The 2021 international signing period started back on January 15th and the Pittsburgh Pirates spent nearly their entire bonus pool on that day. Usually that wouldn’t be a big deal, but not only is the pool a hard cap now, MLB got rid of the ability to trade for more bonus pool space, which really helped out the Pirates 2019-20 signing period, allowing them to spend over $9 M total. This year they were locked in at $5,899,600 and their top signing, Shalin Polanco, received a $2.3 M bonus. They still added 19 other players, including a group of four players on January 15th who just became official recently due to earlier travel restrictions.
Outfielder Gustavo Armas and right-handed pitchers Andres Silvera, Jonathan Salazar and Greiber Mendez all had to wait to get to the Pirates Dominican Academy before taking their physicals and finalizing the deals that they signed just over three months earlier. Silvera is from Panama, while the other three are from Venezuela. I was able to get their scouting info, along with adding their bio info to our 2021 signing tracker.
Armas is a high potential bat, with a large frame and the ability to be a difference maker at the plate. The 17-year-old is 6’2″, 175, throws/hits right-handed. He has a loud bat, an aggressive approach at the plate that leads to plenty of hard contact and the ability to use the whole field. He has a good understanding of the strike zone as well. As he gets older, the contact ability should lead to power numbers. He’s praised for great baseball instincts and great athleticism, which helps him on the bases and in the field. His defense is above average and he has a strong arm. He’s an average runner.
Salazar has big potential on the mound, with a large 6’3″, 180 pound frame that has current tools and lots of projection. He sits 89-91 now at 17 years old, with more velocity projected. His fastball is described has having life and movement. He has a mid-70s curve that he can throw in any count, with late/hard biting action. His changeup shows decent separation, but it’s currently his third pitch and needs more usage. His delivery is clean and easy. There’s potential here for two plus pitches.
Silvera has a projectable frame, standing in at 6’0″, 188 pounds at 16 years old (turns 17 in July, so if the signing period date didn’t change, they would have had to wait 18 days to sign him). He already has a nice mix of three pitches, throwing a fastball, curve and changeup with control and solid mechanics/clean delivery and a strong lower half. He currently tops out at 85 MPH, but there is enough projection in his frame/age/arm action that he could add 10+ MPH to his average. The fastball has movement and command. He has good feel for a low-70s curve that has nice spin. His changeup is advanced for his age and shows decent separation from his fastball. It’s currently his best pitch.
Mendez is 6’0″, but he’s just 150 pounds, so there’s a lot of projection after he starts filling out his frame. He currently has a great feel for all of his pitches, throwing a fastball, curve and a changeup. The fastball tops out at 87 MPH now, but there is believed to be a lot more in the tank. His curve is currently 68-72 MPH, while the changeup is 77-79 MPH. He has a clean delivery and good arm extension, described as having long arms. The first two pitchers here project as starters, while Mendez will need to grow a bit into that role if it’s in his future.
You can find full scouting reports on the 15 players from day one of the signing period in the signing tracker link above. There’s also a report on Alessandro Ercolani, the only signing since January 15th. This signing class includes ten right-handed pitchers, six outfielders, three shortstops and one catcher.