Pirates Notebook: A strong favorite for Heredia
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With the draft deadline out of the way, the Pirates now will turn full attention to landing another elite amateur pitcher, Mexican 16-year-old right-hander Luis Heredia.
And signs are mounting that they will finish the deal.
No formal offers can be entertained by the Veracruz team that owns Heredia's rights until Thursday, as per a declaration by the Mexican Baseball League last week, and several teams continue to show interest: The Pirates, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves all scouted Heredia pitching in a tournament for players age 15-16 last week in Mazatlan, Mexico.
But, among the signs that the Pirates are the strong favorite:
• They have been scouting Heredia more aggressively than any team, dating to when he was 13, and have overseen almost all of his baseball-related activity in the past eight months. The latter is highly common in the international market.
• Jesus Valdez, the Pirates' Mexican scouting supervisor, has known Heredia since he was 5 and has become like a father figure in Heredia's life, according to those closest to the situation. Largely because of this, again according to those closest and the player himself, Heredia wants to sign with the Pirates.
• Veracruz, which bought Heredia's rights Jan. 1, has the final say. But the Pirates also have close ties to Veracruz, including a two-decade professional relationship between Rene Gayo, the Pirates' Latin American scouting director, and Veracruz's owner, Jose Mansur. In Mexico, a professional team selling a player's rights keeps 75 percent of the bonus, with the other 25 percent going to the player.
• The Pirates are prepared to make a competitive offer. The draft only applies to the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and all other international players become free agents at age 16. Several reports in recent months have pegged Heredia's bonus value in the $2 million-$2.8 million range.
The Pirates are declining comment on Heredia, other than to acknowledge continuing interest.
• Shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who missed a fifth consecutive game to a left shoulder impingement, could have a decision made today as to whether or not he will go on the disabled list, manager John Russell said. Cedeno had a cortisone shot administered Monday in hopes that he could begin swinging a bat today, but that sounded far from certain. "I hope so," Cedeno said. "I feel a lot better."
• If Cedeno were to go to the DL, the likely recall from Class AAA Indianapolis would be recently acquired Pedro Ciriaco, who has hit surprisingly well -- .298 with six extra-base hits in his first 13 games -- for a glove-first player.
• There was no health reason for reliever Joel Hanrahan to have been limited to one appearance on the just-completed 0-6 trip, Russell and Hanrahan confirmed. "There just wasn't a game situation," Russell said. Hanrahan pitched a scoreless ninth inning Monday despite two opening singles.
• Reliever Jose Ascanio's rehabilitation from shoulder surgery was interrupted by a bruised right hand from a home accident. He will be examined this week in Pittsburgh by the team's hand specialist, Dr. Mark Baratz, before a further determination, general manager Neal Huntington said. Ascanio had made two appearances for Class A Bradenton.
First Published August 17, 2010 12:00 am