Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
Where did the year go?
The 2013 minor league regular season is in the books, and the lucky few are currently competing in the playoffs. We've seen a lot of exciting moments during the year. We've also seen a lot of prospects significantly improve their values. To celebrate the best of the best, MLBTR is celebrating the 2013 All-Prospect All-Star Team, which features the top players in the minors at each position. Given the depth at some positions -- as well as the lack there of at others -- this was no easy task.
The players were chosen by considering a mixture of future potential and statistical results.
Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres -- Because of his abilities on both defense and offense, San Diego's catcher of the future narrowly edged out the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. His abilities on both sides of the ball also impressed his employers, according to Padres Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "He has the tools and skill set to impact both sides of the ball... and we are excited about his future with the San Diego Padres," MacDonald said.
Hedges will probably never be the strongest offensive catcher in the league but he won't embarrass himself, either. Behind the plate, he's perhaps the best defensive catcher in the minors if you take everything into consideration: arm, receiving, blocking, game calling and leadership.
First Base: Dan Vogelbach, Cubs -- This position was the hardest one to find a deserving candidate. The Astros' Jonathan Singleton missed the beginning of the year due to a suspension and then struggled with his consistency. The Angels' C.J. Cron failed to consistently tap into his raw power. Vogelbach, just 20, performed well at two A-ball levels and showed the ability to hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a solid clip.
Brandon Hyde, the Cubs' director of player development, said Vogelbach's successes came from hard work. "It was an impressive season with raw power to all fields," he said. "He has an advanced approach for his age, and he controls the strike zone."
Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers -- Second base was another tough position to settle on the winner. The Angels' Taylor Lindsey, Cardinals' Kolten Wong, and Twins' Eddie Rosario also received serious consideration before the award went to Odor. The Rangers' prospect hit more than .300 between High-A and Double-A with a strong OPS and 32 stolen bases -- all at the age of 19. The left-handed hitter also popped 58 extra base hits, including 41 doubles. With all the middle infield depth in Texas, Odor could make things very interesting -- and crowded -- in short order.
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins -- Sano was the runaway winner at third base, although the Cubs' Kris Bryant could give him a run for his money in a year's time (assuming both prospects are still in the minors). The Dominican native launched 35 home runs and produced a .610 slugging percentage. However, he didn't hit for a great average after his promotion from High-A to Double-A, and he combined to strike out 142 times in 123 games, so there are some holes in his game that need to be addressed.
Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs -- There were five players that were considered in this slot, including Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Athletics) and Carlos Correa (Astros). Baez, though, came out ahead when considering his outstanding statistical results and the fact that he has a chance to be as good as any other player on the list. Just 20, he finished the year in Double-A and hit a combined 37 home runs with 20 stolen bases and a .920 OPS.
Hyde was impressed with Baez's ability to make adjustments after being promoted to Double-A. "He hit in the middle of the order on a prospect-laden team. He made huge strides defensively and with his plate discipline," Hyde said. "He has a unique combination of raw power, speed and off-the-charts instincts, especially for a 20 year old in Double-A."
Outfielder: George Springer, Astros -- Springer, 23, had an eye-popping season while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He narrowly missed becoming a 40-40 player (HR-SB) with 37 homers and 45 steals while playing at the highest levels of the minors. Springer's approach produces massive strikeout numbers, but he showed improvements in that area as the year progressed.
The prospect impressed the club's front office not only with his play but also his attitude, according to Quinton McCracken, the Astros director of player development. "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism... He's a very special player," he said.
Outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins -- Buxton was the biggest no-brainer on this list. Just 19 and in his first full pro season, the five-tool outfielder played at two A-ball levels while hitting more than .330 and producing double digits in doubles, triples and homers. He also got on base at a .424 clip, stole 55 bases in 74 tries and played above-average defense in centerfield. The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and could be a massive threat in two to three seasons.
Outfielder: Gregory Polanco, Pirates -- Polanco edged out a few other players because, at a very young age, he showed a five-tool approach and had an impact in numerous areas. The 21-year-old outfielder showed that he may one day develop into a 20-20 or perhaps even a 30-30 player. After beginning the year in A-ball, he ended the season in Triple-A.
Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said the most impressive thing about Polanco's growth has been his maturity. "He has fit into each clubhouse and added value to the culture of each club that he's been on," Broadway explained. "He continues to approach the game with a learner's mentality and is always looking to find a way to get better. He's not afraid to make a mistake in the process, which has allowed him to progress well in all areas of his game."
Starting Pitcher: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks -- Bradley and Dylan Bundy grew up playing baseball together, but the former passed the latter on top prospect lists after the Orioles' prospect blew out his elbow. Just 20 years old, Bradley spent the majority of the year in Double-A and finished the season with a combined ERA of 1.84 and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings of work. He also allowed just 115 hits.
Starting Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners -- Utilizing a strong fastball and excellent breaking ball, Walker, who just turned 21 on Aug. 13, made older competition look foolish as he produced outstanding numbers in Double-A and Triple-A before earning his MLB promotion. The right-hander struck out 160 batters in 141 1/3 innings while allowing just 112 hits.
Chris Gwynn, the Mariners director of player development, said Walker is oozing talent but he's also an extremely hard worker. "Going into the offseason last year he realized there were some things he needed to work on to get better," Gwynn said, listing fastball command (down in the zone, to both sides of the plate) and improved secondary pitches as two of those things. "Coming into this season he was a man on a mission... and had a dominant season in Double-A and Triple-A didn't phase him. It shows he wants it really bad."
Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, Mets -- Jameson Taillon (Pirates), Kevin Gausman (Orioles) and Robert Stephenson (Reds) also received consideration as the one of the top pitchers in the minors but the final spot went to the Mets' prospect. Syndergaard showed a rare combination of power (his fastball can tickle triple digits) and control when he struck out 133 batters in 117 2/3 innings and issued 28 free passes. Just 20, the Texas native finished the year with 11 starts at the Double-A level.
Reliever: Steve Geltz, Rays -- It's hard to find a worthy reliever because many of the best MLB bullpen aces originally come from the starting ranks. Geltz, though, is still only 25 years old and he was the hardest pitcher to hit in Triple-A (minimum 50 innings) by allowing a batting-average-against of just .152. That mark was actually the seventh lowest in the entire minor leagues. His strikeout percentage (31.3 percent) was good for 12th in Triple-A ball. Not bad for a player that went undrafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2008.
Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no qualms about blocking potential August trades by making waiver claims, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes (via Twitter). Ryan says he was surprised that Marlon Byrd -- who's having a strong season and makes a paltry $700K -- made it all the way through waivers until the Pirates claimed him. The Reds, for example, had waiver priority on the Pirates and might well have chosen to claim Byrd, both because Byrd would have cheaply improved their own team and also to prevent the rival Pirates from getting him. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Cardinals are the first big-league team that will have to figure out how to stop Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Max Schmetzer of MLB.com writes. Of course, that means that the basestealing phenom will have to battle against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. "We have film on [Hamilton]," says Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We're not going to ask the pitchers to be quicker on him or the catchers to throw quicker." Before the season, Hamilton was ranked the No. 20 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 30 by ESPN's Keith Law. Even in a disappointing 2013 season, Hamilton managed to swipe 75 bases for Triple-A Louisville.
- Reliever Michael Blazek spent several days in "limbo" before being shipped from the Cardinals to the Brewers in the John Axford deal, Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth of MLB.com write. The Cards technically optioned Blazek to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, but he was actually just waiting in his hotel in St. Louis, presumably to be called up when rosters expanded on Sunday. Instead, in his third day away from the team, he learned he was headed to Milwaukee.
- Daniel Bard was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox, but claiming him on waivers could be a tricky proposition, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. That's because the claiming team would have to decide by early December whether to take Bard to arbitration, where he would receive a minimum of about $1.5MM next year. That might be a lot to pay a player who appears to be nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2009 through 2011, when he was a solid relief option.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Here are a few notes on the Pirates and Cardinals, and their race (along with the Reds) for the NL Central crown.
- The Pirates' surprising season has come, in part, as the result of bold drafting and good offseason decisions, the New York Times' Tyler Kepner writes. Picking Scott Boras clients Pedro Alvarez and Gerrit Cole early in drafts has paid off, and last winter's acquisitions of Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano (via free agency) and Mark Melancon (via the Joel Hanrahan trade) have done wonders for the Bucs. Kepner says that GM Neal Huntington's offseason was the best of any GM in baseball.
- The Pirates' improved farm system allowed them to make late-August deals for Marlon Byrd, John Buck and Justin Morneau, Huntington tells Peter Gammons. "In previous years, our system wasn’t developed and built enough to be able to make these deals," says Huntington. "Now we are, and because we are we didn’t have to trade a Jameson Taillon or our top young players." The Pirates did trade for Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick down the stretch in 2011, and Wandy Rodriguez, Gaby Sanchez and Chad Qualls in 2012, so it's not as if mid-season deals for veterans are totally new to them.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak opened himself to second-guessing when he let the August trade deadline pass without acquiring a starting pitcher, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes. The Cards had interest in Dan Haren of the Nationals, but thought his price was too high. The Cardinals did acquire John Axford from the Brewers, but Miklasz points out that they had to give up a young, live arm in Michael Blazek to do it.
- One reason Mozeliak didn't acquire a starter is that he's happy with youngsters Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons as rotation stopgaps, Miklasz writes. The Cards' starters have struggled recently, which makes Miklasz wonder whether the team will change its rotation to arrange more starts for those stopgap pitchers.
Royals pitcher Ervin Santana tops the list of free-agents-to-be who have improved their stock this season, says ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required, and recommended). Santana, who has a 3.19 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in a breakout 2013 season, was No. 7 on Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings last month. On the flip side, Olney argues that Josh Johnson and Mike Morse have seen their stock dip further than any other 2013-14 free agents, although he also lists eight more. Here are some of Olney's thoughts on the past week's trades.
- The Pirates' deals for Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau made sense in part because they aren't sure when left fielder Starling Marte will be able to return from his hand injury. The right-handed Byrd and the left-handed Morneau also give the Pirates plenty of platoon options at the corner positions.
- The Twins' decision to trade longtime star Morneau allows them to avoid questions during the offseason about whether they will re-sign him, Olney says. Dealing Morneau with a month left in the season thus helps Morneau to leave Minnesota gracefully.
- The Cardinals will see if they can help new arrival John Axford improve. If he doesn't, the Cards could non-tender him during the offseason, but if he does, he could be a "tremendous weapon" the St. Louis bullpen in 2014.
Reliever Vic Black did not suspect he would be headed to the Mets as the player to be named in the Marlon Byrd deal with the Pirates, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes. "It never crossed my mind," Black says. Black notes that his goal is to close in the big leagues, saying that he has the aggressive mentality necessary to be a closer. He also has closer-type stuff, with a plus fastball and a slider. Black had a 2.51 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 Triple-A Indianapolis this season. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The loss of Black and, potentially, Duke Welker (who may or may not be headed to the Twins as the PTBNL in the Justin Morneau trade) will add more uncertainty to a Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis roster that has already had more than its share of flux. Brian Peloza of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that the Pirates have promoted 18 different players from Indianapolis this season, more than other NL playoff contenders. Those players include Black, Welker, Alex Presley (the other player included in the Morneau deal), and top prospect Gerrit Cole.
- The Phillies believe that Rob Rasmussen, the pitcher they received when they traded Michael Young to the Dodgers, could end up as a reliever, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer reports. "He's starting now, but he could be a guy later on who could pitch in the bullpen," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says. "Lefthanders are always valuable. He's viewed as a really strong makeup kid with a big arm." Rasmussen, 24, had a 2.55 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Double-A Chattanooga in 2013, although he struggled in 54 1/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.
- Connecticut native and Massachusetts resident John McDonald is happy that a trade to the Red Sox brought him home, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. "[G]rowing up in New England, and getting to play in Fenway, and to put this uniform on today, it’s pretty awesome," McDonald says. The Red Sox will be the fourth team the infielder has played for this season, having also suited up for the Pirates, Indians and Phillies.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno needs to share his plan to rebuild the team with superstar outfielder Mike Trout, argues the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. Trout will be close to free agency by the time it will become possible for the Angels to return to contention, at least on a regular basis, Shaikin says.
- The Rockies need to acquire a veteran starter in the offseason, and they also need bullpen help and a right-handed power bat, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes. Nonetheless, Renck suggests that the improvements in the Rockies' rotation this year (their 2013 starters have a 4.37 ERA, compared to a 5.81 ERA in 2012) suggest that the team is heading in the right direction.
SUNDAY: Twins GM Terry Ryan would not confirm Welker is the PTBNL saying the Pirates will choose the player from an agreed upon list, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
SATURDAY, 8:49pm: The PTBNL is pitcher Duke Welker, MLB sources tell Tom Singer of MLB.com. Welker, 27, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a brief stint with the Pirates earlier this season, his first with a major league club. In the minors, the 6-foot-7 right hander has a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate this year.
1:24pm: The Pirates have made a second bold August trade, acquiring first baseman Justin Morneau from the Twins in exchange for outfielder Alex Presley and cash or a player to be named later. After Pittsburgh traded for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, the NL Central-rival Cardinals responded with a deal for John Axford. Today, the Bucs sent another volley and left no question that they intend to raise the Jolly Roger over the division this year.
Morneau, 32, is in the midst of a hot streak after starting the year slowly. His .836 OPS and nine home runs during the month of August have raised his composite triple slash line to .250/.315/.426. Of course, Morneau has never returned to the form he showed between 2006-2010, when he was one of the league's more productive hitters. Nevertheless, he has been swinging a big stick of late and his left-handed power bat could play up at PNC Park.
Presley is a 28-year-old outfielder who saw only limited action with the Pirates this year, putting up a .264/.274/.389 line in 73 plate appearances. While he registered a strong .804 OPS in 231 plate appearances as a 25-year-old in 2011, that has proved so far to be a flash in the pan, as Presley managed only a .237/.279/.405 line when given a chance to play more frequently in 2012. Presley will be under control for league-minimum salary next season. While he does not offer a ton of upside at this point in his career, Presley is probably the kind of player that it makes sense for the Twins to take a chance on.
Of course, the biggest impact from this deal is on the Pirates' intense pennant race with the Cardinals and Reds. By adding the left-handed bat of Morneau, the Bucs now have ample platoon options between first base and the third outfield spot. The team can now use a combination of Garrett Jones and Morneau against righties, and then trot out Byrd and Gaby Sanchez for southpaws.
Morneau, who is set to become a free agent in the coming off-season, had cleared waivers when no team was apparently willing to take on the remainder of his $14MM salary this year. With the Pirates now willing to pay full boat and kicking in a return, however marginal, the Twins were seemingly rewarded for holding onto Morneau at the non-waiver trade deadline and allowing him to re-establish his value. Of course, Minnesota also paid his salary for an additional month, and now will only save a bit over $2.2MM on the end of the deal.
The team apparently chose to move the lifetime Twin rather than re-signing him, but could still bring Morneau back via free agency in the coming off-season. Having already determined that it would only extend Morneau at a much lower price than his current deal, however, Minnesota does not figure to dangle significant money.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal on Twitter. Jon Heyman was first to report (on Twitter) that Minnesota would also receive a player to be named later or cash. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Twitter that the Twins were only interested in re-signing Morneau at a lower price.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images/Rick Osentoski.
In an open letter published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, new Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau reflects on his time in Minnesota and thanks the club's fans. "I am sorry that during my time here we weren't able to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Series, but I will forever carry many wonderful memories of my time here," Morneau wrote. Here's more on the trade that sent the slugger to Pittsburgh:
- La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune weighs in on the trade, noting that the deal appears like a sell low moment for Minnesota since the player to be named later likely won't be a top notch talent. Morneau's ten-and-five rights are set to kick in next season and one person close to the deal told Neal that might have played a role in the deal since it would have been tougher to deal him if he played out the season and wound up re-signing.
- Newly acquired outfielder Alex Presley will get plenty of opportunities to lead off and play center field for the Twins this September, manager Ron Gardenhire tells Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (Twitter link). In a video tweeted by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, GM Terry Ryan calls Presley a "catalyst-type guy."
- In another video clip tweeted by Berardino, Ryan says the trade "might be a good move" for Justin Morneau, noting that the Pirates are likely to make the playoffs.
- Ryan adds that neither the Twins nor Morneau made an attempt at putting together a last-minute extension before the trade, according to Berardino in another tweet.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that he feels the trade "allows [Pittsburgh] an opportunity to play deep into October," according to the Pirates Twitter feed.
Russ Canzler has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis after being designated for assignment earlier in the week, MLBTR has learned. He was designated to make room on the roster for Marlon Byrd and John Buck (Kyle McPherson was transferred to the 60-day DL in a related move).
The 27-year-old Canzler has a .253/.345/.379 batting line with 12 homers in 516 plate appearances between the Orioles' and Pirates' Triple-A affiliates this season. Pittsburgh acquired Canzler from Baltimore in exchange for former top prospect Tim Alderson on July 12. Canzler saw 97 plate appearances at the big league level with the Indians in 2012 and batted .269/.299/.398 with three homers.
In what was a hectic offseason for the utility man, he was claimed off waivers on four separate occasions: the Blue Jays claimed him from the Indians on Dec. 21 only to have the Indians claim him right back on Jan. 2. Two days later, the Yankees claimed him from Cleveland before the Orioles claimed him for the final time on Feb. 5. In parts of three seasons at Triple-A, Canzler has slashed .278/.358/.467 with 52 homers while seeing time at first base, third base and both corner outfield positions.
With the clock ticking on the August revocable waiver trade market, here are the latest updates ...
- Outfielder Michael Morse, who is suited up but not in the lineup for the Mariners tonight, is "almost certain" to join the Orioles in the immediate future, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The O's claimed Morse earlier today, giving the teams two days to work out a deal (or for Seattle to pull Morse back or allow Baltimore to assume his contract without compensation). As Baker explains, Morse no longer appears to be in the team's future plans, leaving little reason for the club to hold onto him. Just over $1MM remains on Morse's $6.75MM salary for this season.
- The Padres pulled back third baseman Chase Headley after he was claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While that news is hardly surprising, given that Headley was reportedly placed on waivers back on August 20th, it does confirm that Headley did not clear waivers and will no longer be available this season. Headley, who will be entering his final season of team control, has failed to repeat his strong 2012 season but remains an attractive player going forward. Heyman notes that the Pads are expected to explore a multi-year extension with the 29-year-old over the coming off-season, and estimates that he could command a five-year, $75MM deal.
- The Red Sox could look to pick up a right-handed bullpen piece before Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Manager John Farrell said that he is not concerned about the pen, but added that "if there's someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that." On the other hand, Britton notes, a returning Clay Buchholz will likely allow the club to move righty Ryan Dempster to the bullpen. You may recall that Dempster once served as the Cubs' closer back in 2005-2007.
- While the Orioles have been busy making waiver claims, the Pirates have been the most aggressive team over the course of August, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the club recently added Marlon Byrd and John Buck, making further acquisitions seem unlikely. On the other hand, the Bucs are reportedly still interested in first baseman Justin Morneau.
WEDNESDAY, 5:34pm: Black is in fact the PTBNL in the deal, Rosenthal tweets.
WEDNESDAY, 5:09pm: Triple-A reliever Vic Black is a strong possibility to be the PTBNL heading from the Pirates to the Mets, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Black is currently on waivers, but if he is the PTBNL, the Pirates can just pull him back and send him to the Mets at the end of the season rather than right away (Twitter links). In 46 and 2/3 Triple-A innings this season, Black owns a 2.51 ERA with 63 Ks and 21 BBs.
Baseball America rated Black as the Bucs' 16th best prospect heading into this season. Black, who was drafted 49th overall by the Pirates in 2009, began his pro career as a starter but was plagued by control issues and converted to a reliever in 2011. BA writes that if he can get his walks under control, he has the stuff close in the majors.
8:33am: The Mets also sent the Pirates $250K in the trade, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). That would mean the Pirates are paying just under $1MM -- roughly $980K -- for Byrd and Buck over the remainder of the season.
TUESDAY: The Pirates are likely headed for their first playoff berth since 1992, and they made sure to bolster their roster accordingly by acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Both teams have announced the trade.
Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that in the wake of Matt Harvey's injury, the Mets were exploring trade options and had placed five players on waivers, including Byrd, Buck and Pedro Feliciano. Byrd (pictured on the right) was claimed by an unnamed NL team shortly thereafter, which clearly was the Pirates. It's unclear whether Buck cleared waivers or was also claimed by the Pirates following a season-ending injury to backup catcher Michael McKenry.
Byrd, who turns 36 on Friday, is having a surprising career year despite his age. In 464 plate appearances, he's batting .285/.330/.518. His 21 homers and 136 OPS+ are both career-bests. Byrd is no longer a regular center fielder (just two games there in 2013), but his defense in right field grades out to a solid +6.6 UZR/150, and The Fielding Bible pegs him at nine runs saved. Pirates right fielders have batted just .245/.307/.368 this season, and their right field defense ranks 24th in baseball, according to UZR, so Byrd's bat and solid glove will be welcome additions in the Steel City.
Byrd is also owed just $130K for the remainder of the season before he hits free agency, so he's an affordable upgrade for the Pirates, financially speaking. Given that salary, it's a surprise to see that the Reds didn't place a claim to block the Pirates from acquiring him. Cincinnati is just 3.5 games out of first in the NL Central while the Pirates are a half-game back of the Cardinals. All three NL Central teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but the Reds and Pirates would face each other in the one-game Wild Card playoff.
Buck, 33, has cooled off considerably following a meteoric start that saw him club 10 homers in his first 25 games (23 starts). Since May 1, he's hitting just .206/.290/.302 with six homers, and he's owed $1.1MM. However, with McKenry out for the season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, his pop and veteran leadership should be welcome additions for Pittsburgh. Buck has also caught a strong 30 percent of potential base-stealers.
Herrera, 19, is having a strong season at Class-A West Virgina. The Colombian infielder is hitting .265/.330/.421 with 11 homers and 11 stolen bases in 479 plate appearances. Herrera ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Pirates system prior to the season, according to Baseball America, and his solid play in 2013 has him currently ranked 11th among Pirates prospects by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
In their scouting report, BA noted that Herrera has plus speed and surprising power for someone of his size (he's listed as 5'10" and 150 pounds) with the ability to hit the ball to all fields. BA feels that his lack of arm strength will limit him to second base, and Mayo agrees. Mayo adds that Herrera had no problem adjusting to the game after coming to the United States, and he projects an above-average hitter and well-above average runner. Mayo also ranked Herrera as the ninth-best second base prospect in all of minor league baseball.
ESPN's Adam Rubin was the first to report that Byrd and Buck were headed to Pittsburgh (on Twitter), and MLB.com's Anthony DiComo was the first to break that the Pirates were giving up Herrera and a PTBNL (also on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.