Pirates Release Six Lower Level Players

The Pittsburgh Pirates released seven players in the Dominican Summer League within the list week. The list includes pitchers Miguel Toribio, Alex Rosario and Luis Gonzalez, catchers Juan Mena and Jommer Hernandez and outfielder Luis Tello. A late addition to this list is Orlando Chivilli, a shortstop who received $350,000 in 2018.

Jommer Hernandez is the big bonus player here, receiving $250,000  on July 2, 2017. He played the 2018-19 seasons in the DSL, sat out 2020 like all of the other players, then couldn’t make the cut during Spring Training in the Dominican this year. He put up an .829 OPS in 46 games in 2019, though the Pirates had him playing more first base than anything else. He was one of seven catchers signed by the Pirates during the 2017-18 international signing period, as was Juan Mena, who had a .681 OPS in his two seasons in the DSL. Five of those seven catchers have now been released. Jhan Polanco and Darwin Baez are still around and currently in the FCL.

Toribio received a $175,000 bonus in 2018 and he pitched well in his only season in the system, posting a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 innings. He is still 19 years old, so he must have taken a big step back in his development during the down time.

Tello is a bit of a surprise as well, as he has had some time against better competition, playing tournaments against different countries with Team Panama, as well as playing winter ball in Panama. Outfield is loaded for the Pirates at the two lowest levels, so it may have just been a numbers game for him.

Luis Gonzalez signed back in 2016 and injuries decimated his career. He pitched just one season and 29.1 total innings. He is already just shy of his 23rd birthday, which would be on the extremely old side for the DSL. The Pirates actually signed another pitcher named Luis Gonzalez this year, so they still have one in their system.

Axel Rosario was a big arm, but a lottery ticket type signing, didn’t cost much, with a big payoff if they could get him on track. In his only season, he had 25 walks and 23 strikeouts in 16.2 innings. He is 21 years old.

I found out about Chivilli just after this article went up. He was a big signing on July 2, 2018 with a $350,000 and he did well in his 2019 campaign, batting .242/.361/.371 in 39 games, though he had a very high strikeout rate and that was considered his big flaw before signing. Despite being signed as a shortstop, he only played third base during his one season and he was the DH in half of his games.

I believe the list is done at seven players, but I’ll add more if I find out any names.