Today is the start of the International Signing Period, which means that teams can sign recently turned 16-year-old international players for the first time. The Pirates typically don’t spend big on any individual players, usually staying in the six figures for their biggest signings. They have made their first move, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, agreeing to a deal with outfielder Larry Alcime Jr. for $350,000.

Alcime is 6′ 2″, 200 pounds and is 16 years old. I couldn’t find much information on him in an initial search, other than the fact that he tried out in a Bahamas showcase for the Pirates. Putting his bonus in perspective, the Pirates gave their biggest bonus last year to outfielder Yondry Contreras, who signed for $400,000. In 2013, the top bonuses went to shortstop Adrian Valerio ($400,000) and outfielder Jeremias Portorreal ($375,000). Alcime has a similar build to Contreras. The fact that his bonus is in line with these other guys shows that he will be one of the top signings for the Pirates this year.

UPDATE 10:17 AM: Here is a video that features Alcime, via Imokemp on Twitter. The interesting stuff starts around the 5:20 mark. Alcime has a quick bat, and turned on a few to show a little more power to his pull side. The overall batting practice wasn’t great, and despite the name of the event including “power”, there wasn’t much power to be seen. That’s to be expected, since he was 14-15 when this was taken. In these cases, you’re not going to be seeing an MLB batting practice. Instead, you’re hoping to see glimpses of what he can do, with the hope that he can do a lot more of that in the future. He’s got a good build for his age, and there were a few swings in there that were impressive, with a quick bat. It’s a limited look, but gives a glimpse of where he’s at right now. I’ve reached out to his coach in the Bahamas for more information.

UPDATE 11:44 AM: The Pirates have been busy in the Bahamas, also signing 18-year-old shortstop Kyle Simmons. He has a good arm and can run, plus he has pitched(and pitched well) so it wouldn’t be strange if the Pirates put him right on the mound. He has played in a lot of international tournaments and was a member of the Bahamas National team. We will have more info on him later if possible. No bonus has been announced.

UPDATE 3:30 PM: Just got some added info on Simmons. He gave up pitching, so he will stick to shortstop, but he said he can also play second base. The arm and speed are plus tools. He is 6’0″, 170 pounds and I confirmed he is 18 years old. He used to be a switch-hitter, but gave it up and now only bats from the right side. Simmons will go to the Dominican academy tomorrow to start the process, although he has already been there visiting/practicing. He sounds like a great kid, especially while talking about the academy, his plans were “to work hard and not get comfortable there”. He also said that his hitting is further along than his fielding, but he has to “get better at both everyday”.

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48 COMMENTS

  1. As I said many times in the past the Pirates lost the DR when they blew the Sano signing. The trainers have no faith in them anymore. The only one they can deal with is Banana and they keep going back to him year after year to seem relevant in that market. How can the RedSox sign 2 of the top 30 prospects for $300,000 each, which is all they are allowed to pay due to the team exceeding is pool allotment last year? The Pirates couldn’t outbid them? No, it’s not that, it’s that these teams have agreements with the trainers that allow them to get to this talent at a reasonable cosst, something that Gayo and the Pirates do not have.

  2. MLBTradeRumors is reporting that the Dodgers traded over $1 million in slot money to Toronto after blowing way past their allotment. It is incredible how worthless the rules on the international signings (16 year olds and Cuban players) are. Since this system favors the rich teams so much, I doubt it will be changed in the next CBA.

    • That seems crazy for the Dodgers because that $1M+ they traded was actually $2M+, because once you take away that money from your own pool, then you’re paying 100% tax that much sooner. I don’t know about the players they got in return, but they paid a heavy price for them

  3. So, while the Pirates scouts are working mercilessly in the Bahamas looking for future MLB talent, the Cubs are out signing several top shelf prospects in the DR and elsewhere….

    **Chicago Cubs sign shortstop Aramis Ademan (Dominican Republic, $2,000,000): Contact hitter, undersized but may get stronger, glove is highly-respected.
    **Chicago Cubs sign shortstop Yonathan Perlaza (Venezuela, $1,300,000): Switch-hitter with good bat speed but unclear position
    **Chicago Cubs sign catcher Miguel Amaya (Panama, $1,250,000): Outstanding defender but bat is questionable.
    **Chicago Cubs sign outfielder Yonathan Sierra Estiwal (Dominican Republic, $1,200,000): Lefty hitter with outstanding physical projectability and power potentiality but questions about his swing.
    **Chicago Cubs sign third baseman Christopher Martinez (DR, $1,000,000)

    The Cubs 2015 International bonus pool is $3.2 million – they obviously could care less about the existing teeth-less penalties, as they exceeded their pool by over 100% just in one day.

    The Cards and Cincy each signed a player today – one for $775k and the other for $1 million.

    So, the Pirates lame excuse of not wanting to blow their draft pool on 1-2 players is just that – lame. Most teams could care less about the pool limits and deal with the pathetically weak penalties that ensue. The Pirates need to stop being cheap and start getting competitive in the International market, or they will be left in the dust.

    Obviously, you cannot predict a prospect’s success by his bonus, but if a team is willing to give a player a couple of million dollars, that must mean that a lot of scouts and knowledgeable baseball people must like that player’s skills and potential. When you are just pursing crumbs, the odds are not good for continued success.

    Read this article…

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2015/3/21/8268287/why-clubs-are-blowing-past-bonus-limits-international-free-agents

    • You can’t accuse the Pirates of being cheap; they’ve signed seven figure international prospects before, after all, and they *used* to spend a ton of money on amateur talent in general.

      I think what you can accuse the Pirates of being is arrogant.

      They apparently believe, for some reason, that they are good enough at scouting and development that they do not need to target top international talent. This despite the fact that they haven’t produced one good prospect since 2009 and many, many other big league teams equal or better to them still target top talent.

    • You really get worked up over something you can’t control. They don’t want to pay double for players and limit themselves for the next two years. That’s the same thing 24 other teams decided to do last year. I personally like their approach due to the high failure rate, so I have zero problem with their approach.

      The Cubs have extra money to waste, so what do they care if this class ends up being a huge bust and they wasted an extra $3.5M in tax on just those players alone, plus all the fillers they have to sign to put a team together will also cost double now, that is nothing to them. I’d prefer my team to be smarter and not go all in on the most volatile market in baseball.

      I’d be behind going over in the draft as opposed to the international market, at least there you’re talking about kids that are 18-22, not 15-16, in some cases still 14 when they reach an agreement. If you want to get me behind drafting all those kids that slipped due to bonus demands and signing them all in the 11-20 round and not going cheap on any 1-10 round players, I am 100% behind that idea. I’d give up future first round picks for that because the players are well-known and you can’t find a kid in a cornfield in Iowa anymore and sneak his through, but on the international market, you could spend $2M on 20 players that no one else knew about due to their location

      • Talk about an equal and opposite reaction…

        If you’re *that* confident giving seven figures to 17-18 yo high school arms, some of whom are pop up guys who haven’t even been on the radar long enough for all teams to get a cross checker in front of them, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be comfortable taking a shot at top July 2 talent. None.

        • Except that a top July 2 talent costs 8 figures while those high school arms cost 6. You’re talking about similar risk, really, for two orders of magnitude higher cost.

        • Age difference, I explained that. Pure and simple, the difference between scouting 14-15 year old kids in the Dominican and 17-18 kids in the US is incredibly huge. I would definitely feel more comfortable with HS kids from the US. I would not feel comfortable about signing virtually unknown HS freshman and sophomores. It’s not even close or comparable to seniors and you can gauge the competition they are facing because they play games, not just workouts and batting practice. 16-18 is a huge development period, kids are still growing. Some people think two years is just two years, but it isn’t.

        • I really don’t see the amateur international market and the domestic draft as close to similar information environments at all.

          Something that could be done but I would really like to see international bonus amount plotted against WAR or even last ranking on Baseball America’s list (consider that time frame is probably too short.)

      • Interesting idea in your last paragraph to think about. So why haven’t any teams tried this – especially if they are drafting later in the first round? A rich team like the Dodgers or Cubs could easily afford such an approach.

      • John – I don’t expect the Pirates to compete with teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, etc. when it comes to signing top International talent. However, I do expect them to be at least part of the conversation – meaning actually be in the running for 2-3 of the top 30-50 prospects each year – and not signing the #74 player from the Bahamas and congratulating themselves. Yeah, the annual All-Star team is flooded with players from the Bahamas, Australia, India, and South Africa!

        Everyone knows that the best non-US players are typically found in the DR, Venezuela, Mexico, and Panama. To not even be part of this conversation each and every year is embarrassing and fool hardy. The odds are good that these other teams will hit on 1-2 of these guys over a 3-4 year period. I didn’t wait through 20 years of losing, to see this team just have a 3-5 year window of success. I want the Pirates to be the Cardinals – which is doable. But, if we continue down this path of playing down the International market, we will be passed up by a lot of teams.

        • The Giants are giving around $6 million to a player from the Bahamas so don’t knock the Bahamians 🙂

          • Yeah, but he was rated the #1 prospect – not #74!

            Regardless, my point is still valid…can you make an all star team out of players from the Bahamas?

        • Your problem with the process might be summed up at the beginning. A player ranking for International players is a joke. Once these kids agree to sign, they don’t go through all the workouts or play games, so they are basing it on what they saw at 14-15 years old? It’s ridiculous to even rank them other than by projected bonus and all that means is what a team has to pay to sign them, doesn’t prove how good they are and certainly doesn’t prove how good they will be. If bonuses meant anything, Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte would be finding a new line of work somewhere right now, while Luis Heredia would be your 2016 Opening Day pitcher for the Pirates

          • John – I am sure its very subjective and ripe with error – just like the MLB Draft is and all the rankings that proceed it. But, with all that being said, I’d rather be signing players in the top 50 than out of the top 50 – the people who rank those players are sure to know a lot more about them than you and I .Therefore, I would have to believe that my odds will be better. But, again, the Pirates are not even part of the conversation.

            • Did you notice I already talked to the one kid they signed and got info no one else has?

              • Thanks John – and we subscribers appreciate that, including me. Please do not take my criticisms of the Pirates personally – no one loves this team more than I do, I’ve been a fan for over 45 years now through good times and the bad. I just have very high expectations and just do not understand their International strategy. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

                Tonight I read, even the White Sox stepped up with their wallets and signed two of the top 20 International prospects – I think combined, the two cost around $2.5 million.

                Even the lowly Padres, who never seem to spend money, have signed 6-7 players and have spent nearly all of their pool money (around $2.7 million I believe) – all of the guys they signed were in the $350k to $500k range.

                Sigh!

  4. The good thing is, if they put him (Alcime) on the Willie Mays Hayes pop up, push up routine, he’ll bulk up quickly!

  5. The Bahamas that’s interesting. Wake me up in 6 years and I’ll see if these guys made it to Altoona.

    • The trackers only have the announced bonuses. Pirates went over their initial budget last year and had to get cap room in the Ike Davis deal to finish out their signings. Most signings aren’t announced and some of them end up being six figures

      • Thanks, John. I figured there had to be something up.

        Does Major League Baseball, or an outside source, publicly keep tabs on this league-wide? Having trouble finding anything.

        • MLB stops/freezes the signings on June 15th until today and tallies up the bonuses so they can assess any penalties

  6. Putting aside that the international spending caps are clearly BS for a sport in which there are no free agent spending caps at the major league level, and not discounting that they particularly shaft small-market (ie small budget) teams like the Pirates, I wonder if the Pirates would actually go after international prospects ranked in the #1-20 range when there are teams out there that it seems are likely to out spend them.

    • The Pirates have the freedom to ignore the cap whenever the want this or that player. It’s a soft cap, meaning it only imposes penalties when a team exceeds its limit.

      • not entirely true as if they spend too much, they lose the ability to spend in next year’s class

      • But they’re not going to, for example, sign Yadier Alvarez to a $16 million bonus like the Dodgers did, then also sign another kid for over $2 million (again, like the Dodgers), because they don’t have the resources to drop that much dough on high-risk players.

        • That’s kinda like saying the Pirates can’t play in free agency because the Yankees signed a guy for $100m.

          There are many, many levels in between.

          • I’m not saying they can’t play in the international market, but they can’t play for the very top of it. Just like in free agency, they can’t play for the superstars. They can still get solid role players or average starters, but not the very top guys.

            • Right, like I said. They can sign the $1-2m kid and STILL sign a bunch of six figure guys without even taking a penalty.

              Their total lack of going after top international talent wouldn’t even bother me much if not for the fact that they’ve simultaneously lost the ability to target similar guys in North America. Without the ability to do much overslot work at home, I think it’s absolutely a missed opportunity not trying to supplement that void abroad.

              EDIT: I’m not nearly as opposed as BuccosFan, fwiw. That’s too overboard for me.

        • The Pirates ca and have spent millions on international free agents. Who knows how much they would have given to Sano to sign him. They may not offer $50M to a Cuban player; they may choose to exceed their cap for a player they believe will become a star. That’s my point.

            • The Pirates did not receive the opportunity to make a bid that would convince the Sano family to sign with the Pirates. That bid would exceed any offer the team had already made.

    • For those of you who believe that anyone can have a definitive ranking list of 16-year old amateur baseball players.

      • I think all it really says is that he is known to be good around the industry, but rankings at that age mean nothing. Most of the top ones fail and all you need to do is look at how much can change for 18 year old HS players in one spring and that should tell you ranking 16 year old kids is even less of a crap shoot, especially since some of them agree to contracts a year in advance and then don’t show up for events or give full effort

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