Ben Badler at Baseball America has a preview of the 2020-21 international signing period for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The date hasn’t been set yet for the signing period, which could start on time (July 2nd), but there’s a good chance that it gets pushed back to January.
The bonus pool numbers haven’t been released yet, but they are likely the be similar or exactly the same as 2019-20 numbers. With the Pirates getting the biggest bonus pool last year, they would drop to the second level this year. Their competitive balance draft picks go the opposite way of international bonus pool numbers, meaning the Pirates had a higher draft pick this year, so their international pool is lower. If the numbers stay the same, that would give them $5,939,800 to spend, with the ability to trade for additional pool space, adding up to 60% of their bonus pool number.
We already knew that the Pirates would be in on 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Shalin Polanco, who is considered one of the top players in this year’s signing class. He also has a $2.5 M bonus to match that present high ranking. Polanco has a huge upside bat from the left side.
In addition to Polanco, Badler also ranks Venezuelan outfielder Ruben Vizcaya high due to his plus tools, which includes his speed, arm and raw power.
Apparently, the Pirates are going heavy on outfielders this year. The remaining six names from Badler don’t have any info, though he does have four videos (as well as videos for Polanco and Vizcaya). Of those six players, four are outfielders and two are pitchers. The only other bonus mentioned is for Dominican right-hander Darlin Diaz, who will get about $500,000.
Here are the other names, who are Dominican and/or outfielders, unless noted:
Rodolfo de la Cruz
Gustavo Armas, Venezuela
Ruben Lebron, LHP
We will get more information on these players once the signings take place. In the meantime, here’s an extra video for Esmerlyn Valdez from ten months ago. He has multiple videos on YouTube, but this is the most recent.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.