Pirates From Down Under

Back on April 2, 2009 the Pirates started their foray into a new territory, signing an amateur player from Australia named Mitchell Fienemann. Before they signed Fienemann, they signed Tony Harris as a scout, and his specialty is Australia. He has coached there since 1992, including this past off-season, managing the Australian Baseball League (ABL) team the Adelaide Bite, which featured Pirates farmhands Wilson Lee, Jackson Lodge and Quincy Latimore.

Lee threw 5 strong innings his last outing.

Harris has now been responsible for five players from Australia signing since he joined the organization. So just how has this new venture into the outback looked so far early on?

Mitchell Fienemann - Now 21 years old, the 6′ 4″ RHP has been used as the closer for State College this year, his 3rd season in the organization. He was fairly impressive his first year in the GCL posting a 3.79 ERA and walking just 3 batters in 40.1 IP.

His control seems to be his strong point but he hasn’t developed a fastball like they hoped as he still throws in the mid-80’s except now he throws sidearm. He could be the next Noah Krol who is making a slow crawl towards the majors as a soft tossing sidearm closer. So for now, he looks like he’s being used as an organizational pitcher who may have been used to open the door for more signings.

Dylan Child - The 20 year old Child signed on July 10, 2009 for a $20 K bonus. He was originally a shortstop but moved to catcher in January 2009, at the suggestion of Harris, for a better chance to make it in pro ball. The Pirates liked him due to his strong arm, athletic frame and great work ethic and desire. He was described as a raw hitter, but he makes good, although not solid, contact. That has basically been as advertised with him because he has struck out just 14 times in his 80 pro at-bats, but is a .188 hitter with just one extra base hit to his credit, a double. Last year the Pirates used him at first base, third base and catcher but this year he has only caught.

Jarryd Sullivan - The Pirates  signed Sullivan on July 21, 2009 for $2,500. The 6′ 0″ twenty-one year old RHP was described as a hard worker and tough competitor, but he had fringe stuff. He threw 88-89 but his fastball was straight. He did have decent secondary pitches, throwing a slurve and a change with good control. Sullivan showed great control in the pros last year walking just 3 batters in 35 innings in the GCL. He got a brief look in the NYPL with State College but did not fare well in 3 appearances.

Sullivan looked strong before hurting his elbow late in spring training

Jarryd threw 7.2 scoreless innings this off-season in the ABL and was opening some eyes in spring training this year but he strained his elbow right before the season started and has not pitched yet this year. Australian Baseball Digest ranked him the 9th best prospect in March.

Wilson Lee - Lee signed in late April last year. He is a 19 year old 6′ 1″ LHP who is currently starting in the GCL. After signing, Lee went to Adelaide to play for Harris in the ABL. He was used sparingly, getting in just 3.2 innings over 4 relief appearances. His performance so far in the GCL has been a pleasant surprise including his last performance today (7/16) when he went 5 innings giving up just one run and getting the win. He has thrown 19 innings, the 3rd highest on the team and is 2nd only to Orlando Castro in strikeouts with 16.

Tony Harris was very high on Lee when he signed him, saying he had potential to be anything he wants in pro ball as long as he puts his mind to it. He also made note of his incredible work ethic and desire which seems to be a key component for Harris when looking for young players.

Jackson Lodge - Lodge became the 4th pitcher signed out of Australia by the Pirates on November 29, 2010. He is just 17 still but has pitched well in his brief time in the GCL this year giving up 3 runs in 10 innings with no walks allowed. He pitched 8 games for Harris in the ABL posting a 6.75 ERA, but he had 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings and was facing mainly much older competition as the youngest player on the team. He is a lanky 6′ 1″ LHP who still has plenty of time and room to grow. He posted a 2.03 ERA in 40 innings in the Australian Baseball Academy just prior to joining the Pirates organization.

While there aren’t any top prospects in the system yet it seems like the players they sign are getting better as we go along. It was a strong move by the Pirates signing Harris on as a scout due to his strong ties to Australia where he is well respected. I would expect the signing to continue to get better and the Pirates to remain active as long as players like Lee, Lodge and Sullivan (before he got hurt) continue to pitch well and athletic types like Child will always have a place for teams looking for a raw, athletic, hard-working player willing to sign that cheap in order to fulfill their major league dreams.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

Pirates Sign Yunesky Sanchez, Release Jose Hernandez

Next Story »

Rosenthal Full Count: Pirates Aggressively Pursuing Upgrades

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    19 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    2 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    5 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles