July 2nd marks the beginning of the 2019-2020 international signing period. The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be busy signing international players throughout today and we will keep track of the bonuses here. Later in the day, we will have the names of every player who signs today. Expect there to be about 18-20 signings today, with a few other noteworthy ones happening somewhere between tomorrow and later in August for a player who has to wait until their 16th birthday to sign. The Pirates have a bonus pool of $6,481,200, with much of that pool being spent either today or on the small handful of players signing soon.
Jesse Sanchez has the first bonus announcement. Cristopher Cruz, a 16-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, has agreed to a deal for $800,000. Cruz will be signing shortly according to sources, so it’s not quite official yet. (updated: his deal turned out to be $850,000)
Source: #Pirates agree to a deal worth $800,000 with right-handed pitcher Christopher Cruz, #20 on @MLBPipeline’s Top 30 Int’l Prospects list. https://t.co/VkyT1PafgI
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) July 2, 2019
Cruz is the highest rated signing for the Pirates this year, being ranked 20th by both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline. He won’t be the only high profile signing today, but as far as players who scouts saw enough of before they agreed to a deal, he’s one of the best in this class, with only one other pitcher ranking higher for Pipeline. He’s the highest priced pitcher signed by the Pirates since Luis Heredia, and more than double what they paid for any pitcher last year (Adrian Mendez, $355,000).
From our article back in May on Cruz, which has video:
“Cruz stands in at 6’2″, 170 pounds. According to the scouting reports, they believe he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter one day. His fastball already sits low-90s with movement, and he can get it up to 94 MPH. Cruz has the makings of a solid curveball and Pipeline says that his changeup is improving. There is a lot to like already with his repeatable mechanics and easy arm action, plus he has a projectable frame.”
This article will be updated throughout the day with news, so check back often. I’ll change the title whenever something new is added. You should bookmark our international signing tracker, which will be updated with every signing through June 15, 2020. We won’t have bonuses for Venezuelan players unless they are made public by someone else reporting bonuses. That’s done to protect the young players.
Here’s an update, sort of:
Cristopher Cruz makes it official with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 16-year-old RHP from the Dominican received a reported $800,000 bonus today pic.twitter.com/bNwDuhvSMC
— John Dreker (@JohnDreker) July 2, 2019
Another for Cruz
From that same press conference, Robert De Paula (information forthcoming, but enjoy the picture)
UPDATE: Two of the signings the Pirates are most excited about won’t come with bonus info because they are from Venezuela. Right-handed pitcher Gilberto Alcala (on the left side) and shortstop Javier Rivas. More info later on both. I’m going to try to upload a video I have on Rivas fielding.
UPDATE #2: With pictures soon to follow, Pirates have also officially signed outfielder Ewry Espinal, right-handed pitcher Luis Faringthon and Panamanian second baseman Francisco Quintero, who some of you might remember. I got word back in November that he agreed to a deal with the Pirates and posted about it. The problem was that the deal was for now, so when he didn’t sign after about a month or so, I assumed the deal was off. It wasn’t, just a communications issue.
Also we have 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Darvin Garcia, who will pitch this season due to his age. For those that don’t know, everyone else is signing a 2020 contract, but they play games on the back fields in the Dominican in what is called the Tricky League
Cristopher Cruz will get the attention due to his bonus, but don’t overlook Gilberto Alcala, the Pirates are very high on him
Right-handed pitcher Eliecer Romero from Venezuela, who was one I didn’t even know about until he signed about an hour ago.
Here’s 16-year-old Dominican pitcher Roelmy Garcia, who throws a plus changeup already and the Pirates think he’s going to develop a plus fastball in the future
Here’s a video of Espinal from last year aka 15 years old
UPDATE: Player #12 signed today is official, 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Rafael Mendez from the Dominican Republic
Right-handed pitcher Wandi Montout, who is an interesting story. He signed last year as Wandi Encarnacion and that was voided because, well, the obvious reason. He has been at Pirate City this spring awaiting his one-year suspension to end so he could sign again. The Pirates liked him a lot then and still like him now. You can see him on the 2018 tracker as well.
Here’s another signing not to overlook. 16-year-old left-handed pitcher Yojeiry Osoria from the Dominican Republic. He was considered one of the top lefty pitchers available in this class. He already has three pitches that are average now, with plus projection on all of them, along with a frame with tons of projection.
Pirates have made 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Delfin Ramirez official. One of the top prospects in this signing class, mentioned in Baseball America’s brief preview of the class
Outfielder Enmanuel Terrero from the Dominican Republic makes #15, I think. Might be 16
Another young shortstop is official. Dominican Jeral Toledo (two photos, because why not)
If you like power hitters, this one is for you, 18-year-old Dominican outfielder Dioris Valdez has tons of it.
Here’s another of the mighty Dioris Valdez
Today appears to be complete at 20 players signed. I’m waiting on pictures for the final three and one might not be official today, so there might only be two pictures. More to come shortly.
UPDATE: Here’s the final update (I think). Pirates have also agreed to terms with Venezuelan catcher Eybert Escalona, as well as officially signed left-handed pitcher Diego Chiquillo from Colombia and right-handed pitcher Kenneth Quintanilla from Nicaragua. Here are pictures of those two players. Nothing for Escalona yet until it’s official. Chiquillo trained in Venezuela, with MLB veteran Freddy Garcia as his pitching coach.
Finally, here are all of the Dominican players in one photo after the signings were all official
Here’s the signing tracker. I’ll fill in the missing info as I get it.
An unexpected late addition here. Right-handed pitcher Patricio Ress Vilet signed out Mexico this evening. The 16-year-old stands 6’2″ and throws 90 MPH. He belonged to the Acereros de Monclova. He reports to the Dominican on Thursday.
Also, Kenneth Quintanilla signed for $60,000.
Here’s Ress Vilet
The bonus for Alcala was announced by Jesse Sanchez, so we added it to our tracker, which is behind a paywall. Most people won’t announce the Venezuelan players’ bonuses to protect the players, but MLB Pipeline is open to the public, so it’s out there now. That’s the only reason we are posting it behind the paywall. Also, Eybert Escalona is official, and Francisco Quintero is signed for this year, so he should start playing soon.
Here is a photo of Escalona
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.