And last year, the theme continued with Vin Mazzaro, who became one of the most versatile cogs in the Bucs' lockdown bullpen.
All began as non-roster invitees to Spring Training, and in a couple of weeks, the Pirates will comb through 16 such camp guests, hoping to again unearth booty.
A first look at frontrunners to break out of the shadows of Pirate City into the limelight of Pittsburgh:
• Daniel Schlereth, LHP: The forgotten part of the December 2009 three-team blockbuster in which he accompanied Max Scherzer from Arizona to Detroit, the 27-year-old former first-round Draft pick has had a checkered big league career, but he continues to put up enticing Minor League numbers -- 1.71 ERA in 101 games, including 0.82 ERA in a dozen appearances for Triple-A Norfolk last year.
• Chris Dickerson, OF: At 31 and with only 314 games under his belt, he is joining his fifth big league club, six years after a pretty spectacular debut with the Reds (.304 average and 1.021 OPS in 2008). He is an extremely confident left-handed hitter who could figure in the right-field picture.
• Travis Ishikawa, 1B: A big league veteran from Travis Snider's Washington neck of the woods, he has bounced around a lot the past decade, but as yet another lefty hitter, will get a long look as an alternative to Andrew Lambo as Gaby Sanchez's platoon partner at first.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.