The Pittsburgh Pirates signed a center fielder out of Mexico on Tuesday, agreeing to a deal with Randy Romero, who is also a member of Venados de Mazatlan. If you follow our winter league coverage, you know that team name because almost all Pittsburgh Pirates who play in Mexico are on that team. Romero was not among the 11 players we didn’t have names for the other day. He’s in addition to the 20 signings from day one of the international signing period. In addition to playing center field, he has also pitched in the recent past. Romero throws right-handed, bats righty and he turns 18 in August.

The Pirates used to be more active in Mexico, but I’ve heard recently that the teams ask for high prices for their players. In Mexico, the team gets 75% of the bonus, but it also gives the player a winter team and allows them to play summer ball if they don’t make it in pro ball. Since they sign with teams in Mexico before signing with Major League teams, what essentially happens is that Major League teams are purchasing the player from that team, while also giving the player a signing bonus. That runs the price up for players.

Currently in the system, the Pirates have five players from Mexico. Two of those players, Luis Heredia and Carlos Munoz, are in their last season before free agency. Then you have Eumir Sepulveda and Mikell Granberry in the GCL, and Eduardo Vera with West Virginia. Sepulveda almost wasn’t around anymore after last season. He intended to play summer ball in Mexico after a very strong showing in winter ball this off-season. The Pirates didn’t invite him to the Fall Instructional League last September after three seasons in the DSL, but his improvements this winter got him to Bradenton this spring. Without that spring invite, he was going to play in Mexico instead of returning for the kiss of death fourth year in the DSL.

Of those five players, Heredia was signed in August 2010, Munoz in July 2011, Vera in March 2012 and both Granberry and Sepulveda (along with Edgardo Leon) were signed in October 2013 at the same time. No players were signed after that point and “released” since then. Players from Mexico don’t actually get released if they don’t make it, they get loaned back to their original club. So this signing of Romero ends a drought of four years without a signing from Mexico.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed a lot of scouting by the Pirates in Mexico, but each year nothing came from those reports. It’s likely it has something to do with the high bonus prices being asked for by the teams. Just last month, the Pirates signed a working agreement with a new team in Mexico. Right after that agreement was reached, the team held tryouts for players, which was attended by scouts from the Pirates and three young players (ages 15-16) were signed to contracts. What now happens is that those players will  train with their new club and if they develop into prospects, then the Pirates would be the team that signs them.

While the scouting has come up empty for four years until Romero signed yesterday, we could be seeing this avenue open up again for more signings. Baseball is extremely popular in Mexico, basically going on year round, so you would like to see the Pirates get back into a country with a lot of young talent.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-0 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night. The Pirates will now send Gerrit Cole to the mound to make his 17th start of the season. In his last outing, he went 5.1 innings against the Giants, giving up seven runs on ten hits. On the road this season, he has a 4.61 ERA in nine outings. The Phillies will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Ben Lively, who has a 3.72 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in six starts. He has just 13 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

In the minors, Drew Hutchison starts for Indianapolis. He had a 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings in June. He ranks fourth in the International League with a 3.26 ERA and eighth with a 1.26 WHIP. JT Brubaker had his worst start last time out, allowing five runs over 1.2 innings. Cam Vieaux makes his third start for Bradenton. He threw six shutout innings in his first game and allowed one run over six innings in his second start. Jacob Taylor will go for Bristol in his third start and Austin Shields is slated for the GCL. Shields has allowed one run over 4.2 innings in two relief outings, but he has also walked six batters.

MLB: Pittsburgh (38-46) @ Phillies (28-54) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.51 ERA, 26:86 BB/SO, 101.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (47-37) vs Columbus (43-40) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (3.26 ERA, 32:73 BB/SO, 88.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (42-39) vs Binghamton (44-35) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (4.92 ERA, 20:60 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (45-34) @ Palm Beach (48-31) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (0.75 ERA, 3:7 BB/SO, 12.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (36-42) @ Lexington (41-40) 12:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (3.72 ERA, 18:51 BB/SO, 65.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-5) @ Mahoning Valley (9-5) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Gavin Wallace (0.00 ERA, 0:6 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (3-9) vs Kingston (3-7) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (2-6) vs Phillies (4-4) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (17-10) vs Dodgers2 (18-8) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here are two defensive plays from Monday. The first is the game-ending/saving catch by Justin Maffei in Indianapolis.

The second is Pablo Reyes making a nice play at second base.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

7/5: Hunter Owen assigned to West Virginia. Nick King assigned to Morgantown

7/4. Stephen Alemais assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/4: Starling Marte assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

7/4: Gift Ngoepe assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/4: Yeudy Garcia activated from disabled list. Casey Sadler assigned to Altoona from Indianapolis.

7/4: Pirates release Buddy Borden.

7/3: Francisco Cervelli activated from disabled list. Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis.

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.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Famer who spent one season with the Pirates. Starting with the most recent first and it’s the Hall of Fame pitcher, Goose Gossage. He was acquired for Richie Zisk prior to the 1977 season and left after the season via free agency. Gossage was a reliever for Pittsburgh, but he threw 133 innings over 72 appearances and posted a 1.62 ERA, with 151 strikeouts. He won 11 games and picked up 26 saves for the Pirates.

Other players born on this date include 1909 outfielder Ward Miller, 1908 outfielder Beals Becker and 1902 pitcher Harvey Cushman. Becker won 25 games in the minors in 1906, but just two years later he was a Major League outfielder. Miller was a member of the team’s first World Series champs, but he was traded away early in the season, so he didn’t get to celebrate the win. Cushman played for the best team in franchise history, but he kept them from being better. The Pirates had a 102-36 record that season, yet Cushman made four starts for the team and lost all four, which were his only games in the majors.

On this date in 2005, Kip Well threw a shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies while striking out 12 batters. It was the second and last shutout of his career. The win gave him a 6-8 record on the season, but he would end up going 2-10 the rest of the way. Boxscore can be found here.

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5 COMMENTS

    • Cautionary tale…
      I wonder in retrospect if we could have handled him better (more consistent with his delivery) or if this was mostly about a 16-year old becoming a millionaire.

      • 75% gone of $3M bonus did not make him a millionaire. I think part of it was his own fault for conditioning, but the Pirates also tinkered with him a lot. His off-speed pitch changed often. The idea was right, to give him a pitch in the same arm slot to help him with strikeouts, but it took awhile to get to that point and when it didn’t work, he switched again. If you asked him every April what pitches he was throwing you would have got at least five different answers over the years.

        • Ouch (on the money)!

          But $750,000 would feel like a million to any teenager. It certainly would open up new distractions to some who aren’t single-mindedly focused on becoming the best in their craft.

          I remember reading annual spring training PP articles about tinkering with his delivery thinking (at first) “now he’ll really take off!”and then “why is he still tinkering with his delivery?”

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