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Pirates sign Chinese pitcher

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have signed 18-year-old Gong Haicheng, a right-handed pitcher who played for China in the World Baseball Classic this past March. Gong had been recruited into the MLB Development Center in China “right out of the sixth grade.” He reportedly has hit 90 mph, but he probably throws more around 84-87 right now. You can find some video at the last link. Pirates Prospects states (sub. req’d) that Gong is the second player to sign out of the MLB Development Center in China.

Obviously, this continues the Pirates’ practice of seeking baseball talent in out-of-the-way locales. Earlier this year, Gift Ngoepe of South Africa and Dovydas Neverauskas became the first natives of their countries to play in the major leagues. The Pirates also, of course, famously signed Rinku Singh out of India, although injuries cut short his career after he reached class A in the minors.