Pirates sign two minor league free agents

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed catcher Nevin Ashley and right-handed pitcher Cody Eppley to minor league contracts, which include invitations to Major League spring training as non-roster players.

The 29-year-old Ashley spent the entire 2013 season in the Cincinnati farm system, where he hit .235 (56-for-238) with six homers and 28 RBI in 80 games with Triple-A Louisville. He threw out 26 percent of the baserunners attempting to steal against him (16-of-61) and committed just one error in 74 games behind the plate.

Originally selected by Tampa Bay in the sixth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Ashley spent seven seasons in the Rays organization (2006-2012) before signing a minor league deal with the Reds on 11/19/12. He was tabbed by Baseball America as the Best Defensive catcher in the Tampa Bay system in 2009 and 2010.

Eppley, 28, posted a 4-2 record, three saves and a 6.49 ERA (43.0ip/31er) in 41 combined games between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees' AAA) and Rochester (Twins' AAA) last season. He began the season with the Yankees, where he made two appearances (1.2ip/4er) before being sent to Triple-A.

Eppley also made six appearances (4.1ip/1er) with Lancaster in the Independent Atlantic League during the 2013 campaign. Eppley was originally selected by Texas in the 43rd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and spent four years in the Rangers farm system before being claimed off waivers by the Yankees on 4/5/12. He made his Major League debut with Texas on 4/23/11 and has gone 2-3 with a 4.61 ERA (56.2ip/29er) in 71 big league games with the Rangers (2011) and Yankees (2012-2013). Eppley also made four scoreless appearances (3.2ip) with New York during the 2012 American League Championship Series against Detroit.

The Pirates have now invited five non-roster players to big league camp.

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