Pirates Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:40:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Pirates to Sign Radhames Liz to a Big League Deal http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-to-sign-radhames-liz-to-a-big-league-deal.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-to-sign-radhames-liz-to-a-big-league-deal.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:40:40 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90835 By now the Pittsburgh Pirates are the only people who haven’t said that Radhames Liz is signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s not a surprise, since the Pirates rarely comment on a move until it is finalized, with the physical complete, and the ink dry on the paper.

At the start of the week, we heard reports out of Korea and the Dominican Republic, saying the Pirates had agreed to a two-year, $3 M deal with Liz. Yesterday, Liz’s Dominican Winter League team (which is managed by Dean Treanor, who manages the Indianapolis Indians) announced the signing. Today, it’s going national, with Jayson Stark reporting the deal.

Stark notes that it’s a big league deal, which answers the question about whether that two-year deal is a big league deal, or some kind of unique minor league contract. I think that deal also guarantees Liz a spot in the bullpen. He’s an extremely hard thrower, and all of the reports on him this off-season are positive. The Pirates have had plenty of success finding reclamation projects and hidden gems. We’re about to see if Liz is the next in line.

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Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell Named Among Top AFL Prospects http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/tyler-glasnow-and-josh-bell-named-among-top-afl-prospects.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/tyler-glasnow-and-josh-bell-named-among-top-afl-prospects.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90829 MLB.com has released their top 25 list for prospects in the Arizona Fall League. They pointed out that this year was a particularly strong year for prospects in the league and they expanded the list from their normal twenty spots. Two Pittsburgh Pirates prospects made the list, with Tyler Glasnow leading the way in fifth place and Josh Bell ranked 16th overall.

There seems to be some agreement among scouts and those prospect experts watching the game, because Glasnow was also fifth on Baseball America’s AFL prospect list and for both lists, he is the top ranked pitching prospect. While they do agree on his prospect ranking, they don’t all agree on where he is right now in his progress towards the majors. Glasnow ran up high pitch counts per inning in the AFL, which led to him throwing just 19.1 innings in seven starts. Part of Glasnow’s inconsistencies can be seen in the scouting reports we have heard about his curve during the fall.

MLB.com points out that he was focusing on upgrading his curve, so his numbers may have suffered from throwing it more often. Following him all season, he seemed to be using it about the same as usual and when the pitch is on, it’s unhittable. When he isn’t throwing it for strikes, then batters can sit on his fastball. The reports we have got just from this fall have called his curve a plus pitch, a plus-plus pitch and a pitch that has the makings of a plus pitch. So basically, depending on what day you saw him pitch, your opinion of him could vary widely.

The most common report is that he has a plus curve/fastball combo that allows him to dominate in the lower levels, even with spotty command at times. His change-up is a seldom-used third pitch that needs work and is important for his progress. Without better command and a third offering, he is going to have more trouble the further he advances. Saying all that, he has shown steady improvements and he turned 21 in August, so he has time. His ETA for Pittsburgh is probably mid-2016 at this point.

Bell wasn’t listed in BA’s top ten list and he didn’t even get a mention among 12 other players that were considered for their list. MLB.com has him ranked 16th overall due to approach at the plate, which led to a 12:13 BB/SO ratio in 84 at-bats. They also believe that he should be able to handle first base and just needs to reps there. Between the Fall Instructional League and the AFL, Bell got a nice jump start on learning the new position. Spring Training will give him more time to learn the spot before he starts playing it in games that count.

Like Glasnow, Bell will probably spend most(or all) of 2015 at Altoona. That could change depending on how quickly he learns the new position and if he starts hitting for more power. Both players are top prospects, but neither is a polished player at this time, so the 2015 season in another big step towards their future potential. If they continue to progress, you will have an ace for your pitching staff and a middle of the order bat at a position the Pirates have had a tough time filling.

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Winter Leagues: Strong Performance From Stolmy Pimentel http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/winter-leagues-strong-performance-from-stolmy-pimentel.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/winter-leagues-strong-performance-from-stolmy-pimentel.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90812 Coming into Thursday night, Stolmy Pimentel had made four starts and failed to go longer than two innings in three of those games. He had a .364 BAA in those four starts, with seven walks and just four strikeouts. Except for the strikeouts, he really turned things around in his fifth start. Pimentel allowed one run on three hits and a walk in five innings. He had nine ground ball outs as well, though he picked up just one strikeout.

In that same game, Gustavo Nunez grounded into a double play in the seventh inning, then remained in the game on defense at shortstop. He signed as a minor league free agent with the Pirates earlier this week.

Wirfin Obispo allowed one run on one hit in one inning. He has a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings, with 16 strikeouts. He is still a minor league free agent.

Gregory Polanco took batting practice with his Leones del Escogido team. There isn’t a set date for his return, though he could be in uniform within a couple days according to a couple sources.

Willy Garcia is out with the flu. He hasn’t played the last couple games, though he could have used the time off because he has been in a big slump the last two weeks. Garcia is 8-for-40 in his last nine games, with no walks and 13 strikeouts. He was added to the Pirates 40-man roster on Thursday.

The Pirates picked up Pedro Florimon off waivers on Thursday. He is playing for Leones del Escogido, where he has a .213/.250/.279 slash line in 18 games.

In Colombia, Tito Polo went 1-for-6 in his last two games, striking out four times. He is 5-for-26 with no walks and 11 strikeouts. The level of play in Colombia isn’t as good as the four Caribbean Leagues, but it’s still better than what Polo saw this season in the Gulf Coast League.

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First Pitch: What Do Today’s Moves Mean For the Rest of the Pirates Off-Season? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/first-pitch-what-do-todays-moves-mean-for-the-rest-of-the-pirates-off-season.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/first-pitch-what-do-todays-moves-mean-for-the-rest-of-the-pirates-off-season.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:59:52 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90817 The Pittsburgh Pirates made several moves today, adding four players to the 40-man roster, claiming Pedro Florimon from the Washington Nationals, and still not confirming the Radhames Liz deal, even though everyone else is saying it’s a done deal. Here is a rundown from the busy day.

The Rule 5 Additions

I profiled the Rule 5 additions here, and looked at the guys who are eligible here. I’m not going to go into detail on either subject, and will let the links speak for themselves.

I will point out one big misconception about today’s deadline. This isn’t about protecting every single prospect, and no one is lost because of today’s moves. The purpose here is to protect players who are at risk of being drafted by another team, and protected all year. That’s very rare, even if it did happen to the Pirates last year with Wei-Chung Wang. In fact, last year at this time, the talk was about how Zack Thornton was a near guarantee to be taken in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. He wasn’t. In the “eligible” link above, I talked about the guys who stand the biggest risk of being taken this year.

The Roster is “Set”

Each team “set” their roster today, which implies that these rosters are final. They aren’t. Last year the Pirates removed five players from the 40-man roster in the month following the Rule 5 protection deadline. That was during a slow off-season. The first two moves came five days after the rosters were set. The year before that, which was a busier off-season, they removed five players in the first ten days following the deadline.

Looking at the current roster, I can easily find players who could be removed for future free agent signings, waiver claims, or any other move that brings in new players and bumps someone off the roster. Chaz Roe, Jake Elmore, Preston Guilmet, and Pedro Florimon are four quick examples. And those examples represent a trend this off-season, which explains why the Pirates have so many of these guys on their 40-man.

And once that Radhames Liz deal becomes finalized, expect one of these guys to get the bump.

The Bench and Bullpen Needs

If you’ve been paying attention to the moves so far this off-season, you’d notice two trends. The Pirates have been loading up on infield bench and bullpen options. Some of that started towards the end of the season. Here are the players acquired for each category.

Relievers: Chaz Roe, Rob Scahill, Preston Guilmet, Collin Balester, Jeremy Bleich, Deolis Guerra, Brad Lincoln, Blake Wood, Radhames Liz (eventually)

Bench: Pedro Florimon, Justin Sellers, Jake Elmore, Gustavo Nunez

None of these guys are guarantees for a major league roster. Their upsides are mostly middle relievers or bench players. Most of them will spend the season in Triple-A, only getting the call when an injury occurs. But none of that really matters, because all of these guys are cheap. With the exception of Rob Scahill (who cost Shane Carle in a trade, and Carle profiled as a guy who might have a shot as a fifth starter, but probably a middle reliever), none of these guys cost anything important.

Even the reported $1.5 M a year for Radhames Liz isn’t significant, especially when you consider the track record the Pirates have with finding hidden pitching gems. At this point, if you’re complaining about any pitcher the Pirates have added, then you’re ignoring Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley, Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Jeanmar Gomez, John Holdzkom, A.J. Burnett, Vin Mazzaro, and Jason Grilli. I’d go on, but I’m only listing guys who had good seasons in the last two years, and were either reclamation projects, hidden gems, or both.

As for the middle infielders, the Pirates have prioritized defense with all of the above guys, including today’s waiver claim, Florimon. By now we should know that the Pirates prioritize defense for their backup middle infielder, especially at shortstop. They did this the last two years, and that didn’t stop them from making the playoffs the last two years. The common argument against these moves is that they aren’t finding someone who can hit while putting up good defense. Those players exist. They’re called starters. The Pirates have one of those guys. They aren’t available on waivers or as minor league free agents. They aren’t found on the benches of every other team. The position is so thin that when it comes to a backup, you choose one or the other. The Pirates choose defense.

The Rest of the Off-Season

On Friday, November 21st, we reach the one week anniversary of the A.J. Burnett signing. I bring that up as a reminder that:

1. It’s still November.

2. The Pirates have actually done more than just add minor league free agents and waiver claims this off-season.

Are the Pirates doing nothing so far? See last week. Is Burnett enough? No. Is it too early to assume the Pirates are done? Yes.

Maybe it’s the lack of rumors that suggest the Pirates aren’t doing anything. Never mind that there were zero rumors about Burnett until the moment the deal was done. It was the same thing with Francisco Liriano back when he was signed. There was about a day’s notice when Russell Martin was signed. The Pirates don’t like information getting out there until a deal is finalized, which is why they won’t confirm the Liz deal. But it’s easy to read between the lines here and see what is going on.

The Pirates are looking at pitching. Neal Huntington has said as much when he talked about how they were trying to bring back Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, but might have a difficult time bringing both back after the addition of Burnett. The pitching market is stalled right now, and will be stalled until the top tier establish the market. After guys like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign, we’ll start seeing guys like Liriano and Brandon McCarthy on the move. Again, it’s November 21st. There’s still three weeks until the Winter Meetings. So don’t expect the Pirates to be doing anything on the starting pitching market until that market gets going.

After designating Ike Davis for assignment, the projected payroll is at $71.5 M. The Pirates were already trying to give a big contract to Russell Martin, along with pursuing another pitcher. They have plenty of money to get at least one more starting pitcher, and they can spend money on an established guy this time, rather than rolling the dice on another reclamation project.

And expect more fliers on bullpen arms and infield bench options. A lot more. These moves don’t hurt anything, and they don’t prevent the Pirates from making moves that could provide a big impact to the team.

So what if this is all the Pirates do this off-season, and they don’t add the pitching they need? That’s a question best answered three months from now, when we get to see if that scenario actually played out.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**Pirates Prospects Who Are Eligible For the 2014 Rule 5 Draft

**Pirates Add Four to the 40-Man Roster, DFA Ike Davis

**Pirates Claim Pedro Florimon From the Nationals

**Radhames Liz’s Winter League Team Announces His Deal With the Pirates

**Winter Leagues: Two Pirates Players Make Their Winter Debut

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Pirates Prospects Who Are Eligible For the 2014 Rule 5 Draft http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-prospects-who-are-eligible-for-the-2014-rule-5-draft.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-prospects-who-are-eligible-for-the-2014-rule-5-draft.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 01:33:03 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90793 The Pittsburgh Pirates set their 40-man roster today, adding four players and protecting those players from the upcoming Rule 5 draft on December 11th. The players on the lists below are eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

When a player is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, that means any team can select him in the draft, paying $50,000 to the former team. The drafting team has to protect that player by placing him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2015 season. If a team can’t keep the player on the 25-man roster, they must place the player on waivers. If the player is claimed, the new team has to keep the player on the 25-man roster or waive him. If the player clears waivers, they have to be offered back to their original team for $25,000. Rule 5 picks can be placed on the disabled list, but they must spend at least 90 days on the active roster. Otherwise their Rule 5 restrictions carry over to the 2016 season until they’ve reached 90 days total on the active roster.

A player getting picked doesn’t mean that player will be totally lost. The odds of players sticking in the majors for the entire season are very slim. It’s not impossible, as we saw last year with Wei-Chung Wang going to the Milwaukee Brewers. But most players exposed to the Rule 5 draft these days amount to waiver claims. You’re not really risking a potential impact player, and the worst that usually happens is that you lose a good middle reliever or a bench player.

With that said, here are the notable players who were left unprotected, with the full list below.

Jason Creasy – He would have been the fifth guy I would have protected. Creasy works in the low 90s, and tops out at 95 MPH. He’s got some of the best control in the system, and good off-speed stuff at times, although he lacks a strikeout pitch. He’s got the chance to be a back of the rotation starter in the majors, or a bullpen arm. My guess here is that the Pirates are banking on the fact that not a lot of pitchers from below Double-A get drafted and stick on a MLB roster all year.

Jose Osuna – I’m mentioning him here because he’s going to be one of our top 50 prospects this year, and a guy to watch in Altoona. It wasn’t too long ago that he was on the same level as Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, and Willy Garcia. Osuna has fallen behind the other three, but showed some promise with the bat last year. First basemen rarely get drafted, so there isn’t much risk of losing Osuna.

Stetson Allie – I repeat the “first basemen rarely get drafted” line here, and we saw it last year with Allie. This is the second year in a row that he was left unprotected, and I don’t think he did enough in 2014 to change the minds of the other 29 MLB teams to suggest that he’s worth stashing on the bench all year. I like Allie’s power, and think he could reach the majors one day, but he’s not a risk to be drafted.

Mel Rojas – The upside with Rojas is a fourth outfielder who can play all three outfield spots and add speed on the bases. He could be an option for the Pirates this year out of Triple-A as a reserve outfielder, and I would have taken him in that role over Jaff Decker. He wasn’t drafted last year when he went unprotected, but had a much better season in Altoona this year, and decent numbers in Triple-A. He could be a risk to be taken this year, especially if teams view him as a cheap bench player or a future starter.

Keon Broxton – He’s similar to Rojas, with the exception that he didn’t get the call to Triple-A this year. It’s possible Broxton could be taken for the same reasons as Rojas, although Rojas would be the bigger risk to be drafted.

Andy Oliver – The Pirates need lefty relievers, and Oliver is a candidate. However, he’s not a top candidate, as they showed in September by calling up Bobby LaFromboise and leaving Oliver in Triple-A. He went through waivers during the 2014 season, and was unclaimed. So I doubt that a team out there would use a Rule 5 pick on him. I do think he could be an option for the Pirates during the 2015 season as a second lefty. If he goes un-drafted, they would have him in Triple-A all season.

Gift Ngoepe – He’s a strong defensive shortstop who will eventually play in the majors due to his defense at short. However, he went un-drafted last year, and will probably go un-drafted again this year, unless a team is looking for a cheap defensive backup. The Pirates could be one of those teams, although they’ve got options with this week’s signing of Gustavo Nunez to a minor league deal, and today’s waiver claim of Pedro Florimon.

First time Eligibles

Matt Benedict
Orlando Castro
Jason Creasy
Melvin Del Rosario
Miguel Ferreras
Dan Gamache
Deybi Garcia
Ryan Hafner
Jared LaKind
Taylor Lewis
Jhondaniel Medina
Ulises Montilla
Edgardo Munoz
Jose Osuna
Jose Regalado
Maximo Rivera
Oderman Rocha
Carlos Ruiz
Isaac Sanchez
Jonathan Schwind
Bryton Trepagnier
Luis Urena

Previously Eligible

Stetson Allie
Nathan Baker
Collin Balester
Yhonathan Barrios
Ryan Beckman
Jeremy Bleich
Kelson Brown
Keon Broxton
Christopher De Leon
Zack Dodson
Kawika Emsley-Pai
Raul Fortunato
Felipe Gonzalez
Walker Gourley
Deolis Guerra
Justin Howard
Jeffrey Inman
Brad Lincoln
Drew Maggi
Marek Minarik
Joan Montero
Yunior Montero
A.J. Morris
Dovydas Neverauskas
Gift Ngoepe
Gustavo Nunez
Andy Oliver
Clario Perez
Ashley Ponce
Mel Rojas
Tyler Sample
Rinku Singh
Junior Sosa
Josh Stinson
Jose Tabata
Zack Von Rosenberg
Tyler Waldron
Blake Wood

As an addition to the above list, any minor league free agents who are signed before the Rule 5 draft are eligible to be drafted by other teams.

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Pirates Add Four to the 40-Man Roster, DFA Ike Davis http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/keeping-track-of-todays-pittsburgh-pirates-40-man-roster-additions.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/keeping-track-of-todays-pittsburgh-pirates-40-man-roster-additions.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:50:10 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90774 Today is the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the 2014 Rule 5 draft. Yesterday I wrote about the protection process, along with who should be protected this year. The Pirates have until 11:59 PM EST tonight to set their rosters. In previous years, the official announcements have come anywhere from 1 PM to after 9 PM. Usually by this point, the players who will be protected have been notified that they will be added to the 40-man roster, although we don’t usually hear the official confirmation until later.

We’ll be tracking the additions in this post as we hear them, and it will eventually be updated with the official confirmations.

The first player we’ve heard about is Willy Garcia. Pirates Prospects has heard from a source in the Dominican Republic that Garcia will be protected from the Rule 5 draft. We also found the following tweet, which is saying the same thing.

Garcia has a ton of raw power and one of the best outfield arms in the system. He struggles with strikeouts, which is typically a big red flag. However, his power potential is becoming rare in today’s game, and his combination of power and defense could get him to the majors, even if those tools do come with strikeout concerns and a low batting average.

We’ll update when we hear more. In some cases (Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz), we’re just waiting on the formality of news, since it’s a guarantee these guys will be protected. In other cases (Jason Creasy, Mel Rojas) we’re waiting to hear about their status, since that status was up in the air.

UPDATE 5:02 PM: The Pirates claimed Pedro Florimon, which means they only have one open spot on their 40-man roster. They will ned to create at least three more spots, and possibly more if they protect anyone else beyond Taillon, Kingham, Diaz, and Garcia.

UPDATE 7:03 PM: The Pirates have announced that they’ve added Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz, and Willy Garcia to the 40-man roster. They also made the Pedro Florimon move official. To make room, they have designated Ramon Cabrera and Ike Davis for assignment, and have outrighted Brent Morel to Indianapolis. The 40-man roster stands at 40.

UPDATE 7:06 PM: As far as the Rule 5 additions, no surprises from the guys who were added, although the Pirates did leave a few guys off the list. Jason Creasy and Mel Rojas were the two guys I would have protected beyond the four who were added. It’s no guarantee that either player gets drafted. Rojas wasn’t taken last year when he was eligible, and Creasy hasn’t pitched above A-ball.

It seems there was a shortage of roster spots this year, and not just because of guys like Florimon or the other waiver claims they’ve made. If they’re going to add some free agents this off-season, they will need to open more spots on the 40-man. Not to mention, one from the Florimon/Sellers group of claimed infielders will probably get a bench role. From here, the hope would be that the Pirates keep the most talent in the organization. We’ll see if that happens in December when the Rule 5 draft takes place.

As for Davis, I’m a little surprised that he was DFAd. It’s not a surprise that he’s gone, but that it happened so soon. I expected the Pirates to keep him up until the non-tender deadline, and maybe beyond to try and make a trade. They’ll still be able to trade him over the next ten days, although they won’t be looking at much of a return. This signals that their first baseman is currently Pedro Alvarez, which is something that Neal Huntington has said multiple times this off-season.

UPDATE 7:18 PM: The 2015 payroll page has been updated with the moves. The Pirates are at a projected $71.8 M, which is a number much lower than where they were at for most of the off-season, due to the Davis move. This means I no longer have to type the “You can probably remove Ike Davis’ $4.4 M from that figure” disclaimer every time I reference the projected payroll.

UPDATE 7:22 PM: Here are some quick thoughts on what to expect in 2015 from the four guys who were added to the 40-man roster today.

Jameson Taillon – He’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but should be ready to return by the start of the season. He’ll spend some time with Indianapolis, and should be an option for the Pirates by mid-season. He might not be an option for them at the end of the year, or in the playoffs, since they could take the common approach of shutting him down early in his first year back (which the Washington Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg and the Mets plan to do with Matt Harvey).

Nick Kingham – He finished the 2014 season in Triple-A, and should start back there in 2015. He normally has some of the best command in the system, although that didn’t show up at times during the 2014 season. He could be an option for the Pirates’ rotation early in the year if they need depth. His upside is a strong number three starter who can eat 200 innings a year.

Elias Diaz – He’s the future starting catcher with Russell Martin gone, although he will need more time in Triple-A to work on his hitting to show that he can be more than a backup. It’s possible that he could arrive by mid-season in 2015. For that to happen, his bat would have to get him there. The defense is fine, but the Pirates already have two strong defensive catchers, which would make it pointless for them to call Diaz up before his bat was ready.

Willy Garcia – He could go to Altoona again this year, as his strikeouts and lack of walks were a problem. The power is legit, and his defense in right field is outstanding, with one of the best arms in the system. I don’t expect Garcia to arrive in the majors in 2015, although he could reach Triple-A. His value to the Pirates, due to the presence of Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte/Gregory Polanco, might be best as a trade chip if another team sees him as a legit starting option down the line.

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Pirates Claim Pedro Florimon From the Nationals http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-claim-pedro-florimon-from-the-nationals.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/pirates-claim-pedro-florimon-from-the-nationals.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:48:53 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90782 The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed infielder Pedro Florimon from the Washington Nationals, per the Nationals ( via MLBTR). Florimon has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, posting a .565 OPS while playing shortstop. He’s got great fielding numbers, with a 3.8 UZR/150 in his career, and a positive trend. Here are his UZR/150 numbers over the last four years.

2011: -49.4 in 18.2 innings

2012: -8.9 in 367 innings

2013: 4.5 in 1099.2 innings

2014: 23.7 in 224.2 innings

UZR is best when you’ve got multiple years of data to work with, which means his career numbers are the best thing to go by here. However, if these numbers do represent a trend, then Florimon could end up as a better defender than his career numbers indicate.

The Pirates currently need a backup middle infielder who can play shortstop. They had Clint Barmes for that role in the last year and a half, although this off-season they’ve made a lot of waiver claims and smaller moves that look to be trying to fill that position with a cheaper option. Florimon is out of options, which means he’d have to be on the active roster or be placed through waivers. It’s also entirely possible that the Pirates are just adding him in an attempt to try and sneak him through waivers later in the off-season, which is something they’ve done in the past.

Because of the defense, and because the Pirates prioritize defense at shortstop, he looks like a top candidate for their backup middle infield role. However, I don’t expect them to be done adding options.

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Radhames Liz’s Winter League Team Announces His Deal With the Pirates http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/radhames-lizs-winter-league-team-announces-his-deal-with-the-pirates.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/radhames-lizs-winter-league-team-announces-his-deal-with-the-pirates.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:44:37 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90778 The winter league team of pitcher Radhames Liz has announced his agreement to a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Estrellas de Oriente posted this article(link is in Spanish) saying that Liz has agreed to the 2/3M deal and is now in Pittsburgh taking his physical and signing the contract. They also point out that he has regularly hit 97-98 MPH this winter, which is the same velocity he was throwing back when he was a top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles system. The 31-year-old has a 1.90 ERA in five winter ball starts, with a .195 BAA and a 5:29 BB/SO ratio in 23.2 innings.

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Winter Leagues: Two Pirates Players Make Their Winter Debut http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/winter-leagues-two-pirates-players-make-their-winter-debut.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/winter-leagues-two-pirates-players-make-their-winter-debut.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:19 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90759 In the Dominican on Wednesday night, Tony Sanchez caught his second game. He went 0-for-3 at the plate. In his debut on Tuesday, he drew two walks and threw out a runner attempting to steal.

Gustavo Nunez played his first game since signing with the Pirates. He went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, though he drove in his 14th run. He is hitting .267 through 23 games, with nine doubles and two homers.

Edwin Espinal made his winter ball debut as a defensive replacement at first base late in his team’s 2-1 loss. He did not get a chance to bat. Espinal was drafted this year into winter ball, taken 53rd overall. He was the top pick among four Pittsburgh Pirates players picked this year.

Carlos Paulino went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is hitting .316 through ten games. Paulino is still a minor league free agent.

In Venezuela, Jonathan Ramos and Matt Nevarez both pitched for Bravos de Margarita. Ramos got the first two outs of the sixth inning, but not before giving up a hit and a walk. Both runners were left stranded and his ERA dropped to 0.96 through 12 appearances. Nevarez threw 1.1 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two batters. He has a 3.63 ERA in 16 appearances, with 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. Nevarez has held batters to a .150 BAA.

Elvis Escobar made his season debut tonight. He was a late-game defensive replacement, taking over in left field in the ninth inning for Cardenales de Lara. He didn’t get a chance to bat. Last year, Escobar played ten games for Lara, going 3-for-16 at the plate. He was one of the youngest players in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Ramon Cabrera struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He remained in the game behind the plate and dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the ninth that helped his team erase a two-run deficit and win 12-11.

In Mexico, Felipe Gonzalez threw 1.1 scoreless innings, with no hits, one walk and one strikeout. He has now pitched 15 times, posting a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings.

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First Pitch: One of the Busiest Days of the Off-Season For Transactions http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/first-pitch-one-of-the-busiest-days-of-the-off-season-for-transactions.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/11/first-pitch-one-of-the-busiest-days-of-the-off-season-for-transactions.html#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:01:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=90760 The off-season is full of transactions, but in most cases, you never know when those transactions might take place. That’s not the case today. Today is one of about three or four days during the off-season where you know that a specific team is going to be making a transaction. It’s the day to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. I wrote about the decisions the Pirates will have to make, noting that they probably have about six players who could realistically be added.

That will mean the Pirates need to create four roster spots, since they currently only have two open on the 40-man roster. Brent Morel, Chaz Roe, Ramon Cabrera, and Jaff Decker look to be the top candidates to be removed from the 40-man roster. Preston Guilmet and Jake Elmore are two other possibilities. The Pirates will need to eventually clear all of these guys, in order to add a few free agents throughout the off-season.

There’s also the possibility that the Pirates could add someone externally via waiver claim. That could happen tomorrow, or sometime in the next few days. Just like the Pirates waiving people to create roster space for their Rule 5 additions, other teams will be clearing players to protect their own prospects. The next few days will feature the biggest waiver activity period of the off-season, which means the odds of the Pirates making a claim are higher. They’ve been no stranger to that in recent years, making claims in addition to their Rule 5 additions.

I don’t think any of the moves coming up will be major, to the point where they will make a huge impact on the 2015 team. The prospects added to the roster might make an impact, but they’re not really new additions to the team. The best you can hope for is that the Pirates might fill a smaller role, like a bench player or a bullpen arm.

As usual, we’ll have coverage of all of the moves, along with a write up of what to expect in 2015 from the prospects who were protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**Mixed Reports on the Pirates Signing Radhames Liz

**Pirates Need to Protect Players Tomorrow From the Rule 5 Draft; Who Should Be Protected?

**Baseball Prospectus Releases Top Ten Pirates Prospect List

**Winter Leagues: Tony Sanchez Makes Debut, News on Melancon, Polanco and Harold Ramirez

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