Under International Scouting Director Junior Vizcaino, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been more aggressive in targeting high bonus players, continuing in 2022.
Under Neal Huntington and Rene Gayo, the Pittsburgh Pirates were more quantity of quality on the international free agency side. The club preferred to sign more players and spread their bonus pool out instead of targeting a high bonus demand prospect. When Huntington fired Gayo for breaking Major League Baseball rules, the club hired Junior Vizcaino.
As Huntington’s tenure ended, the Pittsburgh Pirates were much more aggressive in signing international prospects, such as right-handed pitcher Christopher Cruz. Under Ben Cherington, the Pirates have been even more aggressive, signing Po-Yu Chen, Solomon Maguire, and Shalin Polanco. It appears as if the that trend is continuing next year.
Baseball America has given a player expected to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a name to watch, shortstop Yordani de los Santos. He currently ranks 32nd on Baseball America’s Big Board, with the website mentioning his improved swing and bat speed, that should allow him to hit for more power. There is also the potential for him to stick at shortstop, which would be an additional plus.
Additionally, it sounds like the Pittsburgh Pirates will be signing a top international catching prospect, reported by John Dreker of Pittsburgh Baseball Network:
With Vizcaino as director of international scouting, it’s been refreshing to see the change of philosophy of targeting higher upside players. de los Santos is rising up international boards and looks to be a top talent that is continuously improving, and adding a top catcher will only strengthen the farm.
The Pirates under Ben Cherington have set out to improve the farm system and they have done so in the draft, trades, and international free agency. The farm system looks to be in better shape now than a few years ago and will continue to grow and improve with what looks to be another strong international class.