Pirates International Bonus Pool Set; Already Scouting a Top Pitcher in Mexico

Baseball America announced the amateur draft bonus pools last night, which had the Pittsburgh Pirates receiving the 11th highest bonus pool. The international bonus pool was announced as well and the Pirates have $2,111,900 to spend, which ranks them 22nd in baseball. The pool is set by reverse order in the standings from the previous season. The Pirates had just under $2M to spend during this current signing period, though they picked up extra slot money in the Ike Davis trade to the Athletics. The pool money announced late last night covers the signing period from July 2,2015 until June 15,2016.

The difference in where they fall among Major League teams comes from the Pirates picking up an extra draft pick as compensation for Russell Martin signing with the Blue Jays. The Pirates also moved up to 19th with their first pick in the amateur draft when four teams ahead of them with unprotected picks signed players that received qualifying offers. They started with the 23rd pick due to the Houston Astros receiving an extra pick for not signing first overall pick Brady Aiken last year. In the international bonus pool, the order is set by reverse order as well, although teams don’t lose any spots for signing protected free agents or exceeding their bonus pool. Five teams that have already exceeded their bonus pool by more than 5%(Yankees, Rays, Angels, Diamondbacks and Red Sox) are excluded from signing anyone next year for more than $300,000, so while they keep their pool money, the ability to sign any top players has been taken away.

Pirates Scouting Mexico

The Pirates have been busy in Mexico this month and it looks like they have a big pitcher on their radar. The recent scouting trip included a showcase in Tijuana last Saturday, where the Pirates were one of ten teams there scouting 25 of the best young players from around the country. There were multiple scouts from the organization on hand. That could obviously net them some interesting leads for the upcoming signing period, but it was the trip they made earlier this month that is the most intriguing, though the player they saw is sure to get a lot of attention.

During the first week of February, the Pirates were at the Gonzalez Academy, which is run by the father of All-Star Adrian Gonzalez and his brother, who played alongside him with the Padres. There, they were one of two teams that watched right-handed pitcher Oscar Arzaga hit 93 MPH with his fastball. Arzaga is a well-built, 6’5″ kid, who is just 15 years old. His exact age wasn’t given, but an article from last July said that he was already 15, so he should be able to sign during the upcoming signing period.

Arzaga has been on the baseball radar for quite sometime, so it is no surprise the Pirates had multiple scouts in attendance, including one of their top international scouts, Chino Valdez. Arzaga has been scouted by Perfect Game in the past, and you can view his page here. He has filled out some since being listed at 205 pounds and he has obviously stepped up his velocity a tick since those reports were filed.

During the showcase for Arzaga, the Pirates also saw another right-handed pitcher named Javier Eduardo Assad. He doesn’t have the size of Arzaga and is already 17, so he has been eligible to sign with teams since July. Assad had better command and secondary stuff than Arzaga showed during the showcase, and  he was hitting 92 MPH. His curve had a big break and was called a strikeout pitch. He is an interesting player, and one of the best at the Gonzalez Academy, but Arzaga is the pitcher with the higher upside.

  • Arzaga or Assad? Why not both!

  • This sounds exactly like Luis Heredia. Country, height, age, stuff. He’s a clone.

    • There are a lot of similarities, but also some big differences. This kid is in terrific shape unlike Heredia, but not as good a pitcher as Heredia was at 15. Heredia threw harder, with better control and secondary stuff

      • Post Gazette had Heredia listed at 185 when he signed, so I guess he wasn’t always out of shape. Also his player profile on here had him sitting at 92 when he was 16. So yea, I see them as twins. Even if there are some minor differences, the build is the same, velocity is the same. Maybe its a good thing, because if the Pirates would sign him, they would know how to manage him better since they dealt with someone since age 16 from Mexico once already. Who knows

        • By terrific shape, I meant this kid is a solid 225 at least, nothing like Heredia. He also touches 93, while Heredia hit 96 before signing. There are definitely similarities, but you could find other pitchers that he is more similar to in the organization.

  • So, the Yankees, Red Sox and others blow through their international spending cap, and the big limitation on signings is that they can’t sign anyone for over $300k the next year. Yeah, no more Moncadas. But, heck, the Pirates won’t spend over $300k on anyone without being “penalized”. So, the penalty is that these teams have to behave like the Pirates. That’s a pretty toothless rule, IMO.

    • Badler updated the article since it was posted to correct his slight mistake in wording. Yankees and Red Sox can’t sign anyone over $300K for the next two years. They also paid all the tax money on the overage, not 100% sure what the Yankees spent over, but it was a lot. Sox were 30M+ over their limit

      • In December after signing Emory, the Yankees had built up a penalty of $13.4 mil which means that they paid about $16 mil to the players and exceeded their limit by $13.4 mil. So, they got 10 of the best 30 International Prospects (BA Rankings) for around $30 mil. The Pirates signed Marte, Polanco, and Hanson for a total of $325K!

        • The number will likely be higher than that, as most bonuses are never announced. They took quite a gamble there and we won’t know for a long time if it was worth it. Technically, we will never know if it worked out because we have no idea who they would have signed in 2015/16 and 2016/17 if they had the ability

  • 6’5″ at 15! Holy crap on a crap stick. He’ll be 7 foot by the time he’s 18 or 19.

    • The kid is a beast in the current pictures of seen, could easily pass for 20-22, but he has been a known commodity for at least the last four years, so his age is legit. Grew a lot since then.