Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Ben Cherington's International Free Agent Signings

Aug 25, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington
Aug 25, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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The biggest signing from the Pirates’ 2020 international class was Po-Yu Chen. He’s also one of the more interesting signings, as the Pirates were able to land the Taiwanese right-hander after acquiring bonus pool money in exchange for Jarrod Dyson at the 2020 trade deadline. Considered one of Taiwan’s best high school prospects at the time, Chen signed for over $1 million.

Chen made a phenomenal first impression, pitching 26 innings at the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate and allowing just two earned runs, zero walks, and striking out 29. His brief stint at Low-A Bradenton didn’t go so well, but he did have a solid 2022, where he managed a 4.58 ERA but 3.76 FIP and 1.26 WHIP across 98.1 innings. 

Chen isn’t a hard thrower, hitting just 90-93 MPH on the gun, but he has a great splitter and decent curveball. Command is his best trait, but he could add another tick of velocity. After all, 2023 will only be his age-22 season at Greensboro. He could be sitting closer to 91-94 when he makes his major league debut.

Another big signing Ben Cherington made was landing Australian outfielder Solomon Maguire. The Pirates inked Maguire for $594,000, making him their fifth-highest international signing bonus. Last season, Maguire hit just .217/.311/.278 with an abysmal 74 wRC+. On the plus side, he had a quality 10.5% walk rate and 18.8% strikeout rate. Maguire is highly athletic with good bat control. Despite his minor-league struggles so far, he’ll only be 20 years old next year, so the jury is far from out on the man from the Land Down Under.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also landed Wilber Dotel, Reyson Santos, Luis Brito, Luis Gonzalez, Eduardo Zapata, Weslyn Touissant, and Juan Machado after Ben Cherington took over as general manager. However, Neal Huntington made a handful of signings prior to his firing.