Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Three Notable Prospects Released


The Pittsburgh Pirates have started to make some roster moves this offseason.  The team let go of three notable minor league prospects.

The MLB offseason is underway and the Pittsburgh Pirates are already making roster moves!  Well, sort of.  The team has not made any significant roster moves on the big league roster, but have let go of a few notable prospects.  Three of the eight prospects released are notable and were high bonus international signings.  While these moves do not seem like a big deal, it actually is a poor reflection on the Pittsburgh Pirates previous International scouting team under Rene Gayo. All these moves were broken by John Dreker at Pirates Prospects.

The first prospect of note is outfielder Yondry Contreras. Contreras was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2014 for a $400,000 signing bonus.  This was the biggest signing bonus handed out by the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2014 signing period.  At the time, Contreras was noted for his athleticism, short line drive swing, and plus defense.  He was considered to have the upside of a player that would be similar to Starling Marte.  Instead, Contreras really never learned how to hit.  He finished his Pittsburgh Pirates organization career with a slash of .199/.284/.272 with 258 strikeouts in 189 games.

The second player of notes is another outfield prospect in Michael de la Cruz.  Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic for a lofty bonus of $700,000 dollars in 2012.  He had a similar projection as Contreras did in terms of athleticism, speed, and defense.  However, like Contreras, he was not able to translate his athleticism to the game.  He batted .239/.351/.310 with 223 strikeouts in 243 games.

The last player that the Pittsburgh Pirates released was another international outfield prospect. The team signed Jeremias Portorreal back in 2013.  He signed one of the biggest bonuses of the 2013 signing period at $300,000. Unlike Contreras and De la Cruz, Portorreal was not noted as a plus defender or athletic per se, but rather as a projectable power bat.  Well, that power never really developed due to his inconsistencies at the plate.  In his five years with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Portorreal batted .222/.340/.336 with 270 strikeouts in 247 games.

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In total, the Pittsburgh Pirates released eight minor league players.  Of course, all the players released were due to them not showing any future potential.  This includes the three mentioned above who the organization had high expectations for when they signed them.  However, Rene Gayo was fired and suspended by the MLB for taking side money to get certain players signed, so it could be that the team was not getting exactly what they thought.  Regardless, it is not a positive thing to see some of the top signings not even get close to making an impact at the MLB level.