Pirates ink deals with five minor league free agents

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The Pirates announced the signing of five minor league free agents today, all right-handed pitchers, and extended invitations to major league spring training to three of them.

Collin Balester, Jake Brigham, Jay Jackson, Josh Kinney and Seth McClung joined the organization, with Brigham, Jackson and Kinney as non-roster invitees.

The 27-year-old Balester, a fourth-round pick by the Montreal Expos in the 2004 draft, pitched in the majors for parts of five seasons, from 2008-12. He has a 5.30 career ERA in 73 games, 22 starts, with the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers. He pitched in six games for Class AAA Round Rock in the Texas Rangers organization in 2013 before undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on June 3.

Kinney, 34, has made 93 relief appearances in parts of five major league seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. He made seven appearances for the Cardinals in the 2006 playoffs, including two during the World Series that they eventually won. Kinney pitched for Class AAA Tacoma in the Mariners organization during 2013, striking out 32 in 33 innings in relief.

Brigham, a sixth-round pick in 2006, split 2013 between Round Rock and Class AA Frisco in the Rangers farm system. The 25-year-old pitched in 33 games, starting 18 of them, and had a 4.03 ERA.

The Chicago Cubs took Jackson, 26, in the ninth round of the 2008 draft. He pitched for the Miami Marlins organization in 2013, when he had a 3.53 ERA in 1042/3 innings between Class AA Jacksonville and Class AAA New Orleans. He pitched in 21 games, 18 starts, and struck out eight batters per nine innings while only walking 2.8 per nine.

McClung debuted in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as they were then known, but has not pitched in the majors since 2009. The 32-year-old pitched in the Mexican League and in Taiwan last season. He struck out 24 batters in 23 innings for two different Mexican League teams.

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