Steven Brault and Drew Hutchison have opened some eyes at Class AAA

Manager Clint Hurdle simultaneously [url=]http://www.rd-cor... Saturday the work that pitchers Steven Brault and Drew Hutchison had done at Class AAA Indianapolis while cautioning against the conclusion that they deserve roster spots.

“They’ve both been able to pitch deeper into games,” Hurdle said. “Now the hard line is deciphering [Class AAA] numbers and big-league numbers.”

Brault has been on a roll since May. After eight scoreless innings Thursday, in which he struck out nine, he has a 1.29 ERA in his past 11 games, 10 of them starts. Hutchison, in seven games since May 29, has a 1.86 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 38⅔ innings.

“What they’re getting done is they’re becoming more consistent,” Hurdle said. “They’re executing pitches. Their command has gotten better incrementally. Their execution of the pitches is better.”

There is not an opening in the rotation, and the bullpen, Hurdle said, has been too shaky recently to accommodate a pitcher with a learning curve on pitching in relief.

“I think you have the conversations,” Hurdle said. “The challenging part is, you take a guy like that, it’s going to be case-specific because they don’t pitch back-to-back days. You get them hot and they don’t get in, how do they respond? That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but those are some of the challenges that are going to come with it. If you’ve got a bullpen that’s airtight at the time, you can take on a different project. We’ve had a couple different projects going through our bullpen from time to [url=]http://ww... already.”

Rehab for Marte

Starling Marte, who was suspended 80 games after testing positive for Nandrolone, will begin a rehab assignment Sunday with high-Class A Bradenton.

Marte is eligible to be activated July 18.

International signings

Sunday marks the beginning of the 2017-18 international signing period, when teams can make official deals with amateur players who are at least 16 years old.

The Pirates have $5.75 million to spend, the highest possible amount allocated, because they received a competitive balance “B” pick in the amateur draft as a small-market team. The new collective bargaining agreement placed hard caps on these pools.

Baseball America linked the Pirates to Dominican outfielder Juan Pie, a left-hander with good bat speed who likely will play left field. The publication reported that he is expected to sign for around $500,000.

Mercer sits

Not only did Jordy Mercer not bat first or second Saturday against San Francisco Giants left-hander Matt Moore, he was out of the lineup entirely.

Mercer traditionally punishes left-handed [url=]Brian Roberts Womens Jersey[/url] pitchers, but this season he is 9 for 60 (.150) against them with a .511 OPS. He was also 3 for 26 in his past eight games. Max Moroff started at shortstop.

Bill Brink: and Twitter @BrinkPG.