Cubs have signed Cuban fireballer Armando Rivero

Cubs have signed Cuban fireballer Armando Rivero
Armando Rivero

Updated: 9:48 AM

The Cubs are beginning to become a presence in Cuba.

It seems that while the Gerardo Concepcion signing may not have worked out yet, it may have helped land a couple of other players.  The most prominent is Jorge Soler, but the Cubs have now appeared to have signed Concepcion's former teammate, RHP Armando Rivero.

I don't know the details but his name popped up in AZ Phil's piece on AAA and AA assignments (h/t @davidrelliot).  He's apparently in the Cubs AA camp.  Haven't been able to confirm it but it makes sense as the Cubs were pursuing him as early as last year.

UPDATE: AZ Phil was able to confirm that the Cubs have signed Rivero, though he does not know terms or date he was signed yet.

I wrote about Rivero back over a year ago and it seemed there was some interest even back then. This is what I wrote in January of 2012,

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.

I also wrote this last July,

Rivero is another power pitcher whom the Cubs have shown interest in...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.

Here is Ben Badler's report from Baseball America

Armando Rivero, rhp

Rivero and Concepcion were teammates with the Industriales in Cuba in 2010-11, but while Concepcion was a starter, Rivero worked out of the bullpen. Rivero's power played well as a reliever, as he posted a 3.06 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 47 innings in his final season in Cuba.

Rivero, 23, has a thin 6-foot-3 frame and pitches off of a plus fastball. He throws around 91-93 mph and has topped out at 96. His mechanics have some funkiness in the back with a slight hook, but some scouts say the ball comes comes out cleanly in the front from a low three-quarters arm slot. His best secondary pitch is a quality splitter with some late tumble.

Some scouts have said Rivero throws both a curveball and a slider, while others think it's two different versions of the same pitch. His breaking stuff is behind his splitter, flashing solid-average every once in a while but it's often a 45 on the 20-80 scale with more side-to-side action because his low slot makes it hard to stay on top of the ball.

Scouts don't want to limit Rivero to the bullpen just because he was used that way in Cuba, but many of them believe he best profiles as a middle reliever. Once he signs, he could start in Double-A.

Here is one more scouting report....

Simply put, Rivero is a power right handed arm that has the pieces to be a quick mover to the parent club.  He is a long and loose arm guy that looks the part from the eyeball test right away, and still has a bit of projection  He has a plusfastball with action and sits in the mid to upper 90s, topping out at 98 mph.

His two seam fastball has some late drop action that will make it an effective pitch down the road, and could become his bread and butter.  He has been used his entire career with Cuban baseball as a closer and this is his future role with any organization that signs him.

He shows some mechanical traits that make it necessary to limit the amount of pitches he throws. His arm slot and angle show promise and he can spin a nasty slider down the line, which gives him a powerful arsenal at his disposal.  Mechanically, sticking exclusively in a relief role should not pose a concern down the line as he matures.

I'll get more details if I can find them but I don't believe this was a big money signing andit did not cost a spot on the 40 man since he's on the AA roster. Keep in mind that he was not as highly regarded as Gerardo Concepcion last year.  Interest in Rivero tailed off a bit (though the reason is uncertain), but at the very least it appears the Cubs may have added another good arm.

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  • FYI...for those wondering, I did briefly have another article up and it will be up later this morning. Wanted to address this signing first.

  • Thank you for putting this article up, John. Nice to see the Cubs going for more international prospects.

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    You're welcome and agreed. They need to keep adding talent from wherever they can find it.

  • It is very encouraging that the Cubs are becoming a bigger and bigger player in latin america.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    They are definitely becoming a factor in Cuba and all of Latin America.

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    Awesome news!!!

  • John, what is the word on Concepcion? I remember he had a bout with mono but I can't recall hearing much recently.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    The last I saw him he was in instructs and he hadn't even suited up then. Was just working out some but not pitching.

  • I really love seeing the Cubs so active in Cuba. I noticed that the Cuban team in the World Baseball Classic is "Top Ranked". I can't help but think with the limitations teams now have in signing international players, this will only help give the Cubs as they try to sign the next top free agent who defects from Cuba. John, I know it is very difficult to get scouting information on Cuban players, but I would love it if you were able to give us a short list of Cuban players to watch for in the WBC with an idea of who might be the next Jorge Soler.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Meant to say "give the Cubs an advantage" above

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    It is pretty cool.

    I know of some good players in Cuba, but none that have defected yet. I can certainly write about that. Guys like Soler, who was in Cuba's minor league, will definitely be more difficult.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Didn't realize Soler was on their minor league team. No, I'd be more interested in players who are currently playing in the WBC... More of a "players to pay attention to" piece as we watch the WBC.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Ahh, I see. I can put something like that together.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would be Intrested in something like this too. Also, who are some of the top players to come from Cuba?

  • I looked at the roster for AA and AAA. I was surprised to see Pierce Johnson on AAA. Wow they must like him a lot. Maybe he will make it faster to the majors than we thought.

  • In reply to John57:

    They do and that is very interesting.

    For those wondering, that doesn't mean Johnson will be in AAA (just like it doesn't mean 40 man MLB roster guys will be in Chicago), but still interesting that he's on the AAA roster and not the AA.

  • In reply to John57:

    I wouldn't read too much into that.

    They do like him, and he is expected to move quickly through the minors.... but he's likely to start in A ball.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed, HD. This happens every year. Players are placed in the AAA "group" (it isn't really a roster at this point) at the beginning of camp. As players are "cut" from the major league camp, they are placed at a certain level. For most of them, they will go to workout with the AAA guys at which point players from AAA will be bumped down to AA, and AA guys will be bumped down to High-A and so on.

    For instance, Gerardo Concepcion is currently with the AA group. The likelihood of him starting this season in Tennessee is almost nil. Besides getting bumped down the line by guys sent down from major league camp, a player's performance can also get them "demoted" without a corresponding move. Concepcion may have the stuff and potential to play at a AA level, but if/when he shows he's not ready, he will be sent to workout with a different group.

    Don't pay attention to what level they are at now. There will be a lot of movement as ST continues. However, the longer a player stays at the same level can be read into a little bit. If Pierce Johnson is one of the last arms to be moved down a peg when guys like Cory Wade, etc. are sent to minor league camp, that can be read into a bit.

  • In reply to John57:

    Pierce is an older guy than most of the pitchers taken last year. He is 21-22 from college. So while he had pitched a 99 and 2/3 ip before he even got to the Cubs last year. He only threw 11 ip for the Cubs, last year.

    I expect Pierce to get really close to AA this year, maybe even AAA as a Best case approach.

  • Also, how do the cap rules work with Rivero? Will he count against their salary cap for 2013? I thought I remember seeing once that after international players reach a certain age they can be signed like any other free agent and are not subject to the salary cap each team has been slotted.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    He was 23 as of last year and any international player 23 or over doesn't count against the cap.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Even better!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So last summer wasn't really the last we will see of big international signings?

  • Nice work John. One more block from which to build our "waves".

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks. Just keep those waves coming!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, didn't know where to put this, but the more I here about Garza the lower his stock gets. Is it getting close to the point where we might just want the compensation pick? They are getting increasingly more valuable, no?

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    I think you hope to get more than that draft pick but we'll see how the year goes. Maybe they have no choice. The catch here is that if his stock is so low that the Cubs can't trade him, then he may just take that qualifying offer and try to rebuild his value.

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    Not nearly as big a deal as Pierce Johnson, but that list also has Kyle Hendricks double jumping to the AAA team for spring training.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hendricks is more understandable to me as he should be in AA and he's been around longer. Really interested in how he does in Tennessee this year-- am actually finishing up that article for late tonight/early tomorrow.

  • You'd never know it from out spring ball box scores, but we're quietly building a dominant future bullpen. I'd still like to see more lefties in the relief prospect ranks, though. When it comes to righties with killer stuff, though, we're busting at the seams.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I'm impressed with the walk numbers out of the pen.

  • This is great news. Theo is getting Cubans faster than Kramer used to.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Ha!

  • So how old is Rivero? I keep reading that he's older than Concepcion but no one quotes an age.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Mentioned in original article that he was 23. Since that was just over a year ago, he should be 24 now.

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    Phil Rogers just confirmed it: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-chicago-cubs-cuban-pitching-prospect-20130307,0,5177078.story

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    John a month or two ago you wrote about a couple of Cubans who were trying to sign with big league clubs. I was wondering if there was any word about how the negations were going, especially the SS/3b.

  • In reply to Kevin:

    The gist is that there's an age issue with Diaz, the more promising of the two. Not much news on the other guy, who doesn't sound like much of a prospect. You can read the latest here:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2013/02/no-action-yet-from-mlb-on-aledmys-diaz/

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2013/01/mlb-investigating-age-questions-on-aledmys-diaz/

  • In reply to Kevin:

    I know that the Cubs were scouting the SS/3B, whose name is Aldemys Diaz. There were about 10 teams in on him though.

  • I guess my earlier post was blocked because I included links.

    The gist is Aledmys Diaz, the better of the two prospects, has run into issues with his age. He appears to be presenting himself as OLDER than he is to get around the new CBA limits on IFAs. The second guy seems like more of a 2nd or 3rd tier prospect, so there's not much news or excitement surrounding him.

  • In reply to CubsML:

    Links get blocked at times -- not always, not sure what the criteria is. I do remember that now. Teams are thinking now that he wasn't 23 yet. That's a switch.

  • Where are these AA and AAA rosters at?

  • In reply to T dizzle:

    click on the first link in the article on AZ Phil

  • I guess I should be scouting the Cuban team here, for future defectors! 2nd round of WBC underway here in Tokyo tonight. Japan, Cuba, Taiwan & the Netherlands.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Yes, let us know what you think!

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