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Pirates sign five minor league free agents

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed pitchers Collin Balester, Jake Brigham, Jay Jackson, Josh Kinney and Seth McClung to minor league contracts. Brigham, Jackson and Kinney have received invitations to Major League spring training as non-roster players.

The 27-year-old Balester was originally selected by Montreal in the fourth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and spent five seasons in the Major Leagues with Washington (2008-2011) and Detroit (2012). He signed a minor league deal with Texas last November and made six appearances (five starts) with Triple-A Round Rock before having "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow on June 3.

Brigham, 25, went 5-5 with a 4.51 ERA (113.2ip/57er) in 26 games (18 starts) with Round Rock in 2013 after making seven scoreless appearances (13.2ip) with Double-A Frisco to start the season. He has spent a majority of his professional career in the Texas farm system since being selected by the Rangers in the sixth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. A Texas League All-Star with Frisco in 2012, Brigham tied for second in the league with 116 strikeouts that season.

Jackson spent the 2013 season in the Miami organization, where he posted a 4-7 record and a 3.53 ERA (104.2ip/41er) in 21 total games (18 starts) between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. Originally selected by the Cubs in the ninth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the 26-year-old Jackson spent five years in the Chicago farm system before signing a minor league deal with the Marlins on April 12.

The 34-year-old Kinney spent the entire 2013 campaign in the Seattle organization pitching with Triple-A Tacoma, where he went 2-2 with one save and a 4.36 ERA (33.0ip/16er) in 30 relief appearances. Kinney has pitched in the big leagues with the Cardinals (2006, 2008-2009), White Sox (2011) and Mariners (2012). He did not allow a run in seven postseason appearances (6.1ip) with St. Louis in 2006, including two outings in the World Series vs. Detroit.

McClung, who has seen big league action with Tampa Bay (2003, 2005-2006) and Milwaukee (2007-2009), pitched in Mexico and Taiwan in 2013. In the Mexican League, he posted five saves and a 1.69 ERA (10.2ip/2er) in 13 games with Monterrey and went 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA (12.1ip/4er) in 11 games with Puebla. The 32-year-old McClung was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the fifth round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft.

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