Morning Report: The 2019-20 International Signing Period Begins

The 2019-20 international signing period begins today, with teams able to sign international players using their 2019-20 bonus pools. MLB changed the international system a few years ago, providing a cap for team spending, with small market teams getting the most money to spend.

The Pirates have the biggest bonus pool this year, being one of eight teams who can spend up to $6,481,200. That’s their biggest bonus pool to date, and expect them to use all of it over the next year. Teams can trade for or trade away bonus pool money, so the Pirates could see their total go up or down, depending on what they do and who they plan to pursue.

In the past, the Pirates have stayed away from higher priced international guys, usually topping out well below half a million dollars. The new, higher bonus pools have allowed them to spend more on some individual players, while still loading up on lower cost players who are also talented, but more raw. This also coincides with their change in international scouting directors, which may have a bigger role than the finances in determining the strategy.

Last year the Pirates signed three guys for half a million or more, along with five other guys for $350,000 or more. They went big the year before, spending $1.25 M on South Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae.

Expect a similar approach this year, with a lot of signings, and a few of them being higher priced than in years past. We’ll be keeping track of every signing that we can find out about, with John Dreker being the man to follow for all of the latest international signing news. As we find out about player signings, we’ll report it, along with any information we can find on the players.

You can keep track of all the signings using our international signing tracker.

On the draft side, 2019 first round pick Quinn Priester will be making his debut this afternoon in the GCL. That typically means he will go only a few innings as he gets built back up, giving a small first look at the new pitcher.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 18-5 over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night. Joe Musgrove gets his 17th start of the season tonight. He went six shutout innings in his last game on nine hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. That followed up one run over seven innings in his previous start. Musgrove faced the Cubs back in April and went 6.1 innings without an earned run. The Cubs will counter with veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who has a 3.36 ERA in 88.1 innings, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He gave up five runs over 4.1 innings in his last start, then went on the injured list with shoulder inflammation.  Hendricks has made seven starts at home with a 1.65 ERA and seven road starts, posting a 5.49 ERA.

The minor league schedule includes Max Kranick trying to build off a solid month of June that saw him post a 2.56 ERA over 31.2 innings. He also pitched well in April, posting a 2.91 ERA, but a rough patch in May saw him finish the month with a 6.41 ERA. Osvaldo Bido goes for Greensboro. He posted a 2.10 ERA over 30 innings, with 31 strikeouts in June. It was the second time he was named as our Pitcher of the Month for Greensboro this season (also April). Luis Ortiz makes his third start for Bristol. He threw five shutout innings in his pro debut, then served up four runs over 3.2 innings in his last outing. Alex McRae goes for Indianapolis. He has allowed three earned runs in each of his last three starts.

There’s no starter listed for Altoona after they promoted James Marvel to Indianapolis yesterday. Morgantown also hasn’t listed a starter. Could be Braxton Ashcraft making his fourth start. He has been pitching every six days, so today would align with that schedule.

MLB: Pittsburgh (40-43) vs Cubs (45-40) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (4.27 ERA, 74:22 SO/BB, 90.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (42-39) @ Louisville (30-53) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.07 ERA, 62:20 SO/BB, 65.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (43-37) @ Akron (39-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

High-A: Bradenton (44-36) vs Jupiter (28-48) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (3.94 ERA, 60:23 SO/BB, 80.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (51-30) @ Hagerstown (33-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.19 ERA, 78:22 SO/BB, 90.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-8) @ Auburn (8-8) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (6-7) @ Kingsport (6-7) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Ortiz (4.15 ERA, 7:4 SO/BB, 8.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (1-4) vs Braves (2-4) 10:00 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (11-15) vs Indians (13-13) 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (22-4) vs Colorado (12-14) 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Altoona on Sunday, Arden Pabst hits his third home run of the season

Chris Sharpe hit a grand slam in that same game

Jared Oliva also joined in the fun with this bomb to CF (not the best highlight video, but no other teams are posting them, so this is what we get)


7/1: James Marvel promoted to Indianapolis. Blake Cederlind added back to Altoona roster

7/1: Pirates sign JC Flowers, Ethan Paul, Jake Snider and Marshall Gilbert.

6/30: Hunter Owen placed on Indianapolis injured list (retroactive to 6/27).

6/30: Oneil Cruz activated from Bradenton injured list. Chase Lambert placed on injured list.

6/30: Yandy Vega and Hai-Cheng Gong assigned to Morgantown.

6/29: Ke’Bryan Hayes and Pablo Reyes assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

6/29: Ryan Peurifoy assigned to Bradenton

6/29: Fernando Villegas assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab

6/29: CJ Dandeneau and Alex Roth assigned to Bristol.

6/29: Jordan Lyles activated from injured list. Geoff Hartlieb optioned to Indianapolis.

6/28: Pirates release Nick Franklin.

6/28: Daniel Amaral placed on injured list. Ike Schlabach activated from injured list.

6/28: Pirates sign Orsen Josephina.

6/28: Oliver Mateo placed on injured list.

6/27: Jake Elmore activated from Indianapolis injured list.

6/27: Pirates sign Gift Ngoepe.

6/27: Zack Kone and Jonah Davis added to Greensboro roster.

6/27: Dario Agrazal optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas

6/27: Aaron Shortridge placed on Bradenton injured list.

6/25: Pirates send Pat Dorrian to Baltimore Orioles to complete Yefry Ramirez trade.

6/25: Pirates recall Dario Agrazal. Option Jason Martin to Indianapolis.

6/25: Cody Bolton promoted to Altoona. Blake Cederlind placed on the temporary inactive list.

6/25: Daniel Amaral activated from Bradenton injured list.

6/24: Oneil Cruz assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/24: Yandy Vega and Hai-Cheng Gong assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/23: Jordan Lyles assigned to Indianapolis on rehab. Trayvon Robinson activated from Indianapolis injured list.

6/22: Gregory Polanco placed on injured list. Jason Martin recalled from Indianapolis.

6/22: Braeden Ogle promoted to Bradenton. Cody Smith promoted to Greensboro.

6/22: Jesus Liranzo assigned to Altoona.


Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a transaction of note that could have gone much better if the Pirates were patient. Starting with the players, we have outfielder Nyjer Morgan (2007-09), first baseman Sean Casey (2006), outfielder Tony Armas (1976) and outfielder Ed Beecher of the 1887 Alleghenys. Armas is the father of Tony Armas Jr, who pitched for the Pirates in 2007.

Also born on this date, catcher/outfielder Fred Carroll, who played for the franchise from 1885-89 and then again in 1891. For nine years, he held the franchise’s record for career homers. Carroll batted .281 in 574 games for the Alleghenys/Pirates, scoring 405 times and driving in 295 runs.

On this date in 1892, the Pirates signed outfielder Joe Kelley, who was a 20-year-old minor leaguer at the time. He had 12 games of Major League experience the previous season, but he was still a raw rookie. He played 56 games for the Pirates in 1892 before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles. The deal ended up very bad for the Pirates, who got one half year out of their returning player, George Van Haltren. Kelley became a star almost immediately, despite hitting .239 for the Pirates. He averaged 127 runs scored and drove in an average of 108 runs per year from 1893-98. By the end of his career, he had stats strong enough to get him elected into the Hall of Fame.