By Jason Shetler
Within a couple weeks, the Pirates will get to expand the roster for the arrival of September call ups. Because the Indianapolis Indians won’t reach the playoffs this season, the Pirates will have a good amount of call ups. The most noteworthy will be Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Alen Hanson, A.J. Schugel and Drew Hutchison. The bullpen in particular are going to have plenty of arms. Perhaps the most intriguing come September could be Dovydas Neverauskas.
During Neal Huntington’s tenure as Pirates general manager, him and his staff haven’t been afraid to explore all over the world to obtain amateur players. That was certainly the case back in 2010 when they signed a 16-year-old Dovydas Neverauskas out of Lithuania, which isn’t a country known for producing baseball talent. The signing bonus was on the inexpensive side at just $60,000.
In his first few seasons, Neverauskas pitched between the rotation and bullpen, and seemed to be holding his own at the lower levels. He ran into struggles however in 2014 when he posted an ERA of 5.60 in the West Virginia Power rotation. Last season between West Virginia and Bradenton, he bounced back to put up a 2.64 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP in 30 games, five of which were starts.
Neverauskas entered 2016 as a member of the Altoona Curve bullpen. His good work earned him a promotion to the Indianapolis Indians on June 15th. Combined with both affiliates, he has a 2.83 ERA along with a WHIP of 1.17 and is holding opponents to a .227 batting average against in 44 relief appearances. Neverauskas represented the Pirates at this year’s Futures Game in San Diego. He looked very impressive in his one scoreless inning for the World Team, as he induced three groundball outs and topped out at 98 mph with the fastball. Neverauskas will become a minor league free agent if the Pirates don’t make him a September call up, so it’s almost a given that he would be added to the 40-man roster. It’s fair to say that Lithuania to Pittsburgh makes for one incredible journey to the big leagues.