The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed two young pitchers from Mexico, agreeing to contracts with Jherson Esqueda and Gerardo Navarro on Friday. According to the link (in Spanish) the pitchers belonged to the Veracruz Red Eagles of the Mexican Baseball League.
Esqueda is an 18-year-old right-hander, who is an accomplished International pitcher. He was being watched closely by the Pirates since early last year. At the time, he was throwing 85-88 MPH. Navarro is a 6’2″, 194 pound 19-year-old lefty from Mazatlan. During a tryout last August in Mazatlan, Rene Gayo named Navarro as the best of the group and said he planned on trying to sign him.
Both pitchers played Winter ball for the Veracruz team in the MBL. Esqueda threw ten innings, posting a 5.40 ERA with two strikeouts, while Navarro had a 5.13 ERA in 33.1 innings, with 19 strikeouts and a .240 BAA.
The scouting report on both players lists them as projectable arms, with good bodies and mound instincts.
UPDATE: Esqueda is the brother of Carlos Esqueda, who has spent the last three season with the Pirates DSL/VSL teams. Navarro’s father, Adolfo Navarro, pitched for 14 years in the Mexican League.
We also found an example of Esqueda’s strong International resume from August of 2011. In the 16 & under International Baseball Federation tournament, Esqueda allowed one run over seven innings to Australia, striking out a tournament high eight batters. Six days later, he battled through extremely poor defense for three innings, giving up eight unearned runs. Playing for his local team four months earlier in the Peimbert Camacho League, Esqueda threw five no-hit innings against older competition
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.
John….you can NEVER have too much pitching!
Couldn’t agree more. I would say Esqueda is the better of the two, but Navarro seems to be a little more advanced. I’ve been piecing together info here and there on these two. As I mentioned above, Esqueda has quite the resume over the years, but Navarro got more time in during Winter ball in a league that has some experienced players.
I heard about Navarro in August, and checked a few times for him in Sept/Oct, but forgot about him recently. I assumed the Pirates passed on him. They have been after both pitchers for awhile though
One lefty one righty, but both are signing right handed..must be that unusual writes right throws left combination.!
Noticed that too, plus Navarro’s old team has him listed as a righty on their roster. Had to confirm with the Pirates that he is indeed a lefty