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Pirates notebook: Newly acquired prospect developing pitches in Arizona

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The Jacksonville Suns' Trevor Williams pitches during a spring training game against the Marlins on Saturday, April 4, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Pitcher Trevor Williams almost had to make his Pirates debut while wearing a Miami Marlins jersey.

Williams was with the Mesa Solar Sox, the Marlins’ affiliate in the Arizona Fall League, when he was traded to the Pirates on Oct. 24. Williams was reassigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs, who host the Pirates’ prospects.

Making the switch was as easy as driving across town for Williams, yet it took a few days for the Pirates to come up with a jersey for him.

“They told me there’s a rule that would let me pitch in my Marlins jersey until the new one arrived,” Williams said Monday. “But there’s no way I wanted to do that right after they traded me, so I pitched in someone else’s Pirates jersey.”

The right-hander’s first outing with his new club last week came against the Solar Sox.

“It was kind of funny, pitching against them,” Williams said. “I hope I make my (big league) debut against the Marlins to kind of bring it all full circle.”

Williams, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 out of Arizona State. The Pirates scouted him in college and tracked his progress in the low minors. They got him in exchange for righty Richard Mitchell, who pitched this year in rookie ball.

Averaging only 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings, Williams relies on guile and ground balls for outs. The sinker is his go-to pitch, and he also throws a changeup, a low- to mid-70s mph curveball and a mid-80s mph slider.

“My curveball’s never been an out pitch for me,” Williams said. “It’s been more of a free strike, something to get me over and slow hitters down off my fastball. The slider is something I want to develop into an out pitch, a swing-and-miss pitch. I’ve made strides with it. Hopefully, I find that over these last three weeks (in the AFL) and then remember it in spring training.”

Williams projects as a fourth or fifth starter in the majors. Farm director Larry Broadway said Williams likely will open 2016 in the rotation at Triple-A Indianapolis.

“Some of it is still up in the air, depending on what we do for big league depth this offseason,” Broadway said. “Certainly, if it’s not opening day, it will be shortly thereafter that we’ll want him (to be) in Indianapolis.”

McGuire, Meadows fall stars

Catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Austin Meadows were picked for the AFL’s Fall Stars Game.

Ranked the 22nd-best prospect in the game by MLB.com, Meadows hit .307 at High-A Bradenton and likely will begin 2016 with Double-A Altoona. McGuire batted .254 at Bradenton and is rated the second-best catcher prospect in the minors.

“It’s been great out here,” Meadows said. “It’s the best group of talent in the country, so it’s really been fun.”

The Fall Stars Game will be played at 8 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcast by MLB Network.

Frazier joins Team USA

Infielder Adam Frazier left Glendale after being assigned to the USAB Stars from the U.S. National Team. In seven Fall League games, Frazier hit .321 (9 for 28) with a .965 OPS, four RBIs and two stolen bases.

This past season at Altoona, Frazier batted .324 with an .801 OPS. He played mostly shortstop, but also was used at third base and the outfield. Frazier, 23, could project for a super-utility role if he reaches the majors.

“He’s a high-energy offensive player who can do some different things on the field,” Broadway said. “You’re not going to get tons of power out of him, but he can handle a bat. There’s some definite spark he brings to a club.”

Coaches will return

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle will keep his staff intact going into next season.

“We do not anticipate any changes to the coaching staff at this point,” general manager Neal Huntington said Monday via text message.

Coaches often are signed to one-year deals, which are renewed early in the offseason. Huntington did not respond when asked if any of the coaches’ contracts are still pending.

Around the horn

Among the 139 MLB players who automatically became free agents on Monday are eight Pirates: Antonio Bastardo, Joe Blanton, A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, Sean Rodriguez and Joakim Soria. Burnett and Ramirez have said they plan to retire. … The 26th annual PirateFest will be Dec. 12-13 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. The first day will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with free admission. Admission on the second day is restricted to season-ticket holders who selected PirateFest as their VIP perk. Schedules and ticketing info for autograph sessions will be released later. … Starling Marte won a Fielding Bible Award as the top left fielder in the majors, receiving 116 of a possible 120 points in weighted balloting. Marte also is a Gold Glove finalist.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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