3 Exciting International Prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates Are Expected to Sign

The Eagle-Tribune

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The International free agency signing period begins today, despite the MLB owners and the MLBPA still being at odds.  As the lockout continues, it is nice to have something baseball to talk about.  Even though the season feels especially far away, with calls for several feet of snow tomorrow, let’s talk about our favorite summer sport.

The Pirates are the front runners for three international prospects that I am, and most fans following the process, are really excited about.  One in particular, Tony Blanco, is newly favored to go to the Pirates after it being widely expected that the Tampa Bay Rays were the front runners.  Blanco is a 6’ 5”, 230 lbs outfielder at just 16 years of age.  Blanco possesses loads of potential and has one of the highest ceilings in this international class.

Blanco is ranked 11th in the 2021 international prospect pool.  Scouts have him as having 40-plus homerun potential with great bat speed and an impressive amount of raw power for his age.  He also moves well in the outfield where he would be expected to fill a corner outfielder’s role.  As the universal DH looms in the background, it is an especially important time to stockpile power.

Another prospect the Pirates are the frontrunners to sign is Yordany De Los Santos.  De Los Santos is ranked just behind Blanco in this year’s class at No. 12.  He is one of those rare middle infielders who is projected to bat in the middle of a lineup.  He barrels balls and has great raw power, especially for his 170 lb frame.  At just 16 years old, De Los Santos has plenty of time to develop even more strength and improve even further on his ability to hit the ball with high exit velocity. 

De Los Santos is currently able to handle shortstop duties, but scouts worry he may grow out of the position and lose some of his range.  Third base may be a more fitting position for him by the time we see him in Pittsburgh.  I, for one, will value corner infielders with power so bring it on.  I look forward to seeing De Los Santos put some balls into the left field rotunda in the future.

The Pirates are also favored to sign Taiwanese right-handed pitcher Chang Hung-Leng.  Liberty Sports reported that there is a $500,000 signing bonus already agreed upon for the pitcher, but the period does not open until today.  However, this would imply that the Pirates are the heavy favorites to sign the touted prospect, and at 20-years old, he is much closer to the big leagues than Blanco or De Los Santos would be.

The Pirates appear to continue their success in the international signing window after signing #11 prospect Shalin Polanco, an outfielder, during last year's period.  With the current financial structure of the MLB, which many hope will change in the current negotiations, these are the types of moves the Pirates have to pull off in order to compete.