First Pitch: Future Late Inning Relievers

The Pirates sent six right-handed pitchers down to the minors today with their first wave of cuts. Included in the group of pitchers were Blake Cederlind, Cody Ponce, and JT Brubaker. All three could be options for the Pirates’ bullpen going forward.

Cederlind got a lot of press this spring for his fastball velocity and flowing blonde locks. The fastball velocity was there last year. He lacked control and a good out pitch last time around, and will need to work on that this year. Cederlind’s velocity make him a future late inning relief option, but he’s not there yet.

Cody Ponce joins Cederlind as a relief prospect, throwing 95 MPH last year with good results in the rotation. He could get another look as a starter to extend his innings, and give him work on his changeup — which was his best pitch from college. He’s more likely to end up a reliever in the majors.

JT Brubaker has the best shot of being a starter of this group. He spent most of 2019 injured, but was showing upper 90s velocity and a promising cutter as his new out pitch. If he can regain that form, he should have a shot at the rotation in Triple-A, with a chance to be rotation depth this year. At the least, he should get a shot as a reliever, due to the fastball/cutter combo.

The Pirates also sent down James Marvel, Luis Escobar, and Montana DuRapau. I see all of them as depth options out of Triple-A. Marvel has the best chance at sticking in the majors, with middle relief upside and the chance to be a depth starter.





By John Dreker

There have been nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two Hall of Famers.

Arky Vaughan, shortstop for the 1932-41 Pirates. Vaughan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, exactly 32 years longer than it should have taken him to get election. He is arguably the second best shortstop of all-time behind Honus Wagner. Vaughan is one of the greatest Pirates players ever, ranking among the top ten in numerous team categories for career stats and single seasons. He is fourth in WAR (64.0) behind only Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Paul Waner. Vaughan ranks seventh in batting average (.324), third in OBP (.415), ninth in OPS (.887), tenth in runs scored (936), ninth in hits (1,709), ninth in total bases (2,484), tenth in doubles (291), eighth in triples (116), ninth in RBIs (764), sixth in walks (778), tenth in extra-base hits (491), and eighth in times on base (2,527). On the single season lists, his .385 batting average in 1935 is the team record. He also set records that year with his .491 OBP and a 1.098 OPS. The following season he reached base 313 times, which is a team record. He has two top ten offensive seasons in team history, with a 9.2 WAR during his huge 1935 season, and 8.6 WAR during the 1938 season. He made nine straight All-Star appearances (1934-42) and led the league in both OBP and walks for three straight years (1934-36).

Billy Southworth, outfielder for the Pirates from 1918-1920 and a Hall of Fame manager. He started his minor league career in 1912 at the age of 19 and just one year later he made his debut for the Cleveland Naps. After one big league game, he returned to the minors until 1915, when he played 20 more games for the Naps. He next trip to the majors came three years later for the Pirates. After hitting .314 in 67 games for Birmingham of the Southern Association, the Pirates called him up and watched him hit .341 with 43 RBIs in 64 games. The next season the 26-year-old outfielder hit .280 with 61 RBIs, 23 steals and a league leading 14 triples. After hitting .284 in 146 games in 1920, the Pirates traded him and two other players (plus cash) to the Boston Braves for future Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville.

Southworth went on to play eight more seasons in the majors and was once part of a deal between the Braves and Giants that included two other future Hall of Famers, Casey Stengel and Dave Bancroft. He was a .297 career hitter in 1,192 games. As a manager he won two World Series titles, 1942 and 1944 Cardinals. He also had two other WS appearances, and he finished with a 1044-704 record over 13 seasons. Southworth was elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager by the Veteran’s Committee in 2008. Despite that honor, he likely isn’t even the most famous baseball player born on March 9, 1893. Also born that day was Lefty Williams, one of the main players in the 1919 Black Sox scandal made famous by the movie Eight Men Out. Southworth had a cousin who was also named Billy Southworth. He played in the majors for the 1964 Braves.

Benito Santiago, catcher for the 2005 Pirates. The Pirates acquired the 40-year-old Santiago from the Royals in December, 2004 for the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez. He played just six games before he was placed on the disabled list and then he was released before he ever made it back to the majors, ending his 20-year Major League career. Santiago went 6-for-23 with a double and triple in his brief time with the Pirates. He was a five-time All-Star, who won four Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves. He finished with 1,917 games caught, which ranks 12th all-time.

Terry Mulholland, pitched for the 2001 Pirates. He was signed as a free agent by the Pirates prior to the 2001 season. He pitched 22 games and posted a 3.72 ERA in 36.1 innings before he was traded to the Dodgers on July 31st in exchange for Mike Fetters. Mulholland pitched 20 years in the majors and saw time with 11 different teams. He threw over 2,500 innings in the majors and had 124 big league wins, and that’s with spending more than half of his time in the bullpen. Mulholland was a first round pick in 1984 by the San Francisco Giants and he was traded seven times during his career.

Ed Acosta, pitcher for the 1970 Pirates. He pitched two years of A -ball in the Astros system before the Pirates acquired him prior to the 1970 season. He began that year by making five starts in Double-A, then was promoted to Triple-A, where he pitched mainly out of the bullpen, posting a 5-2, 2.96 record in 82 innings. Acosta was called up in September to make his MLB debut. He pitched three games, allowing four runs over 2.2 innings. He spent most of the 1971 season in Triple-A, where he went 12-11, 2.72 in 172 innings. On August 10th, the Pirates sent him and Johnny Jeter to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Bob Miller. Acosta spent the rest of 1971 and all of 1972 with the Padres in the majors, then played three seasons in the minors before finishing his career in the Mexican League.

Ron Kline, pitcher for the Pirates in 1952,1955-59 and 1968-69. Pittsburgh signed him as an amateur free agent prior to the 1950 season. He made his Major League debut with the Pirates in 1952 and went 0-7, 5.49 in 27 games, 11 as a starter. After spending the next two years serving in the military, he rejoined the Pirates in 1955 and posted a 6-13, 4.15 record in 19 starts and 17 relief appearances. In 1956 Ron had a 3.38 ERA in 264 innings, but the Pirates lost 88 games that year and his record showed, going 14-18. Kline’s 18 losses that year led the NL, a stat he would lead in again just two years later when he went 13-16 for the 1958 Bucs. At the end of December 1959, the Pirates traded him to the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Tom Cheney and outfielder Gino Cimoli. Kline went ten seasons in the majors without a winning record before he went 10-7 for the 1964 Washington Senators. He would then reel off five straight seasons with a winning record, including 1968 for the Pirates when he went 12-5, with a 1.68 ERA in 56 relief appearances. Early in 1969, the Pirates traded Kline to the Giants for pitcher Joe Gibbon. Kline pitched with the 1970 Braves before ending his 17-year big league career. He had a record of 114-144 with 108 saves in 736 games pitched.

Paul Martin, pitcher for the 1955 Pirates. He pitched just seven games for the Pirates before tearing a ligament in his arm which ended his career. He was signed as an amateur free agent, and due to the rules of the time his large signing bonus meant he had to stay on the Major League roster that first season, so Martin never pitched in the minors. His stats were forgettable, allowing 30 base runners in seven innings of work and finishing with a 14.14 ERA.

Joe Dawson, pitcher for the 1927-29 Pirates. He served in the military before starting his baseball career, finally making his pro debut at the age of 25 in the minors. Two years later he made four July starts for the 1924 Indians, his first experience in the majors. He next appeared in the majors as a member of the Pirates on June 17, 1927. The Pirates made the World Series that year, so they were obviously a strong team, but Joe managed just a 3-7 record in his 20 appearances, seven of them as a starter. He pitched one scoreless inning against the Yankees in the WS. Dawson spent the entire 1928 season with the Pirates, his only full season in the majors. He made seven starts and 24 relief appearances, going 7-7, 3.29 in 128.2 innings. The next year he had two very poor relief outings to begin the year, then after getting a start on May 31st that he lost, he did not pitch again in organized baseball until reappearing in the minors in 1932. He went 11-10 that year in 27 games for Kansas City of the American Association, but never played pro ball again.

Tom Delahanty, shortstop for the 1896 Pirates. He played for four different teams in the majors over three seasons, yet played just 19 total games, 16 of them with one team. He played one game for the Phillies in 1894, one for the Pirates in 1896, and one for the Louisville Colonels in 1897. Delahanty left the Colonels right before Honus Wagner joined the team for his Major League debut. In his only game for the Pirates, Tom went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an error in the field. He began that 1896 season with the Cleveland Spiders, but joined the Pirates in mid-May. Tom played 13 seasons in the minors and during the 1902 season he hit .350 in 137 games for Denver of the Western League. He is from a family that produced five brothers that all made the majors, including his brother Ed, who is a Hall of Famer.

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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