International Links: Two Players Pirates Have Scouted

A couple international players have been mentioned recently with Pittsburgh Pirates scouts attached to their stories. One is a veteran with a long international track record, while the other would be part of the 2014 July 2nd signing class.

The first is a player from Cuba, who may be one of those rare players from that country that are allowed to leave to pursue baseball elsewhere. Yulieski Gourriel is a 29-year-old third baseman, who played for Team Cuba during the Caribbean World Series. The country has a program that allows a player that they feel will return to the country afterwards, to play elsewhere besides Cuba. Last year, a Cuban player named Alfredo Despaigne was allowed to play in the Mexican League. Gourriel is quoted in the linked article, mentioning that he would like to play in the U.S. and asked for permission to play last year, but Despaigne was the one allowed to participate in the program.

Rene Gayo, the Pittsburgh Pirates head scout in Latin America, has scouted Gourriel in the past and got a chance to see him again at the Caribbean World Series this week. According to Gayo, he has lost a step since his younger days, but he is athletic and a solid-average tools player that can swing the bat well, which should carry over to the Majors. Gourriel has a long history of international competition, including two Olympics and all three World Baseball Classics. He went 4-for-15 in the Caribbean Series, with three doubles and two stolen bases. In the 2009 WBC, he hit .333 in six games, with two homers and six RBIs and in last year’s WBC, he hit .308 with a homer and four RBIs.

The Pirates obviously have a third baseman for the near future, but it’s possible if the bat plays well, they could find a spot for him across the diamond. For now, it’s a player worth keeping in the back of your mind.

The second player is a much younger player out of Mexico. Alonso Garcia is a 15-year-old right-handed pitcher, who will be eligible to sign this July. His birthday is May 30th, so he can sign as soon as the July 2nd signing period starts. The Pirates invited him to tryouts at their Dominican Academy today and they have also held tryouts for him in the past at their academy. There is said to be a strong interest with the Pirates in signing him.

Garcia has already played in Pennsylvania before, as a member of the team from Mexico in the 2011 Little League World Series. Baseball Factory has a video of Garcia from the World Series, where he was already a decent pitcher three years ago. He gave up two runs and had ten strikeouts in eight innings, all against the team from Japan. Garcia has good size now(he was 5’7″ at age 12) and was last clocked in the 84/85 MPH range and supposedly has a good repertoire of pitches. According to a local article (in Spanish) it also seems like there is a lot of interest from Garcia about signing with the Pirates.

A final bit of international news. The Perth Heat won the Australian League title today. The Pirates Sam Kennelly started both games of the finals at third base and went 1-for-9 with an RBI, which came on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch.

John Dreker

Author: 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.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daryl.restly Daryl Restly

    Great to see that the Pirates are pursuing international talent. After going through 20 years of losing, I would like to see the Pirates go through a period of sustained success, in which they are very competitive year in – year out. I believe as long as they don’t get big heads about themselves, they don’t drink too much of the kool-aid, and they simply don’t start doing what the Brewers did a few years ago in trading away future pieces for only a handful of chances, I think the Pirates will be fine. In my estimation, Neal Huntingdon has done the same thing that Syd Thrift did nearly 25 years ago. The only thing with Thrift is he was sacked, from my understanding, due to a dispute with the front office.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1988-10-05/sports/sp-2837_1_general-manager

    He traded away aging veterans (Tony Pena, Johnny Ray, Rich Reuschel, Rick Rhoden) for a bunch of lottery tickets, Thrift also drafted fairly well (Bonds – 1985, King – 1986). I think Huntingdon still has a better track record as far as the amateur draft, though I think Thrift had a diamond in the rough in Bonilla and realized he needed to reacquire him, which he did after losing Bonilla in the Rule V draft.

    Larry Doughty, the guy who replaced Thrift, clearly was out of his league, as he lost a top prospect at the time (Wes Chamberlain) to a waiver error (the Pirates ended up getting Carmelo Martinez from the Phillies), and trading away a future 6X All Star and a 2X Silver Slugger winner in Moises Alou.

    Then followed Ted Simmons as GM, who was only there for a year. Then came the Cam Bonifay era, which lasted from 93 up until 2001. To me Bonifay personified the 5 year rebuilding plan. Not to say that everything he did was terrible. He made a nice trade to get Brian Giles, and he fielded a team in 1997 with a payroll of $9 Million that finished second in the NL Central.

    Then came Roy Smith, who took over on an interim basis until Dave Littlefield was hired. Littlefield lasted from 2001-2007. Littlefield, in my opinion, was probably one of the worst GMs the Pirates ever had. The Pirates lost 5 prospects in the 2003 Rule V draft and yet has openings on their 40 man roster to protect some of them. He also is rumored to have turned down trades for 1B Ryan Howard for either Kip Wells or Kris Benson. Probably one of the better deals he made was trading Giles for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. One of his worst trades was the Aramis Ramirez / Kenny Lofton trade to the Cubs. The other boneheaded trade he made was picking up Matt Morris from the Giants and basically eating his salary as he only made a handful of starts. The Raul Mondesi saga is one I never could quite understand how Littlefield allowed to happen.

    Littlefield did have some good drafts (McCutchen, Walker, Maholm, Brad Lincoln) but the one I think he will be remembered for most is drafting a closer, Daniel Moskos ahead of a future All-Star catcher in Matt Wieters.

    Thank God we have Neal Huntingdon. I believe the one thing that a lot of people overlook with Neal is that he has a Bachelor of the Arts with a major in psychology. I think him majoring in psychology has probably helped him more than anything in learning how to deal with different personalities of upper management, coaches, players, agents and other teams’ GMs.

    • imadushbag

      i wanna go on record saying i think they get a platoon partner at first and get aj. i think nh is crafty and gets it done without risking the farm or longterm health of the pbc.

    • glassers

      You had to remind me of the Littlefield days didn’t you !!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    Not sure how much a 29 year old Cuban 3rd baseman excites me, but that young pitcher sure does. You NEVER have enough pitching!

    • John Dreker

      What’s good about Gourriel is that he wouldn’t take up any of their International budget due to his age/experience. The Pirates are going to have a very limited budget for International amateurs due to their finish in the standings, so they will have to stretch their budget this year. Gourriel is athletic, so he could probably switch over to 1B rather easy and as a righty, he could take at-bats against tough lefties, giving Alvarez a rest. He is someone Gayo knows well and seems to like, but we have no idea whether he will be allowed to play and how much interest the Pirates will have. I’d say their interest would be “if he can be had at the right price” which is always the safe assumption

    • The Masked robshelb

      .

      Foo,

      Pitching, smitching.

      Meh.

      Didja read where Mr. Hurdle came out and finally admitted our offense sucked last year and really needs improvement if we expect to keep up with the Cardinals and the Reds ??

      http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/2014/02/09/Pirates-Spring-Outlook-Quest-for-more-offense/stories/201402090103

      “The walkaway from last season was, more offensive consistency, there was probably an opportunity to play longer,” Hurdle said.

      Truer words were never spoken.

      regards
      .

      • The Masked robshelb

        .

        (Which is probably why we’ve bulked up with hitters over the winter off-season.)
        .

      • Andrew

        Will this line of thinking ever die? Yes the offense can improve, however most everyone realizes that PNC benefits pitchers but some fail to realize that it is detrimental to hitters. Using raw run totals neglects to take into account that the Pirates play 82 games in a run suppressing environment.

        Pirate’s team wRC+ 106, tied for fourth in the NL, OPS+ 101 10th in the MLB (where 97 is league average), that is in no way below average.

        Obviously improvements can be made, but when an argument is started from a false premise it overstates the problem.

        • Y2JGQ2

          Andrew: wRC+ is a good way to point to a team who is below average offensively in ACTUAL runs scored and seek to explain why. It does NOT seek to tell a team who does not score enough runs that its offensive is fine because it’s wRC+ is above average.

          When you use that statistic to do that, you become part of the problem with advanced metrics and why I do not like them.

          • Andrew

            What, I do not understand your complaint? Run environments have an effect upon actual run scored, the AL is a higher run environment, PNC is a lower run environment, If Rockies hitter has a .330 wOBA and a Pirates hitter has a .330 wOBA, the Pirates hitter performed better.

            Additionally, the Pirates had a team wOBA of .323, 7th in the NL, so even unadjusted the offense was average.

            I really fail to what point you attempting to make.

            • Andrew

              “fail to see what”

    • glassers

      Ya Leefoo , I was thinking that they better sign him quick , very quick !!!

  • dallen_71

    I just saw a video where Yulieski Gourriel hit an opposite field homerun. That is something that Gaby Sanchez cannot do. In over 219 plate appearances at PNC Park, Gaby has just 1 homerun because he hits everything to the deepest part of the ballpark. Yulieski gives them the position flexibility at 1B/3B that Gaby does not provide. I could see them signing where they are going with this.

  • The Masked robshelb

    .

    Andrew,

    From above, please refresh my memory. (It often needs refreshing, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit.) What exactly is the false premise ?? Mr. Hurdle says one of the team’s goals is to be more productive offensively this year. He says we need more hitting (especially consistent hitting) if the team as a whole is to improve and get better than it was last year. Are you saying that’s the false premise, and that our Manager is wrong about that ??

    Me, I’m with The Big Guy on this one, for sure.

    And we still could see some movement for the Pirates on the hitting side of the ledger. An article out today linking (possibly) Morales with the Buccos.

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24437808/report-pirates-kendrys-morales-have-mutual-interest

    (Although the sportswriter in question doesn’t think giving up a draft choice is worth what we would get.)

    And there was a NYC article yesterday mulling the idea of a one-for-one trade, Lambo for Ike Davis, straight up. (But there’s lots of people who don’t think that’s such a good deal for the Buccos, either.)

    You know what ‘they’ say –

    You never can have too much good hitting !!

    Or maybe that’s the false premise to which you refer ??

    Best regards.
    .

    • Y2JGQ2

      I cant think of anything useful that could come out of signing Morales. There is no situation where realistically, it would make sense.

    • Andrew

      The idea that the Pirates offense was below average is the false premise, if you look at the park adjusted stats they were middling to above average. I agree with the particular points of the article, Walker was bad against LHP and Alvarez brings elite power and not much on-base ability, and Pirates did strikeout a lot.

      For me the Pirates big issue is they relied heavily upon middle relief that did not strike out many batters and needed the Pirate’s fielders to turn all those ball into play into outs, Watson, Reid, Wilson all had BABIPs <.250, that will not continue. So I agree they will need to score more runs, I just dislike the characterize of the Pirates offense as below average, yes it somewhat academic.

      No on Morales, I do not think he is anything more than an DH. Front office keeps saying they are fine running Lambo out there, which is somewhat funny given the trade rumors.

      Personally I hope Cruz signs with Texas and the Pirates trade for Moreland, Davis might not be bad, I am not sure Smoak brings much, never really hit RHP any better than LHP until last year. I agree more certainty/consistency on offense is always.

      • blackmax

        If last year’s offense was average, it was not good enough.

  • The Masked robshelb

    .

    JT’s already been in Bradenton for two weeks waiting for everyone else to show up ???

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/pittsburgh-pirates-pitcher-jameson-taillon-knows-hell-get-call-when-time-is-right?ymd=20140206&content_id=67500336&vkey=news_mlb

    I like that. Shows some grit and determination.

    And a great telephone interview by Tom Singer (btw).

    I was also excited by JT’s effusive praise of Tyler Glasnow.

    Cole, Taillon, and the G-man.

    Our 1-2-3 for 2015.

    kewl !!!
    .