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Bucs ink former top prospects to Minors deals

OF Shuck, RHPs Maurer, Campos add depth to Pirates' system
January 30, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates agreed on Wednesday to sign outfielder JB Shuck and right-handers Brandon Maurer and Vicente Campos to Minor League contracts.Maurer and Shuck will report to Major League Spring Training as non-roster invitees when the Bucs head south to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., in two weeks. Campos

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates agreed on Wednesday to sign outfielder JB Shuck and right-handers Brandon Maurer and Vicente Campos to Minor League contracts.
Maurer and Shuck will report to Major League Spring Training as non-roster invitees when the Bucs head south to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., in two weeks. Campos will report to Minor League camp.
Pittsburgh may not be done adding outfielders. The Pirates are still considering veteran outfielders, including Cameron Maybin. According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, the Bucs would be interested in adding players like Maybin or Brandon Guyer on Minor League deals as well.
The Pirates' pursuit of outfield depth makes sense. Gregory Polanco isn't expected to be ready for Opening Day following September shoulder surgery. Lonnie Chisenhall, Polanco's replacement in right field, missed most of last season due to calf injuries. There aren't many other proven outfield options on their roster, providing a potential opportunity for a veteran to break camp with the team.
Shuck, 31, has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues. The lefty-hitting outfielder finished fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, when he hit .293 with a .697 OPS for the Angels. He put together a 95 OPS+ while playing all three outfield spots for the White Sox in 2015. He slashed just .192/.255/.231 in 70 games for the Marlins last season, although his stint in Miami began with a 4-for-4 game against the Pirates on April 13.
Both pitchers were once well-regarded prospects who will likely start the season in the Minors as depth options. Minor League signings are generally low-risk moves that occasionally produce success stories like the Pirates' Richard Rodríguez.
Maurer broke into the big leagues with the Mariners, who traded him to the Padres in 2014. The 28-year-old struggled in the Royals' bullpen the last year and a half, posting a 7.89 ERA and 2.18 WHIP in 63 appearances for Kansas City.
Maurer still has appealing talent despite his results. His four-seam fastball averaged 96.1 mph last season, according to Statcast™, and opponents hit just .200 with a .255 slugging percentage against his slider. But his walk rate spiked to 15.6 percent, and opposing hitters crushed his fastball.
Maurer's best season came in San Diego. Pitching out of the bullpen in 2015, he posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 51 innings over 53 appearances. He was selected in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Orange Lutheran High School, the same school that produced former Pirates starter Gerrit Cole.
Campos, 26, was a highly ranked prospect in the Mariners system before Seattle traded him to the Yankees as part of the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero deal in January 2012. New York sent him to Arizona in 2016 for reliever Tyler Clippard, and Campos made his lone big league appearance for the D-backs on Aug. 27, 2016.
Years of injuries and ineffectiveness have kept Campos from making it back to the big leagues. He spent most of last year with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, then pitched for Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.