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.