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Pirates sign Minor League catcher, reliever

Pirates sign Minor League catcher, reliever

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Pirates sign Minor League catcher, reliever

The Pirates signed catcher Nevin Ashley and right-hander Cody Eppley as Minor League free agents Tuesday and invited both players to Major League Spring Training.

Eppley, 28, has spent some time in the Majors each of the past three seasons, most recently with the Yankees in 2012 and '13. He went 4-2 with three saves and a 6.49 ERA in 41 games split between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) and Rochester (Twins) last season. He started the year with the Yankees' big league club, making two appearances before he was sent down.

Eppley also made six appearances with Lancaster in the independent Atlantic League last year. He was the Rangers' 43rd-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and spent four years in Texas' farm system before New York claimed him off waivers on April 5, 2012. Eppley turned out to be an effective reliever for the Yankees that season, putting together a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings over 59 appearances.

Over 71 appearances in the Majors, Eppley has held right-handed batters to a .231/.285/.367 batting line. Lefties have given Eppley much more trouble, hitting a combined .386/.476/.500.

Ashley, 29, has never broken into the Majors. He spent the entire 2013 season in the Reds organization, batting .235/.328/.374 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 80 games for Triple-A Louisville. He threw out 26 percent (16 of 61) of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him and committed only one error in 74 games behind the plate.

Ashley was the Rays' sixth-round pick in the 2006 Draft and spent seven years in their system before signing a Minor League deal with the Reds on Nov. 19, 2012. In his eight-year Minor League career, Ashley has put together a combined .258/.352/.383 batting line.

With Ashley and Eppley on board, the Pirates have now invited five non-roster players to Major League Spring Training.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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