Our Pirates Winter Report highlights one Pittsburgh Pirates prospect each week, with brief notes from each country playing winter ball. This week we feature outfielder Solomon Maguire, who spent this off-season in Australia.
Solomon Maguire has not had an easy time so far in pro ball. He has suffered three injuries over his two seasons that has caused him to miss a lot of time. He used winter ball in his home country of Australia to make up for some of that lost time this off-season.
Maguire has been with the Florida Complex League Pirates during both of his seasons in pro ball. At 18 years old in 2021, he hit .146/.288/.292 in 17 games for the FCL Pirates. He followed that up with a .217/.311/.278 slash line in 37 games this past season.
He played about half of the team’s games over those two seasons, which hides the fact that he had dealt with injuries that kept him out of action while the team was in Extended Spring Training as well. He was basically doing rehab work at the same level he was set to play.
Maguire suffered oblique injuries on both sides of his body at separate times during the 2021 season. He missed a good portion of Spring Training in 2022 due to a hip flexor strain. That has kept the Pirates from truly seeing how their $594,000 investment could do with regular work in pro ball.
Maguire got to play for the Sydney Blue Sox this winter with five other Pittsburgh Pirates, who were all managed by Tony Harris, who works as a scout for the Pirates as well. Our article last week with Dylan Shockley touched on the benefits of playing winter ball for someone who is part of the Pirates organization. The same holds true for Maguire, with the added benefit that he’s playing in his home country.
In 26 games this winter, Maguire put up a .238/.282/.313 slash line in 85 plate appearances. He was playing in a league where the average players is 26 years old, and the league as a whole had a .738 OPS. The Blue Sox as a group had a .656 OPS.
Being a scout/coach in Australia, Harris knew of Maguire before he signed with the Pirates. So he was a good person to ask about the progress that the teenager has made, especially what he saw this winter.
“I was really impressed with Solomon’s first year in the Australian Baseball League,” Harris said. “It’s a challenging league for younger players due to the experienced arms they face, and he had quality at-bats all season.”
The Australian league records show a 21.6% strikeout rate in the league this past year. As one of the youngest players in the league, Maguire had a 20% strikeout rate. That was something that stood out for Harris.
“He had far less swing and miss than most younger players have in the league,” Harris said. “He incorporated using the field more, including his short game, so he could utilize his speed.”
Maguire was scouted as a potential five-tool player, with power being the one tool that might keep him from that upside. His speed is a true asset, and that works on defense as well, where he also shows a strong arm.
“Defensively he’s able to play any outfield position well” Harris said.
Maguire mostly played left field during the winter, but that was by design to get Sammy Siani and Jase Bowen regular work at the other two spots. Maguire has played more center field than anywhere else during his time with the FCL Pirates.
Maguire is going to play winter ball in his home country every year, which makes the most sense due to proximity, but it’s clearly not the best level of winter ball compared to his skills at this time. It’s an advanced placement. Both Harris and Maguire had thoughts on playing in an advanced league this winter.
“Being around the older guys really helped him this winter,” Harris said. “Along with making up for missed time due to injuries, he’s in a really good spot heading into Spring Training.”
As for Maguire, he gave his thoughts on the winter.
“Winter ball this off-season has helped me develop on a good path to where I want to be moving forward,” Maguire said. “I was no longer playing with just physically talented players, but more over it was mature men who saw the game different. It taught me more how to play the game with my head, and not just my athletic capabilities.”
Maguire will get a chance to compete for a spot in the Bradenton outfield to start 2023. There seems to be plenty of options for outfielders for Low-A this year, so we will see if he can win out during Spring Training. If not, we could see him there as soon as a spot opens up.
Around the World
The only thing going on in winter ball for the Pirates over the last week is Francisco Acuna representing Colombia in the Caribbean Series. That ended on Friday. He helped his team to the Caribbean Series playoffs by getting on base a total of 15 times in the seven-game round robin part of the series. Acuna put up a .423/.516/.538 slash line in those games. He went 1-for-8 in the final two games, collecting an RBI single and a HBP. He reached base safely in all nine games.
This winter couldn’t have worked out better for Acuna, who was suspended 80 games late in the 2022 season. He played the full winter regular season in Colombia. His team finished second, which meant they had to play a first round playoff series, then play in the finals against the first place team that got a bye. They won their league, so he got to go to the Caribbean Series. They made the playoffs, which added two more games. Now his performance against great competition will help him going into 2023.
Acuna is going to be in Extended Spring Training anyway, so he will still get some games (he won’t be getting paid), but this busy winter definitely helps him for the time he will miss this season, before returning in June.
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.
I thought Maguire signed for 1M.
That story is from Australia, where the exchange rate is $1.44 for every US dollar, giving him an $856,000 bonus in Australian dollars, but it’s $594,000 US dollars, which is exactly how much the Pirates had left in their bonus pool at the time. As emjay pointed out, he also received a college bonus BUT that is only paid out if he attends college (he needs to start within ten years of signing) and the team pays the college directly, not him. The total possible value of the deal is over $1M in Australian dollars, but not all went to him.
They also get paid in stages, not all at once. I don’t know the breakdown of how he got paid, but I do know that one drafted player got $600,000 paid out in $300,000 after his first season ended, $150,000 in two payments every six months after that point. Maguire probably has his entire bonus by now, but I’ve heard of them being paid out over three years before.
Makes sense. Thanks!!
I think it was $594,000. Then there was also another $175,000 for college – not sure he was paid that amount or promised that amount if he decides to attend college? It is usually paid at the same time, and if so, his total out-of-pocket bonus would amount to $769,000. Possibly the highest paid IFA in 2019-20?
Not looking like a good investment at this point. Right now he is going to be a 20 year old at A ball, and will really need to turn it on just to get into the starting OF which will probably include 19 year olds Shalin Polanco and Esmerlyn Valdez, and 20 year olds Enmanuel Terrero, and Braylon Bishop.
I miss marte
80 day Marte