Morning Report: It’s a New Ballgame For the Pirates’ International Scene

What are the Pirates going to do this year on the international scene? That’s almost an impossible question to answer.

When Neal Huntington took over, the Pirates were doing practically nothing on the international side. Huntington upped the budget to about $3 M a year, with the possibility for additional bigger signings. The Pirates spent that $3 M each year mostly on lower bonus guys, rather than paying seven figures. They did pay seven figure deals to Luis Heredia and Harold Ramirez, with neither prospect working out.

That lasted for a few years, up until MLB put restrictions on the bonus pools. This came around the time that the Pirates were contenders, which shaved their international budget by a third of what it used to be, not counting special exceptions. The results were bad, with the Pirates not seeing the same success on the international side for a few years.

MLB made changes again in the most recent CBA, giving the Pirates over $5 M to spend, and one of the top bonus pools in baseball. They responded last year by signing over 70 players, including seven figure signing Ji-Hwan Bae.

But last year doesn’t really help us when determining what the Pirates will do this year.

They parted ways with Rene Gayo midway through the signing period, and hired Junior Vizcaino. That was followed by a lot of smaller signings — which makes sense considering the stage they were in during the signing period — and the signing of Bae.

We don’t know yet what Vizcaino will do over a full signing period, especially with so many players in the system on the international side from last year’s group. The Pirates had enough to add a second DSL team, and might need to be looking at a third with a similarly large class this year. They could afford to go for a few bigger signings and still add enough smaller bonus guys to keep the two existing teams.

What we can safely assume is that the Pirates will spend up to their $5.5 M budget, as they’ve spent up to their budget each year, whether it was set by them early in the process, or set by MLB in the more recent years. That should lead to extra talent, regardless of whether they keep the quantity approach, or if they add a few bigger bonus guys.

Oh, and as a site note, you need to be following John Dreker, as he reported on 65 of the signings last year, and most of those signings wouldn’t have been known without his information. John is the best source for Pirates international information, and this is the best time to follow him.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 4-3 to the San Diego Padres on Saturday night. They will send Jameson Taillon to the mound for his 17th start today. He allowed two runs over six innings against the New York Mets in his last start. The scheduled Padres starter is right-hander Tyson Ross, who has a 3.32 ERA in 95 innings, with 90 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP. He allowed two runs over six innings against the Texas Rangers in his last outing.

The minor league schedule includes Shane Baz making his third start for Bristol. He threw five shutout innings in his debut, then came back with three runs over 3.2 innings. Taylor Hearn threw a seven inning complete game shutout in his last start. He has a .201 BAA and a 1.11 WHIP. Luis Escobar allowed five runs over five innings in his last start, which followed six shutout innings in his previous game. Indianapolis starter Tyler Eppler threw 6.1 shutout innings in his last start. West Virginia’s Cody Bolton has a .198 BAA and an 0.87 WHIP. Osvaldo Bido goes for Morgantown. The GCL and DSL teams are off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (39-43) @ San Diego Padres (37-48) 4:10 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.96 ERA, 83:25 SO/BB, 88.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (43-36) @ Columbus (40-39) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.14 ERA, 68:20 SO/BB, 80.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (41-35) @ Akron (46-35) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (3.28 ERA, 83:28 SO/BB, 74.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (37-37) @ Dunedin (36-41) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.40 ERA, 65:33 SO/BB, 73.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (44-31) @ Hagerstown (28-49) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (1.03 ERA, 25:4 SO/BB, 26.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (6-9) vs Mahoning Valley (11-3) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (8.16 ERA, 10:5 SO/BB, 14.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (6-5) @ Princeton (6-5) 4:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Shane Baz (3.12 ERA, 6:5 SO/BB, 8.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (4-6) vs Braves 12:00 PM 7/2 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (11-14) vs Indians/Brewers 10:30 AM 7/2 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (12-13) vs Mariners 10:30 AM 7/2 (season preview)


From Morgantown, two highlights for Jhoan Herrera. Talk about easy power in this first clip

Next is his big hit from Friday night


6/30: Ryan Haug assigned to Bradenton.

6/29: Chad Kuhl placed on disabled list. Max Moroff recalled from Indianapolis.

6/29: Brett Pope promoted to Bradenton. Matt Eckelman promoted to Altoona.

6/29: Evan Piechota activated from Bradenton disabled list.

6/28: Mitch Keller and Jason Martin promoted to Indianapolis. Alfredo Reyes promoted to Bradenton.

6/28: Eddie Muhl retired.

6/27: Sean Rodriguez placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson called up to Pirates.

6/27: Jung Ho Kang and Christopher Bostick placed on disabled list. Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis DL.

6/27: Raul Siri promoted to West Virginia.

6/27: Pirates sign John O’Reilly.

6/26: Pirates sign Allen Montgomery.

6/26: Jason Delay placed on disabled list.

6/26: Ryan Haug assigned to GCL Pirates. Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/25: Jackson Williams added to Indianapolis roster. Arden Pabst assigned to Bradenton.

6/25: Eric Wood assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

6/25: Pirates release Johnny Hellweg.

6/24: Pirates place Michael Feliz on disabled list. Clay Holmes recalled from Indianapolis

6/24: Jerrick Suiter activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/24: Pirates released Kyle Simmons and Cristopher Perez.

6/23: Corey Dickerson reinstated from Family Medical Emergency Leave list. Adam Frazier optioned to Indianapolis.

6/23: Evan Piechota placed on disabled list. Ryan Haug promoted to Bradenton.

6/22: Pirates sign Braxton Ashcraft and Connor Kaiser.

6/22: Francisco Cervelli placed on disabled list. Jacob Stallings recalled from Indianapolis.

6/22: Arden Pabst promoted to Indianapolis. Blake Cederlind promoted to Bradenton.

6/22: Travis MacGregor assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/22: Fernando Villegas activated from Morgantown restricted list. Assigned to GCL Pirates.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. Starting with the players, we have pitcher Al Tate (1946), pitcher Frank Barrett (1950) and outfielder Fritz Scheeren (1914-15). Barrett has an interesting note to his career stats. They have been officially wrong for at least the last 40 years. Sometime between his last game and the printing of the 1976 baseball encyclopedia, his stats got changed to what they read now. He actually pitched a little less with the Pirates and gave up a run less. In this article from 2012, I broke down where the changes were made. The current stats give him a 4.15 ERA, but he actually had a 2.45 ERA during his brief stay in Pittsburgh.

On this date in 1921, the Pirates traded pitcher Elmer Ponder to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for outfielder Dave Robertson. The Pirates were hardly using Ponder and Robertson was struggling with Chicago, so both players got a chance for more playing time with their new team. Robertson put on a show at the plate with Pittsburgh, hitting .322 the rest of the way and he drove in 48 runs in 60 games. Ponder got hit around in Chicago, so short-term, it looked like a great deal. Robertson, who won two home run crowns earlier in his career, decided to hold out in Spring Training the next year and the move backfired. The Pirates released him and he later signed with the Giants, but had a tough season, and one that would be his last in the majors.