Pirates Notebook: Vince Velasquez is Done for the Season; Pirates DFA Chase De Jong

Pirates Director of Sports Medicine Todd Tomczyk met with the local media prior to Friday’s game against the New York Mets. He announced that pitcher Vince Velasquez had elbow surgery that will have him sidelined for up to a year.

While his surgery wasn’t described as a full Tommy John surgery, the missed time is only slightly shorter. Velasquez signed a one-year deal with the Pirates as a free agent this season. If he ends up re-signing, he won’t be back until approximately early June, assuming all goes well with his rehab work.

Velasquez finishes the 2023 season with a 4-4, 3.86 record in eight starts, with a 1.31 WHIP, a 3.90 FIP and 37 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.

The Pirates were already without starters JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows due to Tommy John surgery, so this is their third starting pitcher expected to see significant big league who has been lost long-term to an elbow injury.

De Jong Gone, Smith-Njigba Returns

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a roster move prior to the start of their series against the New York Mets. Right-handed pitcher Chase De Jong was designated for assignment. The Pirates recalled outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba to take him place on the active roster.

De Jong was designated for assignment exactly a month ago. He had the right to refuse an assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis, but he decided to stay in the Pirates system. They added him back to the 40-man/active roster five days ago.

De Jong pitched once since returning, allowing six run over two innings. He has allowed a total of 17 runs over 11.1 innings this year for the Pirates.

Smith-Njigba made the Opening Day roster this year. He hit .125/.216/.219 before being sent down to Indianapolis on April 26th.

He hit .245/.339/.547 over 28 games with Indianapolis since being sent down.

Minor Moves for Altoona and Indianapolis

The Pirates also made some minor league moves on Friday. Pitcher Sean Sullivan has been placed on the 7-day Injured List for Altoona.

Sullivan has pitched well this season, posting a 2.89 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 43.2 innings over nine starts.

Pitcher Justin Meis has rejoined Altoona to take his place. He was placed on the Development List two weeks ago, after starting the year with a 7.31 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP in 32 innings.

Josh Bissonette has rejoined Indianapolis from the Development List, taking the place on Smith-Njigba. Bissonette hit .240/.345/.293 in 22 games for Indianapolis this year.

Check back throughout the day for any news that might come up today. It will be added below

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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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b mcferren

Go get Manoah

He is the best possible return we could hope for Hill and Joe


Honestly, he would fit in nicely, but a NO


Hill may be erratic start to start, but when his breaking garbage is on, he is fun to watch.


All those BC trades and all those BC drafts, and here we are exactly zero quality pitchers to bring up to bolster this team as they surely need quality pitching and none to be had…


Brubaker and Velazquez going down wasn’t ideal.


Exactly my point where is all the talent from all the trades and drafts, one place middle infield or at least that’s where the bodies are…poor trades and poor drafts and throw in the development system and that’s where the Pirates stand…

Wilbur Miller

It’s pretty hard to defend their development system. Depth shouldn’t be a problem at this point. The Rays bring up more productive pitchers in a typical month than BC has in 3+ years.
And don’t forget, the entire justification for making zero effort to win games for 3 years was to stockpile young talent. So where’s the beef?


Lost in Rule 5……smh.




CSN seems like a questionable choice to recall as there is no need for another outfielder right now and there are plenty of options to DH. Although probably a short term move until there is a need again for a for fifth starter. Who will be ?


That’s 2 TJ’s on Pirates alone. My hunch is that arm and shoulder injuries are up across MLB. Of course no metrics have been released to see if connection to the pitch clock.


I wonder if the heavier use of breaking pitches is driving up elbow injuries?


What did Tomzyck have to save about Choi?

Wilbur Miller

Starts running in 7-10 days, then they’ll decide on a schedule for working on his golf swing.


Still, it will be an upgrade over Santana’s bat.

Wilbur Miller

I hated the VV signing, but now I feel bad for him. He was pitching easily the best of a fairly long career, and he hardly got to enjoy it.


BC got a good value, got exactly 25% of expected starts. I think regression was bound to follow.


My thoughts exactly, and was looking forward to him being a deadline trade piece. He did help the Pirates, and looked like he had turned the corner and was heading in the right direction.


Draft Dylan Crews.


I’m with you but also it seems you need about 15 legit starting pitchers every year because 10 are going to get TJ every year




Bunch of RHP this series and CSN has been slugging at indy so makes sense


Sort of a toss-up between CSN and Cal Mitchell who has had some solid numbers in May and Jun


Hope CSN can hit the ground running this time.


In the horse racing program they’d say “eligible to improve in 2nd start since layoff.”. I think he’ll rake (but I lose money on horses).

Last edited 3 months ago by HeyFred
Wilbur Miller

Last time up, hitting the ground would have been beyond him.


I have hope for him, he’s a different hitter than last year, which probably means that he needs time to truly finds himself, but I’m glad he’s up.

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