The international signing period began yesterday and the Pittsburgh Pirates were somewhat busy. Last year, they signed 20 players on the first day of the signing period. We learned of nine signings yesterday, but that’s probably not a complete total and we should get more news today. Two things stood out for the day.
The first interesting thing about this signing class is that the Pirates already spent more than half of their bonus pool money on the seven signing bonuses we know about. That probably means we aren’t going to have a busy winter of signings like last year and you won’t see them sign anywhere near 74 players again. If you didn’t bookmark this year’s signing tracker yesterday, here’s the link again.
Unless they acquire more bonus pool money via a trade, then yesterday will be the most exciting day of the signing period. It may actually be the most exciting international signing day ever for the Pirates, as they have never spent bonuses of $350,000+ on seven players in the same signing class before. Those are just the ones we know about, but there could be more. There could also be players they are targeting who turn 16 between now and August 31st, who aren’t eligible to sign until their birthday.
One disappointing bit of news came out yesterday. Baseball America mentioned that shortstop Maikol Escotto was expected to sign with the Pirates and he ended up signing with the New York Yankees for $350,000.
The good news for the remainder of the signing period is that they have somewhere close to $2,300,000 to spend still, which is more than they had during their last two years under the old bonus pool system in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The second thing of note for the Pirates this year is something I added late to the signing thread yesterday, so some people may have missed it. The Pirates went out and hired Emilio Carrasquel, a respected veteran scout from Venezuela, who is most known for signing Felix Hernandez. The Pirates signed two pitchers from Venezuela yesterday, but I would expect more to come from the country. They went out and got Carrasquel to make an impact in Venezuela. He’s also one of the few scouts who has found talent in Brazil, so we could hear from a signing from there as well.
So what to expect today is simple. At some point we should hear about more signings, possibly just the lower bonus ones, which could still be six-figure deals. You should also expect more players from Venezuela. I would assume that could happen soon, as I can’t imagine they only had two agree to deals before yesterday. Carrasquel has been scouting there forever and joined the Pirates some time in January, so he’s had time to put deals together. It’s obviously not going to be like yesterday with less than half of the bonus pool remaining, but it could still be a big day for news.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 17-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night. The Pirates will send Ivan Nova to the mound for his 16th start today. He allowed three runs over six innings against the New York Mets in his last start. The scheduled Dodgers starter is left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who has a 2.84 ERA in 57 innings, with 63 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He allowed one run over five innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing.
The minor league schedule includes the return of Travis MacGregor to West Virginia. He made two rehab starts in the GCL and allowed two runs over seven innings. He should be going five innings today. Pedro Vasquez goes for Altoona. He had his best start of the season last time out, throwing six shutout inning with no walks and seven strikeouts. Indianapolis starter JT Brubaker tossed 5.2 shutout innings with eight strikeouts in his last start. Adam Oller makes his fourth start for Bradenton and Roger Santana gets his third start for Bristol. No starter listed for Morgantown, but I left Aaron Shortridge in there since he didn’t pitch yesterday. Sixth round pick Michael Flynn came back yesterday and made the start.
MLB: Pittsburgh (40-44) @ Dodgers (45-39) 10:10 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.02 ERA, 68:15 SO/BB, 87.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (44-37) @ Louisville (31-47) 6:45 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (3.66 ERA, 41:27 SO/BB, 51.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (42-36) @ Akron (47-36) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (5.04 ERA, 39:13 SO/BB, 50.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (38-38) vs Palm Beach (45-30) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adam Oller (7.20 ERA, 25:10 SO/BB, 30.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (44-33) @ Hagerstown (30-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Travis MacGregor (3.10 ERA, 43:7 SO/BB, 29.0 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (7-10) @ Batavia (7-9) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Aaron Shortridge (5.00 ERA, 12:3 SO/BB, 9.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (6-7) @ Danville (7-6) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Roger Santana (5.40 ERA, 2:2 SO/BB, 8.1 IP)
GCL: Pirates (4-7) vs Yankees East 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (11-15) vs Dodgers Guerrero 10:30 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (12-14) vs Royals2 10:30 AM (season preview)
From Altoona on Sunday, Tyler Gaffney hits his first home run in Double-A.
7/2: Pirates signed a lot of international players.
7/2: Pirates sign Grant Koch and Mike Gretler.
7/2: Nick Kingham recalled. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.
7/2: Enny Romero designated for assignment.
7/2: Sean Rodriguez assigned to Indianapolis on rehab
7/1: Calvin Mitchell activated from West Virginia disabled list.
6/30: Ryan Haug assigned to Bradenton.
6/30: Pirates sign Alec Rennard.
6/29: Chad Kuhl placed on disabled list. Max Moroff recalled from Indianapolis.
6/29: Brett Pope promoted to Bradenton. Matt Eckelman promoted to Altoona.
6/29: Evan Piechota activated from Bradenton disabled list.
6/28: Mitch Keller and Jason Martin promoted to Indianapolis. Alfredo Reyes promoted to Bradenton.
6/28: Eddie Muhl retired.
6/27: Sean Rodriguez placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson called up to Pirates.
6/27: Jung Ho Kang and Christopher Bostick placed on disabled list. Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis DL.
6/27: Raul Siri promoted to West Virginia.
6/27: Pirates sign John O’Reilly.
6/26: Pirates sign Allen Montgomery.
6/26: Jason Delay placed on disabled list.
6/26: Ryan Haug assigned to GCL Pirates. Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
6/25: Jackson Williams added to Indianapolis roster. Arden Pabst assigned to Bradenton.
6/25: Eric Wood assigned to Morgantown on rehab.
6/25: Pirates release Johnny Hellweg.
6/24: Pirates place Michael Feliz on disabled list. Clay Holmes recalled from Indianapolis
6/24: Jerrick Suiter activated from Indianapolis disabled list.
6/24: Pirates released Kyle Simmons and Cristopher Perez.
6/23: Corey Dickerson reinstated from Family Medical Emergency Leave list. Adam Frazier optioned to Indianapolis.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
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.