The Pittsburgh Pirates have released six minor league players, Pirates Prospects has learned. Included in that group are two Cuban players that each received large bonuses. Outfielder Carlos Mesa and pitchers Axel Diaz, Cesar Lopez, Elvin Ramirez, Kirk Singer and Eliecer Navarro were all let go.
Cesar Lopez signed for $600,000 in September of 2010. He was 19 years old at the time and was said to throw 94 MPH with a good sinker and plenty of projection. When he first started throwing, the velocity numbers were in the mid-80s and he never made it out of A-ball, briefly appearing for the Bradenton Marauders last year. His velocity returned late last year in the West Virginia bullpen, but the overall results were just average.
Carlos Mesa signed for $490,000 in May of 2011 and just like Lopez, he is out of Cuba. Unlike Lopez, Mesa was already 23 when he signed and it didn’t look good when he struggled at State College that year. He was promoted to Bradenton in 2013 and put up poor numbers across the board, hitting .225 with 11 walks and 99 strikeouts in 275 at-bats. Mesa played two Spring Training games with the Pirates this year.
Eliecer Navarro re-signed with the organization this off-season after hitting minor league free agency. He has been in the Pirates system since 2007. Navarro put up huge numbers in 2008 in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the States. He is a soft-tossing lefty with advanced control and good off-speed pitches and pitchers like that tend to excel at the lower levels and stall out at AA. Navarro moved up to Altoona in 2013 and had a 4.52 ERA in 75.2 innings, after spending parts of three years with Bradenton.
Elvin Ramirez was signed as a minor league free agent this off-season. He pitched in the majors with the Mets in 2012, but pitched poorly in the Angels minor league system last year and didn’t receive an invitation to big league camp when he signed.
Kirk Singer was drafted in 2011 as an infielder. His bat never came around, as he put up a .634 OPS in three seasons. His only tool was his plus arm at third base. The Pirates moved him to the mound last year, where he had control issues and a 5.84 ERA in 12.1 innings of relief.
Axel Diaz is a 23-year-old righty, who pitched out of the Jamestown bullpen last year. He had a 3.60 ERA in 30 innings, with 36 strikeouts. He had a decent groundball rate and held hitters to a .250 average, but he also walked 19 batters.