Pirates Sign Catcher as a Non-Drafted Free Agent

The Pittsburgh Pirates needed a third catcher for their Gulf Coast League club and they didn’t go far to find one. Garrett Russini, who was a three-year starter at Stetson University, was signed this week as a non-drafted free agent. The Pirates brought Russini to workouts at Pirate City before the draft and it didn’t take long for him to get there, he lives in Bradenton. He will share the catching duties with Yoel Gonzalez and Reggie Cerda, two returning players from the 2014 GCL squad. They will also be joined within a few weeks by Paul Brands, an international signing from the Netherlands this year, who had some visa issues and is currently working out and playing in the Dominican.

Russini had a strong junior year in 2014, but went undrafted. He started 59 of his team’s 60 games and hit .297/.365/.482 in 222 at-bats. His numbers slipped a little this season, hitting .272/.358/.401 in 59 games. Russini is 6’0, 200 pounds, bats lefty and he turned 22 earlier this month, so he is on the young side for a college senior. He also has some experience as an outfielder. Russini has worked out with Mike LaValliere and he is childhood friends with Seth McGarry, the eighth round pick this year of the Pirates, who will also open up his pro career in the GCL.

Russini announced the signing on Twitter and I was told today that he was already with the team as they took on the Blue Jays today in Extended Spring Training, getting ready to open their season on Monday.


John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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John: Thanks for the input on Garrett Russini, who deserves some time in the spotlight. Played at Stetson, therefore he has plenty between the ears and is probably very sound in technique.

Also, BA did a nice piece on our 13th Round pick Logan Ratledge, who the Pirates signed for $5,000. It recounts the interaction between him and “unnamed teams” who were making offers of $5K, $10K, $20K, and one that promised him $100K and then never drafted him. This is the real world of college seniors who have no leverage and must sign if they want the opportunity to continue to play the game beyond amateur status. BTW, Ratledge is a VG middle infielder from NC State. Probably be at Morgantown.


Good for this kid – fills a need for our GCL team and allows him to pursue his dream – win/win.


It’s time for yinzer nation to get their heads out of the sand. Outside of a couple of stretches
1 – 8 hasn’t gotten it done. Then again if the Pedro & Polanco haters still need to single them out, have fun. Cutch has one of the most unimpressive .286 BA I’ve ever seen. The Pittsburgh kid has been sleep walking all year. Jhay fans are still living in his 3 month stretch from last year. Let’s not leave Hurdle out. He has his moves for next month already planned out.


please stop……really.


9 games above .500 only 4 to 5 teams have more wins the Pirates. Sure we have trouble hitting and against the most winning pitcher this decade we lose. Luckily pitching and defense never leave throughout a season even if hitting is streaky the Pirates will be there. I don’t think anyone is completely enamoured with the hitting so don’t think your making groundbreaking arguments or being profound as you think you are. Just enjoy the leagues lowest era, the defense, our top 5 minor league system, and fransico cervelli


Not trying to be profound & without a doubt I’m enjoying the great pitching. The comment was meant to point out the fact there’s a large portion of fan base out there who believe Pedro & Polanco are the only thing holding this team back. Pedro & Martin have been the only 2 to perform in the playoffs. They’re beloved Cutch, Walker & Jhay regularly leave a lot to be desired. Obviously I hit a nerve.


off topic but….

Another pathetic and embarrassing effort today by our Pirates…

Tampa Bay just took 3 out of 4 from this same Nationals team – and their pitching dominated the Nationals.

The Pirates better do something about first base and right field, because we’re not getting much production from either position. When you combine that with our catchers, who have decent averages but no power, our lineup can be easily shutdown if McCutcheon, Marte, Walker, and Harrison aren’t clicking.

nate h

So if you shut down 5/9 of our lineup, we are a useless team. Sound reasoning though. This game was definitely the most important game of the season and the Pirates totally botched it. Scherzer isn’t even a good pitcher either! He is maybe a number 4 starter on a good team!

…. It’s one game guy. When you face an elite pitcher who can shut the door on any team, you are bound to lose. Scherzer is pitching lights out. No sense getting discouraged. It’s a long season and we lost. Get over it.


You gotta be joking. He signed for over 100mil with the Nats from Detroit. He most likely in the top 5 of all pitchers in the majors. Find me a #4 starter than has a contract that will pay 100 mil +.


Sarcasm, dude, sarcasm


I missed the memo that stated this board was comedy central.

Ian Rothermund

It’s called humor. That wooshing sound was that joke going directly over your head.

Also, he’s signed for 210 mil over 7 years, I believe.


Contract aside, Scherzer is one of the most durable arms around posting some of the highest strikeout totals in all of baseball. He also has the sabremetrics to back up the surface level stats of ERA and WHIP. Nate, not sure what you’re smoking but that dude for the Nationals is a ridiculously good pitcher and has been since 2012

Adam Y

Amazing how fast we completely forget a nice, long winning streak.

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