BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates have 54 players remaining in Major League camp, after cutting four pitchers prior to Saturday's pair of games.
Bryan Morris was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, which is where the right-hander is slated to begin this season. Righty Kyle McPherson was optioned to High-A Bradenton, while left-handers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson have been reassigned to Minor League camp.
None of these four moves come as a surprise, as all four pitchers were in camp knowing that they were not competing for roster spots with the big league club.
"[With the] small snapshots that I was able to view, I was impressed with all of them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It just reinforces everything I heard, everything I felt, everything I had seen about our player development system. These guys are grounded. These guys are focused. These guys are committed. They are professionals. They used their eyes so well, their ears so well here."
Like Morris, both Owens and Wilson are also expected to be in Indianapolis' starting rotation in April. The two spent all of 2010 with Double-A Altoona, where each made 26 starts. Wilson, the club's fifth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, finished 11-8 with a 3.09 ERA. Owens, who was named the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, posted a 2.46 ERA and won 12 games.
Morris is coming off a bounce back season in which he spent the majority of the year in Double-A. After allowing only three earned runs in 44 2/3 innings with Bradenton, Morris made 19 appearances (16 starts) with Altoona.
McPherson appeared in only two games above the low-A level last year but impressed the organization enough that the Pirates added him to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft.