Cumpton set to debut; Zagurski designated for assignment

With A.J. Burnett unable to pitch on Friday night, Jeff Locke was moved up a day, leaving an opening on Saturday. The Pirates have selected the contract of RHP Brandon Cumpton, who will make his MLB debut at 4:05 pm against the Dodgers.

Cumpton’s profile…
Age: 24
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 198 lbs.
Drafted by the Pirates in the 9th round of the 2010 Draft out of Georgia Tech

In 10 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis, Cumpton went 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA. He’s not overwhelming with strikeouts, but induces plenty of groundouts. His career MiLB stats:

2010 21 State College A- 0 1 2.53 4 3 10.2 8 3 3 0 5 6 1.219 4.2 5.1 1.20
2011 22 West Virginia A 7 4 4.30 13 12 67.0 60 34 32 6 18 48 1.164 2.4 6.4 2.67
2011 22 Bradenton A+ 3 3 3.66 13 12 66.1 73 29 27 6 12 42 1.281 1.6 5.7 3.50
2012 23 Altoona AA 12 11 3.84 27 27 152.1 149 72 65 9 46 88 1.280 2.7 5.2 1.91
2013 24 Altoona AA 0 1 7.45 2 2 9.2 11 9 8 0 5 7 1.655 4.7 6.5 1.40
2013 24 Indianapolis AAA 4 4 3.31 11 10 65.1 59 27 24 4 22 49 1.240 3.0 6.8 2.23
4 Seasons 26 24 3.85 70 66 371.1 360 174 159 25 108 240 1.260 2.6 5.8 2.22

A quick scouting report via Pirates Prospects:

[quote_simple]”Cumpton will pound the strike zone with his fastball, which usually sits around 92 as a starter and has a lot of movement and downward angle. He pairs that with a good mid-80s slider and also throws a changeup. He can get strikeouts with the slider, but mostly works toward efficiency and tries to get outs on the ground. He is fearless when throwing inside, usually living on the inner half of the plate. He’s got good command of his pitches, doesn’t issue a lot of walks, and is very efficient with his pitch counts.”[/quote_simple]

To make room for him on the 25-man and 40-man rosters, LHP Mike Zagurski has been designated for assignment. The 30-year-old reliever posted a 15.00 ERA in six outings.

Game #55: Reds 6, Pirates 0

The Bucs woefully started an important series with a weak performance on Friday night. The 1,000th game at PNC Park was spoiled by a 6-0 Reds victory.

Wandy Rodriguez, who entered with four consecutive wins, got the nod for the Pirates. His line doesn’t look too shabby: 7.0 IP, 2 runs, 5 hits, 5 K. But he walked three and was hit much harder than the box score indicates. Wandy surrendered eight fly balls, two of which landed over the fence. Those were launched off the bats of Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips.

While the Redlegs blasted a couple of bombs, the Bucs’ bats were completely silent. Johnny Cueto was masterful on the mound, pitching eight scoreless innings. The Pirates collected just one hit all night – a soft single hit by Brandon Inge in the fifth inning. That base knock was erased on the very next pitch, as Clint Barmes grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

With a depleted bullpen due to a pair of 11-inning games this week, Mike Zagurski came on to pitch the eighth inning with the Buccos trailing by two. However, Cincinnati blew the game wide open, scoring four off Zagurski in 1.2 innings. The big lefty gave up three hits and four walks; it took him 57 pitches to record just five outs.

Sam LeCure retired the Bucs in order in the ninth to finish the contest.

Rough, rough night in front of 35,730 at PNC. Good to see a nice crowd on hand, bad to see the team perform like that. The Pirates get a chance to redeem themselves tomorrow night with Francisco Liriano on the mound. First pitch at 7:15; game will be televised on FOX.

Pirates (34-21) – Reds (34-21)

Win: Cueto (3-0)
Loss: Rodriguez (6-3)


Go Bucs

Bucs make many moves on Memorial Day

The Pirates have recalled a few players, demoted a few players, and added to the disabled list…

1. The contract of Mike Zagurski was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s posted a 2.14 ERA and 15.9 K/9 for Indy this year. Pirates Prospects points out that Zagurski had a June 1st out-clause in his contract, which would explain his addition to the big league bullpen.

2. Bryan Morris was demoted to make room for Zagurski. Morris is 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 15.2 innings with the Bucs this year.

3. Jose Tabata was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an oblique strain. After going on a tear at the beginning of May, Tabata has cooled off as of late, hitting just .154 in his last eight games.

4. Josh Harrison was recalled to take Tabata’s place on the bench. J-Hay hit .279 with a .750 OPS at Triple-A. This move indicates that Travis Snider should be getting more playing time in right field.

5. Finally, Jeff Karstens has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Karstens was shut down indefinitely earlier this weekend.

Updated Pirates Depth Chart

Tony Watson: Cause for concern?

Entering his second full season in the big leagues, Tony Watson expects to carry a hefty workload for the Bucs in 2013. With a few departures in the bullpen, notably Joel Hanrahan, Watson’s duties should see a significant increase, especially since he’s the primary left-handed pitcher in the ‘pen.

However, Watson missed a ton of time over the past few weeks, due to both physical and mechanical issues. It sounded like he may have had some health problems, in addition to tweaking his mechanics.

The 27 year old southpaw threw 23 pitches against the Yankees High-A team and felt fine, but the outing did not go well in terms of results. He was hit hard by the young Bronx Bombers, but returned to Grapefruit League action on Wednesday afternoon.

He entered the ballgame in the seventh inning, and the Braves came out swinging. Joey Terdoslavich and Jordan Schafer started the inning with back-to-back singles, then Jordan Parraz parked one over the left field fence. Watson retired the next three batters he faced, but not before the damage was done. Three runs on three consecutive hits was not the type of outing the Bucs were looking for. Kyle McPherson and Vin Mazzaro were also lit up by Atlanta on Wednesday.

Before his extended time off, Watson pitched in just two other spring games: February 24th vs. Atlanta and February 28th vs. Boston. In his first outing, he pitched a scoreless frame, but surrendered two hits. In the latter, he was crushed by the Sox for four runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.

His totals thus far in the Grapefruit League: 7 runs, 10 hits, 1 K, 1 home run, 1 HBP in 2.2 innings. That equates to a 23.62 ERA and a .588 opponent batting average.

It’s small sample size, but it has to be concerning that Watson has only pitched in three games this spring. There’s only a little over a week until Opening Day, and he’s received just 2.2 innings of MLB-caliber work. Plus, he’s struggled in that time on the mound. Here’s what general manager Neal Huntington said a few days ago:

[quote_center]”He’s on track. But he can’t really afford many hiccups.”  [/quote_center]

There has to be some concern that he’s dealing with an injury, which would be a pretty big blow to the bullpen. Watson was considered one of four locks (Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes) entering camp, with the remaining spots up for grabs. He’s been a reliable lefty in his first year and a half of major league action; the Pirates will need to replace that if Watson is not ready to go by April 1st.

Other lefties to consider for a bullpen job include Justin Wilson, Mike Zagurski, and Jonathan Sanchez. Wilson has been sharp in spring ball, allowing just one run in 10 innings, while striking out 13 batters. Zagurski appears to be doing a decent job, but has never seen much success at the MLB level. Sanchez often struggles with his control, but he has an opt-out clause that he will likely exercise if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. He could also be used as a starting pitcher.

Hopefully Watson can fix his physical and mechanical issues, and contribute to the Bucco bullpen in a big way in 2013.

Pirates sign Mike Zagurski

The Pirates announced this morning that they have signed minor league free agent Mike Zagurski. The deal includes an invite to spring training.

Zagurski, a 29 year old lefty reliever, has never posted an ERA below 5.40 in the big leagues. He’s 1-0 with a 6.13 ERA in 83 career MLB games with the Phillies and Diamondbacks.

We found this while searching for Zagurski:

(Credit: D-backs Memes on Facebook)

That picture was associated with the following caption:
“My apologies for bringing up Mike Zagurski, but it seemed fitting. (No, he is no longer a Diamondback, hopefully it stays that way).” Yeah…

Go Bucs