With the international signing day behind us, what were some of the highlights for the Pittsburgh Pirates during January 15th?
January 15th marked the deadline to finalize international deals with amateur prospects. The Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the highest international pools to spend on international prospects and used their funds well. They netted some excellent young players, further filling the system with very talented players.
Two of the best prospects they signed were middle infielder Yordany De Los Santos and outfielder Tony Blanco Jr. Blanco Jr. ranked as the 11th best international prospect per MLB Pipeline going into the day. The outfielder is best known for his incredible power potential. He’s built like the Incredible Hulk, weighing in at 6’6, 245 pounds at just 16-years-old. For reference, that’s what Giancarlo Stanton is currently listed as and weighed in at 6’5, 205 LBS when he was around Blanco Jr.’s age.
Some are already projecting a guy with 40-homer potential with his massive build. FanGraphs sees him eventually growing into 60-game power and 70-raw power. For his size, he moves reasonably well, akin to a young Stanton or Aaron Judge currently. He also has a cannon of an arm, but like most of his size at such a young age, the outfield might not be his long-term home. Once he fills out, he could become a 1B/LF/DH kind of player. Regardless of where he ends up, Blanco Jr. might have the most power potential among prospects not named Oneil Cruz or potentially even Henry Davis in the Pirates’ system. Blanco Jr. earned himself a $900K signing bonus.
Jordan De Los Santos was ranked right behind Blanco Jr. at 12. A well-rounded hitter, De Los Santos brings both an above-average projected hit tool and power tool. At 16-years-old, he already stands at 6’1. 170 LBS is a bit light, but he’ll likely fill out for more muscle as he gets older. Right now, he is a shortstop by trade. He has the instincts to play shortstop long term, though with slightly below-average speed and likely will slow down more as he ages and adds bulk, third base could be his long-term home. But he probably won’t move off the position until he is forced to do so or show he can’t play the position effectively enough.
De Los Santos’ projectable frame and his plus offensive profile netted him the most significant signing bonus handed out by the Pirates. The infielder signed for $1.2 million, and he gives the Pirates yet another talented 18-and-under player along with Blanco Jr. and many others in the system.
De Los Santos and Blanco Jr. were the big catches of the day for the Pirates, but not the only catches. The third biggest signing bonus the team gave out was to right-handed pitcher Patterson Rosa. Rosa stands at 6’2,180 and has shown the athleticism and stuff that projects as a starting pitcher. He is already hitting the mid-90’s with his fastball with some excellent secondary offerings.
The fourth highest bonus from the Pirates was given to Hung-Leng Chang. A right-hander coming out of Taiwan signed for $500K. According to Chang, he throws six different pitches. He is already topping out around 94 MPH with his four-seam fastball. He also throws a change-up that comes in the low-80’s and a curveball that averages out around the mid-70s. Though he’ll also toss a cutter, he added to his repertoire in 2020, as well as a splitter and slider. The last Taiwanese pitcher the Pirates signed was Po-Yu Chen. The 20-year-old right-hander might be one of the most interesting signings by the Pirates, given his six-pitch repertoire and age.
The Pirates signed another young outfielder in Eduardo Oviedo to a $450K deal. At 17-years-old, Oviedo is listed at 5’11, 152 LBS. While he’s on the lighter side right now, he should fill out to add more power and strength as he ages. Oviedo projects as a center fielder with the athleticism to stay there long-term, even after he grows more.
The Pirates did sign one player with professional experience already, first baseman Carlos Triado. He played in 33 games receiving 100 plate appearances with the Pioneer League Rocky Mountain Vibes, batting for a solid .253/.320/.429 with a .330 wOBA. Overall, that’s pretty good production considering that this was his age-16 season which made him about 6-8 years younger than the average player. He already stands at a strong 6’1, 187 LBS and brings more power potential to the Pirates. This year, he was on pace for 26 home runs in a 650 plate appearance stretch and had a solid .176 isolated slugging percentage.
The oldest player the Pirates signed was Alexis Torres. The right-hander is 18-years-old and has been passed on in previous international signing deadlines. Coming in at 6’1, 153, Torres has shown notable strides in development over the past year and averages out in the upper-80s to low-90s with his fastball. He might not be the flashiest signing of the day, but he is a young arm trending upward at the very least.
The Pirates signing two top 15 international prospects is noteworthy in and of itself, and they were the only team who did that this year. Not to mention they got a handful of other high-ceiling prospects along with De Los Santos and Blanco Jr., making this international signing period for the Pirates a powerful one.