Bucs Sign Four Minor League Free Agents

Pitcher Mike Thompson

The Pirates have signed the following players to minor league contracts and have invited them to spring training:

Michel Hernandez (C) - The 29-year-old native of Cuba began the 2007 season with Somerset, an independent team in the Atlantic League, before being signed by Tampa Bay on June 9. He hit .276 with four homers and 19 RBI with Triple-A Durham after batting .342 in 25 games with Somerset. Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on 5/11/98, Hernandez made his major league debut with New York in 2003 and went 1-for-4 in five games. He has also spent time in the Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego and St. Louis farm systems.

Miguel Perez (C) - Hit a combined .322 with eight home runs and 25 RBI in 42 minor league games in 2007. Originally signed by Cincinnati as non-drafted free agent on 11/15/00, the 24-year-old backstop from Venezuela has spent his entire minor league career in the Reds system. He was a mid-season Florida State League All-Star selection while playing with Sarasota in 2005 and made his major league debut with the Reds that season, appearing in two games.

Mike Thompson (RHP) - Was a member of San Diego's Opening Day roster in 2007 and made a total of seven relief appearances with the Padres last season. The 27-year-old Thompson spent a majority of the '07 season with Triple-A Portland, making 23 appearances (22 starts) with the Beavers. He was originally selected by San Diego in the fifth round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft and spent seven seasons in the San Diego minor league system before making his major league debut with the Padres in 2006. Thompson made a total of 19 appearances (16 starts) with San Diego in 2006, going 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA.

Jorge Velandia (INF) - Returns to the Pittsburgh organization after spending the 2006 season in the Chicago (AL) system and last year in the Tampa Bay organization. The 32-year-old has spent 16 years playing professionally, including seven at the major league level with the Padres (1997), Athletics (1998- 2000), Mets (2000-2003) and Devil Rays (2007). He was a non-roster invitee with the Pirates in 2005 and spent that entire season with Triple-A Indianapolis. In 14 games with Tampa Bay last year, Velandia hit .320 (16-for-50) with two home runs and 11 RBI.

Scouting Moves: Pittsburgh's Scouting Director Greg Smith has announced the following moves within the Pirates Scouting Department.

Two Area Scouts have been promoted to Regional Supervisors - Everett Russell will be the club's Midwest Supervisor and Rodney Henderson will be the club's Southeast Supervisor.

The Pirates have also hired Rob Guzik as their Northeast Supervisor.

Matt Bimeal has been promoted from a part time scout to a full time Area Scout and Josh Shaffer has been hired as an Area Scout.

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