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Pirates sign Dominican outfielder

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With today being the start of the international signing period, the Pirates have signed (sub. req’d) their top target, outfielder Juan Pie, for $500,000. Depending on your source, Pie is 6’2” or 6’3”, 170-75 pounds. He’s left-handed and turned 16 three months ago. Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranks Pie 45th on his list (sub. req’d) of the top 50 international prospects eligible this year. According to Badler, Pie’s main tool is his hitting ability. He’s not a good runner and is already limited to left field, where he needs work. His arm is well below average. He does not currently hit for power, but for a 16-year-old that’s not exactly a red flag.

The Pirates have a $5.75M international bonus pool, which is more than twice the limit they operated with the previous two years. Pie will probably not be the Pirates’ last international signing today, but he most likely will be the most prominent. According to various sources, they’re expected to continue spreading their money around among a larger number of prospects rather than competing financially for top talent. This quantity-over-quality approach has been strikingly unsuccessful over the past five years or so. Whether increasing the quantity will change that remains to be seen.

UPDATE: If you check the first link above, the Pirates have also signed Venezuelan outfielder Angel Basabe for $450,000. Apparently the only information available on him yet is that he now lives in Panama, which seems like a good idea if you’re from Venezuela.

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The Pirates have signed another seven players to six figure bonuses, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB Pipeline:

At this point, these players are all just names with dollar figures attached. I don’t think there’s any scouting information available about them anywhere, although you’re welcome to try searching.

The 11 remaining players presumably signed for less than six figures. If so, that means the Pirates have probably about half of their bonus pool left. As pointed out here (sub. req’d), players turning 16 between July 3 and August 31 can’t sign until their birthdays, so there could be some signings still to come. There could also be signings on which the Pirates are holding off for one reason or another, as they did a year ago with Jean Eusebio.