Baseball America comparison of all 30 teams' international scouting shows Pirates among the most productive
Baseball America has posted an article, in the subscribers' area unfortunately, comparing the productivity of all 30 teams' international scouting. If you subscribe, the link is here. BA ranks the teams according to how many of their top 30 prospects were international signees, and also lists the teams' top international prospects. The ranking is a little misleading; obviously, the easiest way to have a lot of international guys in your top 30 is to draft badly. The Rangers lead with 15; their system is good, so that says a lot. The Tigers, on the other hand, have a bottom-feeding system, so having 14 international signees in their top 30 isn't impressive.
The Pirates rank ninth with 10. More importantly, their top three (Heredia, Hanson, Polanco) rates with anybody except probably the Rangers (Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez) and the Cards (only four total, but they include Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez). This seems to me a pretty healthy place to be, especially considering that, near the end of the tenure of The GM Who Shall Not Be Named, they had no international signees in their top 30. Now, apart from the big three, they have some promising players such as Dilson Herrera and Jin-De Jhang, who represents a welcome expansion into the Far East. BA adds this note:
The Pirates aren't afraid to go against industry consensus with signings of players like Colombian outfielder Harold Ramirez ($1.05 million) and Venezuelan outfielder Elvis Escobar ($570,000) in 2011 or Dominican outfielder Michael de la Cruz ($700,000) in 2012, but they have a trio of Latin American prospects in Heredia, Polanco and Hanson that can stack up against just about anyone's in baseball.
I'm a little uneasy about Ramirez and Escobar because they're small guys who may not have much projection left, but going against industry consensus doesn't bother me at all due to the extreme unpredictability of Latin American prospects. Nobody (except Tim Williams) saw Polanco coming, for instance. Somewhere, Howie Haak is smiling.