Morning Report: A Look at the Progress of the 2016-17 International Signing Class

Yesterday was the start of the international signing period, which will run until June 15th, though most of the big signings usually happen during the first day. The Pittsburgh Pirates were extremely busy, signing at least 20 players total. They have already spent more this signing period than they did during the last one, though that’s because their bonus pool last year was the second lowest in all of baseball.

The Pirates signed 23 players during the last signing period, so I wanted to give a quick update on each player from that group. Here’s the 2016 international signing tracker. The 2017 tracker will be up once we can get a little more info on each player…like a name for some of them would be a good start.

Jean Eusebio – He was the top signing for the Pirates and didn’t ink his deal until February. He is one of the youngest players in the entire DSL, who won’t turn 17 until the end of this season. His stats have not been good early, though his 10:10 BB/SO ratio looks nice and shows he isn’t over-matched like some players are in their first year. Eusebio was hitting really well in Spring Training, so I expect him to start hitting soon.

Pedro Castillo – He was the second biggest signing, as the Pirates put most of their money into the outfield, signing five of their seven current DSL outfielders. His stats haven’t been good. In fact, they are very similar to what Eusebio has put up, including the encouraging sign in his 9:10 BB/SO ratio.

Francisco Acuna – He was already somewhat known by those of you who follow our winter league coverage. Acuna hit well in Colombia this winter against much older competition. He started off very slow this DSL season, but has rebounded lately. In 20 games, he has 19 walks and nine stolen bases, so he is showing signs of being one of the better players from this group.

Samuel Reyes – Younger brother of Pablo Reyes, he has already been promoted to the GCL and he threw 6.1 shutout innings last week over two appearances. Only signed for $45,000, but he’s the top performer so far.

Santiago Florez – The top bonus pitcher in this class and one of the youngest, turning 17 in March. He is 6’6″, with plenty of room to fill out. Putting up solid stats already, led by a .228 BAA and a 1.22 WHIP.

Noe Toribio – A six-figure signing, who pitched well in Spring Training, earning a starting spot, but has struggled since the season began.

Luis Arrieta – Six-figure signing out of Colombia, who received $20,000 less than Florez, but doesn’t quite have the size of the young righty, and he’s slightly older. Arrieta has a 3.24 ERA and an 0.90 WHIP, so things are going well, though he has a very low strikeout rate.

Osvaldo Bido – An older signing at 21, Bido has a lot of potential due to the best fastball on the team right now, but he has allowed too many runners and that has led to poor results. He has over a strikeout per inning and hasn’t allowed a homer, so there are the silver linings on the stats side.

Jose Marcano – The only lefty pitcher the Pirates signed last year. He has a somewhat high 3.91 ERA, but the WHIP and BAA are low, strikeouts and ground ball ratio are decent and hasn’t allowed a homer, so he’s doing a solid job in his rookie season.

Ruben Gonzalez – Small catcher, who turns 20 in September, he has put up strong numbers at the plate. Received a lot of playing time when starting catcher Samuel Inoa was out for ten days after getting beaned.

Emison Soto – Was the lowest signing bonus we know at $10,000 and signed at age 20. He has an interesting story, which I will feature at some point. He’s playing a strong all-around game at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Has an amazing 19:2 BB/SO ratio.

John Lantigua – A low-priced signing, one of seven outfielders on the team. He missed some time due to a leg injury. Has put up average results and turns 20 in August.

Rayvi Rodriguez – A low-priced signing and older player, has plus speed as a tool, but not much else going right yet. He’s played 17 games, but many of his appearances have been late in the game as a pinch-runner.

Ronaldo Paulino – No one hits the ball harder on the team than the 6’4″, 200 pound Paulino, but no one swings and misses as much either. Intriguing bat, though not a very athletic player.

Matthew Mercedes – Has been splitting time at first base with Paulino. Mercedes started slow, but has put together a couple nice games recently, so he could see more time.

Francis Del Orbe – An 18-year-old pitcher with a projectable frame, who is putting up solid results early on, though doing it in a limited relief role.

Pablo Santana – Same description and nearly same results as Del Orbe, although he doesn’t have quite the projectable frame.

Ivan Rosario – A low-priced signing who looks very raw. He played 40 innings in the field and committed five errors. He is 1-for-16 at the plate. He was signed as a shortstop, but almost all of his time has been second base.

Julio Rosario – Must be the name Rosario, because Julio can’t throw strikes at all. In six appearances, he has pitched 6.1 innings and walked 15 batters, while hitting two others. No relation, but these are the worst two players so far.

Angel Suero – Six-figure signing who hasn’t made his debut. Was hurt late in spring and is currently working his way back. He’s a player of interest due to a big, projectable frame and a strong fastball already, but the reason he isn’t in games yet is because he has been extremely wild since returning from injury.

Luis Gonzalez – Pitcher who hasn’t made his debut yet due to a Spring Training injury.

Haicheng Gong – Signed out of China in May, he is on the GCL roster, but has yet to report. He is still scheduled to pitch sometime this year, so he could be arriving soon.

Dany Hernandez – Pitcher from Cuba. He was with the Pirates during Extended Spring Training, but his three-month visa ran out and he had to go back to Haiti to take care of that before he can come back to the GCL. The Pirates also signed Cuban pitcher Yoandy Fernandez this off-season, though he isn’t considered an international free agent signing because he lives in the U.S.


The game graph wasn’t working when I went to post it, so here is the boxscore from the Pirates site.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 5-3 to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates will now send Ivan Nova to the mound as they begin a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a seven-game road trip before heading into the All-Star break. Nova is making his 17th start, coming off of a game in which he allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He has a 3.49 ERA in eight road starts. The Phillies will counter with right-hander Aaron Nola, who has a 4.13 ERA in 65.1 innings, with 64 strikeouts and a 1.29 WHIP.

In the minors, Tyler Eppler will make the start for Indianapolis after making his last appearances out of the bullpen. Bradenton starter Pedro Vasquez ranks fourth in the FSL with a 2.21 ERA and fifth with a 1.05 WHIP. The Marauders need to finish yesterday’s game first. They will pick up the action in the sixth inning with a 1-1 score. Luis Escobar has 97 strikeouts this season, which ranks him first in the South Atlantic League. Travis MacGregor is scheduled to make his third start for Bristol. He threw five shutout innings in his last outing. Scooter Hightower starts for Morgantown. He has allowed four hits, with no walks, no earned runs and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings this season. Yeudry Manzanillo is scheduled for the GCL Pirates.

MLB: Pittsburgh (37-45) @ Phillies (27-53) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (3.08 ERA, 17:48 BB/SO, 65.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (46-36) vs Louisville (33-49) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (4.16 ERA, 24:56 BB/SO, 75.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (40-39) @ Erie (40-41) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.01 ERA, 18:56 BB/SO, 74.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (43-33) vs Florida (29-46) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (2.21 ERA, 16:57 BB/SO, 77.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (36-41) vs Hickory (31-48) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.77 ERA, 31:97 BB/SO, 71.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (8-5) vs Williamsport (6-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Scooter Hightower (0.00 ERA, 0:15 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (3-8) @ Bluefield (6-5) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (2-4) vs Blue Jays (4-1) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (15-10) vs Astros Orange (10-15) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is Kevin Newman’s home run from last week, his third of the season.


7/2: Starling Marte assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

7/2: Hunter Owen assigned to Morgantown. Nick King assigned to West Virginia.

6/30: Logan Hill promoted to Altoona. Jordan Luplow promoted to Indianapolis. Alexis Bastardo promoted to Bradenton. Julio Eusebio promoted to West Virginia.

6/30: Connor Joe placed on disabled list.

6/30: Jason Rogers released.

6/29: Yeudy Garcia assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/29: Brandon Cumpton promoted to Altoona.

6/29: Mitch Keller activated from the disabled list.

6/28: Nelson Jorge and Raul Hernandez promoted to Bristol. Eumir Sepulveda and Adonis Pichardo assigned to GCL  Pirates from Bristol.

6/28: Daniel Arribas released. John Bormann assigned to Bradenton.

6/28: Angel Vasquez promoted from DSL Pirates to GCL Pirates.

6/27: Antonio Bastardo activated from disabled list. Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.

6/26: Ty Moore promoted to Bradenton. Garrett Brown promoted to West Virginia

6/25: Logan Ratledge promoted to Altoona.

6/25: Ryan Nagle promoted to West Virginia.

6/25: Matt Diorio and Huascar Fuentes assigned to Bristol from Morgantown.

6/25: Victor Ngoepe, Felix Vinicio, Jose Delgado, Nelson Jorge and Brian Sousa assigned from Bristol to GCL Pirates

6/24: Cole Tucker activated from disabled list.

6/24: Dario Agrazal placed on disabled list. Cody Dickson assigned to Altoona.

6/24: Geoff Hartlieb promoted to Bradenton. Andrew Potter promoted to West Virginia.


Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and we start with the most recent first. Moises Alou played briefly for the 1990 Pirates before he was dealt away for pitcher Zane Smith. It was a deal that looked good short-term and really bad long-term. Alou went on to have a great career, as a .300 hitter with power. He made six All-Star teams.

From the 1942 team, we have pitcher Luke Hamlin, who was also part of a really bad trade. He lasted one season with the Pirates after they acquired him for Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan.

Going back earlier, we have pitcher Chet Nichols, who was a member of the 1927 Pirates, a team that went to the World Series. Nichols was a mop-up reliever for the Pirates, throwing a total of 27.2 innings, with a 5.86 ERA. He had a son by the same name, who played nine years in the big leagues.

Finally, 1917 first baseman Bunny Brief. He was a great home run hitter in the minors, who never got a good chance in the majors. He began his career during the deadball era, yet he hit 342 career homers. His actual given name was Anthony Grzeszkowski, which couldn’t be any further from Bunny Brief, his baseball name.

  • im getting really excited for the pending team blow-up (through terrible trades) and eventual second half implosion with Trump … i mean Nutting announcing extensions for Spicer and Connaway; I mean for Huntington and Hurdle…this team’s future was sealed in stone after the post 98 win roster debacles…soon, baseball will return to their familiar position in pittsburgh, as mere fodder for the time between when the Pens Stanley Cup season ends and the Steelers Superbowl training camp opens…..shame on these fucking idiots

  • WillyMoGarcia33
    July 3, 2017 12:05 pm

    Shane Baz listed as starter for GCL

  • Why wasn’t’ Apostle and Alcime profiled?

  • is mason martin not signing anymore? the article on him signing is deleted….?

  • Eppler will start today? Thought they said they weren’t going to do the 6 man rotation?

  • Trading Alou for Zane Smith was a good trade for Pirates. With Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Slyke in OF, there was no room for Alou. Smith was integral part of those playoff teams.

    • John Dreker
      July 3, 2017 9:35 am

      As I said, it was good short-term, but you can’t deny that it was bad long-term. Bonilla was gone after 1991, and Alou began 1990 in AA, so I think they could have kept him around without holding him back too much. Worst case would have been Alou as the 4th outfielder for one year. In 1991, Bonilla made 60 starts at third base, so there was substantial playing time for a 4th player

      • A “really bad long-term” take on a trade that *only* provided a key starter needed for the only three Division winners this franchise has had in the past 38 years is a hell of an interpretation on reality, and also quite telling.

  • I remember that Zane Smith-Moises Alou trade. That is exactly the type of trade that makes for an interesting debate.
    There is no doubt that Alou had more talent and a much better long term future (even with the injuries). However, the Pirates were in a battle with the Mets and really needed another lefty starter. Smith came on and went 6-2 the rest of the way and we won our first East title in 11 years. He was also paired up with Drabek in both 91 and 92 (when Smiley was gone) to form a respectable 1-2 punch for the Buccos.