Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 International Signing Review

Ben Badler at Baseball America posted his yearly international review for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday morning. Since the Pirates (and most other teams) don’t announce any international signings, the scouting reports on these players are hard to get until they actually start to play games. We will get updated reports on these players once they get to the Dominican academy for Spring Training next month, but for now, here is some additional information on the players the Pirates signed last year.

I’ll point out that the list runs from January 1 to December 31, so this is a combination of two international signing periods, but doesn’t include the top players from either of those classes. That’s because the best players from the 2015-16 signing period were signed in July of 2015, and the best player from the 2016-17 class was signed last week, when the Pirates and 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Jean Eusebio signed his deal.

One other thing I think is important to note, and that is the velocities you’ll read below. We have come across numerous cases where they end up being higher than what we receive in our reports once they start playing. A player might amp it up for a tryout so the scouts see what is available in the arm, but then once they start pitching, that velocity isn’t something you will see again. A 16-year-old might hit 94 MPH at some point, then not reach that number any time after they enter the system. It’s important to keep that in mind, and once we get updates on these players, then we will be sure to note their velocity in games.

We start with the one new bonus amount that we didn’t have in our international signing tracker and it’s now the seventh player to receive at least six figures during the 2016-17 signing period. Right-handed pitcher Julio Rosario signed for $125,000 back on July 2nd. He’s 17 years old, stands at 6’2″, 185 pounds. According to Badler, Rosario has a fastball/slider combo, and a feel for pitching, currently topping out at 90-91 MPH, with projectability. Badler also says that pitcher Angel Suero is almost exactly the same as Rosario, down to the age, bonus, arsenal, velocity, with the only difference being that he has a 6’4″ frame.

One big change from a list we got from the Pirates is the size of pitcher Santiago Florez. He was one of three players signed out of Colombia on July 2nd and he received the biggest bonus ($150,000) of the group. The Pirates listed Florez at 6’1″, while Badler has him at 6’6″, which I was able to confirm this morning as being correct. Badler notes that Florez threw a mid-80s sinker when he signed, and he’s now up to 92 MPH, with room to fill out and add more. I’ve seen a couple photos of Florez and he has a big frame with plenty of room to fill out, so this could be an interesting signing.

The Pirates biggest signing in 2016 ($170,000) was outfielder Pedro Castillo, who had growth spurt over the last year. We had video of him up on the site before he was signed, after Badler noted he was a target of the Pirates. Castillo was 5’11”, 165 in late 2015, but he is now up to 6’2″, though he only put on five pounds, so he has a frame with room to fill out. Castillo is described as a future right fielder with a good arm, whose bat is his best tool. He’s a lefty with a quick bat, who has power potential and uses the gaps.

Most of the players Badler mentions are pitchers, with the exception of Castillo and Francisco Acuna, who was mentioned here often over the off-season after he started playing winter ball in Colombia. Acuna was the first overall draft pick in the Colombian winter league and ended up starting at shortstop and doing well at the plate against much older competition.

At the time (for comparison sake) I pointed out that Tito Polo played in that same league and wasn’t able to make a significant contribution until after his GCL season when he was 19 years old, while Acuna was performing better as a 16-year-old shortstop with no pro experience. He received a $70,000 bonus, though the original agreed upon price was more than twice that amount, before coming down due to a snag in the negotiations.

As for those other pitchers, 17-year-old Noe Toribio could end up being the most interesting. Badler notes that he has hit 97 MPH and complements his fastball with a slider, giving him the possibility to be a power reliever. The Pirates will likely try him out as a starter before making him a reliever this early. Luis Arrieta hits 92 MPH, with secondary stuff that needs work. He signed for $130,000 out of Colombia.

I’ll throw in a couple that Badler didn’t mention and that’s Samuel Reyes and Sergio Cubilete. Reyes is the younger brother of prospect Pablo Reyes. We had report of him sitting 94-95 MPH in games, and he also has a mix of five pitches. The younger Reyes signed for $45,000, so he could be a hidden gem, as he was one of the best pitchers for the Pirates in the Dominican Instructional League. Cubilete was signed in February last year and is already in the United States due to a fastball that hits 95 MPH as a starter. He also throws a changeup with good separation, and a curveball that sits 79-82 MPH, giving him a nice three-pitch mix.

As mentioned up top, it’s not the most impressive group due to Badler using a calendar year for his recaps, rather than signing year, which run from July 2nd to June 15th. Next year’s list from Badler will include Jean Eusebio, plus the new players signed with the greatly increased $5.75 M bonus pool the Pirates will have to spend once this year’s July 2nd signing period begins.

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.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

John or Tim – who was the very young SS prospect who played on their DR team last year? He had very good size for his age and he hit very well in his first season. I think he was just 16-17? Based on his numbers at such a young age, as well as his size, that is a player to keep an eye on him. I just can’t remember his name?


Two questions:
1. Does Gayo get all the credit for the scouting and signing of these guys? And,
2. They’ve pulled some guys from Europe and other spots (Free Rinku Singh!!)….Anything of note from non-latin spots?


Acuna is pretty interesting. Hopefully, he hasn’t already peaked. Seems like there’s a lot to work with there.

Castillo is also intriguing. Left-handed right fielders with cannons have worked out alright for us in the past a few times.

Reyes already throwing 5 pitches is nice, too. He can focus his development on getting good, consistent velocity, command, and improving his sequencing instead of searching for secondary pitches.


I’m glad we have our own Arrieta now.

(It’s been a while since I made a terrible joke. You guys were probably getting worried.)


“One other thing I think is important to note, and that is the velocities you’ll read below. We have come across numerous cases where they end up being higher than what we receive in our reports once they start playing.”

Also known as the Luis Heredia Disclaimer


I love the quantity over quality approach, hopefully it keeps working out.


How can you say that with a straight face? What Latin American prospect have the Pirates signed in the past 6-8 years who has made it the Pittsburgh major league team and contributing? Zip, zero…I think even Polanco was signed more than 8 years ago…

Who are the top Latin American position player prospects in our system, that have reached at least the High A level? Other than Osuna and Hanson (who is barely still a prospect), are there any others?

Bill Harvey

Some have been used in trades that helped the major league team. Dilson Herrera/Vic Black was traded for Marlon Byrd/John Buck. Harold Ramirez was a big piece of the deal that netted the Pirates Drew Hutchison.


But the Pirates are big players in South Africa, Australia, and India!


No, almost everyone on this site now considers Ramirez an overrated single hitter and not a legit top prospect – that was the consensus right after the trade. Regardless, you could only name 2 which makes my point – in terms of top Latin American prospects, the Pirates may be the worst performing system in that category in MLB – certainly for position players….and its because they are essentially bottom feeders and they pretty much totally ignore any legitimate Cuban prospect….it is analogous to an NFL team deciding to sit out the first 2-3 rounds of the NFL draft each year, and just focus on Rounds 4-7 and think they will be able to assemble a competitive team year after year….

Bill Harvey

My sarcasm must not have carried through, had I added a quip about Michael de la Cruz, would that have helped? I thought the Hutchison comment should have been enough.

Bill Harvey

With a $5 million bonus, they almost have to sign some bigger deals. What would they be able to do with 50 kids signing every year for $100k? They would have to start up a third Dominican team, and another short season team.


Do you think they’re going to try and take the same kind of players they are in the draft? For pitchers being projectable and hitters having one solid tool and hoping the others work out. If they’re getting 1M prospects will we start seeing some of the top tier all around players that show up on international prospect lists?

Bill Harvey

It is more obvious than you may think, and I don’t mean Heredia. At least it would seem more obvious. LA player, got big bonus, got push from org, has seemingly done nothing to improve his game.


Absolutely, instant financial gratification can be crippling for kids coming from the poverty that exists in their parts of the world.

We have to appreciate the overwhelming majority of the kids from the Intl Draft that the Pirates have signed and present day performers like Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, They have achieved the dream with their multi-year, multi-million dollar contract extensions, and are still positive role models and hard workers.

joe s

I am not sure that even if the better prospects were profiled that the overall group would only show a glimpse of future projection, with none being mentioned as a sure fire top prospect. I have hope for Acuna to make it and give the remainder my best wishes for success. Now if the Pirates competed for the better know high end talent maybe there would be someone to follow, that might make a major impact on the Pirates. Lets hope that Guyo pulls another Marte rabbit out of his hat with this group.

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Latest comments