The Pirates are making a strong pitch on the international market, and their hope is that it results in the addition of a few talented arms in their farm system.
The Pirates officially signed right-handed pitcher Christopher Cruz, No. 20 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list, the club announced on Wednesday. Cruz is one of 21 players the Bucs signed on Tuesday, the first official day of the 2019-20 international signing period.
Cruz received an $850,000 signing bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.
Cruz is one of the most impressive arms in this year’s class. He has a large frame along with a projectable arm and lean body. He shows loose and easy arm action along with a solid, repeatable delivery. His fastball hovers in the low 90s with movement and occasional sink. There’s some depth to his curveball, and his changeup continues to improve and projects to be another average pitch.
Overall, the teen has been described as a mixture of strength and quickness on the mound. He’s also confident and has a high baseball IQ.
Led by international scouting director Junior Vizcaino, the Pirates also signed right-handed pitcher Gilberto Alcala of Venezuela for $450,000, infielder Javier Rivas of Venezuela and left-handed pitcher Yojeiry Osoria from the Dominican Republic for $600,000. Pittsburgh signed Dominican outfielder Emmanuel Terrero for $600,000 and Dominican right-hander Roelmy Garcia for $350,000.
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs like the Pirates that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft have the most money with a pool of $6,481,200 for spending on international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive the second most at $5,939,800.
Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 60% of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.
Under the previous system, teams were penalized for exceeding their bonus pools with consequences that ranged from taxes on their spending to the maximum penalty, which was being prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. That’s no longer the case and there are no longer penalties. Teams can only spend their allotted bonus pools and the monies acquired via trade.
Here is the complete list of players who officially signed with the Pirates as non-drafted free agents on Tuesday.
RHP Gilberto Alcala, Santa Lucia, Venezuela
LHP Diego Chiquillo, Cartagena, Colombia
RHP Cristopher Cruz, Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic
OF Robert DePaula, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
C Eybert Escalona, Barquisimeto, Venezuela
OF Ewry Espinal, Sabana, Dominican Republic
RHP Luis Faringthon, Santiago, Dominican Republic
RHP Darvin Garcia, Las Matas de Falfan, Dominican Republic
RHP Roelmy Garcia, San Francisco, Dominican Republic
RHP Rafael Mendez, Villa Mella, Dominican Republic
RHP Wandi Montout, El Seibo, Dominican Republic
LHP Yojeiry Osoria, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
RHP Keneth Quintanilla, Managua, Nicaragua
2B Francisco Quintero, Chitre, Panama
SS Delfin Ramirez, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
RHP Patricio Ress, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
SS Javier Rivas, Caracas, Venezuela
RHP Eliecer Romero, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
OF Enmanuel Terrero, Oviedo, Dominican Republic
SS Jeral Toledo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
OF Dioris Valdez, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic