The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter the 2014 season with Starling Marte as their starting left-fielder. By mid-season, Gregory Polanco could join the team as the starting right-fielder. Alen Hanson and Joely Rodriguez are both slated to begin the 2014 season in Altoona, and both could arrive in the majors as early as mid-2015. All four players were signed out of the Dominican Republic. The total cost for all four players was under $400,000, which is less than one league minimum player in the majors.
It's hard to believe that not too long ago the Pirates had almost no focus in the Dominican Republic. On Wednesday afternoon, Pirates owner Bob Nutting referred to the old program as "inadequate", referring not only to the facility, but also to the commitment in scouting and signing bonuses in the area.
"We've completely refocused, and I believe we have the premiere program in Latin America now," Nutting said.
The Pirates' Dominican Academy, which opened in 2008.
Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.