Pirates Sign 17-Year-Old Dominican Shortstop

The Pittsburgh Pirates added to their 2019-20 international signing class recently by agreeing to a deal with 17-year-old shortstop Jhonson Pena from the Dominican Republic. That brings their total to 39 international players signed since July 2nd.

Pena stands in at 6’0″, 155 pounds and hits from the right side. He’s an athletic player, with a solid frame that has plenty of room to fill out. He’s got the defensive skills to stick at shortstop, with very good hands and natural instincts at the position. He’s described as a contact hitter with a simple load and a level swing, who lacks power now, but the body projection should lead to better results down the line. Pena ran a 6.57 in the 60 yard dash, and he’s considered a plus runner. He just turned 17 years old in August and has already been participating in Fall Instructional League games, which are still going on now in the Dominican.

The Pirates have signed nine shortstops in this current class, which means some of them will end up at second base (where they haven’t signed anyone) and others could play outfield. Pena right now appears to be one of the ones who will see significant time at shortstop. Taiwanese shortstop Tsung-Che Cheng will go right to the U.S., but that still leaves eight others to figure out. I was told yesterday that running a third DSL team isn’t an option right now for 2020, so you can rule out that possibility.

While we don’t have bonuses for everyone, we have learned that the Pirates have slightly less than $400,000 remaining from their bonus pool, which started at $6,731,200, which includes the $250,000 added from the Phillies in the Corey Dickerson trade. Some of that remaining money will be spent shortly on a signing that will be announced soon (pending physical).

Here’s a video of Pena from before he signed with the Pirates.

I’ve included some of his own photos posted on Instagram, which are a little more recent than the video:






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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