The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed RHP Jeremy Hefner from San Diego and C Brian Jeroloman from Toronto, the team just announced. Catcher Matt Pagnozzi has been outrighted to Indianapolis. That leaves four open spots on the 40-man roster for Rule 5 candidates to be protected.
Hefner pitched for the Padres’ AAA affiliate in 2011, putting up a 4.98 ERA and a 120:61 K/BB ratio in 157.1 innings. The right hander turns 26 in March, and throws an 89-91 MPH fastball that tops out at 93, along with a slider, and a changeup. All three pitches grade as average. He was the 15th best prospect in the Padres’ system according to Baseball America prior to the 2011 season. He profiles as a back of the rotation starter.
Jeroloman hit for a .240/.335/.295 line in 271 at-bats in the PCL last year, which was down from his .265 average and .876 OPS between AA and AAA in 2010. He was the 12th best prospect in Toronto’s system prior to the 2009 season. He excels defensively with good hands, good blocking skills, good communication with his pitchers, and a pop time consistently in the 1.9 range. He profiles more as a backup catcher due to his bat, and will likely take Pagnozzi’s role as the emergency catcher out of AAA.
Pagnozzi has been outrighted to AAA and is eligible for minor league free agency if he chooses to decline the outright assignment. He was originally claimed by the Pirates in September.