Pirates Add Two International Signings, Including a Highly Rated Shortstop

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed two international free agents on Friday, finalizing deals with 17-year-old Kelvin Diaz and 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Sebastian Rodriguez. Diaz is a highly rated shortstop from the Mon Academy and JDB Baseball.

Diaz is a solid athlete from the Dominican, with a 6’1″, 165 frame, who not only will continue to fill out, but there could be some more height before he’s done growing. He has the tools to remain at shortstop, including the arm that got him the nickname “la Bazuca” aka the Bazooka. He just turned 17 years old on Thursday, so he will play at that age for the entire 2020 season in the Dominican.

Here are three videos of Diaz, which I posted in order of most recent first, so if you want to watch his progress, then start from the bottom and work your way up. He’s been well-known for a few years now, so you’re seeing more content than you get for the average international signing. For anyone who might look into him more, JDB Baseball actually had two shortstops named Kelvin Diaz, born six months apart and they’re nearly identical height/weight, so not every highlight video you can find is for the Kelvin Diaz signed by the Pirates (I’ve included all of his videos below).

March, 2019

October 2018

March 2018

Sebastian Rodriguez gets overshadowed here because he’s closing in on his 19th birthday and he doesn’t have the track record of Diaz or any videos available. There’s real potential here though, as he has taken strides recently, but hasn’t really started to fill out yet.

Rodriguez is 6’0″, 165 pounds, and from the Dominican. He currently throws 88-92 MPH, with a nice feel for a 72-76 MPH curve, to go along with a high 70s slider and an 82-85 MPH changeup. The upside here is in his athleticism, room for growth and the fact that he has plus arm speed. You really don’t hear “plus arm speed” that often in the reports we get on international signings. In fact, it was used to describe just one of the previous 19 pitchers signed since July 2nd. So this isn’t a filler signing by any means (you don’t get those until April-June anyway and only when there is a need for them).

The Pirates have now signed a total of 36 players since July 2nd and we have posted scouting reports on each of them. The Pirates started with a $6,731,200 bonus pool (includes pool space acquired from Philadelphia Phillies), but their remaining bonus pool space, based on everything we know, is now under $500,000, and it could be less than half of that amount after these two signings.

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.

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