The Pirates announced they’ve selected catcher Jason Delay onto the major league roster, with reliever Duane Underwood Jr. landing on the COVID-19 injured list in a corresponding move. Pittsburgh also recalled outfield prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba and infielder Hoy Park, optioning outfielder Travis Swaggerty and reliever Aaron Fletcher to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Delay, 27, was a fourth-round senior sign out of Vanderbilt back in 2017. He has spent the past six years in the minor leagues, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. Delay is a career .230/.302/.332 hitter in a bit more than 800 professional plate appearances. He’ll add some depth beyond the primary catching tandem of Tyler Heineman and Michael Pérez.
Smith-Njigba is also up for his first big league look. Pittsburgh added the Dallas native to their 40-man roster to keep him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft, but he’s spent the entire season thus far in Indianapolis. A former 4th-round pick of the Yankees, Smith-Njigba went to the Bucs as part of the January 2021 trade that landed Jameson Taillon in the Bronx. Baseball America has slotted him near the back of the Pirates top 30 prospects in each of the past two years, writing that his combination of bat-to-ball skills and raw power could give him a chance to carve out a role in a corner outfield rotation.
Through 218 plate appearances in Triple-A, Smith-Njigba is hitting .277/.387/.408. He’s walked in a robust 15.1% of his plate appearances against an average 23.9% strikeout rate. The left-handed hitter has only one home run with Indianapolis, but he nevertheless did enough to convince the front office he merited a major league look. He’ll take the active roster spot of Swaggerty, a former first-rounder and another notable prospect who was promoted for the first time on June 4. The South Alabama product appeared in five games, collecting a hit in nine at-bats before being sent down.