Pirates sign two minor league free agents

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced the signing of minor league free agent outfielder/1B Brad Hawpe and minor league catcher Lucas May, with both players receiving an invitation to Major League spring training.

The club also announced that minor league pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon will participate in Major League spring training, which begins on February 12 for pitchers and catchers.

The 32-year-old Hawpe attended big league spring training with Texas in 2012 and was assigned to Double-A Frisco, where he hit .260 (32-for-123) with three home runs and 12 RBI in 35 games.

Hawpe spent the entire 2011 season with San Diego and has recorded a .276 batting average, 124 home runs and 490 RBI in 893 career games in the big leagues with Colorado (2004-2010), Tampa Bay (2010) and the Padres. He was originally selected by the Rockies in the 11th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut on 5/1/04.

The 28-year-old May attended big league spring training with the Mets in 2012 and spent the entire season with Triple-A Buffalo, making 71 appearances behind the plate and three at first base. May began his playing career as a shortstop before being converted to catcher prior to the 2007 season.

May made his Major League debut with Kansas City on 9/4/10 and played in 12 games with Kansas City that month. In 859 career games in the minor leagues, he has recorded a .255 batting average, 105 home runs and 478 RBI.

The 22-year-old Cole, who is ranked by Baseball America as the club's top prospect for the second straight year, went 9-7 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 starts last season - his first in professional baseball. He ranked second in strikeouts (136) and fourth in ERA in the Pirates minor league system. A Florida State League mid-season All-Star, Cole was ranked by Baseball America as the second-best prospect in the Florida State League and as the third-best prospect in the Eastern League following the season.

Taillon, 21, has been ranked by Baseball America as Pittsburgh's second-best prospect each of the last two years. He went 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 26 combined starts between Single-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona in 2012 and was named to the Florida State League's mid-season All-Star team. Taillon has gone 11-11 with a 3.72 ERA in 49 starts during his first two professional seasons.

Both Cole and Taillon participated in the 2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game.

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