On Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed 16-year-old, right-handed pitcher Francis Olantilo from the Dominican Republic. He is their 32nd signing since the start of the 2019-20 international signing period on July 2nd.
Olantilo trained at the Daniel Rosario Baseball Academy. He stands in at 6’2″, 165 pounds, has a fastball that can touch low-90s, a feel for his breaking ball, and he has a highly projectable frame. His bonus was $150,000.
Here’s a video from last week before he agreed to his deal, so you’re basically looking at what the Pirates saw when they decided to sign him. You can see that the breaking ball is very effective against other kids who are playing in the JDB Baseball League, which is for some of the top unsigned and future eligible prospects in the Dominican.
I was told after the signings on August 5th that the Pirates had just over $750,000 left in their international bonus pool, including the $250,000 worth of pool space that they acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Corey Dickerson deal. This is their third signing since then. He’s the only player we have a bonus amount for right now, but we know he took up about 20% of their remaining pool from two weeks ago. I assume shortstop Isaias Dipre (announced two days ago) was at least a six-figure signing as he was one of their July 2nd targets and he just turned 16, so the remaining bonus pool is getting shallow.
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.