After already claiming right-hander Tyler Beede from the Giants and designating right-hander Handsome Sulser for assignment this morning, the Pirates announced a series of further moves this afternoon, optional shortstop Cole Tucker and right-hander Max Kranick to Triple-A Indianapolis, recalling shortstop Rodolfo Castro from Indianapolis, and reinstating right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. from the 10-day IL.
Tucker’s demotion is arguably the most notable element of all this, given his former prospect pedigree. Selected by the Pirates 24th overall in the 2014 draft, he instantly became one of the club’s most intriguing prospects. Baseball America ranked him #8 in the system the following year and Tucker would stay in the top 10 for four further years after that, gaining particular praise for his speed and defensive abilities.
However, since making his MLB debut in 2019, his performance at the plate has undermined his abilities elsewhere. In 154 career games in the big leagues, he has a batting line of .211/.259/.314, producing a wRC+ of 53. He has one option year remaining, so today’s demotion will make him out of options next year, assuming he spends at least 20 total days in the minors on the season.
Underwood, 27, was acquired from the Cubs and did yeoman’s work for the Pirates last year. In 43 games, he logged 72 2/3 innings, putting up a 4.33 ERA with a 20.3% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate and 43.5% ground ball rate. This year, he faced one batter before a hamstring strain put him on the shelf.