After signing Cuban players RHP Carlos Martinez-Pumarino, OF Yasiel Balaguert, LHP Gerardo Concepcion and, officially this past weekend, OF Jorge Soler, the Cubs remain in the hunt for more talent. They opened the international free agency signing period by signing SS Frandy de la Rosa, though nobody expects him to stay there. His arm is fringy for SS, so the 6'1", 180 lbs figures to move across the diamond as a pro. His bat will be his ticket as he consistently squares up and makes hard contact naturally. The 16 year old switch-hitter has a chance to be a plus bat as a 2B in the majors. He projects to hit for average more than power.
Like many players the Cubs new front office seems to favor, De La Rosa has good mental makeup, combining intelligence and maturity to where some, including the Cubs, think he has natural leadership qualities.
The deal was for $700,000 so the Cubs have $2.2M left to spend on remaining free agents. Here's a look at some names to keep an eye on...
- Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP, 22, Dominican Republic: Don't quote me on his age because Paniagua has already had a couple of contracts voided, one with the Diamondbacks, when he was known as Juan Collado and actually pitched in 2009 in the DSL as a reliever, posting a 4.66 ERA. The Yankees then signed him last year for $1.1M and his contract was voided again. So what's to like about Paniagua then? Well, he throws mid 90s consistently and can touch the upper 90s. Some like his change but there are questions about his breaking stuff and feel for pitching. He won't be eligible again until July 19th.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, 23, Cuba: Rivero is another power pitcher whom the Cubs have shown interest in. Unlike Paniagua, he has 3 solid pitches. He's a thin 6'3" pitcher but can top out at 96 mph right now. He also throws a slider and/or a curve (there is some disagreement here) and a splitter. He was used as a reliever in Cuba,but some teams think he has a chance to start.
- Luis Gohara, LHP, 15, Brazil: Not every team has scouted Gohara but the Cubs are one of them. He's not eligible until he turns 16 on July 31st, but some scouts think he's the best pitcher in this class. The Mariners, however, may have the inside track here.
Other top available players:
- Jose Castillo, LHP, 16, Venezuela: A big kid at 6'4" who has a live arm with an efficient, low effort delivery.
- Wendell Rijo, SS, 16, Venezuela: An instinctual player with a good bat, I thought he seemed the type the Cubs may have been interested, but they have already signed a similar player in De La Rosa and there are some heavy hitters after Rijo (Texas, Yankees).
Filed under: International players