The Pittsburgh Pirates signed 18-year-old catcher Raul Hernandez out of Venezuela last month. He counts as a July 2nd signing and he’s one of three catchers the Pirates have signed during this year’s signing period. They also gave a a six-figure bonus to 16-year-old Gabriel Brito on July 2nd and a few days later they signed 17-year-old Roberto Noguera out of Colombia.
Hernandez has been eligible to sign since 2012, but his bat has kept him back. He has a very strong arm according to his coach Rubén Marcano and others I talked to today. Marcano said in this article(link is in Spanish) that he believes Hernandez has big potential if he can show some improvements at the plate. Hernandez has been at the Pirates Dominican Academy and training with other players that have signed since July 2nd. He won’t see any actual DSL game time until next year. Hernandez will go home tomorrow, returning to the academy for the Dominican Instructional League in October.
The 2014 International Signing Tracker has been updated.
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.
Hey John, I’ve often wondered if any team can sign players out of these acadamies, or is it restricted to just the team that sponsors them?
Not sure what you mean? Teams bring players into their academy before signing them, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. The Pirates really liked a pitcher Alonso Garcia out of Mexico and had him at their academy in February. He wasn’t eligible to sign until July and the Cubs ended up getting him. Once players are signed though, they are Pirates property until they are released/traded or reach minor league free agency. Players signed during the July 2nd signing period actually sign contracts for the following season, so they usually train with the team for a few weeks or so and then start playing the following season. Hope that answered your question
Thanks, I meant the dominican academy specifically since it’s called the pirates dominican academy I was not sure if that meant that the players their are only available to the pirates, reading your answer it looks like any team can sign them after the pirates get the first chance. Is that right?
Each team has their own facility where they play their home games. They can bring in players for a short time and give them tryouts, but that doesn’t guarantee anything, because that is usually done before the players are eligible to sign and they end up going to a few different teams. Once a player is signed though, he is just like any other minor league player, under team control.
Gotcha, thanks john.