The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Renny Duarte as a pitching coach for one of their Dominican Summer League affiliates. The Pirates will likely announce their minor league coaching staffs soon, which will include a promotion for one of the 2019 DSL pitching coaches, opening up a spot for Duarte.
We usually wouldn’t announce a DSL pitching coach separately unless is was someone well known, but this upcoming season will be a significant one for the Pirates in the Dominican Summer League. You can make a strong case that this will be their most talented pitching group coming in for the 2020 season, with four high upside pitchers among the group.
The highest bonus the Pirates have ever given to an international amateur was Luis Heredia and he was skipped right to the Gulf Coast League for his rookie season. Their second highest bonus prior to this past July was given to Adrian Mendez in 2018 at $355,00, which is about 1/8th of what Heredia received. The scouting report we got for Mendez doesn’t compare well to any of the top four 16-year-old arms the Pirates signed this year, so you could say that the group of four mentioned just below will be the four biggest upside pitchers to ever play for the DSL Pirates.
We had an article that I highly recommend for those interested in the international side. It included videos of five of the top July 2nd signings, including right-handers Gilberto Alcala and Roelmy Garcia, as well as lefty Yojeiry Osoria. Along with top bonus signing Cristopher Cruz, those four represent the best group of top pitchers put together by the Pirates in one signing class. I’ll note that Garcia has already added about five MPH to his velocity since signing. You can read more on all four pitchers here.
That brings us back to Duarte, who is going to have an important role in developing those talented pitchers. Having huge upside is great, but you need to develop them correctly. Even if they aren’t all on his affiliate, he will still get a chance to work with them during Spring Training in the Dominican, which goes on longer than the MLB Spring Training. As noted in our 2019 international signing tracker, the Pirates also signed three other pitchers for bonuses in the $150,000-$200,000 range, plus Adrian Mendez will be back in the league, so there will be a lot of potential talent on the mound for the DSL Pirates.
The 41-year-old Duarte was signed as a pitcher out of Venezuela at age 17 back in 1996 by the California Angels. He pitched five years of affiliated ball, then played in both Mexico and Italy over the next eight summers, and Venezuela during some of those winters. Back in 2009, he became the pitching coach for the Venezuelan Summer League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, while also coaching international tournaments.
Duarte returned to active playing in 2011, but after two seasons, he was back in the dugout. He has extensive international tournament coaching experience for Spain, as well as some managerial experience in Italy. He has recently been the pitching coordinator and head of talent recruitment for an MLB co-op program in Spain. Basically, he has quite a track record of baseball playing/coaching over the last 24 years, which should make him a qualified coach to help run a talented group.