The transactions page for the Pittsburgh Pirates had a new signing that showed up today (dated for yesterday, but I already checked the page this morning). The Pirates signed Wali Pierre, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. How many of you looked at the title and thought I got it wrong? I didn’t, and what we have here is a first for me.
The Pirates signed Pierre before the end of the last international signing period, which wrapped up on December 15, 2021. Even though it started on January 15, 2021, it’s referred to as the 2020-21 signing period because of the players who were eligible to sign. The start date got pushed back due to the pandemic from July 2, 2020 to January 15, 2021, but the eligible players didn’t change. Anyway, Pierre was signed by December 15th, but there was a delay in approving his contract, which just got approved yesterday. I asked to make sure, and it was confirmed that he is still considered to be a 2020-21 signing class, despite the January 24, 2022 signing date. The current class remains at 19 players.
As for the who/what/why, Pierre is 6’3″, 180 pounds, and he turns 19 on April 24th. He’s your typical projectable young pitcher, though he’s considered raw at this point. He is extremely athletic, with a nice and easy delivery that produces a 90 MPH fastball with little effort. His breaking ball is still in the development stage and he has some feel for a changeup. He has been assigned to the FCL Pirates Gold, though it sounds like he’s headed for the DSL this year.
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.