Ben Badler from Baseball America released the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 international signing recap on Wednesday. On Tuesday, BA announced that the Pirates spent approximately $1.94M in 2014 on international players. That money actually covers two separate signing periods, as the international signing period begins on July 2nd each year and ends on June 15th the following year. Badler’s post covers only players that signed during the 2014 calendar year and I’ve included notes from him below. You can view last year’s recap here.
Most of the players of note that were signed in 2014, were signed on July 2nd or the 3rd. The Pirates signed eight players over those two days, with each of them getting a six-figure bonus. There were three other players of note signed before July 2nd, outfielder Victor Fernandez and pitchers Alex Martinez and Mister Luciano(pictured up top). Each of those three players signed by February and all three have already made the move to the United States, where they are currently in minor league Spring Training camp.
You can read a report on all three of those players in our DSL season recap. The short version is Victor Fernandez is one of the fastest players in baseball, with game-changing speed on the bases and in center field. Alex Martinez is a hard-throwing reliever with some control issues and Mister Luciano has the best name in baseball, plus a pretty good arm too.
For the players signed on July 2nd, five of them are pitchers, one shortstop, one catcher and one outfielder. The one outfielder is Yondry Contreras, and his $400,000 bonus was twice as much as the second highest bonus they handed out. He has a strong arm, good speed and a quick bat, but lacks plate patience. The Pirates were said to be higher on him than most teams. While they still have until June 15th to sign more players, plusroom in their bonus pool to add a significant player, Contreras will likely end up as the gem of this current signing period.
One of the more interesting players they signed is right-handed pitcher Brian Sousa. The Pirates signed him for $160,000 and they were said to be very interested in him prior to the start of the signing period. Sousa was called the best pitcher out of Panama in this signing class. He is 6’4″, has a nice sinker/slider combo and throws on a downhill plane. If you follow the winter ball articles, you know his name already, because the 16-year-old competed in the Panama winter league and did well against the older competition.
Right-hander Adonis Pichardo was 18 already when he signed on July 2nd, but still got a six-figure bonus. He was a little behind others because he switched from outfield to the mound in 2013 and showed a 92 MPH fastball. He is a raw pitcher with big potential, as you can see in the notes below from Badler. The Pirates signed pitcher Luis Escobar in 2013 and he was under the same situation, a little older and moving from third base to the mound, while hitting 94 MPH. Escobar has already made the jump to the U.S., so the Pirates hope they have the same success with Pichardo.
Catcher Gabriel Brito received the second highest bonus the Pirates handed out this signing period, getting $200,000 on July 2nd. He is small for a catcher(listed at 5’10”, 160 pounds), though he is only 16, so he could grow and fill out. He was the first of three catchers they signed since July 2nd, with 17-year-old Roberto Noguera and 18-year-old Raul Hernandez signing a short time later.
We covered all 13 signings since July 2nd in our international signing tracker. Vince Deyzel, a pitcher out of South Africa, is also mentioned in that link, but he signed this February, so he wasn’t covered by Badler. The Pirates will need to sign some more players before the start the 2015 DSL season, because of players making the jump to the U.S., players being released and Johan De Jesus suspended for the entire season, they currently only have 31 players signed and they have 35 man rosters in the DSL.
Notes From Badler’s Recap
Badler notes that Domingo Robles had made a huge leap since he signed for $175,000 on July 2nd. He went from throwing 87 MPH to hitting 92 MPH, with good sink and downhill angle.
He also mentions that Brian Sousa has seen the same type of jump, going from 85-88 MPH, to hitting 93 already.
Adonis Pichardo has hit 96 MPH, giving the Pirates three pitchers that have taken huge leaps in velocity over a short period of time.
He mentions that they signed 20 players total, though doesn’t talk about any that we haven’t covered, so the four unknown could have been roster fillers that didn’t make the team last year, or are signed for the upcoming season.