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.