The 2018-19 International signing period wraps up today. The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed a total of 43 players since the signing period began back on July 2nd last year. We have seen some last minute deals signed on June 15th in the past, but don’t count on anything big happening today.

Back in January, we were able to get the remaining bonus pool figure for the Pirates. Out of a $6,004,500 pool, they had just $613,500 left to spend. Since that time, the Pirates have signed a total of 13 players, with some interesting names in that group. The last three players were just signed two days ago and we are working on getting more information on them. One is an 18-year-old player from Mexico, who they have scouted in the past, but he recently switched from the infield to catching. So it will be curious to see if they got him due to his defensive switch, or his ability as a switch-hitter.

We got a scouting report on a player signed in early June, who got lost with the draft going on at the time. Axel Rosario is a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican, who has a big 6’5″ frame, with room to fill out. He was described as having a very projectable body with solid arm speed. He has a 91-95 MPH fastball and a  72-75 MPH curveball. Rosario was in camp with the St Louis Cardinals at one time, but never signed. He is a late bloomer, only recently reaching those pitch speed levels. He has just two pitches, but the Pirates see a possible power reliever.

You would have to assume that most of that bonus pool space is gone by now. Back in late February, the Pirates signed four players, including outfielder Jauri Custodio, who received a six-figure bonus from the Colorado Rockies in July before failing a physically due to bad bone bruise. They also signed a 17-year-old pitcher named Argenys Dominguez, who had a big 6’3″ frame and threw a three-pitch mix that included a low-90s fastball. Those two likely weren’t cheap signings.

They also got 16-year-old pitcher Jorge Ramos from Mexico in late March. With anyone that age, there is no rush to sign unless they get the bonus they wanted, so you can assume is was a decent bonus amount, at least compared to what they had left to spend.

So we could hear some new names in the next few days, but the noteworthy signings will happen on July 2nd, when the Pirates have a $6,481,200 bonus pool to work with, and they have their eyes set on one of the top pitching prospects in the international signing class, Cristopher Cruz. That day is usually a busy one, as we wait for announcements of the top bonuses paid out, followed by us trying to get information on the players. Last year we heard seven bonuses on the 2nd and all of them were $350,000 or more. That was followed a short time later by us getting eight additional names, who totaled over $1,000,000 in bonuses.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 11-0 over the Miami Marlins on Friday night. The Pirates will send out Dario Agrazal for his Major League debut today. The 24-year-old from Panama was leading the International League in both ERA (3.10) and WHIP (0.97) until just a few days ago when he fell under the minimum innings needed for league leaders. Agrazal will be the first international amateur pitcher signed and developed by the Pirates to make a start for them since September 24, 1998 when Elmer Dessens made his final start for the team. Only Yoslan Herrera, who was a professional in Cuba, and Francisco Cordova, who didn’t play in the minors, have made starts since 1998. The Marlins will counter with 23-year-old right-hander Pablo Lopez, who has a 4.26 ERA in 69.2 innings, with 69 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP. He has allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts combined, going six innings each time.

The minor league schedule includes Pedro Vasquez scheduled to start for Altoona. He has been on a hot streak lately, throwing 18 shutout innings in his last three starts combined. He has given up just seven hits during that time, with two walks and 19 strikeouts. Greensboro’s Osvaldo Bido has allowed two runs on four hits, with 15 strikeouts over 12 innings, in his last two starts combined. Morgantown will send out Jesus Valles, who is making the jump from the DSL last year. He was named by multiple people as the best pitcher (not best pitching prospect) for either DSL Pirates club last year.

Bradenton has off until Monday for the FSL All-Star break. No starter has been named for Indianapolis. Today was Dario Agrazal’s day to start, so they will need a replacement. No word on who that might be, but last time Pedro Vasquez was scheduled to start in Altoona and Indianapolis needed a replacement, he took that spot and threw six shutout innings, so…

MLB: Pittsburgh (31-38) @ Marlins (24-43) 6:10 PM
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (MLB Debut)

AAA: Indianapolis (35-30) vs Pawtucket (29-37) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

AA: Altoona (33-31) @ Binghamton (33-28) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (2.60 ERA 43:10 SO/BB, 55.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (36-30) vs Clearwater (36-30) 6:30 PM 6/17 (season preview)
Probable starter:  TBD

Low-A: Greensboro (42-25) @ Kannapolis (28-38) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.36 ERA, 62:18 SO/BB, 72.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (0-1) vs Mahoning Valley (1-0) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jesus Valles (NR)

DSL: Pirates1 (5-7) vs Indians (5-7) 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (10-2) vs Tigers2 (5-7) 10:30 AM  (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Indianapolis, Kevin Kramer moved over to third base with Ke’Bryan Hayes out and he made this fine defensive play on Thursday

Here are two strikeout pitches from James Marvel’s seven inning outing on Thursday

and

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/14: Pirates sign Sammy Siani and Ernny Ordonez

6/13: Pirates sign eight more draft picks.

6/13: Robbie Glendinning promoted to Altoona. Logan Hill promoted to Indianapolis

6/13: Indianapolis placed Ke’Bryan Hayes and Pablo Reyes on the injured list.

6/13: Pirates trade Nick Kingham to Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations.

6/12: Pirates sign eight draft picks.

6/12: Pirates recall Mitch Keller. Montana DuRapau optioned to Indianapolis.

6/11: Pirates sign six draft picks.

6/11: Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis. Alex McRae optioned to Indianapolis

6/11: Cody Bolton activated from injured list. Hunter Stratton added from Extended Spring Training. Dean Lockery and Matt Morrow assigned to Extended ST.

6/11: Kyle Mottice assigned to Extended Spring Training

6/11: Chris Stratton assigned to Indianapolis on rehab

6/10: Pirates sign Quinn Priester

6/10: Jordan Lyles placed on injured list. Montana DuRapau recalled from Indianapolis.

6/10: Robbie Glendinning and Jesse Medrano activated from suspended list. Allen Montgomery assigned to Greensboro.

6/9: Shea Murray assigned to Bradenton. Hunter Stratton assigned to Extended Spring Training

6/8: Pirates recall Corey Dickerson, Jung Ho Kang and Michael Feliz. Nick Kingham designated for assignment. Cole Tucker optioned to Indianapolis. Rookie Davis placed on injured list.

6/8: Brad Case assigned to Bradenton. Luis Nova assigned to Greensboro.

6/7: Matt Morrow and Dean Lockery added to Bradenton roster. Robbie Glendinning and Jesse Medrano suspended (by league).

6/5: Jesus Liranzo sent outright to Indianapolis. Trayvon Robinson placed on injured list.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. At this time last year it was five former players, because Erik Kratz was back with the team for a second stint as the fifth or sixth catcher, whatever crazy number they were up to at the time. The other five former players are pitcher Bruce Dal Canton (1967-70), infielder Gene Baker (1957-58, 1960-61), outfielder Bud Stewart (1941-42), first baseman Babe Dahlgren (1944-45) and 1890 first baseman Peek-A-Boo Veach, who has my second favorite Pirates nickname ever behind Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson.

The Pirates have made nine trades of note on this date. You can read details on all nine trades here.

1982: Bill Robinson dealt to the Phillies for Wayne Nordhagen.

1977: Ed Kirkpatrick sent to the Rangers for Jim Fregosi.

1966: Don Schwall sent to Braves for Billy O’Dell.

1961: Gino Cimoli traded to Braves for Johnny Logan

1958: Gene Freese and Johnny O’Brien dealt to Cardinals for Dick Schofield.

1951: Cliff Chambers and Wally Westlake sent to Cardinals for Joe Garagiola, Dick Cole, Ted Wilks, Howie Pollett and Bill Howerton. Chambers threw a no-hitter one month earlier.

1949: Ed Sauer sent to Braves for Phil Masi.

1943: Dutch Dietz sent to Phillies for Johnny Podgajny.

1939: Bill Schuster sent to Braves/Bees for Elbie Fletcher.

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