-- C Eric Kratz, as expected, got the call to replace Jason Jaramillo. It couldn't have come at a better time; it was on TV during the AAA All-Star Game. For once, the Bucco PR guys got something right.
-- OF Starling Marte suffered an undisclosed "setback" during rehab of his hamate-removal hand surgery. It's supposed to be a simple procedure; guess we'll find out in a couple of days if that was so for Marte.
-- The Toronto Blue Jays announced that they DFA'ed RHP Ronald Uviedo, who the Pirates recently traded to them for the forgettable LHP Dana Eveland. Maybe he'll end up back home; stay tuned.
-- The Pirates continue to milk non-traditional sources for talent. Yesterday, they announced the signing of the first Belarusian to ever ink a MLB contract, 16 year-old RHP Aleksey Lukashevich of the Brest Zubrs' baseball club, a western-backed civic youth organization.
Lukashevich, a stringbean at 6'4" and 160 pounds, is from Brest, Belarus. His deal is for the 2011 season, and he's expected to play with Bradenton of the GCL next summer. He's a member of the MLB European Academy in Italy, where Gift Ngoepe was discovered.
Lukashevich is the coach's kid, and was said to be pursued by several other teams. Dunno if these deals are helping the Pirates any, but they sure are opening a lot of doors for MLB scouts and kids who otherwise would never sniff a MLB opportunity.
-- In a signing of more immediate value, Chuck Finder wrote in the Post Gazette Plus (subscription only) section that Mel Rojas Jr. is in town to get a physical and is expected to join State College perhaps as soon as tomorrow or Friday. If that's indeed the case, he'll be signed for around slot and won't need any special MLB contract approval.
Rojas, 20, the Bucs' third-round draft pick this year and highest selection to sign to date, hit .398 with 12 home runs, 71 RBI, 94 runs, and 61 stolen bases in 64 tries at Wabash Valley CC. He's supposedly a five-tooler; the level of competition, which he tore up, is his question mark.
-- This year's eighth round pick, 18 year-old RHP Dace Kime, announced he's going to Louisville rather than sign with Pittsburgh. Here's the story by Tim McDonough of the Louisville Crescent-News.
For all the accusations of Bucco bumbling, this seems more a case of a guy getting antsy waiting for contract approval by MLB for an over-slot bonus (anything over $150K from the fifth round on), since the article said they reached agreement fairly quickly. Maybe if the OK comes before school starts, he'll reconsider. If not, he'll become draft eligible again after three college seasons.
-- RHP Nathan Baker, 22, was promoted to Bradenton from West Virginia today; RHP Melkin Laureano, 24, was demoted to West Virginia in the swap. Baker, a fifth round draft pick in 2009, was 6-5 with a 2.99 ERA; Laureano was 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA. Both are starters.