Morning Report: The Worldwide Search For Talent Continues For Pirates

There is a new player who just arrived in Extended Spring Training for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s a 17-year-old, 6’4″ right-handed pitcher named Claudio Scotti and he’s from Italy. With him now in the system, the Pirates have players from 16 different countries in the system. Here is the complete list in no particular order:

India
Netherlands
Curacao
Bahamas
Italy
South Africa
Australia
Lithuania
Canada
Panama
Puerto Rico
South Korea
Taiwan
Colombia
US
Mexico
Dominican
Venezuela

To get to 16 countries, you know there has to be some non-traditional baseball countries in there. The list has 18 names, but Curacao is technically the Netherlands, I just put it on for future reference below. Also Puerto Rico is there just because of it’s baseball history. If they have their own World Baseball Classic team, then that’s good enough for me.

There have been players from 52 different countries, who made the majors. Many of those countries are represented by just a handful of players. If you look at only countries with 20+ Major League players, that list is down to just 13 names. Only three countries on the Pirates’ list don’t have a Major League representative yet. Those would be India, Lithuania and South Africa.

It’s certainly not 100% certain that Gift Ngoepe will make the majors someday, not everyone added to the 40-man roster makes the majors. But there is a good chance that the Pirates will eventually get a player from South Africa to the majors because they also have two other players from the country in the system. Both Victor Ngoepe and Vince Deyzel are far away, likely to spend this season in the GCL, but it gives them two more chances just in case Gift Ngoepe doesn’t make it.

India is of course represented by Rinku Singh, who is a real long-shot to make the majors. He hasn’t even been healthy since 2012 and right now he is still listed with the rehab players in Extended Spring Training. The hope was that he would open doors in his country for future baseball players. They didn’t play baseball in India though, so you can’t expect anything quick when you’re starting from the ground up with everyone.

The one area that surprises me with the Pirates is that they only have two players from Australia. At one time not so long ago, they had five players from the country in the system at the same time and all were signed over a relatively short time. None of the five lasted long in the system and none of them were high-priced signings either.

Then the Pirates ended up signing Sam Kennelly and Nick Hutchings, but they were both signed almost four years ago now. Since then, the closest thing the Pirates have got from Australia is Bradenton reliever Sam Street, who was born in Australia, though he spent four years in college here before being drafted. What seemed like a big focus for overseas talent has run dry for the Pirates.

This last international signing period, they reached out to some countries they haven’t been to for players recently. They got two players out of the Bahamas, one from Curacao and now Scotti from Italy. In the recent past they have had players from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras in the system. Part of the intrigue with countries that aren’t well represented in the pros is that if you’re signing a player from there, you’re getting the best “prospects” they have there. You also get a foot in the door, which hopefully leads to better players from that country.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 8-4 to the Brewers on Friday. Jon Niese gets the start tonight, his third of the season. He has allowed nine runs (seven earned) over 11 innings this season. He has a nice 2:12 BB/SO ratio, but he has surrendered three homers already. The Brewers will go with Taylor Jungmann, who has an 11.57 ERA in seven innings over two starts.

Big day for prospects on the mound today with Tyler Glasnow and Mitch Keller making their second starts. Keller had a terrific full-season debut just days after his 20th birthday. In five innings, the only hit he allowed was a bunt single and he struck out ten batter without issuing a walk. Glasnow gave up a solo run on a home run in his debut, going five innings with three walks and six strikeouts.

Cody Dickson starts for Altoona. He had a rough first outing, issuing seven walks. Earlier this week, we took a look at what is holding him back from being a top prospect. Austin Coley tries to bounce back from a poor debut for Bradenton tonight.

MLB: Pittsburgh (5-6) vs Brewers (5-5) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jon Niese (5.73 ERA, 2:12 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (4-2) vs Columbus (2-5) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.80 ERA, 2:3 BB/SO, 6.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (2-6) @ Richmond (4-5) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (8.10 ERA, 7:2 BB/SO, 3.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (3-6) vs Lakeland (4-5) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (7.71 ERA, 3:4 BB/SO, 4.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (7-2) vs Lexington (5-4) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:10 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is an RBI triple by Alen Hanson, scoring Gift Ngoepe from first base.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

4/15: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan added to Altoona roster.

4/14: Cory Luebke placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Rob Scahill.

4/14: Pirates sign Justin Masterson.

4/14: Chad Kuhl assigned to Indianapolis.

4/13: Michael Morse designated for assignment. Pirates select contract of A.J. Schugel.

4/13: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.

4/13: West Virginia places Cesilio Pimentel on disabled list. Eric Karch added to roster.

4/11: Pirates release John Holdzkom.

4/6: Tampa Bay Rays claim Jake Goebbert off waivers from Pirates.

4/2: Pirates designate Pedro Florimon, John Holdzkom and Jake Goebbert for assignment.

4/2: Pirates place Jung-ho Kang, Jared Hughes and Elias Diaz on the disabled list retroactive to March 25.

4/2: Pirates release Jose Batista and Jandy Vasquez.

4/1: Pirates release Gerardo Navarro, Christopher De Leon and Enyel Vallejo.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

On this date in 1903, one of the greatest Pirates players of all-time was born. Paul Waner played 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .340 during his time in the city.  Waner has the highest career batting average among any Pirates player with more than 2000 plate appearances. He is sixth in OPS, second in runs, third in hits, fourth in total bases, first in doubles, second in triples, third in walks and fifth in RBIs. You can read his full bio here.

There are two other former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one small trade of note. Also on this date in 1903, the same day Paul Waner was born, the Pirates opened up their season with a 7-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds. This team went on to play in the first World Series and the lineup from Opening Day (which is in the link above) was nearly identical to the one that started game one of the WS. For more information on that first World Series, click this link that recaps game eight of the series. At the bottom of the link, there is an article on the comparison between the Pirates and Boston Americans (Red Sox) along with the recaps of the first seven games.

The two players born on this date are 1942 catcher Babe Phelps and 1891 left fielder Piggy Ward. Their bios can be found in the link above. Phelps came to the Pirates in a trade for for Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan and left in the not-so-famous “Babe” trade, going to the Phillies for Babe Dahlgren.

In 1937, the Pirates got pitcher Joe Bowman from the Phillies in exchange for 1B/RF Earl Browne. Bowman ended up playing five seasons for the Pirates, while Browne was out of the Majors by early 1938.

  • Big Poison Waner was all of 5’8″, 153 lbs.

  • Who is faster Ngoepe or Hanson?

    • Hanson, although Ngoepe is an above average runner. He’s just not good at stealing bases and he lost a step as he filled out

  • Two big countries missing: Cuba and Japan. Oh…can any of these guys from any of these countries help our major league pitching staff? Because it’s pretty awful.

    • Trying to think of the song with lyrics of “. . . it’s always darkest just before dawn “.. I doubt that we are at that point though because there just seems to be so many things that need to be tweaked.

      After 11 games in 2015 the Pirates were 5-6 and playing the Brewers.

      • I don’t know a song with those particular lyrics but there is “Tomorrow ” from Annie and “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure

      • Was it Wooden Ships by CSNY?

      • So same-same…now all we have to do is have an incredibly improbable and unrealistic record against the rest of MLB and we might get the opportunity to host a Wild Card again 😉

        Just extending that logic. Haha.

      • What were they after 11 games in 2011? 2005? 1978?
        It’s irrelevant to me comparing seasons.

  • No one from Cuba or Japan on the list.

    • They have signed players from Cuba, but missed big on both. Not counting the couple signed by the previous front office (Yoslan Herrera and Serguey Linares) they spent $600,000 on Cesar Lopez in late 2010 and $490,000 for Carlos Mesa in mid-2011 and neither lived up to expectations.

    • They had a Japanese pitcher a few years back.

  • Viva Italia! Bene Grazi

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