By now, fans know that the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had the most success in developing international talent over the last decade or so. A lot was attributed to not diving into the deepest of pools, while also having a farm system that wasn’t having much success in developing prospects as a whole.
On Sunday, January 15th, the market for signing international prospects opens, and the Pirates are currently rumored to be big players. John Dreker of Pirates Prospects wrote a piece back in September detailing the Pirates interests and who they were favorited to sign.
This comes a year after they signed two highly regarded international prospects in Yordany De Los Santos and Tony Blanco Jr., the latter who was originally rumored to be signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, before signing with the Pirates.
I’m not going to dive too deep into the upcoming signing period, as I don’t have the in-depth knowledge of John, and he’ll have plenty of coverage as he usually does.
When it comes to the upcoming 2023 season, the Pirates roster projects to be heavily influenced by international players. The off-season saw the Pirates add Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana to a group that included Rodolfo Castro, Oneil Cruz, Ji-Hwan Bae, Tucupita Marcano, and Miguel Andujar.
They added two left-handed pitchers in Jarlin Garcia and Jose Hernandez to a pitching staff that includes Roansy Contreras, Yerry De Los Santos, Dauri Moreta, Luis Ortiz, Johan Oviedo, and Yohan Ramirez. All of the players mentioned may not crack the opening day roster, but they are likely to see significant time in the upcoming season.
It should be noted that only four — Castro, Bae, De Los Santos, and Ortiz — of the aforementioned 15 names were originally signed by the Pirates, where the rest were acquired either through trade or free agency.
That isn’t a knock on the Pirates, as identifying and acquiring international talent through other means is equally as important. Take Oneil Cruz as an example.
The Pirates also have a handful of prospects in the upper minors that could see extended big league action in 2023. The biggest name being Endy Rodriguez, but also Liover Peguero and Malcom Nunez.
If the Pirates are going to be successful, they need to be able to find and develop talent in multiple sectors. Being able to develop international talent at a lower attrition rate will be a big step in the right direction.
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.