The Pittsburgh Pirates released a large group of players on Tuesday. Pirates Prospects was able to get the list of 39 players released, which includes players from all levels of the system. Here’s the full list, along with some notes at the bottom.
Arrieta, Andres F
De la Cruz, Saul
There are obviously some big names on this list. Luis Escobar is the name that stands out the most. He made it up to the Pirates this past season and has some of the best stuff in the system, plus he just turned 24 years old. His control has held him back, though it’s tough to find a better three-pitch mix in the system when he is on. His fastball gets up to 97 MPH, his curve and changeup are both strikeout pitches.
After Escobar, the most surprising name would be Juan Pie, who was their top signing during the 2017-18 international signing period before Ji-Hwan Bae signed in eight months later. Pie had a .661 OPS in 38 games in the GCL last year, along with 1.009 OPS in a four-game trial at Morgantown. He turned 19 back in April.
Jean Eusebio signed for $550,000 in February of 2017. He had a .678 OPS with Bristol last year and he’s still just 19 years old as well.
Conner Uselton isn’t a surprise name here because he’s had troubles since signing, including a major hamstring injury and poor play. He was taken 72nd overall in the 2017 draft and signed a $900,000 bonus. Seemed like a good pick at the time, but it obviously didn’t come close to working out.
Pedro Vasquez is another surprising name here after he pitched well for Altoona last year and had an impressive outing in a spot start with Indianapolis. He has a nice three-pitch mix, similar to Escobar (minus about 4-5 MPH), though better control of his pitches. Two very different pitchers on the mound, with Vasquez working extremely quick and always in control out the mound, while Escobar is better when he doesn’t rush his pitches (which he will do sometimes).
Yordi Rosario was acquired in the Ivan Nova deal. He pitched well in Bristol, though he’s 21 years old and doesn’t have overpowering stuff.
Kyle Mottice is a bit disappointing to see here because he was an non-drafted free agent signing, who performed well, especially at getting on base. He did everything well except hit for power, which was a well below average tool. He made a ton of contact, had outstanding plate patience, above average speed and base running instincts and played a solid second base, which the ability to fill in elsewhere.
Mitchell Tolman had his prospect status sidetracked by a 50-game suspension two years ago. He was a solid all-around player, who made it up to Indianapolis this year. No standout tools, but he did a lot of things right (on the field) and could play both second base and third base well.
Brett Pope showed strong defense and the ability to play multiple positions. He finished terrific at Altoona last year.
Logan Hill had some of the best raw power in the system, but he was older and didn’t do well in a trial at Indianapolis last year. Plus his defense/speed limits him to corner spots.
Samuel Inoa was a legit prospect going into 2018, but he has been injured more than anyone in the system over the years. Mostly minor injuries, though a fastball to the face cost him some major time, and hamstring injuries limited his catching.
Saul de la Cruz has missed a lot of time with injury since signing, but he showed tremendous improvements this past year at Bristol, with better velocity and better off-speed pitches.
Jake Elmore, Charlie Tilson and Sherman Johnson all have big league time to their credit. Dandeneau and Ross were both 2019 draft picks.
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.