The Pittsburgh Pirates have released four minor league pitchers, Pirates Prospects has learned. They are lefty pitchers Zac Fuesser and Dalton Friend, along with right-handers Kevin Kleis and Ethan Hollingsworth.
Fuesser was drafted by the Pirates in the 34th round in 2009 and he signed for a $125,000 bonus. He pitched all of last season with Bradenton, where he had a 3.18 ERA in 68 innings over 37 relief appearances. In both 2011 and 2012, Fuesser split his time between starting and relieving, pitching over 100 innings each year. He spent the 2012-13 off-season in the Australian Baseball League, where he started full-time and was named to the All-Star game.
Friend was a 12th round draft pick in 2012 and he missed all of last season with an unspecified injury. He pitched well for State College after being drafted, but he is already 23 years old and the missed time hurt his chances. Friend also dealt with a lot of injury problems before he was drafted, including a labrum injury in 2011.
Kleis was a project when he was drafted in the 27th round in 2010. At 6′ 8″, 225 pounds, he had a projectable frame and the Pirates were patient with him. He never made it past short-season ball though, spending parts of three seasons in the NYPL and totaling just 85.2 innings in his four years. He did get his velocity up to the mid-90s, but never showed control with the added velocity.
Hollingsworth was a minor league Rule 5 draft pick last year, getting picked up in the AAA phase. He pitched the year at Altoona, while also making two starts for Indianapolis. Hollingsworth had a 3.65 ERA in 11 starts and 15 relief appearances between both stops.