However the Pirates' talks with top draft pick Pedro Alvarez turn out, it is increasingly unlikely that a major league contract will be in the equation.
It remains possible, but unlikely.
The reason: Drafted players can have their contracts fully rescinded if a physical taken after the signing discovers a major issue, but only if those are minor league contracts. The same is not true of major league contracts.
With Major League Baseball's signing deadline at midnight tomorrow, some progress probably would have been needed toward a major league contract by yesterday to afford the time to arrange and perform the physical. But no major league contract was known to have been offered, as of yesterday afternoon.
INDIANAPOLIS (59-67) beat Columbus, 1-0. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (3-3, 3.60) pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed four hits. He struck out three, walked one and threw 65 of 100 pitches for strikes. LHP Juan Perez (2.93) pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. . 3B Neil Walker (.236) went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly. LF Nyjer Morgan (.294) and SS Brian Bixler (.284) each went 2 for 4. CF Andrew McCutchen (.276) went 1 for 4.
ALTOONA (55-70) lost at Portland, 5-3. RHP Derek Hankins (1-9, 4.89) allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings. CF Jose Tabata (.257) went 4 for 4 with a double, RBI and steal.
LYNCHBURG (48-73) was rained out at Kinston.
HICKORY (45-77) lost to Greensboro, 17-11. RHP Rafael De Los Santos (2-9, 6.12) allowed seven runs and three hits in four innings. RF Keanon Simon (.218) went 3 for 5 with an RBI and a steal.
STATE COLLEGE (11-41) lost to Staten Island, 13-10. RHP Ramon Aguero (1-8, 6.88) allowed four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. SS Chase D'Arnaud (.208) went 2 for 5 with a double.
BRADENTON (29-15) beat the Twins, 4-1. RHP Gabriel Alvarado (4-1, 2.70) pitched four scoreless innings and allowed one hit. RF Edward Garcia (.235) went 2 for 2 with two walks and an RBI.
It is not expected that the Pirates will rule out anything in advance of the deadline, but they have made clear their preference for a minor league contract, which would keep them from having to use a 40-man roster spot or options for the first three years or so of Alvarez's professional career.
In general, not much is believed to have changed over the past week or two in Pirates general manager Neal Huntington's ongoing talks with Alvarez's agent, Scott Boras. And, with 10 first-round picks still unsigned -- including Alvarez at No. 2 and the three right after him -- there is a mounting feeling across baseball that some agents have decided to push matters right to the deadline, even if they are fine with offers already on the table.
Probably not when Boras is representing half of the 10 unsigned.
Still, there is a palpable optimism on the Pirates' end that Alvarez will sign. No financial terms have leaked from an airtight process, but the team's offer almost surely dwarfs MLB's slot recommendation of $3.5 million and likely challenges or exceeds the $6.15 million that No. 1 pick Tim Beckham received from the Tampa Bay Rays, especially when weighing that Beckham's deal is heavily backloaded.
The Pirates yesterday agreed to terms with Justin Wilson, their fifth-round pick and the winning pitcher in the recent College World Series for Fresno State University.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3 left-hander who will turn 21 Monday, was 9-5 with a 4.14 ERA, 108 strikeouts and 65 walks in 19 starts for the NCAA champions. In the clinching victory June 25 against Georgia, he allowed one run over eight innings and struck out nine.
"It's been an awesome few months, kind of like a rollercoaster, really," Wilson said just before watching the game from a field-level seat. "Coming from Fresno and everything that happened there to signing now with the Pirates ... just awesome. I'm really excited."
And might having pitched on such a grand stage in college help him?
"Yeah, I think it will. You try not to think about how many people are watching, though. You just go out there and play baseball."
No dollar figure was immediately available, but the bonus is believed to have been higher than the $197,000 slot recommendation.
Wilson will report to Bradenton, Fla., for workouts, but is not expected to pitch in what little remains of the minor league season.
The Pirates have signed 29 of 50 picks, including 11 of the top 16.
Shortstop Jack Wilson was told he could not throw yesterday, after the medical staff checked him and determined he should rest his right shoulder, which has tendinitis. But the Pirates do not see him going to the 15-day disabled list and, in fact, are not ruling out he could return as soon as tonight.
Wilson has not appeared in a game since Friday in Philadelphia, when he pinch-hit.
• Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was back in the lineup after missing two games to lingering inflammation in the right rotator cuff.
• Ross Ohlendorf made another case for a promotion with eight shutout innings yesterday in Indianapolis' 1-0 victory against visiting Columbus, allowing four hits. "I worked my changeup a little more and I was really happy with how I threw it," he said afterward. "It's a pitch I need to throw more." In four starts since the trade, Ohlendorf is 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA.
• Also in that game, outfielder Nyjer Morgan continued his fine play of late with two hits and an exceptional full-sprint catch. His 20-for-45 surge over the past 12 games has his average up to .294.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org