The Pirates have signed former Braves prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, as John Dreker and Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com recently reported (subscription link). The well-regarded young shortstop, a recent international signee from Korea, will earn a bonus worth around $1.25MM.
The addition of Bae means the Pirates have spent roughly $5.25MM of their available $5.75MM pool space for the 2017-18 signing period, MLB.com’s Adam Berry notes. He received the second-largest bonus the organization has ever given to a prospect, trailing only right-hander Luis Heredia, whom the Bucs handed $2.6MM back in 2010. Heredia is now a free agent.
The 18-year-old Bae had been property of the Braves from this past September until November, when Major League Baseball took him and 11 other prospects from the Atlanta organization because of international signing violations. Thanks in part to those transgressions, MLB hit ex-Braves general manager John Coppolella with a lifetime ban.
Bae joined the Braves for $300K, but they reportedly had an under-the-table agreement to pay him an extra $600K. After Atlanta signed Bae, special assistant Chad MacDonald offered high praise for the lefty-swinger.
“He’s very athletic. He stays at shortstop, he’s going to be a solid to plus defender there. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. There’s more power in the bat,” said MacDonald. “If everything clicks, we have a left-handed version of Trea Turner, who I signed in San Diego. Again, maybe not that much power, but certainly the impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter.”