Pittsburgh Pirates International Free Agent Ranks in Top 10


A few weeks ago it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be signing one of the top International Prospect Free Agents.  MLB Pipeline has now released a ranking for that player.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates brought in new General Manager Ben Cherington, it was made clear that he would be more aggressive on the prospect front than his predecessor.  He showed that in his first trade with the Diamondbacks bringing back two high ceiling, teenage prospects in Brennan Malone and Liover Peguero.

Then, not long after, it came out that the team was the favorite to sign one of the top amateur International free agents that would be eligible to sign this July 2nd.  A few weeks ago Baseball America reported that the team would be signing outfielder Shalin Polanco to a seven-figure bonus.  I covered that story here a Rum Bunter when it was first reported.

Obviously, this was exciting to hear that the team was pursuing a player who was being called one of the best hitters on the July 2nd market.  However, it was hard to say where exactly Polanco would rank in this year’s class.  In general, former General Manager Neal Huntington seemed to avoid signing the big bonus International players. Huntington did sign Cristopher Cruz last July 2nd, who was the number 20 prospect on MLB Pipeline, but that was his highest-rated signing since Luis Heredia in 2010.

Yesterday, MLB Pipeline posted their Top 30 prospects for the 2020 July 2nd signing period. They have Shalin Polanco rated as the 10th best available prospect in what is considered to be one of the deeper classes of recent.  Polanco is the third ranked outfield on the list.  Here is what they had to say on Polanco as a hitter:

"He shows good bat speed with loose and free hands, and it results in a balanced swing with some snap. He has an aggressive approach, but he still remains calm in the batter’s box without any unnecessary movements. He consistently shows a good feel for the strike zone and makes hard contact when he swings."

Polanco also has a good arm for his age and good athleticism.  The Pittsburgh Pirates will likely use Polanco in centerfield, but being a bat-first prospect with a potential plus arm may make him better suited for a corner spot.   It really will all depend on how he physically grows as he gets older, he is already 6’0” and only weighs about 160 pounds so he has a very projectable frame.

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All in all, it is exciting to see that the Pittsburgh Pirates are getting aggressive in the International free-agent market.  The team took a step forward in this department under Neal Huntington but never seemed to be in on any of the real big fish.  Meanwhile, Cherington has always had success finding elite talent on the International market, hopefully, Polanco is another one of those talents.