JAMES MARVEL, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: September 17, 1993
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 36th Round, 1087th Overall, 2015
How Acquired: Draft
College: Duke University
Agent: N/A

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

Marvel was drafted by the Twins in 2012, but ended up going to Duke.  He didn’t pitch much, undergoing Tommy John surgery late in his sophomore year, and missing all of the 2015 season.  In his two years pitching for Duke, he combined for a 2.94 ERA in 67.1 innings, with a 38:24 K/BB ratio.  Given his situation, it seemed questionable whether the Pirates would be able to sign him, but they did, two days before the deadline.  He wasn’t available to pitch until 2016.  He throws a sinker that generates a lot of groundballs, and occasionally throws a four-seamer.  Both pitches average just over 90mph.  He also throws a curve and change, with the former being his best pitch.

2016
A-:  5-6-0, 4.43 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 65.0 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 5.7 K/9

Marvel spent the season in the Morgantown rotation, which was a success in itself.  He pitched better than his ERA, with a good WHIP and only one HR allowed.  His 3.46 FIP is probably a better indication of his season.  He held right-handed hitters to a .549 OPS, while left-handed hitters managed .692.  Again, neither figure is one you’d expect from a guy with a high ERA.  The main negative was that Marvel didn’t miss many bats.

2017
A:  6-8-0, 3.99 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 94.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
A+:  1-0-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 24.0 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.0 K/9

The Pirates considered moving Marvel up to Bradenton to open 2017, but there was a lot of competition for rotation spots there and he instead joined the rotation at West Virginia.  He pitched just decently there, with just solid numbers.  In August, the Pirates moved him up to Bradenton and he got much better results in four starts.  His K rate actually dropped, though, and his xFIP (3.39) wasn’t as good as his ERA, although it was still good.

2018
A+:  9-6-0, 3.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 134.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 6.7 K/9
AA:  3-1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 33.1 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.0 K/9

Marvel pitched in the Bradenton rotation through early August, then moved up to Altoona for five starts.  He was generally successful, not striking out many but getting a lot of ground balls, throwing strikes and going fairly deep into games.  He was better at Altoona, pitching into or completing the seventh inning in four of his five starts.  The advanced metrics weren’t sold on his AA performance, though, particularly with the low K rate.  His xFIP in the five Altoona starts was 4.31.  Marvel had almost no platoon split.

2019
AA:  9-5-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 101.2 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
AAA:  7-0-0, 2.67 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 60.2 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
MLB:  0-3-0, 8.31 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 4.7 K/9

The Pirates sent Marvel back to AA and he pitched well through 17 starts, with an improved K rate.  He moved up to AAA for 11 more starts and got even better results, although the advanced stats didn’t buy it:  his xFIP in AAA was 5.04.  He benefited in AAA from a somewhat low batting average on balls in play of .258.  At both levels he kept the ball in the park, allowing six longballs at Altoona and, despite the huge surge in power in AAA, four with Indianapolis.  The Pirates initially weren’t going to call him up in September, inexplicably going with Alex McRae instead, but after Mitch Keller got hit with a line drive they changed their minds and called Marvel up.  He made four starts, pitching well in the first and last and getting hammered in the other two.  As shown by the K rate, major league hitters had little trouble making contact against him and he gave up a home run every four innings.

Marvel doesn’t have a high ceiling, but could develop into a decent back-of-the-rotation starter.  Surprisingly, though, the team outrighted him to create roster space.  He’ll probably be in the Indianapolis rotation in 2020.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2020: Minor League Salary
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $150,000
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: 9/8/2019
MiLB FA Eligible: 2021
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 9/8/2019 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.022
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2012: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 37th round, 1120th overall pick.
June 10, 2015:
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 36th round, 1087th overall pick; signed on July 13.
September 8, 2019: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 4, 2019: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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