Ben Badler of Baseball America, released his recap of the Pirates 2012 International spending today. Like every other team in baseball, the Pirates had a $2.9 M cap for spending on International players. That cap didn’t go into place until July 2nd and it runs until June 15,2013. Any signings made earlier in the year did not count against it, plus there are a few allowances for spending just over the 2.9 M number. The top six bonuses of $50,000 or less don’t count against the cap and any player that signed for $7,500 or less, also doesn’t count. First to recap what we already knew, followed by notes from Badler’s own write-up on the Pirates spending.
The two biggest signings this year are sure to cause some confusion for Pirates fans. On July 2nd, they signed third baseman Julio de la Cruz for a $700,000 bonus. Nine days later, they signed outfielder Michael de la Cruz for a $700,000 bonus. The two 16-year-olds are not related. Between them, they accounted for nearly half of the Pirates International spending allotment.
On the two de la Cruz’s, the Pirates called Julio the best hitter they felt was available on the International market, while Michael was called a little raw, but he had five tool potential and could develop into a 20-25 home run guy
On August 1st, the Pirates made their next highest investment, signing catcher Yoel Gonzalez on his 16th birthday for $350,000. His defense was already said to be advanced at the time of his signing, but his bat was a little behind.
In July, the Pirates signed another third baseman with a big bat. Johan Herrera is slightly older than the normal high-priced signing, but the 17-year-old showed enough promise with the bat to receive a $300,000 bonus.
The Pirates have been busy in the Australian market over the last few years, signing seven players since 2009. None of the players they have signed over that time though, approached the $225,000 bonus that 16-year-old shortstop Sam Kennelly received. In November, they also signed 16-year-old pitcher Nick Hutchings out of Australia.
Other signings of note from earlier in the year include 18-year-old outfielder Alexis Bastardo from Venezuela. He’s a center fielder with a strong arm and good speed. In March, the Pirates signed three players from Mexico, pitchers Omar Basulto and Eduardo Vera and first baseman Julio Perez. In April, they signed 17-year-old Panamanian pitcher, Dario Agrazal Jr.
Notes From Ben Balder’s Recap
Badler adds a new name to the signings, one that hasn’t come up yet. On August 1st, the Pirates signed shortstop Johan De Jesus out of the Dominican. Like Gonzalez, he too turned 16 on August 1st. De Jesus signed for $200,000 and he is a right-handed hitter, 5’11” 170 pounds. He makes good contact and has strong fundamentals and game awareness, but no tools that stand out.
Badler notes that Julio de la Cruz will start the year in the Gulf Coast League, while Michael de la Cruz will likely open up in the GCL. The Pirates have been quick to move top signings recently, last year bringing both Elvis Escobar and Harold Ramirez to the states right away and in 2011, Luis Heredia made the same move. He also notes that Julio should be able to stick at third base as he moves up the ladder. With Michael, he says that the Pirates scouts were higher than most on him, saying most scouts feel his speed, arm and power aren’t what the Pirates thought, but notes that the Pirates have done well in the past in International scouting and they really like Michael.
Badler also notes that Herrera was signed on July 1st, so his bonus doesn’t count against the Pirates cap. He originally broke the news of the signing in November, so this is a change from his initial report.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.