years, so my solution right now would be to keep him for those three years, then figure out 3B at that time, if it hasn’t figured itself out by then.

  • Y2JGQ2

    ….Because that has worked so well so far at first base

  • Y2JGQ2

    Our front office has shown a much stronger ability to plan for the future than it has to be able to react to immediate needs. That being said Tim, I can’t disagree more that waiting for 3 years to pass and figure it out then is a reasonable course of action, unless you want to end up with the next Andy LaRoche at 3b

    • Tim Williams

      Why do they need to figure out the third baseman in 2017 immediately?

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