Pittsburgh Pirates Were Very Active on First Day of International Signings

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been very active today according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, signing a total of 20 players already. We heard the names Juan Pie and Angel Basabe earlier, who received $500,000 and $450,000 respectively, but seven more names have come out, who all received six-figure bonuses. Here’s the list from Sanchez, who also mentioned that 11 other players have signed.

Norkis Marco, SS, $250,000

Jommer Hernandez, C ,$250,000

Gregory Custodio, SS, $230,000

Brayan Torres, RHP, $180,000

Emilson Rosado, INF, $135,000

Yeison Santos, LHP, $110,000

Luis David Peralta, LHP, $110,000

As usual, we will try to get you more info on these players and our signing tracker will be up later today. The Pirates have spent $2,215,000 on the nine known bonuses. While you can assume the other 11 players from today signed for less than $100,000, it’s possible they got more. You’re looking at roughly half of the international budget spent already. Also note that any player who turns 16 between tomorrow and August 31st isn’t eligible to sign until their birthday, so there could be more six-figure signings that need to wait.

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.

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Joseph Willis

Do we know if the Basabe kid is the brother of the dbacks and White Sox twins who I believe we’re top 100 prospects recently?

Joe S

Top 50 MLB International Bonuses of all time in $’s. Not adjusted for inflation but at the time the bonuses were given. Kind of ruins the reasons to dole out big $’s for a 16 year old. Arguable Marte, Polanco, etc. top this group.



I didn’t find the list all that useful since so many of the signees were from recent years and therefore had no chance to reach MLB yet. A more interesting study would be to look at the top 10-20 bonuses each year from 1995 – 2010.

Tim Williams

That argument never really gets applied to the Pirates and their signings.

For example, Jeremias Portorreal is already considered a bust. He’s also only 19. Lolo Sanchez is only 18. If these guys were Americans, they would have been drafted out of high school this year or last year. Instead, we’re writing them off completely because of their performances in pro ball at ages 16-18.


And it would be insane to write off an American draftee out of HS. Let’s wait and see! This has been a second straight season of frustration which may be colouring perceptions. This team may have done a whole lot better with Kang, Marte not missing so much time and Taillon not losing 5 weeks due to cancer – and amid the doom and gloom let us not forget the courage and stamina that Jameson has displayed, incredibly admirable!

john fluharty

Oops. Didn’t notice that you’d posted this too.


who was the last player to sign for over a million for the pirates?


Most players who sign for over $1 million turn out to be complete busts. . That is true for all MLB teams.

Tim Williams

Harold Ramirez

Joseph Willis

How is he doing in Toronto?


.628 ops in 234 at bats

Joseph Willis

Thanks guys so it wasn’t much of a loss


Ramirez and Polo (Yankees) are two OF traded last year who will both play in the majors some day, just like Keon Broxton and Willy Garcia are playing in the majors already, or further back, Robbie Grossman (Twins). The Pirates had ‘Cutch, Polanco, Marte, with Frazier, Osuna and Meadows on the way. The guys that were traded were all dead-ended with the Pirates.


Beat me to it – slash of ,244/.286/.342/.628.

Bill Harvey

So, roughly the same numbers as Austin Meadows is putting up at AAA.

Tim Williams

Honestly, I don’t pay attention to most players once they leave.


thank you sir


Dumb argument…….


i wasn’t arguing anything. i was just curious.


A lot of players signed but generally its the samd tried and failed strategy of quantity over quality. What is the definition of insanity?


Your idiotic posts are the definition of insanity. MOST of the international signees who got the largest all-time bonuses from other MLB teams turned out to be busts. It is almost impossible to project the future ability of 16-year olds.

A few examples of the biggest all-time international bonuses:

– Michael Ynoa 2008 $4.3 Million (OAK)
– Rafael Rodriguez 2010 $2.6 Million (SF)
– Yorman Rodriguez 2008 $2.5 Million (CIN)
– etc etc etc

For every big bonus player who works out, there are a dozen who do not. Fans like you were thrilled when Luis Heredia was signed to a huge contract – which presumably made him can’t miss.



MOST Round 1 picks in the NA draft turn out to be busts, but nobody is dumb enough to punt on them so they can stack up on mid-round talent.

You, Tim, and everyone else regurgitating this “logic” never control for the denominator. You cherry pick successes and failures. Nobody ever talks about literally signing hundreds and hundreds of kids in order to find a handful of successes over a decade’s worth of time. Factor the capital and opportunity cost of that development and nobody would be able to make a definitive argument that a quantity approach is more successful.

I welcome the effort, but nobody even bothers because it would take actual work and upend the easy narrative.


Don’t forget Luis heredia.

john fluharty

The surest way to get payoff in the international market is to sign a bunch of guys. We spent big on Heredia and he flopped. I am curious as to how successful the big bonus kids are. I am too lazy to look them all up to see, but here’s the top 50 as of 6/1/2016.


Tim Williams

The definition of insanity is posting over and over that the Pirates have a failed strategy when legit prospects like Edgar Santana, Luis Escobar, Yeudy Garcia, and others keep making their way through the system.


Do I smell an apologist in our midst? Just want to point out that of the 3 ‘legit’ prospects that you named, only one of them have even tasted mlb play…

Tim Williams

You’re not going to find many MLB players from the international periods we’re talking about.




Really….you are going to defend this inept strategy by naming three pitchers, of which only one has reached the majors and is a reliever? Most major league teams have that many position players making significant contributions. Stop defending the indefensible….it doesn’t help with credibility.

Wilbur Miller

Obviously, I disagree with Tim on some things here, but this hardly advances the discussion. If you have to resort to ad hominem attacks it’s your own credibility that’s forfeit.


Yor posts are a total waste of cyberspace.

Tim Williams

The day I write in a manner to try and influence people’s perception of my credibility is the day I will have no credibility.

I write what I believe, and back it up with facts and logic. That’s how you have credibility.

Wilbur Miller

That’s a reliever, a guy who’s struggling to throw strikes in low A and who’s pretty likely to end up as a reliever, and a guy who’s struggling in all sorts of ways in AA and will almost certainly move to the bullpen. And those are nearly the only LA players who’ve established themselves as legit prospects in the entire system. In 2012, the Pirates had Polanco, Diaz, Osuna, Willy Garcia and Alen Hanson all on just one farm team. That’s a pretty stark contrast.

Tim Williams

I don’t think it’s time to write off the other guys, and I see potential with some of the hitters, but I’m not going to debate it.


Or guys like Marte ($85,000), Polanco ($150,000), Diaz ($20,000), and Jose Osuna ($280,000) who have already been contributing to Pirate success. An Adrian Valerio for $400,000? The Pirates have a tendency to max out in the Intl Draft – nothing wrong with the system.


Reality is you cannot even gauge those guys….Marte may or may not be the player that we have seen (PEDs), Polanco may never meet his expectations (right now he is a way below avg right fielder), Diaz and Osuna look promising – but one truly will not know until theyve had several years of top play at the major league level


What has Rene done lately…boy that thread last week fired me up 😀


Alen Hansen too who is playing just fine since he got out of hurdle’s doghouse, where young middle infielders go to die.


Amazing…..the sky is gray and you insist it is blue.

Wilbur Miller

Problem is, the guys you name all signed 7+ years ago, except Valerio, who’s basically had one good month since signing four years ago and is still in low A. The guys they have now contrast pretty sharply with the guys they had coming up 7-10 years ago, and it’s not a favorable contrast. The practice they were following, of not competing financially for the top talent, isn’t working any more.

Tim Williams

“and is still in low A”

This is the problem with evaluating international players. Valerio should be seen as being in low-A. He just turned 20 years old at the start of the season. There should never be a “still” in front of his placement, implying he should be higher.

The problem with Valerio really has nothing to do with Valerio. The problem is we’ve paid attention since he was 16. If a high school guy struggles his freshman, sophomore, and junior years, and then gets drafted and a year later puts up an .809 OPS in West Virginia, we view him as a guy with a ton of potential and upside. We don’t mark him down because he struggled in high school. We don’t even care what he did in high school, or what he did at ages 16-18.

Valerio just turned 20 this year, and has an .809 OPS, while showing off a lot of tools on both sides of the ball. He was inconsistent from 2014-2016, but he was also very young.

That’s the disadvantage international players have. We don’t care about American players when they’re very young, and only start to care about them when they’re 18-19, or 21-22 for college picks. But we focus on international kids from ages 16-17 on, which means that if they’re having success by age 20-21, after struggling for a few years when they’re younger, then we’ve already written them off, or viewed their progress as slow.

Wilbur Miller

Another way to look at this is system-wide. They signed Marte in 2007, H.Ramirez in 2011. That’s a five-year period. Really four, because Marte was under the previous FO and nobody is going to defend them. By 2012, they very clearly had a group of 6-8 players who projected as potential everyday players at the major league level. There were flops, too, but that many guys had stepped forward.

In 2012, the big signings were the two De La Cruzes. That’s the point at which their top bonuses stopped getting larger and started getting smaller. If you look now at the five-year period from 2012-16, as a group how many guys have stepped forward as potential everyday players? Valerio maybe. Portorreal may be in the process of doing it, but you still can’t really say that and he signed four years ago. Compared to where the LA part of the system was in 2012, that’s a drastic difference. You can argue about individual players, because it’s always impossible to say anything definitive about a 20-year-old player. But when you have a large group of players, some of them should be stepping forward. Regardless of what a single player might do, you can draw conclusions about the system when there’s a difference as stark as the difference between the system now and the system five years ago. And then a FO would have to start asking itself what’s gone wrong, because if something has gone wrong and you wait until you can make a definitive statement about Jeremias Portorreal, you’re looking at digging yourself out of a ten-year hole.

Wilbur Miller

The problem with this reasoning is that the Pirates’ own experience doesn’t support it. The guys who established themselves as prospects didn’t struggle the way the more recent guys have. Marte took off in his second year. Hanson, Diaz, Polanco, Willy Garcia, Harold Ramirez, and Dilson Herrera all hit well right from the start, with Ramirez even skipping the DSL. None of them struggled for years before starting to hit, and none, not even Garcia, had the astronomical K rates that most of the more recent hitting prospects have had. Ben Badler actually said recently, specifically in reference to Lolo Sanchez, that it really is a very bad sign when a LA prospect doesn’t hit his first year in the DSL.

If Valerio’s an exception, it’s not because it takes so much longer to judge these guys, but because he’s a shortstop whose placement has been based on his defense. He was a slightly built guy when he was signed and he’s filled out some. He moved up due to his glove and his bat hadn’t caught up until now.

Tim Williams

You’re right that the guys from that 2012 WV team didn’t struggle in the way that the guys now are struggling. But I think you have to ask whether this means anything.

Is the 2012 WV group the standard for prospects? Or is that one good result out of many potential good results?

You see this all the time when comparing prospects. A guy comes up and performs in the majors at age 22, and then a guy who is age 23 in Triple-A is viewed as being behind schedule when comparing him to the 22 year old in MLB. That’s true if the 22 year old sets the schedule that everyone has to follow. But the truth is that guys arrive in the majors at ages 22, 23, 24, 25, and so on. So there’s not much of a difference between a guy arriving at age 22 or at age 24. A guy arriving at age 22 doesn’t mean anyone arriving at age 24 is a failed player. It just means the 22 year old was ahead of the others.

Were the 2012 WV guys the equivalent of the 22 year old arriving in the majors? That’s the way I feel about them. They arrived at that level with very few bumps along the way. The current group has seen a few bumps. But they’re not really far behind. Valerio is there at age 20, which is the same age as Polanco. If Lolo Sanchez makes it next year, it will be at the age of 19. Portorreal would be there at the age of 20 if he makes it next year.

By comparison, Polanco was there at 20, and Hanson/Garcia/Osuna were there at 19. Elias Diaz was there at age 21, and stalled a bit. Dilson Herrera got there the next year at age 19.

Going back to that MLB equivalent, there is one thing about arriving later. Typically the guys who arrive later are less likely to have a high upside. If you arrive at 26, rather than 22, you’re less likely to be an impact player, as the talent needed for that would have gotten you there sooner. So there is some concern if it takes guys considerably longer to reach West Virginia. But I don’t think that’s the case with these guys.

The disclaimer here is that I’ve really liked what I’ve seen out of Portorreal and Sanchez this year, and expect them both to be in West Virginia next year. So my opinion on both is ignoring their numbers and struggles to date, and looking only at the players I’m seeing right now and for the past few months.


hey john I hear some teams are trading away money ,because they only can spend 300k per player this year, are the pirates thinking of moving some players for some cash?

Travis P

I will say something is very unsettling when MLB allows these young of players to make a career decision early but not alloe the American player to do the same. Just can’t wrap my head around the foreign players picking their team and the American players being in a draft. Will there ever be a discussion about everyone either being in a draft or everyone given a budget and said, “Go to work.”


Disadvantage to our USA kids.


Clean water, quality schooling, and the lack of suffocating poverty –
relatively speaking – might make up for it a bit.


Just look what happened to Puerto Rico, it was a huge pipeline of talent, was added to the draft and it basically shut down the supply. Why? There’s no HS baseball or the opportunities that the American kids have. Does it make it right, I can’t say. But I know that it’s keeping the game I love revelant.


Hi John,
Curious what other teams have spent thus far in international signings? Are we investing the most? or are we spending an average amount thus far? or are we spending the least? Just curious….

Travis P

John…for you to type that “US players get COMPLETE say in where they sign” is absolutely incorrect. You can have opinions on whether you think most don’t care or most already have an idea. It’s a draft because teams get to evaluate and choose from the pool , not they sit there and pick the 40 or 50 some kids who know they’re going there. If what you said is true, you would never have a player slide or be surprised when he’s picked. For you to say, they can just say no, it’s not really that simple for a college senior.

Also, you can just as easily see the same issues of bonus money and strings attached here in America. You can try to defend the nature of the draft, and that’s fine, but if an American 16 yr old wants to declare for the MLB draft he should be allowed to make a living and provide for his family is my point. That would be like the NBA saying the age rule only applies to American born players.

An obvious reason to any outsider to see is because MLB can allow the top tier talent in the US to use all of the services provided around the country and not a dime has to come from any one particular MLB club to aid in their development while for the foreign players they believe they can’t get the proper development without being under the MLB umbrella.

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