Joshua David Sharpless
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 235 lb.
- School Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny College
- High School Freedom High School
- Debut August 1, 2006
- Final Game June 10, 2007
- Born January 26, 1981 in Beaver, PA USA
Pitcher Josh Sharpless was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round of the 2003 amateur draft. He had been a local product, being born in Butler, PA, going to high school in Freedom, PA (only pitching 19 innings as a high school senior), then attending CCAC and Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, where he was All-Conference. He was signed by scout Jon Mercurio and made his pro debut that summer.
Josh began his professional career with the 2003 Williamsport Crosscutters, striking out 45 and allowing just 19 hits in 31 1/3 IP. He saved 5 games and went 1-1 with a 2.59 ERA. The tall right-hander threw for the Hickory Crawdads in 2004, going 6-2 with five saves and a 3.03 ERA. He allowed only a .167 average, 42 hits in 74 1/3 innings, striking out a whopping 109 (third on the club, despite being 8th in innings). A downside was his control, as he walked 55.
Josh was untouchable for the 2005 Lynchburg Hillcats, allowing one run (unearned) in 27 innings, striking out 46, allowing only 7 hits and walking 11. He was 3-0 with five saves and a 0.00 ERA in 17 outings, allowing a .081 average. He moved up to the Altoona Curve and went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 7 games, fanning 13 in 8 2/3 IP. Overall, he had struck out 213 in 141 1/3 innings as a pro to that point, 13.57 per 9 innings. Baseball America called his slider the best in the organization.
Sharpless began 2006 back with the Curve, old for AA at 26 years. He allowed 2 runs in 21 innings, striking out 30, walking 9 and allowing just 8 hits for a 2-0, 0.86 line with 8 saves in 14 games. Moved up to the Indianapolis Indians, Josh went 1-1 with 1 save and a 2.45 ERA in 23 games, K'ing 30 in 33 innings and walking 15, but allowing 32 hits, a much higher rate than in his pre-AAA days. He pitched in the 2006 Futures Game, replacing on the roster long-time teammate Tom Gorzelanny, who had been called up to Pittsburgh. When Roberto Hernández was traded away right before the trade deadline, a spot opened up in the Pirates' bullpen and he was called up. He was the first Pirate from Beaver County since Doc Medich in 1976. Sharpless allowed just two runs in 12 innings for the 2006 Pirates but walked 11. He was injured for about a month when he sprained his ankle trying to field a grounder by Brad Ausmus; Sharpless explained that "I'm a non-athletic guy trying to make an athletic play."
Sharpless was one of the last roster cuts from spring training for the 2007 Pirates as Jonah Bayliss and John Wasdin beat him out for the final relief spots. He went 1-0 with 3 saves and a 2.96 ERA in 16 games for Indianapolis, striking out 25 and walking 15 in 27 1/3 while allowing a .228 average. Pittsburgh called him up in late May to replace Brian Rogers but he struggled, allowing 6 runs (3 homers) in 4 1/3 IP and dropping his only decision in 6 outings. He was sent back down in mid-June when John Van Benschoten was called up. He was 1-5 with 3 saves and a 4.34 ERA for Indianapolis for the worst season of his career to that point. In 2008, Sharpless reported that pitching coach Jim Colborn had been tinkering with his mechanics the prior spring and "I got away from some of my strengths." The Pirates released Sharpless on March 30, 2008.
Main sources: 2004-2006 Baseball Almanacs