Casey Sadler is a Sleeper to Grab 5th Spot of Pittsburgh Pirates' Rotation

By Vinny Gala
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you are a completely devoted fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates you probably haven’t heard of Casey Sadler before, but he could feasibly see some time in a Pirates’ uniform at some point this season. Admittedly, he isn’t likely to be the team’s fifth starter when camp breaks later this month, but he does have the potential to be the first player called upon for a start with the big club this year. So far, Sadler has made one appearance at Spring Training, fanning three in only two innings of work and posting a miniscule WHIP of 0.50 and a perfect ERA.

So, what’s the story and background on Casey Sadler? Well, Sadler is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher out of Western Oklahoma State JuCo, who was selected in the 25th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft. The Pirates added him to the 40-man roster after the conclusion of last season.  At the beginning of his minor league career, Sadler was primarily being used as a reliever before being slowly transitioned into a starting pitcher in the 2012 season. His first full season as a starter came in 2013 with AA Altoona where he posted an 11-7 record with a 3.31 ERA in 130 innings of work. He made a single start at AAA Indianapolis at the end of 2013, and turned in a solid performance, throwing six innings, striking out five and surrendering three earned runs.

Sadler has progressed through the Pirates’ system quite quickly by anyone’s standards, spending a single season at each level — 2010 in low-A, 2011 in A, 2012 in high-A and 2013 at AA Altoona. For the most part, Sadler has been a fairly consistent pitcher throughout his minor league career, at least statistically speaking. Sadler has a career 3.30 ERA and averages 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The only concern is that he doesn’t seem to miss a ton of bats, surrendering around eight hits per nine innings, which isn’t horrible by any means.

2014 will not likely be the year that Sadler storms onto the scene and dominates in the same way that Gerrit Cole did last season, especially since he will need to beat Jeff Locke (or Edinson Volquez if he continues to struggle) and Stolmy Pimentel to the punch for the spot-starting opportunities in all likelihood. His numbers look good so far this spring, so he at least deserves to be included in the discussion about the fifth rotation spot, especially if he continues his dominance of Grapefruit League batters.

Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for  Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.

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