Pirates Prospects has learned that on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their first international free agent signing since Junior Vizcaino took over the Director of International Scouting position left vacant by Rene Gayo’s departure. They signed right-handed pitcher Jordy Ortega out of the Dominican Republic. Ortega turned 18 in October, so he has been eligible to sign since July 2, 2016.
Shortly before he was eligible to sign, Ortega competed in a tournament in Florida, where he was sitting 85-89 with his fastball, touching 90 MPH. He also had a low-70s breaking ball, which was either a curve or a slider depending on which scouting report you read. He’s got a projectable frame listed at 6’2″, 175 pounds, but as you can see in the video below, it’s not the cleanest delivery. Some mechanical adjustments should get more velocity and better control. He has recently been taking part in the Dominican Prospect League, which is a league set up for some of the top unsigned amateur players.
He’s the 29th international amateur free agent signed by the Pirates since July 2nd. You can check out our international signing tracker here, which lists all 29 players along with some information on each player. The bonus amount in that link only reflects the known bonuses. The Pirates had $1,766,750 left in their bonus pool before this signing. That includes the subtraction of $500,000 from their pool, which was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Nick Burdi trade. Ortega’s bonus wasn’t announced, but it should take too much from their remaining pool, which is good until June 15th for either signing players or more trades.
While this is a modest first signing to be connected to Vizcaino, it’s not a good indication of his direction with future signings since he’s only been around for two weeks. With this current bonus pool, he’s only working with 1/3 of a full pool and almost every available player has been eligible to sign for at least five months. His real test will be the 2018-19 signing class, which begins on July 2, 2018, where the Pirates will have a $5.25 M bonus pool.
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.