Pittsburgh Pirates depth options that could contribute in 2015


The Pittsburgh Pirates depth has been a hot topic this off-season.  Now that the team has now completed their 25-man roster, let’s take a look at the depth in the upper minors that could help impact the team for 2015 and beyond.  These are players who can come in and contribute right away if called upon.

Position Players:

Jaff Decker – Decker had a real shot of making the team based upon his Spring Training production which was impressive at times.  He is a young left handed bat, which is something the Pirates want on their roster.  Many people wonder if Decker would be on the 25 man roster if he didn’t get hurt, I’m believe that the team still would have went with Lambo and Decker back to Triple-A.

Elias Diaz – He is the next catcher in line after Cervelli, Stewart and Sanchez.  Stewart starts the season on the DL and if Sanchez proves to be ineffective at the plate or too big of a liability behind the plate, Diaz could get the call.  Diaz has a big arm to say the least and has been solid with the bat.

Willy Garcia – If the Pirates had some injuries in the outfield, Garcia is a young option who has been touted as having the best arm in the system and needs some more seasoning with the bat in the upper levels.

Alen Hanson – He would be the next big named position prospect to arrive for the Pirates after Super Two status passes and if Neil Walker gets injured and Jung-Ho Kang hasn’t yet adjusted to the big leagues.  Hanson has long been seen as the heir apparent to either SS or 2B and this season he should get his first taste of the big leagues.

Starting Pitchers:

Jameson Taillon – He is coming back from Tommy John surgery and depending on when he returns to regular game action and how effective he is in trusting his arm, he may be in line for a late-season callup anywhere from July through September.  I would guess that he will be up in July and taking over the 5th starters position.

Nick Kingham – Kingham certainly needs more experience at the Triple A level.  With his high ceiling and potential, the Pirates may want to wait and play the Super Two game with him to ensure more team control.    Kingham needs to dominate Triple-A hitters to have a real shot at being first man up if an injury or ineffectiveness occurs.

Adrian Sampson – Another young guy who needs more time in Triple-A but could get an earlier call if an injury occurs.  I would suspect the Pirates will keep Sampson down for most, if not all, of 2015 to further develop.

Casey Sadler – He got some time in the big leagues last year and had varied amounts of success.  Sadler could be called upon in a short notice situation for the rotation or the bullpen but since he’s had MLB experience already, he could be on the short list of guys to make spot starts.

Clayton Richard – Richard was added to the 40 man roster and accepted an assignment to Triple-A to continue to work on his mechanical adjustments.  He will hopefully be in the mix to join the rotation if he can get more consistency with his delivery, as well as maintaining a low ERA.


John Holdzkom – Some people were shocked when Holdzkom got sent down but since he has options left, it allowed the team to keep a guy like Caminero on the main roster and see what they have with him.  This is something the Pirates have done many times over the past several seasons so it’s no real surprise.  In a strange twist, the Pirates brought up Rob Scahill to put in the bullpen when Charlie Morton went on the DL.  This could be a story to watch as the season unfolds.

Bobby LaFromboise – He got some time in the big leagues last year and while it was limited, he did OK enough to be one of the first guys called up if a roster spot opened up.  LaFromboise is a lefty so that adds some value for matchup purposes.  He would most likely come up if Bastardo was injured.

Brad Lincoln – The former starter has now been moved to the bullpen and it seems as though he is working on some mechanical adjustments to help return him to being an effective pitcher.  Lincoln was traded from the Pirates to the Blue Jays for Travis Snider and now returns to the team that drafted him.  He could be used in a relief role if the team really starts getting hit with injuries.

Josh Wall – Wall is a big guy at 6’6″ and would need to be added to the 40 man roster so he may not be the first guy called up but he could see some time if injuries start to dictate needs in the bullpen.

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In my opinion, this Pirates team should contend for the World Series and have a wealth of depth that most teams would dream about but they do have injury concerns, along with some guys who have had down years (Pedro Alvarez, A.J. Burnett), or those who have had their best years ever in Josh Harrison.   If injuries struck or down years are to be had, this team could dig into that depth in the high minors and perhaps not skip a beat.  If other guys are ineffective (Jeff Locke, Kang, Caminero), there are options that could allow them to work on adjustments or perhaps make a move to solidify the weak position for a deep playoff run.

The season is finally here. It’s going to be a fun one.

Next: Pirates spring training review