Veteran reliever Luis Ayala opted out of his minor-league contract with the Orioles last week and became a free agent because they wouldn’t call him up to the majors, and now Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports that the 36-year-old right-hander will pitch in the Mexican League.
Ayala is from Mexico, so it’s possible that he had some other Triple-A offers and simply decided to head home rather than keep grinding away in the International or Pacific Coast Leagues.
Ayala looked washed up 4-5 years ago, but then he posted a 2.58 ERA in 164 innings from 2011-2013. Yet despite that good work no teams ever seemed to really trust him as a bullpen option, so he bounced around and now couldn’t get back to the big leagues.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.