Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed pitching prospect Alessandro Ercolani hails from San Marino, the first player from the small European nation to ever sign with a MLB organization
When I wrote my article on the best prospects from each country in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, I thought I did a thorough job combing through the system for every country represented in the organization. However, I missed a country. That was Alessandro Ercolani from San Marino.
Ercolani is the first-ever professional baseball player to sign out of San Marino. San Marino is a very small country, with their population being roughly 11% of Pittsburgh’s (based on 2020 consensus reports). They’re located Northeast region of Italy and considered one of the smallest countries in the world. According to World Atlas in 2021, they were the 5th least populated country in the world with 33,860 people. Their biggest landmark is the Guaita Tower castle, also known as the Three Towers.
So even while they are one of the smallest counties on planet Earth, leave it to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who debuted the first South African and Lithuanian-born MLB players to find a baseball player among this country of fewer than 50,000 people. So, what does Ercolani bring to the Pirates?
The right-hander tossed 18.1 innings out of the pen at the FCL. Although Ercolani had a 5.40 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, he had a much better 4.15 FIP. This was because he had a quality strikeout rate of 24.4% and only gave up a single home run. Ercolani had a healthy 46.2% ground ball rate, which helped suppress home runs. His main undoing was some bad batted ball luck, indicated by his .365 batting average on balls in play and 9.6% walk rate.
Ercolani stands at a very projectable 6’2″, 185 pounds. He’s a soft-tossing pitcher, only averaging out in the upper-80’s to low-90’s. He also uses a curveball and changeup to get outs. Once he adds more muscle, his arm speed will help him add more velocity later on.
Ercolani is still a very young pitcher. He won’t turn 20 until April 20th, 2024. He’s still a long ways off of ever being MLB-ready, but he’s still an interesting case nonetheless. He’s the very first player to sign out of the country of San Marino and will likely be the very first player to debut in MLB from there as well.