First Pitch: The Pirates’ Roster is Taking Shape

Today the Pittsburgh Pirates cut eight players from Major League camp. There are still 42 players remaining in camp, with Chris Stewart expected to start the year on the disabled list. That means the Pirates still have 16 players to cut, and a little over a week to make those decisions. However, there’s not much mystery surrounding the remaining cuts. Here is a quick rundown of the positions and the remaining players in camp.


Starter – Russell Martin

Bench – Tony Sanchez

Expected Cuts – Nevin Ashley, Omir Santos

Notes – Neal Huntington said today that the Pirates won’t trade for a catcher with Chris Stewart expected to miss only a few weeks. Huntington said that Russell Martin and Tony Sanchez will start the year on the active roster. Chris Stewart is expected to start the year on the disabled list.

First Base

Starter – Andrew Lambo/Gaby Sanchez

Expected Cuts – Travis Ishikawa

Notes – I don’t know if Andrew Lambo has the job locked down, but his case was strengthened today when Chris McGuiness was sent to Indianapolis. It’s worth noting that Lambo has been getting a lot of starts, with McGuiness and Ishikawa playing a lot more later in the game against non-MLB players. I’d expect Ishikawa to eventually get sent down. The only question with Lambo is whether the Pirates decide to add outside help.

Second Base

Starter – Neil Walker

Bench – Open Spot

Bench Candidates – Josh Harrison, Robert Andino, Michael Martinez

Notes – I think Harrison has the inside track here, especially after Brent Morel was sent down today. He can play second, third, outfield, shortstop in a pinch, and has had some success against lefties. However, I could see Andino and Martinez having a real shot at the final bench spot, just because of the playing time they have been receiving.


Starter – Jordy Mercer

Bench – Clint Barmes

Notes – Barmes has been playing more of a utility role this Spring, and will play more of a bench role, with Mercer taking over as the starter.

Third Base

Starter – Pedro Alvarez

Notes – Nothing to note here.


Starters – Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Travis Snider

Bench – Jose Tabata

Expected Cuts – Jaff Decker, Chris Dickerson

Notes – The Pirates are high on Snider, and seem to be going with him as the starter in right field. I don’t expect them to be able to trade Tabata, which means that Decker and Dickerson will probably start the season in Triple-A.

Starting Rotation

Starters – Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez, Edinson Volquez

Expected Cuts – Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton

Notes – I don’t think the Pirates will abandon the Edinson Volquez experiment before the season starts. The only question is whether Francisco Liriano’s injury prevents him from starting the season on Opening Day. Even if that does happen, I don’t see Liriano missing much time, which means Jeanmar Gomez or Stolmy Pimentel could get a start. Brandon Cumpton would be another option.


Starters – Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson

Position Battles – Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, Bryan Morris, Stolmy Pimentel

Expected Cuts – Andy Oliver, Jared Hughes, Jay Jackson, Daniel Schlereth, Adam Wilk, Zack Thornton

Notes – The position battle has three open bullpen spots and four players. One of those guys is expected to be traded by the end of camp. The Pirates could keep all of them if there is an injury.

Remaining Moves

There are three remaining question marks on the roster.

1. Will the Pirates add a first baseman or go with Andrew Lambo in the platoon role? My guess is Andrew Lambo.

2. Which reliever will be traded away? I’m guessing Vin Mazzaro.

3. Who will take the final bench spot between Josh Harrison, Robert Andino, and Michael Martinez? I still think Harrison has an edge.

Links and Notes

**The 2014 Prospect Guide is in stock on the products page of the site. The book features profiles, scouting reports, and grades on every player in the minor league system, including our top 50 prospects. The Prospect Guide has been mentioned as a resource several times on the Pirates’ broadcast, and has been purchased as a source of reference by opposing MLB front office members, opposing scouts, and media members. If it’s a good resource for them, it’s a good resource for you. You can order your Prospect Guide on the products page of the site.

**Pirates Make Eight Roster Cuts, Including Irwin, McGuiness and Morel

**Austin Meadows Expected to Miss the Start of the West Virginia Season. He won’t get a full season in West Virginia, but he should be getting playing time down in Bradenton. Also in this article, Stetson Allie hopes to play a game Sunday.

**Clay Holmes Has Tommy John Surgery. The silver lining here is that he will only miss time from the 2014 season, and will be ready to go in 2015.

**Neal Huntington on Liriano, Morel, Irwin, Locke, Volquez, Bullpen

**Pirates Won’t Trade For a Catcher Following Chris Stewart’s Surgery

**Michael De La Cruz Named Top 20 DSL/VSL Prospect

**Keith Law Releases Top 50 Draft Prospects Ranking

**Draft Prospect Watch: Rodon Gets Outpitched By Stinnett

First Pitch

  • I’ve seen Martinez close up 2X and a bunch on tv this spring…he can definitely play just about anywhere on the field and was excellent at 2B when I’ve seen him…he has hit surprisingly well but nothing in his long past says could put up much more than a .600 ops or so in the majors. With this bunch of guys I think you just go with Harrison and hope he hits .260 or better because there isn’t much to get excited about with these two and andino…at least Harrison provides some speed and pop with his versatility although he is the worst fielder of the 3…they need some offense off the bench!

    • He can’t hit left handed historically and this spring has done a lot with the bunting game from that side to post respectable numbers. He’s nice depth but Harrison can hit lefties and can be used against them at second third and RF where he is very much needed.

  • The Pirates will win at least 85 games, they will win more if they get some help from their top minor leaguers, and more production from SS and 2nd base.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    March 22, 2014 8:59 am

    I kind of thought Andino’s excess playing time was more of a showcase for a possible trade. His throwing has not been impressive and he has no stick. I can’t see the Pirates keeping him in the majors.

    I think also that other teams have asked about Harrison and that is why they are trying other guys at the super utility role. Harrison is the best utility guy they have and would seem to be a shoe-in if he doesn’t get traded.
    Personally I think they would have won a couple more games last year had they started the season with J-Hay instead of Brandon Inge.

  • I agree with your answers on “Remaining Moves”.

  • So….if Travis goes down, who plays 1b for Indy? Or will they rotate 1b/DH?

    • Travis is batting .350 with 3 home runs and much better defense than Lambo. No chance of him staying with the team to platoon with Gaby and sending Lambo down instead?

  • Tim, How has Jeff Locke looked? Would he be an option before Crumpton? Are Gomez and Pimental ready to throw more than 5 innings? Any chance Barmes gets to play second when a left-handed pitcher starts?

    • Crumpton = Cumpton ?

    • Why would you want Barmes starting at 2nd? If they decide to do that Barmes should start at SS and Mercer. Barmes’ is a Major Leaguer only because of his fielding prowess.

  • Boy the bucs really didn’t make any moves this year. Should have kept Byrd. Need a real first baseman and how about a good shortstop. Other than that it looks good. Oh yeah right field is an issue too. Would it kill them to add one bat in the offseason??

    • Is this your 1 st time reading any of Tim’s news and commentary ? Or any other baseball news ?

    • what’s wrong with jordy mercer? he’s perfectly adequate.

  • The sooner NH can admit he made a mistake on Volquez the better off the Pirates will be. If a guy puts you in a situation to lose more often what are you proving if you keep sending him out there.

    • No. Tonight I think his sinker showed improvement and his off-speed pitches displayed promise. He made a couple glaring mistakes- walking Teixeira on 5 and hanging a breaking pitch against McCann- but was a decent outing.

      • honus1…that game was a microcosm of his whole career.

        he is a big tease…I’m with Pie Rat….big mistake signing him.

        • Lee,refresh my memory as I could be wrong,but weren’t you 1 of the folks not too impressed with Gerrit Cole also ?

          • Buster…and I didn’t like AJ….and your point is? 🙂

            Sometimes I am wrong…sometimes I am right.

            But like you and every one else, I have an opinion and I share it. And my opinion is that EV’s signing was a mistake.

            However, according to your logic, I shouldn’t say anything ever again since I was wrong about Cole?

            Really not sure what you’re driving at here? Have YOU ever been wrong? Probably not.

            • Btw, Buster, when I am correct you will NEVER hear me crowing about it (not saying YOU do, but…just making a point).

              However, I am more than happy to admit when I am wrong.

              Are there any other players I was wrong about? I am and still am a big proponent of Mercer, Melancon and others. Perhaps I should mention those, but, like I said, it is not in my nature to crow.

    • he’s clearly still working on very specific things each start. let’s at least see Searage’s finished product for a few regular season starts before we decide that NH should admit that it was a mistake. The Pirates’ front office and coaching staff have at least earned that much from us, haven’t they?

      • And i guess this brings up a point…. what performance from Volquez would make it a “mistake”? what performance would be meh/acceptable? what performance would we consider to be a success?

        i’d say 3.75 ERA is a success, 4.25 is meh, and 4.75 would be mistake territory. that’s reasonable, right?