Pirates Prospects Daily: The Pirates Remain Aggressive on the International Market

The International signing period opened up on Sunday, and as expected the Pittsburgh Pirates were busy. They locked up a pair of the top available players, while signing or agreeing to deals with 22 players total.

Under General Manager Ben Cherington, the Pirates have been aggressive in the international market, and have made some pretty good sized splashes in each of the last three signing periods. Shalin Polanco, Po-Yu Chen, Yordany De Los Santos, and Tony Blanco are among some of the more notable names grabbed up the past couple of seasons, with there being more on top of that when you dig deeper.

As we know, the International market can be tricky, but as always when it comes to prospects, strength comes in quantity almost as often as quality. The more prospects with upside you align with, the higher probability that you end up with a productive major league ballplayer.

With the last few International signing periods, you can start to see the quantity and quality starting to blend together, and it’s starting to show up in Pittsburgh.

Rodolfo Castro, Ji-Hwan Bae, and Luis Ortiz are three notable names that the Pirates have signed Internationally, and have worked their way through the system and have made their major league debut over the last couple of seasons.

While the list of those who have made the majors is on the smaller end, there is a large group behind them picking up steam, with the names listed above among them.

While the deals aren’t officially signed, as of now, the Pirates added two more highly touted International prospects in Jun-Seok Shim and Raymond Mola. A righty, Shim was the second highest rated pitcher on MLB Pipeline — tenth overall — with the outfielder Mola coming in at 26.

The Pirates are continuing their aggressive ways in the International market, and while it’s still a number, the added push has led to a situation where they are getting some quality names into the system.

Overall, the International signing period is like a big jumbled puzzle that few have truly solved, but those who have and put in the time and effort it takes to find success, it really can make a difference at the Major League level.

Where Shim Fits Into System

There isn’t much information available on Jun-Seok Shim, but what we have has been very encouraging. He was one of the favorites to be the first overall pick in the KBO, but removed himself so that he can sign with a Major League team.

For an 18-year-old he’s very advanced, making sense why he was so highly sought after overseas. If the reports were true on him, he has the kind of upside and skillset that could have made him a highly ranked player when it comes to the MLB Draft. 

When taking a look at his scouting grades on MLB Pipeline, they align exactly with Quinn Priester, down to the pitch. The big difference is obviously that Priester played in Triple-A last year, while Shim has yet to pitch in the minors.

It seems somewhat unfair to try and make that kind of comparison when talking about an 18-year-old, but there certainly is a chance that Shim could quickly work his way into the conversation of being one of the system’s top pitching prospects.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**I’m going to take a moment to highlight what an amazing job John Dreker did today in covering all of the Pirates international signings. John works tirelessly all year to report on all of the latest additions, news, and game results on the Pirates international side, and the start of a new signing period is his turn to shine. No one covers this better than John. This is like his Christmas. Except, he’s also really obsessed with actual Christmas. So, this is like his Baseball Christmas. Check out all of the new information on the new players below.

**The Pirates reached agreements with OF Jun-Seok Shim and RHP Raymond Mola. They also added seven players out of Venezuela, and 16-year-old RHP David Matoma from Uganda. In addition to those signings, John had reports on 12 more players.

**Be sure to bookmark our International Signing Tracker, which we’ll keep updated with every signing that is announced throughout the year.

**Ethan Hullihen had his latest Pirates Business update, looking at the Domestic Reserve list, along with a payroll update after the upcoming addition of Andrew McCutchen.

**Jase Bowen had a big day in Australia in the latest Pirates winter league update.

**Missed yesterday? John Dreker previewed what to expect for the international signing period.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Ethan Hullihen broke down the Pirates’ Domestic Reserve List in this week’s Pirates Business update. He also updated the payroll estimate after the Pirates agreed with Andrew McCutchen.

Pirates Business: The Domestic Reserve List

I’ve been taking a break to start the year, but will finally return with First Pitch tomorrow. I promise this time.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Tim! Media Guide??

Tim Williams

Check First Pitch next week for an update.


While there are spending limits for the international draft, I would think there would not be spending limits for how much you put into scouting. Given the diverse set of places the Pirates are drafting from, would it be correct to assume they are putting more money into international scouting than the average MLB team? Putting money into scouting would seem to me to be a smart thing for a small market team to do.

Last edited 12 days ago by EightMenOut

I just went and look at a tracker to confirm this, most teams are signing kids from 2-4 different countries, whereas the Pirates are a major outlier, signing kids from 8 different countries (and that is not counting “Virginia”).


I read somewhere that scouts weren’t happy with the way Shim was being used, do you have insight into why & what was going on

Wilbur Miller

Mackey says he “battled elbow, back and toe issues in high school.” Then he goes on to say “his injuries and usage didn’t scare” the Pirates off. Sounds like they thought his HS coach should have dialed the workload back. That’s common in the states, might as well be elsewhere. They’ve followed him closely for a long time, so at least it’s in their calculations.

Also sounds like they really got in on the ground floor with him — know the family well, etc. For all we know now, their int’l efforts will be a total flop in the end, but it sure seems like they’re doing it right.

Last edited 12 days ago by Wilbur Miller

Can someone please explain what league Shim is pitching in, in the videos? It appears as though he’s been pitching in some sort of professional league, playing older competition in large empty stadiums. However, it’s been noted a couple times that he removed himself from being drafted in the professional league.


I echo Tim’s comments on John’s work on the international signings. It’s normally not subject I get too excited about because so few ever amount to much but JD’s coverage has got me hooked. I can’t say I’m at the “Christmas” level of interest but maybe Labor Day or Memorial Day.


I’m kinda surprised you would say quantity is as important as quality Anthony. One of the things BC has done to improve the organization is to go after the more expensive, more highly regarded IFA’s.

Maybe NH let the Luis Herrera failure affect his thinking, or maybe it was the fault of Renee Gayo, but there’s no denying Pirates were purposely staying away from the top guys for many years. And simply put, it cost the organization wins.

Thankfully BC has rectified this issue. Maybe if he’s lucky he’ll survive long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor.


The system was pitifully rigged in favor of the richest teams. From 2014 forward, the Pirates could not get anywhere close to a Top 30 Player. I think they were in it to the end with Miguel Sano in 2009, and then signed Heredia in 2010 – after that, the Pirates were doomed to taking the leftovers and hoping to catch one or two that could be developed. Marte and Polanco fit that and did very well, same with Rodolfo Castro and others.

I think in 2014 the Yankees outbid everybody for what seemed like every player, and then the worst example was in 2016 when the Padres signed players for over $40 mil and had to pay a 100% fine for a total of over $80 mil in just that one year. Marcano was one of the cheaper guys in that group signing for only $320K. I think the system changed in 2017?


This is only partially true. Small market orgs like Cincy and Miami were in on Cuban talent. Oakland signed some big dollar guys, and San Diego was hardly burning money in those years like they are now. Freaking Tampa with Wander Franco!
I’m still convinced NH got burned early on with Heredia and Sano and then decided he’d go only with a sprinkle it around approach. Whether that’s a failure in approach or development (probably both), they got very little over his tenure…basically just Polanco.



Wilbur Miller

He was a DL guy and didn’t get a big bonus.


Thanks for refreshing my memory emjay. I remember lots of people being pissed the Pirates wouldn’t spend over the limit when so many other teams would.

Some things never change.


That’s some curveball


And it’s not even his best pitch. That fastball is 🔥🔥🔥!!!


The best thing I like is that even at 18 he looks like he knows where the pitch is going and he is around the plat. He is not like Nuke Laloosh and missing by a bunch half of the time.


Just throw, meat!


I want to announce my presence with AUTHORITY!!


You’re the one with the Porsche!

Last edited 12 days ago by mpg43952

I got a 911 with a quadrophonic Blaupunkt !!!

b mcferren

wish they´d make more of an investment down here in mexico


Mexico owes us one after the Luis Herrera implosion.


Luis Heredia – the $3 Mil bust!


Yeah, I don’t know why I had Herrera in my brain. Thanks for fixing it for me.


Luis Herrera sucked too but he was a cheaper guy and we never heard very much about him 🙂


You’re getting older. It happens.🥸🥸🥸


Hey!! ………..I know I should be mad but can’t remember why……….


Good retort!


All I gotta say is it sucks getting old. Never felt really old until I moved back to the town that I grew up and started running into people that I went to High School with. Reality set in rather quickly….started feeling old when I was seeing friends that suddenly looked the part….At least it is better than the alternative 🙂


Started feeling old when I started having coworkers young enough to be my kids lol.


Yep, that will do it too!

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