The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signings of right-hander Wilfredo Boscan and left-hander Charlie Leesman to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League spring training. The duo will be joined at big league camp by several standouts from the Pirates’ minor league system, including fellow invitees in 2014 Tribe outfielder Mel Rojas Jr. and right-handed starter Adrian Sampson.
Boscan, 25, pitched at the top two levels of Boston’s system during the 2014 campaign, combining to post a 3.66 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 22 games (five starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. The Maracaibo, Venezuela native was originally signed by Texas a non-drafted free agent in 2006, and including last year’s IL stint, has worked both as a starter and in relief to compile a career record of 42-55 with a 4.13 ERA and two saves through 180 minor league appearances (117 starts).
His eight-year MiLB career is highlighted by a dominant 2008 campaign in which he won all but one of his 10 decisions, recorded a 3.12 ERA and earned a Postseason All-Star Selection with Short-Season Spokane.
Leesman, 27, has spent his entire seven-year professional career in the White Sox organization after originally being selected by the club in the 11th round of 2008 First-Year Player Draft. The Cincinnati, Ohio native and Xavier University alumnus is the third-highest draft pick out of his alma mater’s baseball program, and the southpaw fit the billing by pitching at the Major-League level during parts of each of the last two seasons.
Since making his professional debut in 2008, Leesman has gone 55-37 with a 3.50 ERA through 143 minor league games (139 starts). He is a two-time MiLB All-Star with accolades at Double-A Birmingham (2011) and Triple-A Charlotte (2012), and last season took home honors as the IL’s Pitcher of the Week on May 12.
The Pirates also bolstered their ranks at big league camp with Rojas and Sampson headlining today’s six-man additions to 2015 spring training. The prospects will enter camp at Pirate City on Feb. 19 and are set to be joined by Stetson Allie (INF), Keon Broxton (OF), Tyler Glasnow (RHP) and Gift Ngoepe (INF).
Mel Rojas Jr. (OF) – Pittsburgh’s third-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and an Indianapolis native, Rojas is coming off a strong showing in 2014 which featured career highs in average (.288), OBP (.370), hits (126), home runs (10), RBI (66) and walks (55) from a season split between Altoona and the Tribe. After receiving a promotion to Indianapolis, the 24 year old responded by hitting safely in 49 of 77 IL games and reached base in 60 of 77 during his Triple-A debut season.
Rojas Jr. is the son of former big league pitcher Mel Rojas, whose career featured a three-season stint with the Indianapolis Indians from 1990-92.
Adrian Sampson (RHP) – The Pirates’ fifth-round selection from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft went 11-6 with two complete games and a 2.96 ERA in 28 combined starts between Altoona and Indianapolis in 2014. A native of Redmond, Washington, Sampson paced his first career Triple-A promotion by excelling in 2014 as the Curve’s Pitcher of the Year and as an Eastern League Mid and Postseason All-Star selection.
The righty capped his dominant campaign with four starts for the Indians, including going 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two assignments at Victory Field.
Stetson Allie (INF) – Pittsburgh’s second-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft … Finished second among all PIT farmhands in home runs (21) in 2014 while spending entire season with Double-A Altoona … Currently ranks second in PIT system (behind Andrew Lambo, 44) with 42 total homers over the last two seasons.
Keon Broxton (OF) – Spent entire 2014 campaign with Altoona after being acquired from Arizona on 3/27… Ranked third among Pirates minor leaguers in stolen bases (25), fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in games played (127) … Also produced seventh-best OPS (.853) in Eastern League in 2014 … Tabbed by Baseball America as the “Best Athlete” in the Arizona farm system following the 2012 season.
Tyler Glasnow (RHP) – Pittsburgh’s fifth-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft … Named organization’s Minor League Pitcher-of-the-Year in each of the last two seasons … Went 12-5 and led Florida State League in ERA (1.74) over his 23 starts with Bradenton in 2014 … Effort followed a 9-3 showing with 2.18 ERA in career-high 24 starts in 2013 with West Virginia … Has recorded the second-most strikeouts (321) among all minor league pitchers over the last two seasons (trails only Henry Owens with BOS – 339).
Gift Ngoepe (INF) – Entered the 2014 season rated by Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in Pittsburgh’s minor league system … Committed just 11 errors in a career-high 131 games (86 at second base and 44 at shortstop) last year … Spent the entire season with Altoona and led Eastern League second basemen in total chances (459) … Native of South Africa was signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on 9/29/08.
The Pirates currently have 40 players on their 40-man roster and an additional 21 non-roster players expected to participate in big league camp.
Pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton, Fla. on Feb. 19 for the beginning of 2015 spring training.