11/21/08 12:01 PM EST
Van Benschoten parts ways with Bucs
Former first-round pick decides to pursue roster spot elsewhere
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
The former first-round Draft pick filed for Minor League free agency a few weeks back, but has since informed the Pirates he is not interested in the possibility of re-signing with Pittsburgh.
"John is looking forward to exploring his options elsewhere," general manager Neal Huntington said.
After eight years in the organization, a fresh start certainly seems necessary for the 6-foot-4, former Kent State standout who never reached organizational expectations. Reconstructive shoulder injuries on both shoulders cost Van Benschoten nearly two full seasons, and once he returned for a full season in 2007, parlaying Van Benschoten's dominant Minor League results into Major League success became a mystery.
He was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2007, but went 0-7 with a 10.15 ERA in 11 appearances (nine starts) with the Pirates that season. The results in '08 were much of the same. Van Benschoten went 7-4 with a 3.92 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis, yet stumbled as a spot starter in the Majors.
His 10.48 ERA in 11 appearances (five starts) with the Pirates this season eventually got Van Benschoten sent back down to Indianapolis. He was not invited back as a September call-up.
The Pirates sent Van Benschoten to Mexico for the winter ball season, where he has gone 1-3 with a 5.16 ERA in six starts. And in a sign that the organization did not see Van Benschoten as a piece of their 2009 club, the Pirates removed the right-hander from the 40-man roster in late October.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.