San Francisco Giants Claim Engelb Vielma Off Waivers from Pirates

Shortstop Engelb Vielma has been claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. The Pirates traded away Shane Carle yesterday, so both players who were designated for assignment after the Gerrit Cole trade are no longer in the system. Vielma was selected off waivers by the Pirates from the Philadelphia Phillies back on December 11th.

The 23-year-old shortstop is a gifted defender, but he has a career .618 OPS in the minors, including a .493 mark over 87 games in his first trial at Triple-A. He had a .613 OPS over 34 games this winter in Venezuela, then batted .292 in seven playoff games.

With Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer likely both seeing time at shortstop for Indianapolis, plus Erich Weiss and Eric Wood also taking up infield spots, there didn’t seem to be a good spot for Vielma. That doesn’t even include the possible promotions of  Wyatt Mathisen or Pablo Reyes from Altoona, or Christopher Bostick seeing infield time, and even Max Moroff if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster for the Pirates. As far as losses go, this one has very little impact.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Like the “Kevin’s” reference, but something has to happen quickly with infielders (3B, SS, 2B) at the upper levels. Right now we have 7 guys at AAA/AAAA, who are all 25 or will turn 25 this year, and we just added Colin Moran making it 8. A few may establish themselves in MLB, but most are just going to be dead-ended at AAA, and keeping them all will just impede the progress of younger, more talented players.

At AA this year we will have Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Valerio and Alemais are right behind them. I think Newman will come up as soon as possible in 2018 and play 2B opposite Jordy Mercer. Sign Mercer to a team-friendly extension as our Utility IF after we unload Rodriguez, and keep him at SS until Tucker is ready. Why Mercer? He can help Bell, Newman, Moran, and Tucker and he has experience playing every IF position coming up through the Pirate system. He fought his way through that system to earn that SS position, and he is well respected.


Why would Mercer want to sign a contract as a part time utility player when he’s in his prime as at least an average starting major league shortstop? I would think such a situation would be a fallback position for him after 2018 at best.


Jordy Mercer will be 32 years old.


I watched to the 2013 NLDS last night to punish myself for being an apologist. As I was watching though I forgot Mercer & Barmes split time and JHay was solely a bench player. So I expect the Pirates to take a similar approach and have Newman, Moroff, etc. come in splitting time, bench roles.



(This comment represents my ceiling as an internet commenter. This is it. There’s no getting better than this. You might as well ignore everything else I write from now on. It won’t measure up to this.)

Ron Zorn

That was great

Bill W

Not bad! Pretty Pretty Good

eric i

Off topic but, I wonder if the Pirates will use all that remaining international bonus money to make a run at Julio Pablo Martinez? He might be made a free agent during this signing period. If not I don’t understand why they received bonus money from the Giants.

eric i

Thanks John. I like the idea of trading the pool money. And obviously they have used more of it than I’ve realized or than we even know.


Oh, yeah, that’s not a bad idea. I hadn’t thought of that. I was hoping myself they were going to try to be especially ambitious with their bonus money this signing period, no longer deluded by Gayo’s diamond in the rough strategy. Look for a diamond in a diamond mine every now and then.

I love metaphors.

Mike G

First Bonds, then Cutch, now Engelb! Will there be no end to this larceny?


Forgot Jason Schmit, but we did get even we took Matt Morris & Ryan Vogelsong off them!!!

IC Bob



Vielma, we hardly knew ya.
No wait a minute, we never did know ya.
It’s all about the Kevins anyway.


You know I’m here for the Kevins.

New draft strategy: all Kevins.

eric i

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It brings me immeasurable joy that the first person who upvoted this was Kevin.
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eric i

NH is killing it on waivers! John, nice you got a shout out on mlbtr

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