Over the weekend, Baseball America posted their review of the 2018 international signing class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ben Badler has reports on 16 different players who were signed to 2019 contracts, with most of them getting six-figure bonus deals on July 2nd, when the signing period began. I’ve highlighted some of the important parts, but the link above will provide most of the details. All ages mentioned below are signing ages, so some of the 16-year-old players could be 17 now.
We had all of the top bonus amounts handed out by the Pirates since July 2nd in our international signing tracker, but there were some ones of note between $150,000 and $260,000 that we didn’t know before this weekend. The Pirates are close to maxing out their 2018-19 international signing pool budget. That’s obviously a good thing, because it means that they are spending the money ($6,004,500 bonus pool). In fact, they acquired more bonus pool money (not actually cash, just the ability to spend more) in the Ivan Nova trade.
The most interesting revelation in the BA article is that the Pirates really spent a lot on outfielders. We already knew that their top signings were outfielders. They gave a total of $1.2 M to Osvaldo Gavilan and Sergio Campana. That’s just under 20% of their bonus pool on two players. With this new bonus info, we find out that the Pirates gave $260,000 to Franrielis Bastardo, $235,000 to Roldolfo Nolasco and $230,000 to Jose Berroa. They are all 16-year-old outfielders from the Dominican, just like Gavilan and Campana.
The Pirates also signed three other outfielders during this signing period, included talented Panamanian outfielder Luis Tello, which will make the DSL clubs crowded with talent in that area. We don’t have the last three bonus amounts, but it’s safe to say that the Pirates spent over 1/3rd of their bonus pool on outfielders.
The new bonus amounts also showed that the Pirates didn’t put all of their money into hitters. Just one pitching bonus was known before the article. That was Adrian Mendez, who received a $355,000 bonus according to Jesse Sanchez from MLB.com. The Pirates gave $175,000 to Miguel Toribio, $170,000 to Andy Maldonado and $150,000 to Listher Sosa. They are all 16-year-old right-handed pitchers.
The Pirates haven’t been a team that spends a lot on the international side on pitching, so this represents a step up from the normal low. That has never meant that they ignore pitching, they have signed a total of 18 international pitchers since July, but they have been looking for hidden pitching gems in the past. That could change with the new Latin American Scouting Director. Junior Vizcaino has had only one signing class, so it’s too early to say he will continue the same trend.
One significant bit of news from that article is that infielder Dariel Lopez had Tommy John surgery after signing. He received a $400,000 bonus and isn’t expected to play this year. He’s currently going through his rehab at Pirate City.