Pittsburgh Pirates Continue to Spend International Bonus Pool Money; Add Colombian Shortstop

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed three international players on Wednesday, making it 41 players total signed since July 2nd. That number doesn’t include two pitchers who had their contracts voided due to prior injuries. The Pirates have signed 14 of those players since they were one of 29 teams to lose out on Shohei Ohtani. All of those 14 recent signings have been since Junior Vizcaino took over for Rene Gayo as the Director of International Scouting.

As mentioned on Monday, the Pirates recently signed catching prospect Yeison Ceballo, who is still 16 years old. They inked another 16-year-old today in pitcher Joelvis Del Rosario, who is two months younger than Ceballo. They also got 17-year-old pitcher Valentin Linarez and infielder Mariano Dotel, who recently turned 18 years old.

Dotel is the interesting one at this point because we don’t have much info on these players yet. He is the son of Mariano Dotel, who played five years in the minors as a shortstop, topping out in Double-A. His father also trained him, so he at least comes from good genes and training.

We should get more info on those players soon, which we will include in our international signing tracker. That tracker has been updated since Monday with info on players recently signed. Those players include three right handed pitchers from the Dominican.

Miguel Peralta, 18 years old, 6’3″ 190 pounds

Linse Carvajal, 18 years old,  6’2″ 170 pounds

Oliver Mateo, 20 years old, 6’2″ 170 pounds

We don’t know any bonus info, but seven of the 14 players signed since December were first-time eligible to sign during this 2017-18 signing period. That likely means they got a bonus of $50,000+ and that “+” could easily be well into six figures, especially for Ceballo.

The Pirates had $2.26 M in their bonus pool in late November. They traded $500,000 to the Philadelphia Phillies for Nick Burdi, then reacquired the same amount in the Andrew McCutchen trade. They got back a little money when Wandi Encarnacion had his contract voided last month, but he signed at age 20, so his bonus was very likely less than $25,000 and may not have affected the bonus pool at all. That’s because bonuses of $10,000 or less don’t count against the pool.

With the 14 signed players, I wouldn’t be surprised if the pool is now in the $800,000 to $1,200,000 range, based strictly on what comparable players receive. I could be off if any of these players received a large six-figure bonus, but I think we could still see more signings before they are done on June 15th. If you remember, last year Jean Eusebio was signed in February and received a $550,000 bonus. That bonus was only known because we talked to Eusebio the day after he signed, otherwise it wasn’t announced anywhere. So there could be a bigger bonus without us knowing or even finding out down the line.

It’s possible some of these young players signing now had a high bonus demand going into July 2nd. It’s also very possible that they have made strides since July 2nd. Some of those young players who improve a lot at age 16, end up waiting to sign at 17 in hopes of getting larger bonuses when teams have more to spend during the new signing period. With the Pirates having a large remaining bonus pool, they would be able to convince some of those players to sign this year. If we find out anything new on these players, it will be posted in the international signing tracker, so feel free to save that link.

UPDATE Thursday 6:30 PM: Pirates signed 17-year-old Colombian shortstop Edgar Barrios on Thursday. He has an extensive amateur track record, dating back to little league. I found info from 2010 on him. He was recently the MVP of a major tournament played in Colombia and he was one of the leading hitters in the under-18 league for the best players in the country. Basically, he has been very good for a very long time. Looks like a solid pickup for the Pirates with their remaining pool money, which continues to dwindle. The signing tracker has been updated. Barrios is the 42nd player signed.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 26, 2018 1:34 pm

    I assume there has to be a site or source that shows all of the Pirates International signings this year and the signing bonuses for each player? I suspect they haven’t signed one player for $500k or more….yes, they are spending their pool money now, but using the same failed strategy as in past years. Quantity over quality. When any of these signings actually turn into top 100 prospects and make it to Pittsburgh, I will cease and desist in my annual criticism of the organization’s International FA decisions….

  • So Barrios is 17 and there is info on him going back to 2010 when he was 9 or 10? Crazy. But it does sound like a good signing–a SS who’s been an MVP in a major tournament.

    • Colombia and Mexico are much better about covering amateur players, but you have to be really good to get more than a passing mention here and there. I found more info on Barrios than any other player signed this year. Doesn’t necessarily make him a better signing, but it’s very rare to find this much out about a player. It’s more than we can find on many HS signings.

  • Strategy: Sign every catcher. All catchers will be Pirates. Hope one works out.

  • All lies. Fake news. We all know Nutting is pocketing the $2m.

    • I know this isn’t a serious comment, but I find it fascinating how many people think the bonus pool amount is actual money they are given to spend and if they don’t spend it, they keep it. That idea came up quite often during the trades involving pool space.

      • Whether we think the players are good or not, cheap or expensive it doesn’t truly matter. They all are a crap shoot at this point in their respective careers, however by not signing the alleged high ceiling talent it doesn’t give us the hope we need that some day some way the Pirates can return to former glory and win a world series.

        • I like the quantity over (supposed) quality signings. Big bonuses for LA kids have failed 85-90% of the time.

          • Seems to me we are doing the in between strategy. I wouldn’t have a problem with dumpster diving as long as we got at least one big or two big signings. every team signs a boat load of guys under 50K. We like to get 8 just above dumpster signings.

      • But, the decision to spend it affects or not affects actual money. If they don’t spend it, they have it, and if they do spend it, they don’t. The limit doesn’t change that. So this seems like a distinction without a difference.

        In talking about bonus pool money acquisitions, I can see where people would be confused, given that it is is usually reported along the lines of “Pirates traded for $500k in international bonus money.” It does sound like they are adding money unless you dig deeper or read this site. If someone already believes Pirates are pocketing the money, the reporting language doesn’t help to explain what’s going on.

        • I wouldn’t consider it pocketing the money though. When there is no specific money given to the team that is for international spending only, then it’s hard to say that they are pocketing it. If a team like the Dodgers doesn’t spend all of their pool, but they have a $200 M payroll, would anyone say they are pocketing the money? You can’t pocket something that doesn’t actually exist.

          From what I’ve read from people though, it sounds like a lot of people believe that teams are given international bonus pool money and that’s all the can use it for, but if they don’t spend it, they get to keep it.

          At least with the Pirates since the international bonus pool has been in place, the argument holds no water. They have spent almost all (or all) of their pool amount each year and they are obviously closing in on doing it again. You now have six years in which they spend 95+% of it and zero years where they spend less. It’s the wrong area (as is the draft) to make false assumptions, but they are out there. It gets caught up in the payroll argument, which is the right area to question spending.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 24, 2018 10:28 pm

    On one hand, its good to hear they are spending their bonus pool. But, it also appears they are stubbornly still dumpster diving, choosing quantity over quality. Its mind blowing that they continue this miserable failure of a strategy…need a new owner and front office….

    • It’s not a failed strategy, they are making money hand over fist….sounds like a great business strategy to me. Oh wait, did you mean winning? Silly bucco fan, championships aren’t for the Pirates.

    • Difficult to say that with such certainty before the bonuses are even announced, isn’t it?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 26, 2018 1:37 pm

        Count how many players they have signed to date, with their available pool money – its not a stretch to assume otherwise. I guarantee you, if the team signed any of these guys for $500k or more, it would be trumpeted by the organization, this site, and elsewhere…if I am wrong, please correct me….

        • I’m not sure they would, at least right away. They’ll likely announce several bonuses at once, well after the signings are announced. We also don’t know who else they’re actively pursuing, or their price tags.

          I think it’s significant that they wanted that $500,000 back in the McCutchen trade. I don’t see them signing few or cheap enough players to not bother dipping into that.

  • Thanks for the update. This is one reason I subscribe. And I’m really impressed with your thick skin when you make an effort to provide prospect news knowing you are going to get some of the same old comments.

    • We get a lot of the same comments about international signings, so I’ve learned what to write in order for the comments to not take away from the article itself, which is just a transaction announcement. In the past, players like the ones signed today would be completely unknown until they showed up on the DSL roster on Opening Day. No one would have a clue if the Pirates were spending their international bonus pool money or not because not one of these 14 players would be known until late May.

      This is just one example of an article where you actually see where the subscription money goes to help the site. If I had a different job and did this on the side, a lot of the information would not be here because it takes time to gather this type of information.

      • John, keep up the great work! The complexity of finding talent in baseball is so complex. Thousands of kids trying to get a chance to prove themselves. The competition at such a young age while at the same time living away from family must be stressful. I always wonder what happens to all of the kids who washout before the age of 21.

        • Michael de la Cruz was a great example of a kid away from home just falling apart. Everything about him from the DSL said he was a prospect on the stats side and the scouting reports. He gets to the U.S. and had a few issues (bad skin rash, twisted his ankle and then came back too soon and re-injured it) and he wasn’t emotionally prepared for it at 17 years old. Then he treated the off-season like a five month party, something a teenager suddenly with a lot of money would do, and his career has been sidetracked since.

          If they kept him an extra year in the DSL, we would have all thought that they were crazy, but it’s possible we would be talking about a completely different player right now.

  • This FO just loves shopping in the bargain basement.

    • And if they didnt sign international players folks would complain that they didnt spend the $.

      • Eric Marshall
        January 24, 2018 7:51 pm

        A lot of pittsburghers just love to complain. Hopefully we net someone out of this group of signings. Looking forward to better results from Junior Vizcaino.

    • Could any comment be sillier. We know nothing about these players and don’t know what they cost. Further we don’t know who else will be signed. Further most of the big money signees end up being total busts. Statistically you are better off with a lot of mid-range players than one signee who gets most of the bonus pool.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 24, 2018 10:30 pm

        well one thing is certain, these guys aren’t likely on anyone’s top 100 available LA prospects

        • I’m not sure that really matters much. At their ages it is probably much more a question of physical attributes and projection than skills. Most of them won’t develop a huge amount beyond what they already are, but some probably will.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            January 25, 2018 8:57 am

            And using this same strategy over the past 10 years, who are the LA prospects that the Pirates signed who have turned into productive major league players in Pittsburgh?

      • If statistically you are better of doing what the Pirates are doing how come our team is choke full of international talent?

  • You guys are going to have to hire somebody else just to keep track of all these guys. Sounds like the DSL and Dominican academy won’t be short on bodies.

    • Just adds to the fun. I’m hoping they have two teams down there and they play each other. I’ve seen that happen with the Rangers and Red Sox teams. I’m all for two teams just to get players time at important spots. If you have two good shortstops, both should be getting starting playing time there, same for catchers, center fielders and starting pitchers. If you have the players already, doesn’t cost much to run a second DSL team

      • Lots of talent, but since only one guy is Top 50 (Pie at No. 48), I guess we now have a fist full of lottery tickets? Have the Pirates lost any foothold they previously had in Venezuela?

        • We heard from Rene Gayo that he really liked Daniel Rivero and Juan Mena from Venezuela, so they got two players this year at least, but without Gayo, they may not have the same presence there. I heard recently that only 5-6 MLB teams have a presence there due to the turmoil, so the best players may need to go elsewhere to train soon.

  • I guess we’re not going after Juan Pablo. Sigh.

    • At this point I assume Juan Pablo is going to wait til July 2nd and sign next signing period. Not a lot of teams have much international spending money left.

      • Pirates had no chance to sign him this year, even with none of these 14 players signed. That’s because the Texas Rangers have interest in him and they also have the most money to spend still. If he does decide to sign before July 2nd, it will be with the Rangers. If he waits, then many teams will be in on him. It’s possible the Pirates could because they will have $5.25 M to spend. It’s not the biggest pool, but it’s close

        • Bridgevillebuck
          January 26, 2018 6:19 am

          Love to hear if the Pirates ever actually went for somebody instead of just getting quanity. I wonder if these most recent signings are guys nobody wanted last July 2nd. Its great they got 41 guys but the failure rate must be enormous….

          • Failure rate with any international signing is enormous. The DSL has 42 teams with an average of 35 players per team. That means that while the majors have 750 active players, they have nearly twice as many. Most players in the league are there for 1-2 years, so the turnover is crazy as well, and plenty of international signings don’t even start in the DSL each year.

            For the most part, you want to hear about strong bonuses because it means the player currently has tools, but it guarantees nothing. Pirates just cut Julio de la Cruz, who was ranked highly prior to signing and got a $700,000 bonus. At the same time he was on the bench for Morgantown, Edgar Santana was pitching in the majors. He got a $7,000 bonus.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          January 26, 2018 1:46 pm

          I know we are talking about one specific player here, but what are the Pirates excuses for not signing any of the top 50 to 100 LA prospects each and every year for 8-10 years now? They are usually not even in the conversation….

  • If any of the signings were 6 figures, they are likely low six figures. It seems like anything in the range of $200k or above we find out pretty quickly what the bonus is.

  • Watch out for the Bucs in 2025!!