Pirates Linked to a Few International Players on The Eve of the Signing Period

The 2013-14 International Signing Period begins tomorrow, and the Pirates have about $2.43 M to spend on international players this year. Over the weekend we learned that the Pirates weren’t connected to any of the top 30 international prospects, which isn’t a big surprise since they tend to go with lesser known, cheaper options. That has been an avenue where they’ve had some success, with guys like Gregory Polanco ($75,000), Alen Hanson ($150,000), and Dilson Herrera ($220,000) being examples.

Ben Badler released his team-by-team international forecasts, looking at what each team could do when the signing period begins. He notes that the Pirates have been linked to Dominican outfielder Geremia Portorreal and Dominican shortstop Adrian Valerio. Badler says that neither player should be expensive, giving the Pirates a lot of options to spend their remaining money.

Portorreal was trained by Raul Valera, who trained Michael de la Cruz. The Pirates signed de la Cruz last year for $700,000. There wasn’t much information given on Portorreal. Badler said that Valerio was a switch hitter with smooth hands.

Badler also noted that Angelo Serrano could be a fit for the Pirates. Serrano received $750,000 from the Cardinals, but the deal fell apart when it was found that he gave a false name. Serrano was originally signed in October 2011, but the deal was voided in August 2012. He was a 6′ 3″, 190 pound right-hander with a 90-95 MPH fastball, a plus curveball, and a developing changeup. Badler draws the connection that Pirates Dominican supervisor, Juan Mercado, was with the Cardinals when they originally signed Serrano. His given birth date was May 29, 1994, which would make him 19 years old now. There was never any conclusion given on whether that date was correct. Even if that age was correct, he’d be starting his career next year at the age of 20, which means he’d probably go with a more aggressive path, rather than the usual DSL in the first year, GCL in the second year approach.

UPDATE 4:41 PM: Baseball America has released signing predictions for the top 30 international prospects, and has the Pirates in on right-handed Dominican pitcher Mayky Perez. The writeup notes that the prediction involves a lot of guesswork, since Perez would need to find a team with a lot of money to spend, and the willingness to spend money on a young international pitcher. BA notes that the Pirates haven’t been linked to a lot of top prospects (thus money to spend) and they haven’t been afraid to spend on a young pitcher (Luis Heredia).

Perez was the 19th best prospect in Baseball America’s rankings. He throws 87-92 MPH with late life that gets a lot of ground balls. He’s also 6′ 5″, 195 and has room to add some weight and velocity. Tall, projectable pitcher who can hit 92 at 16 and gets a lot of ground balls? Sounds like a Pirates pitching prospect already. He’s got a good slider, which is better than his changeup. He also deals with inconsistent command. I wouldn’t say that it’s a guarantee the Pirates will sign him, as it seems to be a case right now of connecting the dots.

UPDATE 5:01 PM: Baseball America has updated profiles on Portorreal and Valerio posted here. They say Portorreal’s best tool is his bat, with projectable left-handed power. He’s 6′ 2″, 180 pounds and should play left field or first base. He doesn’t turn 16 until August 7th, so he won’t be able to sign until then. Valerio is one of the better defensive shortstops available, according to BA. He’s got good actions on the field with a good arm. He’s a below average runner but has the chance to get faster. He’s a switch hitter with a quick swing from both sides, and makes good contact, although he doesn’t project to hit for much power.

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Tim: The Perez kid sounds like a worthwhile investment, but what are we talking here for money? Is it possible the Bucs go for all 4 – Portorreal, Valerio, Serrano, and Perez? I guess we let Serrano’s coach make a recommendation – Juan Mercada must have liked Serrano a lot in 2011; does he stll like him as much or more today? Raul Valera seems to have a good stable of talent in the Dominican – do we owe him the courtesy of signing Portorreal in order to stay close with him for future talent?

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