Pirates A to Z: Potential adjustments could lead to relief role for Harvard grad Sean Poppen

During the offseason, the Tribune-Review will offer Pirates A to Z, an alphabetical player-by-player look at the 40-man roster, from outfielder Anthony Alford to pitcher Nik Turley.

Player: Sean Poppen

Position: Pitcher

Throws: Right

Age: 26

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 205 pounds

2020 MLB statistics: Went 0-0 with a 4.70 ERA/1.696 WHIP in 7 2/3 innings for the Minnesota Twins.

Contract: Not yet eligible for arbitration.

Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 1, 2020.

This past season: The story of how Poppen ended up with the Pirates has a Pittsburgh twist.

His tenure with the Twins ended when he was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster in the playoffs for former Plum star Alex Kirilloff, the organization’s 2016 first-round pick.

Poppen was selected in the 19th round of the same draft by the Twins after returning for his senior season at Harvard, where he was a double major in chemistry/physics and engineering sciences. A Virginia Beach native, Poppen was his class valedictorian, plays the piano and drums, has an interest in theater and even sang the national anthem at Fenway Park before Harvard played in a game there.

Perhaps that makes him the ideal candidate to pitch piggyback with Steven Brault, or at least do a duet with the Pirates lefty. Like Brault, Poppen came up through the minors as a starter, going 25-21 with a 3.38 ERA in 72 starts, but was switched…

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Kevin Gorman

Kevin Gorman

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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@TribLIVE @TribSports columnist. @937theFan weekend host. Kieran’s dad, Ace’s son. #PGH native. To give is to receive. kgorman@tribweb.com