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Morning Report: The 2019-20 International Signing Period Begins


The 2019-20 international signing period begins today, with teams able to sign international players using their 2019-20 bonus pools. MLB changed the international system a few years ago, providing a cap for team spending, with small market teams getting the most money to spend.

The Pirates have the biggest bonus pool this year, being one of eight teams who can spend up to $6,481,200. That’s their biggest bonus pool to date, and expect them to use all of it over the next year. Teams can trade for or trade away bonus pool money, so the Pirates could see their total go up or down, depending on what they do and who they plan to pursue.

In the past, the Pirates have stayed away from higher priced international guys, usually topping out well below half a million dollars. The new, higher bonus pools have allowed them to spend more on some individual players, while still loading up on lower cost players who are also talented, but more raw. This also coincides with their change in international scouting directors, which may have a bigger role than the finances in determining the strategy.

Last year the Pirates signed three guys for half a million or more, along with five other guys for $350,000 or more. They went big the year before, spending $1.25 M on South Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae.

Expect a similar approach this year, with a lot of signings, and a few of them being higher priced than in years past. We’ll be keeping track of every signing that we can find out about, with John Dreker being the man to follow for all of the latest international signing news. As we find out about player signings, we’ll report it, along with any information we can find on the players.

You can keep track of all the signings using our international signing tracker.

On the draft side, 2019 first round pick Quinn Priester will be making his debut this afternoon in the GCL. That typically means he will go only a few innings as he gets built back up, giving a small first look at the new pitcher.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 18-5 over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night. Joe Musgrove gets his 17th start of the season tonight. He went six shutout innings in his last game on nine hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. That followed up one run over seven innings in his previous start. Musgrove faced the Cubs back in April and went 6.1 innings without an earned run. The Cubs will counter with veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who has a 3.36 ERA in 88.1 innings, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He gave up five runs over 4.1 innings in his last start, then went on the injured list with shoulder inflammation.  Hendricks has made seven starts at home with a 1.65 ERA and seven road starts, posting a 5.49 ERA.

The minor league schedule includes Max Kranick trying to build off a solid month of June that saw him post a 2.56 ERA over 31.2 innings. He also pitched well in April, posting a 2.91 ERA, but a rough patch in May saw him finish the month with a 6.41 ERA. Osvaldo Bido goes for Greensboro. He posted a 2.10 ERA over 30 innings, with 31 strikeouts in June. It was the second time he was named as our Pitcher of the Month for Greensboro this season (also April). Luis Ortiz makes his third start for Bristol. He threw five shutout innings in his pro debut, then served up four runs over 3.2 innings in his last outing. Alex McRae goes for Indianapolis. He has allowed three earned runs in each of his last three starts.

There’s no starter listed for Altoona after they promoted James Marvel to Indianapolis yesterday. Morgantown also hasn’t listed a starter. Could be Braxton Ashcraft making his fourth start. He has been pitching every six days, so today would align with that schedule.

MLB: Pittsburgh (40-43) vs Cubs (45-40) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (4.27 ERA, 74:22 SO/BB, 90.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (42-39) @ Louisville (30-53) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.07 ERA, 62:20 SO/BB, 65.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (43-37) @ Akron (39-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

High-A: Bradenton (44-36) vs Jupiter (28-48) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (3.94 ERA, 60:23 SO/BB, 80.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (51-30) @ Hagerstown (33-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.19 ERA, 78:22 SO/BB, 90.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-8) @ Auburn (8-8) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (6-7) @ Kingsport (6-7) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Ortiz (4.15 ERA, 7:4 SO/BB, 8.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (1-4) vs Braves (2-4) 10:00 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (11-15) vs Indians (13-13) 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (22-4) vs Colorado (12-14) 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Altoona on Sunday, Arden Pabst hits his third home run of the season

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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