Pittsburgh Pirates Release Seven Minor League Players

Justin Maffei spent five seasons in the minors for the Pirates. Photo Credit: David Hague
Pittsburgh Pirates Release Seven Minor League Players
John Dreker

The Pittsburgh Pirates have released eight minor league players recently. On Monday, Brandon Bingel was released, which we mentioned last night. Seven more players have been released since then. Here’s a quick recap on all of them.

Justin Maffei was a 25th round pick in 2013, who made it as high as Triple-A. Over the last two seasons, he has been used in a limited role, mostly playing where the Pirates need him. In five seasons, he had a .701 OPS in 321 games.

Yoandy Fernandez is probably the most surprising name here. The Cuban-born pitcher played for Morgantown this season, where he had a 2.95 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. He was pitching in Mexico this winter, but hasn’t played in a couple of weeks. While he was older (29 years old), the Pirates controlled his rights for six more seasons, so there was time to see how he could do against upper level hitters. His release may have been something worked into his initial agreement as well.

Hector Garcia was once a lefty pitching prospect until Tommy John surgery and some minor injuries afterwards derailed his career. He pitched well for Bristol in 2014 at 18 years old, but has not been the same since then. He pitched just 45.2 innings over the last three seasons and did not have the same stuff as he did pre-injury.

Chris McDonald and Nick King were both signed as non-drafted free agents last year. That’s always a tough spot to try to make it in the pros. McDonald had some potential due to a big frame and limited pitching experience in college, as he was also a position player. He also pitched well in Bristol this season. King is an athletic infielder, who bounced around between three teams this year, filling in where he was needed.

Angel Vasquez is another pitcher who was derailed by Tommy John surgery. He had solid command and a very strong curveball prior to the injury, but really struggled this year in the GCL. I thought there was a chance he could stick around after finishing with one run on three hits over 7.1 innings in his final two outings, but his upside was still very limited.

Huascar Fuentes is also gone, though I will point out that he may have retired and not been released. He got a late start in pro ball because his family didn’t want him playing baseball. That was followed by an injury that cost him all but five games as a rookie. He played for Bristol this year and had a .688 OPS, with no homers, which was surprising considering the league favors hitters and he has power.

John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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