The Pirates signed three players today, 3B Andy Marte, RHP Fernando Nieve and C Dusty Brown, to minor league contracts with an invite to spring camp.
Marte was ranked among Baseball America‘s top 15 prospects in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but hit just .218/20/95 in 924 plate appearances during parts of five seasons with the Indians. Marte's also seen time at first base, which is probably where Pittsburgh will look at him, although he won't be blocking anyone in the system at either corner spot.
Reliever Nieve, 28, tossed 42 innings in 2010, posting a 2-4 slate, 6.00 ERA and 38 K in 42 IP for the Mets; he's also pitched for Houston. His record is 8-11 with a 4.61 ERA during his four-year MLB career.
Nieve is a fastball/slider guy and hits 93 on the gun, but is susceptible to the longball and has control issues. Still, he has a chance at filling last year's Park/Gallagher role in the pen, and the Bucs are planning to stretch him out as a starter in camp.
Brown, 28, appeared in thirteen games for the 2009-10 Red Sox and is basically a career minor leaguer. He's a .259 hitter with a throw-out percentage of 26% in his ten year farm career. The Red Sox dropped him from their 40-man roster in October; he looks ticketed for Indy in 2011.