Ben Badler from Baseball America posted his annual review of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ international signings on Thursday morning. He covered ten players total in the write-up, which can be viewed here. Most of the signings were covered here, but he does have notes on four of the players signed, for whom information wasn’t available when their signings were announced. You can read more in our 2015 international signing tracker, which has notes on some players who weren’t mentioned by Badler today. Our chart is for the 2015-16 signing period, which goes from July 2, 2015 until June 15, 2016 (there are no signings allowed from June 16-July 1). Badler’s review is for the entire year, so it includes anything from January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2015.
Starting with pitcher Yeudry Manzanillo, who is a 17-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican. He’s 6’3″, 175 pounds, with a high 80’s fastball and room to add velocity. He throws a curve and a change that both need work. He signed for $150,000 on July 2nd.
Shortstop Rodolfo Castro also signed for $150,000, though he didn’t sign until October. He’s a defensive-minded 16-year-old, who they think will stick at shortstop. Castro is a switch-hitter with average speed. His glove is well ahead of his bat.
Outfielder Carlos Garcia signed for $110,000 on July 14th. Badler says that the Pirates were impressed with his line drive approach at the plate and overall hitting ability. He’s not a toolsy player, limited to a corner outfield spot due to his speed and lack of arm strength, so the bat is going to have to carry him. He’s 16 years old and hits from the left side.
Finally, Badler mentioned a week ago about pitchers hitting 100 MPH, who nobody knows and had the Pirates’ Joel Cesar on the list. He’s a small, 20-year-old righty, who could be a bargain with a $50,000 bonus. We got a report from the Dominican instructional league that he was hitting 97 MPH, but didn’t have the best command. According to Badler, he was sitting 91-94 when the Pirates signed him, but quickly showed an increase in velocity and topped out at 100 MPH shortly after signing.
One additional note to Badler’s review, which I highly recommend reading. Pitcher Leandro Pina got a $115,000 bonus and was signed on July 2nd, which isn’t listed in the article.
We will have updated scouting reports on these players and some other lesser signings once the DSL season gets closer. The players headed for the DSL report to camp next week, and it looks like it could be an interesting group with 18 players on the 35-man roster who received six-figure bonuses. The roster will also include a handful of players like Joel Cesar, who signed for under $100,000, but they still have excellent scouting reports.
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.
Sanchez the Pirates highest signed international player, as I should have know, is a Banana client. I will say it until someone agrees with me or can prove that I am wrong, that the only decent DR players the Pirates can sign are associated with Banana. The other agents down there have stayed away from the Pirates since the Sano signing failure. I think it has poisoned them against Gayo and the Pirates. Why do the Pirates sign DR players for under $400,000? It is because the players/agents think the Pirates might welch on the amount of the bonus offered liked they tried to do with Sano. Since the Pirates have peanuts to use in both the draft and the international pool this year, they should blow through the pool and get some expensive high end talent. I realize that all those players have already agreed to sign with other teams at this point and It is already too late this year, so maybe there is hope for next year. I know John will say look at who the Pirates signed for peanuts and had success with but that is not going to continue to work forever. It is not a wise way to acquire talent, that is sign allot of players at modest cost and hope to find a star in the group. The Cardinals this year are blowing through their international pool, Why shouldn’t the Pirates do so to remain competitive? Now that the minors are in such good shape no one cares about getting high end talent (is Newman a future superstar or a marginal player) but remember there was no talent in the pipeline for almost 20 years. The Pirates must spend to remain on top or down they will go in the standings when the current high end talent they have signed goes elsewhere when their contracts are up. Please feel free to tell me how crazy I am but before you do, look over the last four years of international signings and see how many high end payouts went to the Banana players. Maybe Gayo likes Bananas???
Joe. It has been proven over and over that the best Latin signings aren’t always the high money ones…especially with pitching. The pirates appear to have missed big on heredia and the A’s wiffed on ynoa…those were huge money deals. Polanco was a low money sign…so we’re many others including Elias Diaz. Plus there isn’t the money out there to spend internationally like there was since the cap… No sense blowing 100% of your money or close to it on one guy or even 40-50% for that matter. It’s not a sound model for procuring talent.
Is Rodolfo Castro the 16 year old SS that was mentioned in the Post gazettes report on the Pirates Dominican signing process. I think the kid was named Fidel Castro in their report but he sounds similar.
Yes, the same player. The names of players change a lot once they sign, sometimes spelling, sometimes the name they go by. There are a few players that when I ask about them, I use a different name than the MiLB boxscore, because that’s not how they are known. No clue why, but it happens often.
Ok thanks for that. I was rooting for him to get a contract after reading about him. I remember at the end of that article he was still waiting. Good to hear!
“According to Badler, he was sitting 91-94 when the Pirates signed him, but quickly showed an increase in velocity and topped out at 100 MPH shortly after signing.” Ray Searage strikes again!!!
Before anyone thinks that is true, there is no chance Ray Searage saw Joel Cesar in the Dominican, or helped him in any way. The pitching coach down there is Dan Urbina, father of the former Pirates’ player by the same name. They also have former MLB pitcher Amaury Telemaco on staff.
Part of the quick development of some players down there is just the fact they are eating right and working out properly, both stretching and weight training, for the first time in their lives.
I saw Telemaco at pirate city and figured it was amaury. Not too many Telemacos out there
Tim has a good story(more of a cool tidbit) about meeting him down in the Dominican, maybe he will share it…
Also helps the perceived development when you sign them as 16 yr olds and a year later they are 4″ taller and lifting twice as much weight. Slight hyperbole, but still.
So the Nuttings are too cheap to send Uncle Ray to the DR?
Uncle Rene needs no player development help. He simply produces big league ballplayers on call.
That’s Tio Rene to you and me, Bub.
I was joking. I know it can’t be true at this stage in his career.
I know, but I wanted other people to know that as well
John, why are you so low on a future ace?
Did Searage change his delivery or his arm slot to hit 100?
Because he’s so low to begin with at 5’10
HDMH my man Marcus Stroman!