Pirates Cut Nine Players From MLB Camp, Including Diaz, Moroff, Wood, and Santana

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Pittsburgh Pirates have made nine more cuts today from MLB camp. Elias Diaz and Max Moroff have been optioned to Indianapolis. Eric Wood, Eury Perez, Brandon Cumpton, Dan Runzler, Jason Stoffel, Edgar Santana, and Joey Terdoslavich have been reassigned to minor league camp. Here is a quick rundown of each player. Β Alan Saunders will have an update later this morning from Neal Huntington.

Elias Diaz – The Pirates will have Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart as their catchers in Pittsburgh. Both of those guys have a history of injuries, which means it’s very likely we could see Diaz in Pittsburgh at some point this year. Diaz had been healthy throughout his pro career, up until last season when he had a few injuries. The good news is that he has been healthy this camp, and should make a great number three catcher.

Max Moroff – The Pirates have plenty of utility infielders and super utility players. Moroff is one of the utility infield options, but wasn’t really in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster, since he’s behind Adam Frazier, Alen Hanson, and even Phil Gosselin on the depth charts. He could be a depth option throughout the season. He struggled at the plate last year in Indianapolis, due to being too selective at the plate and not being aggressive earlier in the count. That’s the opposite of the approach that worked so well for him in Altoona during the 2015 season. He’ll increase his chances of reaching the majors if he gets back to the 2015 approach at the plate.

Eric Wood – Wood had a big year at the plate last year from a power standpoint. He really picked up his production in the second half, and carried that over to the Arizona Fall League. The power continued this spring, including during his time in the World Baseball Classic, when he hit a few exhibition home runs. He’s a strong defender at third base, but the Pirates have a lot of options there right now, even with Jung Ho Kang unlikely to start the year in Pittsburgh. He’s learning first base and the corner outfield spots, and could become an option for the Pirates after some time in Triple-A, especially if the power continues.

Edgar Santana – I don’t think we’re going to have to wait long to see Edgar Santana in Pittsburgh. He’s a hard thrower, sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s with good movement on his fastball, while also featuring a plus slider. The Pirates have other options for their MLB bullpen at the start of the year, deciding between guys like Tyler Webb, Wade LeBlanc, and giving Jared Hughes another shot, despite some struggles last year and this spring. Santana will need a bit of time in the upper levels, but if that goes over well, and if one of the guys at the end of the bullpen struggles, expect the Pirates to bring up their young fireballer earlier in the year.

Brandon Cumpton – I’m surprised that Cumpton didn’t get cut when Casey Sadler and Angel Sanchez went down. Neither of those players will be ready to start the season, but will join the Indianapolis bullpen shortly after the season begins. Cumpton is behind both of those players, missing not only a year with Tommy John, but another year with a shoulder injury. He will eventually go to the Indianapolis bullpen, where he will look to pitch in his first game since the 2014 season.

Eury Perez – Perez should see plenty of time in the outfield for Indianapolis, moving around to all three positions. He has above average defense and speed, plus some Major League experience over four seasons, so he could provide outfield depth at some point during the season if there is an injury, or be a possible September call-up for bench depth due to his speed/defense combo. His bat is too weak to make him anything more than a depth bench option.

Dan Runzler – Runzler showed strong velocity in Spring Training, while allowing two runs over 5.2 innings in six appearances. Just shy of his 32nd birthday, Runzler is a lefty specialist and that’s a tough spot to crack for the Pirates this year. It’s possible we see him later in the season, but he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, so it’s an outside chance at best. He should be bullpen depth for Indianapolis.

Jason Stoffel – Stoffel has been out with a shoulder injury since the beginning of Spring Training. Last week he began throwing off flat ground, so he will likely begin the season in Extended Spring Training. The 28-year-old right-hander has no Major League experience and split last year between Triple-A and Double-A, so he will end up at one of those levels this year, where he will provide bullpen depth.

Joey Terdoslavich – Terdoslavich could see time at first base and outfield for Indianapolis. The Pirates look to be crowded in each area, so he seems like a bench option at this point. He struggled in Triple-A last year, winter ball this off-season and didn’t do much in Spring Training, playing mostly late in games against lower level pitching. It’s tough to see a possible way he gets to the majors with the Pirates this season, unless he can regain his 2014 form.

Alan Saunders and John Dreker contributed to this report.

  • Ever since I commented that Hutchison looked sharp all spring, he stopped being sharp.

    I think Brault has the inside track for the #5 spot now, unless Glasnow can build off his last outing.

    Sorry, Drew, I take responsibility for my role in this.

    • If Brault has a bad next outing I’m going to need you to go to some Cubs site and root for Lester and Arrieta.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      March 23, 2017 7:02 pm

      Hutchison is pitching like he has his entire career…no one can be surprised

  • We sure Hutch wasn’t on this list? Just wanted to doublecheck

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    March 23, 2017 1:25 pm

    What a waste of a great defensive catcher prospect in Diaz…they ought to trade him as favor to him. For him to be behind Stewart is laughable – only the Pirates would make that kind of personnel decision. Stewart is terrible defensively, and useless as a pinch-hitter because he can’t hit. What a joke…but I’m not surprised. The Pirates keep repeating the same mistakes….

    • Back-up catchers aren’t called to pinch hit, but it doesn’t surprise me that you think otherwise.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        March 23, 2017 6:57 pm

        Is that the best you can do? Give me your assessment of Stewart’s skills that are superior to Diaz? Let me guess ….pitch framing?

  • BallHeadWonder
    March 23, 2017 11:26 am

    Please forgive me, but Max Moroff is not a MLB Player!! He has never shown well when he has been in a Pirate Uni. He was in the first round of cuts for me. His AB’s are like watching paint dry!! As for Hughes, How many chances will this guy get?? Talk about 9 lives!! That is times 2 for him!! He was HORRIBLE this spring and still gets to keep his job?? Wow!! Good for that guy!!

  • Should we take interest in the fact that Osuna is still on the roster? If the Pirates decide to go with four starters to start the season could he be a DH in Boston? That seems unlikely but I can’t think of any other reason he would still be with the major league club.

    • Other than waiting for Cutch and Harrison to return from the WBC, Osuna as DH was my first thought as well.

    • I hope Osuna makes it to the roster this year. I’d prefer to see him and that the Bucs find a trade partner to take Jaso off their hands. He’s kind of an expensive spare part these days. Shed the Dreds.

      • Lee Foo Young
        March 23, 2017 11:42 am

        I like Tired John.

        • piraterican21
          March 23, 2017 12:28 pm

          Jaso has looked good this ST and not just because is ST, he always had a good eye and the ability to make contact, I think he has added a bit of power, and if so I wouldn’t be quick to get rid of him.

    • My feeling is that Frazier will DH (if he doesn’t unseat JHay).

    • It would make a lot of sense, even if the team does intend to start the season with a five-man rotation, to keep Osuna up and send all of Brault, Hutchison, Williams, and Glasnow down, irrespective of which of them has won the job, just for the Boston series. That’s the benefit of all the guys in the running for that rotation spot having options.

  • I’m hoping with less innings pitched, Watson will return to form and be dominant as we know he can be and his arm will rejuvenate, but I’m not sure how long we can be patient with him as the closer, especially with the need to get off to a stronger start and with Rivero dominating. I like Santana and he could be a great 7th inning guy.

  • I would hope that if Cervelli gets injured that Diaz not only gets the call up, but also the starts. I don’t need to see Stewie getting 3 out of 4 starts

  • The Terd has been dropped! πŸ™

  • Santana needs more time to refine his skills but is unfortunate Jared Hughes will be one of the 7 members of the bullpen to start the year. Also quite unfortunate that Tony Watson might still be sitting 89-90 and closing when we open the season in Boston.

    • I think Watson is the bigger concern there. You don’t need Hughes pitching any big innings.

      • I don’t disagree (Watson not being up to par is clearly the greater concern) but a logical argument can be made that Jared Hughes should NOT be be pitching ANY innings in a MLB bullpen in 2017. Quite frankly , there are very few innings in MLB that aren’t consequential. I don’t look forward to seeing Hughes pitch in a relatively low leverage situation in the 5th or 6th inning unless he improves in a hurry.

        • Hopefully Hughes gets some type of “minor injury” so he can go “rehab” in Extended Spring Training to start the year. Maybe he can get straightened out down there. Watson’s situation reminds me of Melancon’s last year, although Melancon had way more of a past history of closing you could point to. I hope the leash will be short with Watson to start the year. Nothing like a few blown saves to start the season on a bad note.

          • Regarding Watson, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen the reference to Melancon’s early 2015 struggles… I’m not sure they are similar.

            Melancon did recover from an early velocity dip in 2015 so perhaps Watson will at least return to near 2016 levels on his fastball with more time. But his 2016 FB velocity was down 1.2 mph from 2014.

            But the larger point to me is that unlike Melancon in 2015- Watson hasn’t been a very good pitcher more than 1.5 years(near July 2015). So even if we assume he does regain the lost velocity(no guarantee) I think it is very optimistic to think he gets to a level consistent with someone you want pitching high leverage innings.

            • I agree with your analysis. I am defenitely not sold on Watson in the closer role this year. Rivero is hopefully the closer of the future. The question is whether he is ready now or needs some time as a set up man first. Probably the latter. Which leaves Watson as the place holder for now.

              • I’m apprehensive about Watson. I’m guessing if Watson falters Pirates might use Hudson there before going to Rivero. Just a hunch.

            • Again, I am no expert, but I also think
              tired arm is the issue here.

            • Watson had the second highest win probability added in the second half of 2015, behind Melancon. His skills could certainly be declining, but it didn’t affect his performance in 2015.

              His issue in 2016 is RHH made better contact on his fastball, it was a bit slower than 2015 and his peak velocity year in 2014. But he also was throwing a bit higher up in the zone. And considering we are discussing the outcomes of 8-10 at bats, I’d say it is hard to reach any definitive conclusions.

          • Daren, I am thinking exactly the same thing.
            I am no expert, but I think his biggest issue
            is “tired arm, ” but they will probably call
            it something else. Hopefully, rest and rehab
            helps one of the “good guys” on the team.

          • reasonable.

        • Totally agree. I don’t see a reason to keep Hughes based on his last year and spring performance. Why keep a guy if he can only pitch in low leverage situations? He’ll eventually make them high leverage.

      • “You don’t need Hughes pitching any big innings.”

        Thank goodness the manager doesn’t habitually do something silly like use Hughes specifically in situations with runners on base and less than two outs…

  • Wilbur Miller
    March 23, 2017 9:14 am

    Seems kinda soon for Diaz, not that he had a chance of beating out Stewart.

    • piraterican21
      March 23, 2017 9:22 am

      Once they get send down, does it mean they can’t no longer play in ST games? I ask because they are always minor league invites to games.

      • They’re getting ready for the minor league seasons at that point. Diaz will get more time catching in the Triple-A games than he would in MLB ST.

      • The minor league players they use actually need to be assigned to the Pirates so they are on the active roster for the game. You won’t see any of the cut players returning for a spring game after they have been sent to minor league camp. There are only nine games left anyway and the starters will want to stick around longer in games at this point, so that leaves less time for others.

      • they usually stick to using lower level players only for filler spots in addition to the players in major league camp. Unlikely you’d see someone like Diaz unless there was a weird schedule and injury combo…..but there’s no rule against them playing in a spring training game

    • I think it’s because Pirates only have nine games over the final 12 days of Spring and they probably want Cervelli and Stewart to catch all of them so they get their work in.

  • Are the Buccos still interested Angel Pagan or will Hansen and Fraiser combination be the 4th outfielder?