On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed 17-year-old right-handed pitcher Eduardo Zapata out of Venezuela.
Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 17-year-old 6'2", 160 lb, Venezuelan RHP Eduardo Zapata, their first international signing since the freeze on signings was lifted back in early July
— John Dreker (@JohnDreker) September 9, 2020
I posted a tweet about the signing and mentioned in the Live Game Discussion comments from that day that I’d try to get more information before I posted an article. I got more information.
Zapata turned 17 on August 27th, making him possibly the youngest player eligible to sign at this point. If he was born five days later, he wouldn’t be able to sign until the new (2020-21) signing period begins on January 15, 2021.
Back in March, the international signing period was frozen with the stoppage. The Pirates nearly maxed out their international bonus pool in early February with the signing of Australian outfielder Solomon Maguire for $594,000. Later that month, they also added left-handed pitcher Luis Gonzalez from Venezuela with what little amount was left. Gonzalez was their 44th, and last, signing during the 2019-20 international signing period. That freeze was lifted in early July, but the Pirates were unable to add anyone of note until they acquired bonus pool space in the Jarrod Dyson trade last month.
Zapata is currently 6’2″, 160 pounds, and his scouting report matches that size. He’s all about projection at this point, with a solid frame to add weight/muscle and an easy/clean delivery, with room to add velocity. He has a feel for both his slider and changeup. Since he signed after the 2020 DSL season was scheduled to end, he was signed to a 2021 contract, meaning he won’t have the same Rule 5 eligibility as earlier signings from this 2019-20 international class.
Here’s recent video: