UPDATE 2:45 PM: The Pirates officially announced the move. Rene Gayo’s statement on De La Cruz:

“We are very excited to have signed Julio Delacruz who is, in our estimation, the best pure hitter available in Latin America this season,” said Director of Latin American Scouting Rene Gayo.  “Julio is a hitter with great rhythm and contact ability, with the knack for staying back and hitting the breaking ball along with using the whole field.   He is a great addition to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and I want to publicly congratulate our new Scouting Supervisor Juan Mercado and our entire staff for identifying and delivering this type of talent.”

UPDATE 12:34 PM: De La Cruz signed for $700,000, Pirates Prospects has learned.

Monday 11:55 AM: The Pittsburgh Pirates will sign international third baseman Julio de la Cruz today, according to Rob Biertempfel. The move isn’t a big surprise, as the Pirates have been linked to De La Cruz since May.

The Pirates had an advantage, as De La Cruz is represented by Luis Polonia, who the Pirates have worked with a lot recently. The Pirates signed Edwin Espinal from Polonia last year, and signed his son, Rodney Polonia, two years ago today. Others signed from Polonia include Willy Garcia, Leandro Rodriguez, Isaac Sanchez, and Adrian De Aza.

De La Cruz is an athletic third baseman who makes good contact, and has average power. He’s currently 6′ 1″, 190 pounds, with room to fill out and add more power down the line. He has a strong arm on the field, and should stick at third base.

It will be interesting to see if the Pirates send De La Cruz to the Gulf Coast League next year, similar to what they did with top prospects Harold Ramirez and Elvis Escobar this year. De La Cruz has an advanced approach at the plate, so an aggressive push to the GCL wouldn’t be a total surprise when the time comes.

No financial details are available at this time. Biertempfel also reports that the Pirates have four other signings lined up.

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