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 Pirates were the only team to land two prospects in the top 15 of MLB Pipeline’s top international prospects list. The first was infielder Yordany De Los Santos. Signing for $1.2 million, De Los Santos was MLB Pipeline’s 12th-best prospect. He showed off decent stuff at the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League affiliate in just his age-17 campaign.

De Los Santos has a decent hit tool. While he might not make contact at a Kevin Newman rate, he had a sub-20% strikeout rate and projects to have an average tool in this department. However, he has a solid 6’1”, 170-pound build, and also projects to hit for above-average power. He plays shortstop primarily right now, but given his so-so range already, a move to third base could be in his future. 

Tony Blanco Jr. was certainly one of the most interesting prospects of the international class. Standing at a hulking 6’6”, 245 pounds, he already weighed in at Giancarlo Stanton’s height and weight at 16 years old. When Stanton was about Blanco Jr.’s age, he was still a tall 6’5”, but only weighed in at 205 pounds.

Of course, that size at his age comes with massive power potential. Blanco is projected to eventually reach 70-grade raw power. But that frame will always come with questions about the hit tool. FanGraphs gives this area of his game just a 40 grade. He’s a decent defensive LF/RF right now, though it’s much harder to project a guy of Blanco Jr.’s size.

Tony Blanco Jr. signed for $900,000, and De Los Santos was acquired for $1.2 million. Their third-highest-signing player was Pitterson Rosa, who signed for $700,000. Rosa pitched 22.1 innings at the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League affiliate, allowing just eight earned runs, striking out 24, but walked 11. Rosa also didn’t allow a single home run. Rosa is a projectable pitcher who stands at 6’2”, 178. He was already hitting 94 MPH in just his age-17 campaign.

Hung-Leng Chang was another very notable signing, landing a $500,000 bonus. The Taiwanese prospect looked pretty good at the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate, striking out 27 with eight walks and no home runs allowed in 22.2 innings. Although he isn’t a hard thrower, he, like many other international pitchers, is a very projectable frame. He’s a lanky 6’3”, 160 pounds, and has an advanced arm. Next year will be his age-21 season, and he will likely start the year at Bradenton.

Next. Zach Thompson Traded to Toronto. dark

Some other notable players the Pittsburgh Pirates signed during this period were catcher Axiel Plaz, first baseman Carlos Tirado, infielder Roinny Aguilar, and southpaw Angel Camacho.