First Pitch: Depth is Unpredictable

The term “early season depth” gets thrown around a lot in Spring Training. It’s a term that separates two groups. First, you have the players who aren’t top options for the Majors on Opening Day, but who could come up anytime they’re needed. Then you’ve got a group that usually consists of top prospects who won’t be ready until mid-season, either due to development reasons, Super Two reasons, or both.

The early season depth options for the Pittsburgh Pirates include Vance Worley, Casey Sadler, and Clayton Richard. The mid-season options include Nick Kingham and Adrian Sampson, plus Jameson Taillon later in the year.

When you start lining up the depth charts in order, and start thinking of guys as the -nth best option, then you start to get into a situation where you could imagine a player never getting a shot. That’s especially true with early season depth, since their window to arrive seems limited, as better options will emerge around the middle of the season.

But the truth is that depth is unpredictable. It seems so set in stone and so systematic in Spring Training, but once the season starts, there are no plans in place.

For one, you never know who will get injured or who will struggle. Either event happening to a member of the rotation would lead to a call for one of the depth options. But injuries aren’t just limited to the five guys in the rotation. We already saw that with Brandon Cumpton going down.

Then there’s the timing of when you need the depth. In a perfect world, a starter goes down and you replace him with the sixth best option on the depth chart. In reality, you’re selecting from whoever is available. That might end up being the eighth best option, just because the sixth and seventh best guys would be pitching on less than five days rest.

That’s why it’s important to have a lot of depth. Guys will go down with injuries, including the depth options. Not everyone will be rested when a starter is needed in the majors. It’s easy to line everyone up in numerical order before the season, but on Opening Day, all of that goes out the window.

**How To Get A Free Pirates Prospects Subscription Just By Playing Fantasy Sports. We’re switching to a subscription site in less than two weeks. You can subscribe to the site by clicking the “Subscribe” button at the top of the page and choosing your plan. However, this offer gives you another option to subscribe through a promotion with DraftKings. Simply sign up for a new account, make a deposit ($5 minimum), and play a fantasy sports contest. You could win money, and you’ll get a free one-year subscription to Pirates Prospects. Click the link for more information on this promotion.

**Clayton Richard Declines His Opt Out Clause And Will Remain With The Pirates. Speaking of early season depth, it’s good to see Richard sticking around.

**Pirates Talk With David Todd: Hanson, Ramirez, Taillon, Kingham, Richard, Worley. We discussed several prospects, along with some of the roster moves from Major League camp this year.

**Another Projectable Prep Pitcher Sees An Increase In His Velocity. Also includes notes on Mitch Keller, Gage Hinsz, JaCoby Jones, and a new video of Josh Bell at first base.

**Pirates 2014 International Signing Recap

**Pirates Release Eight Players From Minor League Camp

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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