NICK TROPEANO, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: August 27, 1990
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 5th Round, 160th overall pick, 2011 (Astros)
How Acquired: Waiver Claim (from Yankees)
College: State University of New York at Stony Brook
Agent: Bledsoe Brothers

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

The Astros drafted Tropeano out of college, where he had a strong career largely based on an outstanding changeup.  His fastball was mainly in the low-90s, with good command, and he threw a fringy slider.  In the majors, his fastball has generally averaged around 91 mph and the change remains his best-regarded pitch.  His control usually has been solid.  He’s a flyball pitcher and hasn’t had significant platoon splits in the majors.  He’s been primarily a starter throughout his career, but he was plagued by shoulder problems and a torn ligament in his elbow from 2015-19.  The Pirates acquired Tropeano from the Yankees on a waiver claim.

2011
A-:  3-2-0, 2.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 10.6 K/9

Tropeano had a strong debut in the New York-Penn League, making a dozen starts and holding opponents to a .567 OPS.  Baseball America ranked him 12th in the Astros’ system after the season.

2012
A:  6-4-0, 2.78 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 87.1 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 10.0 K/9
A+:  6-3-0, 3.31 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 70.2 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

Tropeano divided his season evenly between low and high A.  He put up strong numbers at both levels; the high A numbers were better than they look because he was in the high-offense California League.  BA rated him the Astros’ 9th best prospect after the season.

2013
AA:  7-10-5, 4.11 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 133.2 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

The Astros sent Tropeano to AA and used him in a tandem system in which he was pitching fewer innings every fourth day.  It didn’t seem to work for him so well, as he lost some effectiveness.  BA still rated him 18th in the system after the season.

2014
AAA:  9-5-0, 3.03 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 124.2 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
MLB:  1-3-0, 4.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

Tropeano pitched very well in the Pacific Coast League, holding opponents to a .202 average.  The Astros added him to the roster and called him up for September.  He made four starts and pitched better than his ERA indicates.  After the season, Houston traded him to the Angels.  BA ranked him ninth in the latter’s system.

2015
R:  0-1-0, 2.57 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7.0 IP, 1.3 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
AAA:  3-6-0, 4.81 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 88.0 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
MLB:  3-2-0, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Tropeano spent most of the season in AAA, although he missed much of June with an injury.  He made a few spot starts in the majors, then got called up in September.  He actually pitched a good deal better in the majors.

2016
A+:  0-1-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.0 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 12.6 K/9
AAA:  1-0-0, 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 6.2 IP, 1.4 BB/9, 9.5 K/9
MLB:  3-2-0, 3.56 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 68.1 IP, 4.1 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

Tropeano spent half the season in the Angels’ rotation.  He pitched respectably, although not as well as the ERA indicates.  He was helped by a very high 91.1% strand rate; his xFIP was 4.87.  He missed some time in June with shoulder tightness, then went out for the season in mid-July due to a torn ligament in his elbow.

2017
INJURED

Tropeano missed the entire season due to surgery to repair the UCL in his elbow.

2018
A+:  1-1-0, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.0 IP, 1.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
AAA:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 3.2 IP, 7.4 BB/9, 17.2 K/9
MLB:  5-6-0, 4.74 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 76.0 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.6 K/9

The Angels kept Tropeano in the majors for most of the season when he could pitch, but he missed much of June with right shoulder inflammation and went out for the season in early August with the same problem.  He pitched respectably in the majors, making 14 starts, but gopher balls were a problem.  He gave up nearly two for every nine innings.

2019
AAA:  4-6-0, 5.87 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 79.2 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
MLB:  0-1-0, 9.88 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

Tropeano missed the first month of the season while rehabbing from the shoulder inflammation.  He spent the rest of the year being shuttled back and forth between the majors and AAA, although he made only three appearances with the Angels, and only one start.  Home runs were still a problem.  He gave up close to one every other inning with the Angels.

2020
MLB:  1-0-0, 1.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 10.9 K/9

The Yankees signed Tropeano to a minor league deal in the off-season, then called him up in early August.  Before he pitched for them, though, they designated him for assignment and the Pirates claimed him.  He pitched in seven games for the Pirates, mainly in long relief, and got surprisingly good results.  He relied very heavily on a splitter, throwing it about a quarter of the time, far more than in the past.  He also threw more sliders than fastballs, and missed a lot of bats with both the slider and splitter.  Tropeano did give up a lot of hard contact, with a high exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.  His ERA benefited from an extremely high strand rate of 96.6% and his xFIP was 3.94.

The small sample size makes it hard to draw any conclusions from Tropeano’s 2020 season.  It’s possible, though, that the move to the splitter as a key pitch led to a real step forward.  He could be a non-tender candidate, but if the Pirates believe in the splitter they’ll likely want to retain him.  He has one option left.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2020: Major League Minimum
2019:
$1,075,000
2017: $542,500
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $155,700
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 9/10/2014
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 9/2/2014
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2015, 2019)
MLB Service Time: 4.076
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2011: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 5th round, 160th overall pick; signed on June 8.
September 2, 2014:
Contract purchased by the Houston Astros.
November 5, 2014: Traded by the Houston Astros with Carlos Perez to the Los Angeles Angels for Hank Conger.
May 11, 2019: Traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.
October 28, 2019: Outrighted to AAA by the Los Angeles Angels, elected free agency.
January 8, 2020: Signed as a minor league free agent by the New York Yankees.
August 6, 2020: Called up by the New York Yankees.
August 8, 2020: Designated for assignment by the New York Yankees.
August 11, 2020: Claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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