Former Pittsburgh Pirates Currently With Independent League Teams

Aug 4, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Alex McRae (51) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Alex McRae (51) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 12: A.J. Schugel #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks in before delivering a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 12, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 12: A.J. Schugel #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks in before delivering a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 12, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

RHP A.J. Schugel

A.J. Schugel was quite a solid arm for the Pirates in 2016 and 2017. The right-handed reliever was originally a 25th-round pick by the LA Angels in 2010 and was part of the big trade that sent Tyler Skaggs to LA, Adam Eaton to the Chicago White Sox, and Mark Trumbo to Arizona. Schugle went into the 2013 season as the Angels’ 16th best prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

Schugle didn’t play a major league game for LA and only pitched nine innings for the D-Backs. However, he was successful in 2016 and 2017 as a reliever for the Pirates. Between the two seasons, he worked to the tune of a 3.00 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP in 84 innings of work. He only had a 21.5% K-rate but had a quality 7.9% walk rate and a .75 HR/9 rate.

However, after missing a good chunk of 2018 due to injuries, the Pirates released Schugel despite his solid results. Schugel played some indy ball in 2020 and returned to affiliated ball in 2021 with the New York Mets and their Triple-A team. However, he returned to the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association in 2022.

He’s done pretty solid as a swingman for the Milkmen, tossing 47.1 innings (18 appearances, seven starts), working to the tune of a 3.80 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. His 22% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate are similar to what he had with the Pirates. However, he’s seen his HR/9 decline to just 0.38.

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