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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Pirates Send John Holdzkom and Two Others to the Minors

The Pittsburgh Pirates have cut the following players from Major League camp, sending each player to the minors.

John Holdzkom – Optioned to Triple-A

Rob Scahill – Optioned to Triple-A

Blake Wood – Reassigned to Minor League Camp

The only one that might be a surprise here was Holdzkom. He looked good last year in his limited time in the majors, and probably has some of the best stuff in the bullpen. However, he has options remaining, and the Pirates have a shortage of roster spots. With Holdzkom going down, they can create a spot for Arquimedes Caminero, who seems like a lock to make the team now.

“I knew it was a possibility, so I was ready for it,” Holdzkom said, noting that he was aware of the option situation. “I’ve just got to keep working hard, and hopefully they’ll need me sometime.”

The Pirates will absolutely need Holdzkom at some point this season, and probably sooner, rather than later.

As for Scahill, he showed good stuff in camp, but since he had options remaining, he had no shot of making the team. The same could be said of Blake Wood, who wasn’t on the 40-man roster, and could easily be assigned to minor league camp. All three relievers will give the Pirates some strong bullpen depth out of Triple-A this year, which is something they didn’t have for most of last year.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel

Maybe holding on to Pimentel as long as possible trying to make a trade.


Lots of folks getting upset because the Pirates are doing the prudent thing by protecting their assets. I have no doubt in the big picture being a part of the opening day roster is irrelevant compared to the importance of having as much quality depth as possible.

For those of you in the pitchfork crowd, don’t fret Holdzkom will be a vital part of the Pirates bullpen sooner than later. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts on it.

Luke sutton

Depth is also key since they almost always use guys in AAA in the bigs at some point and get some of them pretty solid innings. Hughes being a good example of a guy who is in AAA at some point but still gets 50+ innings.

Steel City Scotty

So…it looks like Melancon, Watson, Worley, Bastardo, Liz and Caminero are locks for the bullpen, and the final spot will go to either Hughes or Pimentel.

If they want to keep as many players as possible in the organization, Stolmy will get the nod, and Hughes’ option will be used…but I have a feeling that wouldn’t be a very popular decision around here…

Bill Harvey

So the only bullpen option left that has options is Hughes. There is no way he would have been kept around this long if they weren’t going to keep Pimentel and option him. I fully understand the lovefest with Pimentel’s stuff, but at some point you need to see results. At this point I am not sure we will ever see those results.

I will give Huntington the benefit of the doubt right now, but if I were to be totally honest, I do not like the makeup of the bullpen. Liz, Caminero, and Pimentel have all been less than stellar with the chances they have been given. I am not sure Worsley’s stuff plays at all out of the bullpen. They seem to be trying to “fix” Bastardo, and I didn’t even know he was broken.

I guess as long as our pitchers go seven innings every day it won’t be much of an issue.


Think back to how they handled the out-of-option arms just last year…


Pirates bet Hughes is regression-proof, option better pitcher to minors.

Dante Moreno

Pirates have enough power arms in the pen, Hughes represents a situational groundball/double play guy


For one, that isn’t a thing that exists.

And second, Holdzkom himself is likely to generate ground balls at a rate within 10% of Hughes on top of striking out about 10% more of the batters he faces.

Luke sutton

Im not sure we can really say “likely” with Holdzkom either way. Such a SSS really makes assumption pretty unsure. If his control sticks (as it has for the most part this spring) he is a solid bet, but its not exactly a sure thing that stick or that he is a high GB rate guy.


Of course it’s not a “sure thing”. We’re talking about baseball, and relievers at that.

But if we’re going down the :sure thing: rabbit hole, you sure as hell better be looking at that .246 BABiP from Hughes last year as well. That regresses and he’s simply not a very useful reliever at all.

R Edwards

This move better not be to create room for Pimentel….if it does, I am very disappointed in the Pirates management – that would be making the same dumb move 2 years in a row!

Dante Moreno

Pimental will be the guy who eats innings in throw away games, Holdzkom is to valuable and every pen needs a throw away game guy

R Edwards

So, we’re keeping him because he is so bad, he is only capable of pitching in games that are blow outs? Do you realize what you’re saying? How many times is there a need for such a pitcher, and how many other games will this strategy hinder Hurdle like it did last year – when he was saddled with Pimentel and Frieri??

Chris Hale

Well I was about to tell you there was no chance Pimentel makes this team and he would have to clear waivers, but then I heard they are saying Pimentel has re-joined the conversation with is performance the last couple times. Holdzkom is taking it pretty hard it sounds like.
It sounds like..Melancon.Watson,Bastardo,Liz,Caminero,Worley, and either Pimentel or Hughes

R Edwards

Those were the kind of decisions that cost them the division last year…Holdzkom should be irate, if they keep Pimentel over him


I think these roster moves seem suspect from the outside, but your 5th and 6th bullpen options aren’t costing you the division.


Except that Holdzkom very likely is *not* the 5th or 6th best pitcher.


Updated for this season, your 3rd or 4th best reliever is very likely not going to cost you the division.

R Edwards

They certainly played a part in losing the division last year, between blown games and overtaxing and overusing the other relievers…..


So if the Pirates kept Mazzaro and cut Pimental the Pirates would have won the division? I’m not a fan of this type of exercise it assumes all positive performance as a constant and if this or that bad performance could be changed, the outcome would be different.

R Edwards

No, if they kept Morris, cut Pimentel, and not used Frieri as they did, they would have won the division. We only finished 2 games out? The mistakes in managing the bullpen personnel cost us probably 3-5 games.

Luke sutton

“If they kept Morris” which most fans werent arguing for at the time. Most fans were irate that they kept giving Morris chances in games that werent blowouts. Fair to say he may have had just SSS bad play, but to act as if keeping Morris was clearly a good idea at the time isnt fair.

R Edwards

I disagree and I could care less what “most fans” thought at the time. As soon the trade was made, I declared that I thought it came across as knee jerk reaction kind of trade that would come back to bite the Pirates. It only got worse with the curious drafting of Conner Joe.

Morris had way too much talent to trade for a very late first round pick (so late, it wasn’t really in the first round). To top it off, we instead kept Pimentel even though he couldn’t be trusted to actually pitch. Then, the Frieri disaster. All because we traded off Morris, to avoid having to do the obviously right thing which was to waive Pimentel. Yes, those moves combined cost us the division in the end.

Luke sutton

You could name about 15 moves or substitutions or situations that cost us the division. Its sensationalism to make it seem like one move alone was the difference. Morris did well in MIA.

Chris Hale

I like the talent which is why they are reluctant to let Pimentel go but, There has to be a point where you look at who is going to help you the most. When he was in the pen last year, they didn’t even trust him enough to pitch him in anything that at all resembled a close game. He went 5 and 6 days ometimes between appearances. Thats not good for anybody.

R Edwards

Agreed…given his track record of actual performance, I don’t see why they are so concerned about losing him….they have a lot of RH relief pitching options in AA and AAA. I hope they don’t make this mistake again….

Brandon M Walker

Soon as I got the notification I was kind of shocked but now I get why Holdzkom was sent down…. Hope not for long he’s fun to watch

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