Pittsburgh Pirates: Checking in on Ben Cherington's Most Significant International Signings

Where are the significant international signings Ben Cherington has made since becoming general manager?
Attendance was just over 60 people. The Florida Complex League (FCL) Orioles played their first
Attendance was just over 60 people. The Florida Complex League (FCL) Orioles played their first / THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE / USA TODAY
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Let's take a look at where Ben Cherington's most significant international signings are right now since he became general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates and general manager Ben Cherington have been fairly aggressive in the amateur international market since he took over as GM. The 2023-2024 offseason will mark the fourth off-season as his tenure as the Pirates’ GM. Throughout that time, he’s signed multiple, highly ranked international prospects, and he's already being aggressive this offseason with young international guys again. But where are some of these prospects now, and could we expect to see any next season?

We will start with his first notable international signings, and that was Solomon Maguire. Maguire was the first large international signing Cherington made, with his signing bonus coming in at nearly $600K. Maguire has yet to live up to that potential, however, with a .597 OPS through his professional career, which has amounted to just 200 plate appearances. 

However, Maguire is still young, with 2024 being his age-21 campaign, and was hurt for most of 2023. Maguire was praised for his outstanding athleticism and the ceiling of a five-tool player when the Pirates signed him. Given his age, and the fact he’s yet to even receive 300 minor league plate appearances, I wouldn’t rule him out just yet.

But one of the top international free agents Cherington signed in 2020 who has looked promising is Po-Yu Chen. Chen was the top high school talent out of Taiwan at the time of his signing. Chen got off to a poor start to 2023, but after struggling in April, he got things back on track. His final 100.1 innings saw him pitch to the tune of a 3.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 4.90 FIP. Chen had a quality 25.6% K% and 8.4% walk rate, but a poor 1.44 HR/9. Chen also struggled in September, with 15 of the 59 earned runs he allowed coming in his final four outings.

Chen is considered a low-floor/high-ceiling pitcher. He has a wide, but not overpowering arsenal of pitches. He sits in the low-90s with his fastball and also throws a curveball, slider, and splitter. His four-seamer, curve, and slider are average pitches at their best. But his splitter is a plus offering, and he has displayed above-average command with an advanced feel for pitching. Chen turned 22 at the beginning of September, and will likely open the 2024 campaign at Altoona, so you may see him in the big leagues sometime in 2024 if he performs well.