PITTSBURGH -- You won't find Andrew McCutchen taking batting practice on the back fields of Pirate City, slamming the tin roof beyond the left-field fence with home runs. Gerrit Cole won't scale the mound and throw a mid-morning bullpen session at full intensity.But this Spring Training will not be without
PITTSBURGH -- You won't find Andrew McCutchen taking batting practice on the back fields of Pirate City, slamming the tin roof beyond the left-field fence with home runs. Gerrit Cole won't scale the mound and throw a mid-morning bullpen session at full intensity.
But this Spring Training will not be without intrigue for the Pirates. As they transition from one core to another, the Bucs are excited to see this young group -- including six players who are new to the organization -- come together and hopefully form the foundation of Pittsburgh's next postseason team.
"Our players have the opportunity to really do something significant together," manager Clint Hurdle said last month on MLB Network Radio. "There are some veteran guys on this team that are just excited. … These men expect good things to happen. They expect to win games."
At nearly every position, there is a young player who has not yet realized his potential or a prospect nearly ready for the Majors. But considering they came at the cost of Cole and McCutchen, there is a particularly high level of intrigue around six of the newest Pirates: Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran, Michael Feliz, Jason Martin, Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds. All six will report to big league camp, and only Martin and Reynolds are expected to begin the season in the Minors.
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Musgrove will join Pittsburgh's starting staff. The 25-year-old right-hander owns a 5.37 ERA in 25 Major League starts, but he thrived in Houston's bullpen, posting a 1.26 ERA over 24 appearances. He believes that experience will help him better handle uncomfortable situations in his return to the rotation.
"All those things I did in the bullpen are going to make me a lot stronger as a starter," Musgrove said. "That's where I feel like I'm going to develop."
Moran will get a chance to start every day at third base. After losing his swing in 2016, he tweaked his setup and found more power than he'd ever displayed in the Minors. The Pirates believe that success will follow him to the Majors. If it does, he could have the biggest impact of any player they acquired for either Cole or McCutchen.
"There's only 30 big league starting third baseman jobs," Moran said. "To have a good opportunity to showcase myself in Spring Training and try to be the guy, it's really exciting."
Feliz, 24, has big stuff and bigger strikeout numbers (12.8 per nine innings in the Majors) but also a 5.13 ERA in 98 relief outings. Crick, 25, is another power right-hander who could make an immediate impact in front of closer Felipe Rivero and setup men George Kontos and Daniel Hudson.
"He's electric," Musgrove said of Feliz. "He was a guy we relied on throughout the season. He's going to be a big piece in the bullpen."
Martin and Reynolds, meanwhile, will work with the big league staff this spring before joining an interesting group of young players -- including Mitch Keller, Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, Kevin Kramer and Cole Tucker -- potentially within a year or two of reaching Pittsburgh.