Cubs are heavily scouting Cuban players

Up to now we've heard mostly about Yoenis Cespedes along with Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion, but the Cubs have not limited their scouting to just those players.  There are a lot of good players in Cuba and the Cubs have already signed a couple in OF Yasiel Baguert and RHP Carlos Martinez.  They also have quite a few players in their system, such as 2B-OF Rubi Silva, C Yaniel Cabezas, LHP Frank Del Valle, and RHPs Juan Yasser Serrano and Yoanner Negrin.  The Cubs aren't exactly a johnny-come-lately when it comes to Cuba, but they really haven't signed an impact guy yet.

I've been told that while the Cubs are in heavy on Cespedes, Soler, and Concepcion, they have their eyes set on a few other Cuban players as well.  Ben Badler of Baseball America has some scouting information on some of those players and you can get much more detail by clicking on that link.  It's for subscribers only but here is a brief summary of each.  I will include Soler and Concepcion because scouting info on them has been limited until now.

Jorge Soler, 20, OF 

Although he will take a few years longer than Cespedes, Soler has also been called one of the best Cuban players to come out in years and has the ability to be an above average RF'er in the majors.  He played for the World Junior Championship in 2010 where he hit .304/.500/.522.  He had 9 walks, the second most in the tournament.

He's thickly built with power being his best tool.  He shows excellent bat speed and is a good athlete overall.  One report had him at 6.5 in 60 seconds but scouts don't see him as much more than an average runner.

Gerardo Concepcion, 18, LHP

Some scouts see him as a 5th starter because he simply doesn't miss many bats, but others see some projection left in the 18 year old's 6'2 wiry frame.  He peaks in the low 90s right now, has a curveball which gets mixed reviews,and a change-up in progress.  His mechanics also divide scouts.  He throws across the body which some say give him deception, while others think it prevents him from being more consistent with his breaking stuff.  In short, it seems like there's a wide range of opinion.  A team who sees some projection left will sign him and I understand the Cubs are among these teams.

Armando Rivero, 23, RHP

Rivero was a teammate of Concepcion's and is very much the opposite type of pitcher.  He's older, he's a power guy (96 mph), and he projects as a reliever.  Some think he has a chance to start because he does have 3 pitches, but his quickest road is through the bullpen. He could start at AA.

Henry Urrutia, 24, OF

6'3, 180 lbs, Urrutia projects as a corner outfielder but lacks the power to be a regular.  His ability to hit line drives from both sides of the plate and above average athleticism could make him an ideal 4th outfielder.  He should start in AA.

Omar Luis, 19, LHP

A small, stocky left-hander (5'11", 21o lbs) with velocity similar to Concepcion's but has fringy stuff overall.   He doesn't project as well because of his stocky build but he does make the best of his stuff, causing scouts to label him with the "pitchability" label -- something Tim Wilken is known to value. He'd most likely start out in Class A.

Adonis Garcia, OF 

Despite his first name, Garcia is just 5'7" and he's already 26 years old.  He's a good hitter for his size with some pop but not enough to play a corner OF spot, his position in Cuba.  There were some issues as well as he is banned from signing until about February because of fraudulent residency paperwork. Just a hunch, but I wouldn't bet on the Cubs being in on Garcia.

The Cubs are undoubtedly in on the top names here but I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign a couple of other players to add depth.  It will also help them to have more Cuban players in the system in order to attract some of the bigger stars down the road.  As I've noted before, the Cubs did sign CF'er Balaguert earlier this offseason and I have to think the fact that he played next to Soler in the OF is no coincidence.




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  • Because of the new CBA the Cubs have to invest more in
    international (Cuban) players which is great. Since we
    already have some Cuban players in our system hopefully
    this will give the Cubs an advantage

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think it's important to establish a presence there to offset Miami's geography and the fact that the White Sox have had some MLB success with Cuban players. Cubs are behind in some senses but they're starting to make up some ground. They lack that big name, though.

  • I'm still all for signing Cespedes after watching his 20 minute youtube video I am highly impressed. The guy eats and breathes baseball, has a tremendous work ethic and some serious explosion off his bat. Soler I just don't have enough info on to base an opinion and all we have ever see from him is 1 photograph. I'm sure Theo and Jed had a chance to see him play but getting info from those guys would take some serious Mafia persuasion.

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Cubs are going to be big players on both Cespedes and Soler but Cespedes is likely first on that list -- if nothing else because he's the best player available (as far as I know Soler is still not a FA).

    I like the things I've heard about Cespedes. Looks like he takes the game very seriously.

  • I love the fact that the Cubs are so heavily invested in Cuba, this WILL pay off now and in the future. If you really want to see ahead, when and if the Castro regime ends and Cuba and the US slowly begin to thaw in relations, the Cuban baseball market will open up. The Cubs will be right there at the head of the line, with then already pursuing Cuban players aggressively.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Totally agree. Even if you miss on them, you establish a presence there -- which makes your point all that much more important about the Cuban market opening up one day.

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