After a strong winter in Venezuela, reliever Jorge Julio has signed a minor league contract with the Pirates and received an invitation to Spring Training, reports César Augusto Márquez at the Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes (link in Spanish). However, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates did not invite the pitcher to Spring Training (Twitter link).
Julio last pitched in the majors for the Brewers in 2009, when his longstanding control problems led to his release after just 15 appearances. Julio never stopped throwing hard or getting strikeouts, though, and his 2010 full-season campaign with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League was a success. He struck out 57 batters in 55 innings without allowing a home run, on his way to a 1.15 ERA. This winter with the Tiburones de La Guaira, Julio has again seemed to be in control, as he managed a 1.95 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 27 innings.