Pirates among teams after elite Mexican prospect
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The Pirates are one of several teams pursuing elite Mexican pitching prospect Luis Heredia, according to a source in that country.
Heredia, 15, is a 6-foot-4 right-hander who has been described in several publications as having four "plus" pitches, in the scouting vernacular, meaning the potential for all of those -- fastball, changeup, slider and curveball -- to above-average at the Major League Baseball level.
MLB's first day for teams to sign international free agents at age 16 is July 2. Heredia's birthday, according to a March article in the New York Daily News, is within 45 days of that date and, thus, he qualifies for this class.
Other teams pursuing Heredia, according to the source, are the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.
Although those teams outspend the Pirates at the major-league level -- all teams are doing that this year -- the Pirates have, in three years under team president Frank Coonelly, nearly tripled their international budget to more than $3 million. Moreover, their broader budget has been flexible enough to allot for a special player or two who does not fit into the international budget. That was the case last summer when they made an aggressive, albeit unsuccessful, pursuit of Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano, who would sign with Minnesota for $3.15 million.
It is not known how much of a bonus Heredia might command, as he is an unusual position of already having his rights owned by the Mexican professional team Veracruz. That means any major-league team's dealings must come with Veracruz as much as with the player. Still, that could require more than $2 million, according to the source, maybe more.
Last week, general manager Neal Huntington affirmed to the Post-Gazette that the Pirates have the capability to do again this year if there is a player their scouts like. He declined to answer when asked if there was any such player this year.
A Mexican newspaper last month had a report out of Cancun that Jesus Valdez, the Pirates' only full-time scout in Mexico, attended one of Heredia's games there. One of the team's four part-time scouts also was linked to Heredia.
First Published June 2, 2010 12:00 am