The Pittsburgh Pirates had 16 players reach minor league free agency on Monday. Prior to yesterday, the Pirates were the only team able to negotiate with these players for a 2018 contract, but now all 30 teams are able to sign them. Two of them were covered here already in lefty relievers Wade LeBlanc and Dan Runzler. Both were dropped from the 40-man roster and sent outright to Indianapolis within the last week. The other 14 players are mentioned below along with notes on each one.
Brandon Cumpton – He finally pitched in 2017 after missing the previous two seasons due to multiple surgeries and looked decent despite the missed time. In 37.1 innings split between the top three levels, he had a 3.86 ERA, a 1.77 GO/AO ratio and 33 strikeouts, although the 1.55 WHIP was a little too high. You can’t look too much into the numbers because it was a long layoff, but he still pitched well under the circumstances.
Edwin Espinal – Espinal has received a lot of attention recently because he is hitting well in the Dominican this off-season. He also hit .323 in 35 late season games for Indianapolis, while being named as the minor league Gold Glove winner for all first baseman. Espinal turns 24 next year and hit a career-high 15 homers in Altoona last year. He would appear to be the top target on this list.
Luis Heredia – The Pirates highest bonus international free agent didn’t work out as planned. There were some minor injuries and major conditioning issues, but Heredia seemed to top out in his progress when he was with State College in his second season. Scouts who saw him after that had lesser opinions of him as time went along. He had a decent season with Altoona this year, posting a 3.10 ERA thanks to a .211 BAA and a 1.50 GO/AO ratio, but the walks and strikeout rates could have been better. He had his best velocity (93-96 consistently), albeit in a limited relief role.
Danny Ortiz – He was signed as a minor league free agent prior to 2016 and put up solid numbers at Indianapolis. In 2017, he was re-signed and did the same, though this time he got two brief shots at the majors. He’s an outfield depth option, with solid defense in center field and the ability to play the corner spots. He also has nice power and average speed. He’s a low OBP guy, which keeps him from being a fourth outfield option in the majors.
Tomas Morales – Backup catcher for his entire career, Morales played just 204 games in seven seasons. His defense was solid, but he never hit much. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him re-signed as a depth option for any of the top three levels.
Jonathan Schwind – We have said for the last few years that Schwind seems like someone who will end up as a coach and he started doing a bit of that this season while he was injured. He will likely be back next year, possibly still as a player if he’s not willing to give up the dream yet.
Carlos Munoz – Munoz has hit well in the minors, but he didn’t make it to Bradenton until late this year. The Pirates have been on him for his poor conditioning forever. He has some of the best strike zone judgement in the system and a great ability to make contact. Besides that, he didn’t have much going, with minimal power for a first baseman, average at best defense and below average speed. He’s hitting well this winter in Mexico, but I don’t see him coming back next year.
Alfredo Reyes – Pirates took Reyes in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft two years ago. He has above average speed, strong defense at shortstop and a great arm. He’s also a versatile player due to his athleticism. His problem is that the bat is well behind everything else. I could either see him coming back next year or the next guy…
Anderson Feliz – The Pirates signed Feliz as a minor league free agent two years ago and he looked like a solid Double-A player with versatility. He didn’t quite hit as well in Triple-A though. He can play a lot of positions, which makes him a strong bench player to keep around. He’s more advanced than Reyes, but doesn’t quite have his defense or speed.
Joey Terdoslavich – The Pirates signed Terdoslavich as a free agent last winter and he was a solid player for Indianapolis all season. Didn’t quite put up the numbers to get him a shot at the majors, which is why he remained as a depth option all season.
Jackson Williams – Williams was a depth option at catcher, who was behind Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings at Indianapolis. He ended up seeing a lot of Triple-A time because of injuries, but he never made it to Pittsburgh. He has a couple of brief Major League stints in his past, but was clearly a drop down from Stallings on the depth chart. He is a glove-first player, who was behind both Diaz and Stallings defensively.
Jason Stoffel – A free agent signing over the winter, Stoffel was the first player injured this spring for the Pirates and barely made it back. A shoulder issue kept him out for all but four GCL games, where he saw some struggles. Basically, a lost season for the 29-year-old reliever.
Samuel Gonzalez and Kelson Brown – Both have been coaches recently. They were signed as player/coaches with no intentions of actually playing unless it was an emergency, but that got them enough minor league time to reach free agency. I’d expect both back as coaches next year.