DOVYDAS NEVERAUSKAS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: January 14, 1993
Height: 6′ 3″
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009
How Acquired: Int. FA
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|In their continuing quest to unearth baseball talent in the strangest of places, the Pirates signed the 16-year-old Neverauskas out of Lithuania. The signing means that, in less than a year, they signed players from India, South Africa, Taiwan, Australia, the Netherlands and Lithuania, as well as a number of Latin American countries. Neverauskas played in the European Championship Series and was clocked at 88 mph, which is good velocity for a pitcher that young, in a tryout camp conducted in Europe by MLB. He’s added velocity as he’s gotten older, although while he was still a starter he tended to get erratic results. Sometimes he’d hit 95 repeatedly, others he’d be in the upper-80s or low-90s. Command remained a significant issue until he moved to the bullpen. The move brought increased velocity. His main secondary pitch as a reliever has been a slider or cutter, and he also throws a curve.
Pitched briefly in GCL at age 17 and held his own. Considering his age and the fact that he had little experience outside Europe, it was an impressive showing.
In spring training, Neverauskas was sitting in the low 90s and reaching 93-94 with his fastball, and that’s despite being pretty thin at that stage. He returned to the GCL, where he missed the early season with an injury but pitched regularly from mid-July on. He managed a good ERA despite issuing 14 walks in 25 innings. Opponents hit .237 against him, right-handed hitters just .215.
Neverauskas returned to the GCL again and didn’t pitch quite as well as in 2011, although his walk and K rates improved. He’s filled out a little, but his fastball velocity was erratic, sometimes dropping to the upper 80s and other times reaching at least 95. He got a late-season promotion to State College, which probably indicates the Pirates think he has some potential, and he pitched very well over four innings.
Neverauskas spent the season in the Jamestown rotation, getting 50% more innings than he had in any previous season. In fact, he led the Jammers in innings. He didn’t strike out many, but improved his command and didn’t get hit hard. He was erratic: he had an ERA of 6.52 in June, 1.67 in July and 6.75 in August. He had a little trouble with gopher balls, allowing eight.
The Pirates sent Neverauskas to West Virginia, where he pitched in the rotation all year. The main positive was that . . . he pitched in the rotation all year. He generally got hit hard, sometimes struggled with his control, and didn’t miss a lot of bats. The results were more or less the same all year, so he didn’t show any improvement. In fact, he had a 6.45 ERA in August. Left-handed batters hit him hard, with an .872 OPS as compared to .775 by right-handed batters.
Neverauskas opened in the West Virginia rotation, but after five starts moved to the bullpen. After three relief appearances, the Pirates sent him to Morgantown for one game, then brought him back to the Power, then in early August promoted him to Bradenton. He was far more effective as a reliever, especially after returning from Morgantown. In the five starts opponents hit 290/412/449 against him. As a reliever, at all levels, it was 203/254/257. In ten appearances in his second stint with the Power, he had an ERA of 1.00 and WHIP of 0.78.
The Pirates sent Neverauskas to Altoona, which was a little surprising given the limited time he had in high A, but he dominated in AA. Throwing in shorter stints seems to have made a big difference with him, as he was sitting in the mid-90s or a little higher, and getting as high as 99 mph with his fastball. He was also throwing two different breaking pitches and showing improved command, although his command would falter a little at times. His pitching in May was especially remarkable, as hitters went 2-for-41 against him with 15 strikeouts. That got him a mid-June promotion to Indianapolis. He started off decently in AAA, but by August he was struggling a little. Opponents had a .798 OPS against him for the month. He still didn’t get hit very hard, allowing just five extra base hits, and one HR, in 30 innings in AAA. Unfortunately, his season came to an early end when he was arrested, along with Gift Ngoepe, in a bar fight in Toledo. Neverauskas’ involvement appeared to be minor, as was the charge against him, but the Pirates suspended him for the last week of the AAA season and did not call him up. He was initially slated to go to the Arizona Fall League, but that was canceled.
Neverauskas would have been a minor league free agent after the 2016 season, but the Pirates added him to the 40-man roster. He opened the season at Indianapolis, but made his major league debut in late April. That made him the first player in the majors who was born and raised in Lithuania (or simply the first born there, as a 1930s player named Joe Zapustas was born in either Lithuania or Latvia, depending on the source, and was raised in the US). Neverauskas rode the AAA shuttle all year, with his longest stretch in AAA being about six weeks. He pitched well in AAA, but didn’t dominate, as shown by his xFIP of 3.96. The xFIP was so much higher than his ERA because he allowed only one HR. He had a bad month in May (6.75 ERA) that inflated his numbers some. In the majors, Neverauskas was fairly effective but with a low K rate. He pitched well in August, allowing three hits and no walks in eight innings, which seemed to get him off Clint Hurdle’s “Rookie: Don’t Use” list. He got regular work in September, more so than Edgar Santana and especially Angel Sanchez. Neverauskas made 13 appearances in the month and pitched well until the last two. He was helped at the major league level by a .267 BABIP. His velocity was good all year, averaging over 97 mph in the majors.
Neverauskas made the Pirates’ roster out of camp in 2018, in part due to their decision to go with an eight-man bullpen early in the season. He had a terrible time and was sent down with a 10.80 ERA through seven outings. The Pirates recalled him four more times over the course of the season, including a September callup, but he spent more time in AAA than in the majors. Overall, he sharply increased his K rate, possibly due to throwing more breaking balls. He got good results in the minors, but did it despite a high walk rate. Strangely, he walked far fewer hitters in the majors, but he got hit very hard. Gopher balls were a big problem, as he allowed one every three innings. He had trouble getting through an outing without getting scored upon; he gave up runs in 14 of his 25 games. It’d be a major understatement to say that left-handed batters hit him hard, as they put up a 356/463/867 line against him. He did much better against right-handed hitters, holding them to a 226/246/403 line, although home runs were still a problem.
Neverauskas opened the season on the injured list due to an oblique problem. He only missed a few days of the season and went on rehab briefly. He served as part of the revolving door in the Pirates’ bullpen, appearing in the majors during four different stints and otherwise pitching in AAA. He took a step backwards in AAA, walking fewer but allowing eight home runs. His pitching with the Pirates was disastrous, with opponents raking him to the tune of 349/453/628. The damage was all done by right-handed hitters, who had a 1.545 OPS against him. Hitters slugged 1.000 off his fastball. In the minors, he finished the season badly, with a 6.75 ERA in July and 7.47 in August. He did not get a September callup.
The lack of a callup and the fact that he was out of options seemed to make Neverauskas a likely candidate for removal from the 40-man roster, but that didn’t happen. He instead spent the shortened season with the Pirates. Neverauskas reduced his fastball usage to less than half the time, while throwing his curve a third of the time. He improved his walk and K rates, with the curve in particular missing a lot of bats. But opponents continued to tee off on his fastball, slugging .914 against hit. He gave up better than a home run every four innings and, this time, had a conventional platoon split. Left-handed batters posted an OPS of 1.183 against him. The Pirates evidently tired of what they were seeing, as Neverauskas pitched only once in the last two weeks of the season.
The Pirates’ efforts with Neverauskas don’t seem to be going anywhere. He has no options and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be a viable option to open 2021 in their bullpen, so he should be a leading candidate to come off the 40-man roster.
|2021: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $60,000
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: 4/24/2017
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/5/2016
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2017, 2018, 2019)
MLB Service Time: 1.160
|July 11, 2009: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent with a $60,000 bonus.
November 5, 2016: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.