First Pitch: Thoughts on the 2019-20 International Signing Class

Sorry about the delayed posting here. There were some internet issues and I had to step in for Tim to finish posting it. I didn’t have a subject for the top section here, so I’m just giving some quick thoughts on the recent international signings.

The Pirates signed two international players the other day, including their eighth shortstop, and all eight shortstops are legit solid/strong signings.

The question that immediately comes up is what will they do with all of those shortstops. Actually the first question is usually about power bats, and if you have read our scouting reports in our international signing tracker, you know that they signed a few legit power bats this year. So back to the shortstop question.

The DSL allows for four shortstops to get decent time between the two Pirates teams. Those same four will get time at second base when they’re not playing shortstop, and no one plays all 72 games, so that allows four players to split one position. That still leaves four players.

One player (Tsung-Che Cheng) is already in the U.S. and staying there next year, so they’re down to three players. Isaias Dipre is an athletic player who will get some outfield time mixed in with his infield work.

The other six are all projected to stick at shortstop, so I’m guessing that the two worst defensively of the group will get more time elsewhere, such as third base or center field. It’s a very athletic group of players, so the real question is about getting them enough at-bats, rather than worrying now if the position they play in 2020 will be their future position down the line.

The best part about them signing some power bats and all of those shortstops is that this international signing class has four 16-year-old pitchers who the Pirates are very high on right now. They signed a top rated catcher as well, so this signing class, which has about $6,500,000 invested into it so far, doesn’t have a real weakness. I thought they did a nice job last year, and that class has some strong early results, but the 2019-20 international signing class seems to have a legit chance to be much better.

** We will have an AFL recap after tonight’s game, and if any news comes up today, we will have an article. Hopefully you’ve been following along with the fall action, because the AFL has turned into the Jared Oliva show.



Today’s Steelers themed quiz.


By John Dreker

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, starting with the most recent one first:

Radhames Liz, pitcher for the 2015 Pirates. Liz pitched for the Baltimore Orioles for three seasons from 2007-09, then after spending five seasons in the minors, he showed huge improvements during the 2014-15 winter, which earned him a deal with the Pirates. He would make 14 appearances in 2015, posting a 4.24 ERA in 23.1 innings. That was his last big league time.

Joel Hanrahan, closer for the 2009-12 Pirates and current minor league coach in the system. He was acquired mid-season in 2009 from the Washington Nationals and didn’t move into the closer role full-time until 2011. During those two seasons (2011-12), he made the All-Star team each year and picked up 76 saves. After the 2012 season, he was part of a six-player deal that brought Mark Melancon to Pittsburgh. Hanrahan had a 2.59 ERA in 229.1 innings with the Pirates.

Jeff Zaske, pitcher for the 1984 Pirates. He was a 27th round pick in 1978 and spent just over a week total in the majors six years later. Zaske tossed five shutout innings over his only three big league appearances. Pirates used him to acquire 1987-89 pitcher Randy Kramer after the 1986 season

Gene Clines, outfielder for the Pirates from 1970 until 1974. He was drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round of the 1966 draft. During the 1971 season when the Pirates won their fourth World Series, he batted .308 over 97 games. The next year he hit .334 and received some MVP consideration. After the 1974 season, he was traded to the Mets for catcher Duffy Dyer. He batted .287 in 459 games with the Pirates.

Tom Padden, catcher for the Pirates from 1932 until 1937. He was a platoon starter for three seasons and backup for the three other years. Padden hit .272 in 329 games with the Pirates. He batted .321 during the 1934 season.

Pat Duncan, outfielder for the 1915 Pirates. After debuting mid-season with the 1915 team and going 1-for-5 in three games, Duncan didn’t see the majors again until four years later. He would end up hitting .307 in 724 games with the Cincinnati Reds. He had 80+ RBIs in a season three times and 90+ runs scored twice.

Eddie Burke, outfielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. He hit .210 over 31 games for the worst team in franchise history. Burke was a .280 hitter over eight seasons in the majors and three times he scored over 120 runs in a season.