The Pittsburgh Pirates made cuts to the Major League Spring Training roster on Tuesday morning, as they work towards getting the Opening Day roster set with nine more days before the seasons begins in Detroit on March 29th. Infielder Max Moroff, IF/OF Christopher Bostick and starter Nick Kingham were optioned to Indianapolis, while they also reassigned eight players to minor league camp. That group included catcher Jackson Williams, infielders Pablo Reyes, Erich Weiss and Eric Wood, outfielder Todd Cunningham and pitchers Brett McKinney, John Stilson and Casey Sadler.
None of the players reassigned to minor league camp were in serious competition for an Opening Day job. Bostick has been mentioned throughout spring as a possibility for a bench role due to his versatility. His chances of winning a spot were very slim due to the players also competing for that last bench spot, but we should see him at some point during the season.
Moroff was competing for the 25th spot on the Opening Day roster with Bryce Brentz, Jordan Luplow and Jose Osuna. He had the advantage over the others as the only one able to play middle infield, though Sean Rodriguez and Adam Frazier will be on the bench and able to fill those roles, so it didn’t help Moroff this spring. We will see Moroff this season in Pittsburgh, likely as the first man up early in the season if an infield spot opens up. With no minor league options left, Brentz has an advantage for that last spot, but there is no indication yet that he has won the job. With Moroff gone now, that increases Brentz’s chances.
As for Indianapolis with Moroff returning, that crowds their infield situation a bit and it could still get worse. Weiss and Wood will also see infield time, as could Bostick, and Reyes was considered a possibility to move up after a strong season at Altoona. With Kevin Newman penciled in as an everyday shortstop, who could see some time at second base, you now wonder if there will be room for Kevin Kramer to move up at the beginning of the season. If Brentz makes the team over Osuna, then it gets even more crowded with Osuna slated to see time at third base.
Kingham was said to be competing for a job, but just like with Bostick, it would have probably taken some injuries and a solid performance for him to make the roster. Kingham did not pitch well this spring, posting an 8.76 ERA in 12.1 innings, allowing 21 hits, while putting up an 8:6 SO/BB ratio. He will be in the Indianapolis rotation and will have a shot to fill a rotation spot for the Pirates if the need should arise a bit later in the season. Assuming Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow make the Opening Day roster (which isn’t a given yet), then they would be able to fill any spot starts early due to being stretched out.
Kingham is using his fourth option, something you rarely see in baseball. The Pirates were granted an extra option with him late last year due to the time he missed with Tommy John surgery in both 2015 and 2016.
Our Spring Training tracker shows the remaining players in camp and their chances of making the team. The current spring roster is down to 37 players.
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.
I remember when the Bucs kept Amos Otis, far beyond his good days, and let go Brian Harper who did some good things for other teams. I vote to keep Osuna and let Brentz go…. though BigB2323 has a point.
Disappointed to see Moroff sent down. I don’t like Brentz or Osuna chosen over Moroff. I don’t like him blocking Kramer – and also think Moroff can be a good bench or starting player… I don’t agree with the sentiment that Frazier can play middle infield. 25th man won’t probably play much but Moroff could pinch run too.