The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed two pitchers from the Dominican Republic, adding 18-year-old right-hander Clevary Tejada and 21-year-old lefty Jose Regalado to their 2022-23 international signing class.
Tejada was originally a shortstop, who only moved to the mound in 2021. He has advanced quickly as a pitcher. He was a marginal shortstop prospect due to his arm and athleticism, which has translated well to the mound.
His fastball sits 89-91 MPH, to go along with a mid-70s curve and an advanced changeup that sits 83-84 MPH. He controls his pitches well, using his changeup as his out pitch. He has a good frame that still offers projection.
Regalado is an older signing, who has a bit of a different story than you would expect. He nearly signed a few years ago, until some undisclosed issues with the signing caused the deal to fall through. He was already throwing 93-94 MPH by age 17, which is obviously rare to find in a young lefty. He’s short for a pitcher, but he has strong 5’10”, 205 pound frame that is packed with muscle now.
He now throws 94-96 MPH, with a slider that looks like a plus pitch at times. His changeup is a distant third pitch that he is working on now. He attacks hitters with his fastball now. The slider just lacks some consistency to become a true plus pitch, which would give him a strong two-pitch mix until the changeup progresses enough.
There is a chance that both of these pitchers could move right to the U.S. in June. They are going through Spring Training now in the Dominican.
These are the first signings since the opening group of the 2022-23 signing period back in January. The Pirates inked 22 players at the start. All of those players except Korean pitcher Jun-Seok Shim are currently at the Dominican academy, where they will spend the 2023 season playing in the Dominican Summer League. Shim has been at Pirate City in Bradenton since the start of Spring Training.
Our international signing tracker has been updated with Regalado and Tejada (his first name is sometimes spelled as Clevari, so there is a spelling difference on the chart, which was updated eight days ago). As a side note, the Pirates not long ago had a right-handed pitcher named Jose Regalado in their minor league system.
While we don’t have bonus figures for everyone on that chart, I do know through a source that the Pirates had $250,500 remaining in their bonus pool before these signings. I don’t know if any of that was spent on these signings. Any signing of $10,000 or less, would not count against the pool.
Teams are allowed to trade for bonus pool space again on the international side, so any big signings over the next eight months (period closes on December 15th) would require a trade first.
The Pirates 2023-24 signing class is already looking like they will make their mark in Panama.
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.
I listened to an interview recently with an Astros coach in the DSL. He basically said these players have no life except baseball during the season. They start their day at 6-7 in the morning with lifting and/or practice and then typically play a 4 hour game (lots of walks). After the game they have English language classes. They must leave some time for fun at the end. It also sounds like the players are pretty committed to their work.
That sounds about right. The Pirates do all of the same things. Their life is pretty well structured. They have meal times set for them throughout the day. It sounds bad in some ways, but it’s all set up for them to succeed. It’s strict for a reason.
There are a lot of stories about young kids with a lot of money in a poor country. The worst story is Michael de la Cruz, who was a true five-tool talent, but after his first season, he treated the off-season like a five-month party. He got a large bonus and it went to his head. The Pirates challenged him to put on ten pounds of muscle during the off-season and instead he came back ten pounds lighter. His first season in the US had a lot of problems, two ankle injuries, a bad skin rash, and it snowballed into him being homesick at 18 years old in a foreign country. He never recovered from it, but also did himself no favors with that first off-season. He was a shell of himself from the extended partying. I think it was a good learning lesson for the Pirates though, so some good came of it for future players.
For this late in the international signing schedule/year those are pretty interesting guys. A guy that uses a changeup as his out pitch and a lefty sitting in the mid nineties is about as “anti-Pirate” as pitchers can be and I’m all for it.
It is great that the pirates are allowing these players to follow their dreams.
The DSL, do fans go to the games, or are they just a developmental league? Do they play during the day. or at night? What is the atmosphere, or is there no atmosphere? I know you may think these are dumb questions, but there are no dumb questions. Just dumb people who ask questions.
Fans can go to games, but the crowds are tiny like the GCL/FCL games. No charge, no assigned seats, just bleachers and a game. They all have morning start times. No atmosphere at all. Once they are on the field, they are there to learn how to play baseball, nothing else. Inside the academy is a different story, but the games are serious. It’s about the same type of play as a high school All-Star game
Thanks, John, I knew you’d know!
You can never have enough pitching (or SS’s).