The Pittsburgh Pirates released right-handed pitcher Ryan Hafner on Sunday. He was with Bradenton this season and pitching poorly, posting a 9.55 ERA and 2.12 WHIP in 14 relief appearances. He was sent to Extended Spring Training at one point, but didn’t do well in his return, ending with four walks in his only inning on Friday. At one point, the 6’6″, 23-year-old looked like he had the chance to be a decent prospect.
Hafner was a 17th round draft pick in 2010 out of high school, signing for a $450,000 bonus. He struggled in 2012 during his first attempt at full-season ball, then turned things around during the 2013 season in West Virginia, where he had success out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Hafner was sitting low-90’s with his fastball and had improved command, which led to a 3.00 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 87 innings.
The jump last year to Bradenton had some shaky outings, but it wasn’t anything nearly as bad as what we saw from him this season. It was enough to drop him out of our top 50 prospect list, but his size/age/velocity still fit that of someone that could turn things around. With the release of Hafner, the Pirates made room on the roster for the debut of Tyler Eppler today.