The Pittsburgh Pirates announced a slew of new non-roster invitees to Spring Training on Thursday, even sneaking in a new minor league signing in it — veteran infielder Chris Owings.
There are plenty of expected names that got the invite for big league camp, including the three first round picks made under Ben Cherington, as well as some other promising players throughout the system.
While catching a look at some of the top prospects is an obvious must, to see how they do surrounded by major league players, here are three other names worth watching during camp.
The team’s second round pick back in Cherington’s first draft, Jones still has some of the best raw stuff in the entire system. He led all Pirates minor league pitchers in strikeouts, and doubled his innings pitched from the previous season.
He struggled with his control a bit, and was hit pretty hard in High-A, but if there is a breakout candidate that already possesses great stuff, Jones is it.
Getting some time around some big leaguers, including veteran Rich Hill, who was drafted one year (2002) after Jones was born (2001), may go a long way into helping the young righty put it all together.
An injury derailed the absolute breakout season he was having, as Gorski could have made a legit push for a 30/30 season. He has some of the best power in the system, but also most of his damage was done in High-A Greensboro (as an older player for the level) and also still showed some swing and miss concerns throughout the year.
#Pirates prospect Matt Gorski showing off his tools for the @AltoonaCurve:
🔸 Legs out triple
🔸 Makes nifty snag in right
🔸 Belts 20th HR pic.twitter.com/IwzaoFWnNb
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 16, 2022
While Spring Training results rarely tell the full story of things, it will be interesting to see how he fares against major league pitching, should he get the opportunity.
His ability to hit for power, and play a strong center field, could make him an ideal early season call up should they need a right-handed bat not on the 40-man. A strong showing in camp can put him in that position.
When the Pirates announced the non-roster invitees, they also used it as an opportunity to announce the signing of Chris Owings — a major league veteran who has played almost every position in the field. Owings had a brief outburst of offense with the Colorado Rockies, but has been mostly a below average hitter the majority of his career.
The only reason this signing is noteworthy is that he is a potential right-handed bat that can also play both middle-infield positions. Pittsburgh has no shortage of options to play the middle infield positions, but since the trade of Kevin Newman, they don’t have any right-handers with major league experience.
Fangraphs has him as a positive defender at second base for his career, as does Baseball-Reference. There’s a scenario that could play out where Owings plays second and Rodolfo Castro is at shortstop against a lefty, to give Oneil Cruz a day off.
This could be a depth signing, but with how crowded the infield picture is in the minors, and his major league experience, this seems more like a ‘let’s give him a shot because he potentially fills a need’.
Bonus: Termarr Johnson
It probably shouldn’t be a complete surprise that your most recent fourth overall pick ends up in major league camp, but with a June birthday, he will still be 18-years-old during Spring Training.
Really it’s just a good experience for one of the most hyped prep prospects to come through the draft in some time.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**The Pirates announced their non-roster invitees yesterday, including the signing of veteran infielder Chris Owings.
**The Athletic ranked the Pirates as the sixth best farm system. ESPN followed up by ranking them ninth.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the strong depth at third base throughout the Pirates organization.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Ethan Hullihen is working on a new feature to create a Glossary of transaction details on the site. His first installment is a look at how Optional and Outright Assignments work.
Pirates Business: How Do Optional and Outright Assignments Work?
Wilbur Miller looked at the Pirates’ 2019 draft, which is led by Quinn Priester, but has a lot of other interesting prospects still around.
WTM: The Pirates’ Quirky 2019 Draft
Bubba Chandler was a highlight of the 2021 draft, and Anthony Murphy looked at the progress and potential he showed during his debut season.
Bubba Chandler Showed Progress and Potential In His Debut Season
Gorski sure has a “why I aughta” approach at the plate
was looking at remaining FA for a potential interesting pitcher, as it’d be nice to add another guy in the Chatwood vein. As i was going thru the list I noticed Gamel was still a FA, which backs up why the bucs didn’t trade him at the deadline, seems no one wants him. Thought he was ok, but not a needle mover.
As far as non roster pitcher invites, i’d roll the dice on Trevor Rosenthal for sure, & maybe one of Chad Kuhl/Bundy/Pineda/Kuetchel guys – obviously each has their issues & saw their stuff decline last year, but the pitching looks to be the weak point of the roster & would be nice to add some depth there.
I think the Pirates have 19 position players and 21 pitchers on their 40 man roster. With some pitchers out of options they are going to have to release some, but are going to let it get decided in spring training. My guess is any signings at this point will be minor league contracts. I like all of the pitchers you mentioned, except Keuchel. My worries are we might bury Oviedo and Luis Ortiz back to the minors.
Add Alex Reyes to the interesting list. Noticed no one picked up Manny Banuelos ether – thought he was decent, threw hard for a lefty & had a pedigree
I was hoping to see Jun-Seok Shim in spring training, but I guess we better be patient with this 18 year old.
kinda off topic but i’m just curious to hear other thoughts. does burrows’ arm action look longer in this video?
By my quick count the Pirates are bringing 66 players to Spring Training. But that includes M Andujar, C Alldred, and B Cederlind who weren’t mentioned in yesterday’s announcement.
In the Jared Jones video, I noticed that he was inconsistent with the tap-the-ball-in the-glove part of his pitching motion. I know nothing about pitching but always figured that was a timing thing, perhaps to keep the arm from getting ahead of the body.
In some instances, he kinda half-assed the tap and in others, he abandoned it.
Any significance to this?
yuge Jared Jones guy. idk if he’ll ever be able to hit the catcher’s glove, but he seems like he can at least hit the zone.
Whole bucnha 92s and 93s in that clip.
The average big league 4seamer last year was 94mph.
Still don’t get what people see in this kid. Nice little mid-relief prospect.
Without sounding too defensive of Jones.
It was his last start of the season in a year he doubled his workload from the year prior.
And it did look like he dialed it back a little bit because he was hitting 95/96 in the first inning. Pretty much every other start I’ve seen him with radar he’s been consistent 94-96 and has gone higher plenty of times.
The control is the big issue, not so much the fastball.
Probably the similarity between A and B
just to balance out my analysis, i also dont think gorski is good
but i’d love to be wrong!
Ever see Gorski play on a regular basis?
Just a gut feeling?
Owe you money?
**1-2 CATCH AND THROW–1 E and 7 Assists in CF over 92 G
3- RUN–20/20-in half season
4-5 HIT FOR AVE AND POWER– would have easily shattered 30/30
by end of July with .956 OPS
Switch them, you need to be wrong
We need Gorski’s TOOLSET even if his ceiling translate’s into
**SOUND DEFENSE, 25/25 and a slash of ,265/.340/.460/.800
For once, look past 11%–27% BB-K rate, sometimes thats the sacrifice for Run producing above average defenders
L to R
Gorski, Swaggerty, Suwinski
That is a top 3 DEF unit with or without BR
P & C- 11 days
The need that Chris Owings fills for the Pirates. He gives them a player who can play every position and cannot hit. Despite their off season moves, they still needed that player.
Remember when beat writers would ask Hurdle why he kept giving AB’s to crappy veterans with no future with the team? And his answer basically was if he didn’t give AB’s to crappy veterans, it would send a signal to other crappy veterans in MLB that they should never sign with the Pirates because the Pirates won’t give AB’s to crappy veterans, and as an organization do we really want to be labeled as being hostile to crappy veterans? I honestly don’t think it was too far off of this analysis.
If Chris Owings makes the ML team out of ST, every person in a coaching or management position at the major league level should be fired. Immediately. And possibly black balled from ever working in baseball again.
That seems extreme. Gorski may show he’s not ready to hit MLB pitching or someone else might get hurt. I doubt that Owings is Plan A or B, but sometimes you have to run with Plan D.