The Pirates have released first baseman John Nogowski and outfielder Ka’ai Tom, relays Mike Persak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Both players had been with Triple-A Indianapolis after being outrighted last month. Each of Nogowski and Tom would have qualified for minor league free agency this offseason if not reselected to the 40-man roster before the end of the year. The Pittsburgh front office evidently determined neither player was in line for a promotion, so they’ve elected to cut both loose a few weeks early.
Pittsburgh acquired Nogowski from the division-rival Cardinals for cash considerations in early July. He tallied 143 plate appearances with Pittsburgh but scuffled after a hot start, ultimately posting just a .233/.301/.310 line. After being outrighted to Indianapolis, Nogowski hit an impressive .259/.406/.352 with thirteen walks and only ten strikeouts in 69 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter has shown that strong on-base ability throughout much of his minor league career, and he owns a .269/.388/.423 slash over 680 career trips to the dish at Triple-A.
Tom has spent the bulk of his career in the Indians’ organization. The A’s selected him in the Rule 5 draft last winter but bumped him from the big league roster after just nine games. The Pirates claimed Tom off waivers and gave him a bit more run, but the 27-year-old only managed a .152/.308/.261 showing in 117 plate appearances with the Bucs. Pittsburgh designated him for assignment and passed him through waivers.
Rule 5 draftees have to be kept on the MLB roster (or injured list) for the entirety of their rookie season or offered back to their original organization. The Pirates offered Tom back to Cleveland once he cleared waivers, but the Indians declined to bring him back into the system. He instead reported to Indianapolis but continued to struggle, hitting .190/.299/.310 in 67 plate appearances before being released.