International Reviews: Pittsburgh Pirates
Top signing: OF Pedro Castillo, Dominican Republic, $170,000.
Total signings: 24.
Pittsburgh’s biggest signing last year was 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Pedro Castillo, who got $170,000 on July 2. Castillo played for the Dominican team that went to Mexico in August 2015 for the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship and showed good poise in the batter’s box. A skinny 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Castillo is a lefty whose bat is his best tool, showing the ability to square up good velocity with a sound swing and occasional power, though he’s mostly a gap hitter for now. He has a good arm that could get stronger as he fills out and should be able to play right field. The Pirates gave a pair of Colombian pitchers low six-figure deals last year on July 2, including 16-year-old righthander Santiago Florez, who signed for $150,000. Florez has a huge frame at 6-foot-6 and was in the mid-80s with heavy sink when he signed. Since then he’s reached 92 mph with the projection for more velocity to come. He’s athletic for his size and throws a curveball that may eventually morph into a slider.
Pirates Focus On Improving Player Development
The fact that Pirates prospects tended to improve dramatically with new organizations did not go unnoticed by ownership.
They also signed 17-year-old righthander Luis Arrieta out of Colombia for $130,000. He’s 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with quick arm speed and a fastball that’s touched 92 mph, with his secondary stuff (a curveball and changeup) still a work in progress. The Pirates signed a pair of 17-year-old Dominican righthanders—Julio Rosario and Angel Suero—for $125,000 each on July 2. They have similar profiles, with the Pirates drawn to them for their loose arms, deliveries and feel for pitching, with fastball/slider combinations and the ability to reach 90-91 mph, with Suero (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) having a slightly bigger frame than Rosario (6-foot-2, 185 pounds). Noe Toribio, another 17-year-old Dominican righthander, has a bigger fastball. Signed for $100,000 on July 2, Toribio is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and has hit 97 mph, complementing his fastball with a slider. He could end up developing into a power reliever. One other prospect to keep an eye on from the Pirates’ 2016 international signing class is Francisco Acuña, a 17-year-old Colombian shortstop who signed for $70,000 on July 2. He’s undersized (5-foot-8, 150 pounds) but he’s an instinctive player with good defensive actions who hit leadoff for Colombia at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship in August 2015, then after signing played for Cartagena in the Colombian League.