International Reviews: Pittsburgh Pirates
Total 2017 signings: 38.
Top 2017-18 signing: OF Juan Pie, Dominican Republic, $500,000.
The Pirates overhauled their Latin American scouting department, beginning in November, with the firing of Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported, Major League Baseball determined through its investigation that Gayo several years prior had received a kickback from a Mexican League team for the sale of at least one player to the Pirates. MLB later suspended Gayo for two years, with the penalty reduced to one year if Gayo returns the money that the league determined he received. Gayo declined to comment on his suspension.
Junior Vizcaino, who had been an international crosschecker for the Red Sox, is now the Pirates’ international scouting director. Given the circumstances surrounding the team’s international program and the difficulty to produce accurate reports to our standards in such circumstances, we have decided to hold off from publishing reports on the rest of the team’s signing class beyond Juan Pie. A 17-year-old Dominican outfielder the Pirates signed for $500,000 on July 2, Pie ranked No. 45 on Baseball America's list of the Top 50 International Prospects.
Pie, who trained with Banana, is 6-foot-2, 170 pounds and stood out for his lefthanded bat. He generates quick bat speed and covers the plate well with good bat control, turning on pitches middle-in and driving pitches on the outer third to left field. Pie was one of the more advanced in-game hitters in the class, with a patient approach and the ability to hang in well against lefties. Pie’s bat speed and physical projection suggest more power could come, though for now he has more of a line-drive approach with doubles power. How much power Pie develops will be key, as his defensive tools and instincts fit best in left field. He’s a fringe-average runner with a well below-average arm.