There are a couple of interesting articles out today on two Cubs targets, one one Dominican OF Eloy Jimenez by Baseball America's Ben Badler and another on Cuban RHP Miguel Gonzalez by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
Sanchez describes Gonzalez here,
The hard-throwing right-hander has a fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup, fork and a curveball. He made a splash on the international scene at the 2010 University Baseball Championships in Tokyo, and also shined at the Baseball World Cup in '09 and '11. He was suspended from Cuba's national team for most of the past two seasons for trying to leave the island.
Because he is 26, he does not fall under the new CBA restrictions and there are no limitations as to how much the Cubs, or any other team, can spend to sign him. We saw the Dodgers break the bank for Yasiel Puig at 7 years, $42M while the Cubs spent $27M over 9 years to nab talented outfielder Jorge Soler. The age also means he's likely close to being MLB ready.
Here is Gonzalez (#75 and at beginning of video, h/t CubsML) mowing down some Team USA hitters:
Both the Cubs and Dodgers are in on Gonzalez, as are the Red Sox, Rangers, and three other unnamed teams.
Some scouts feel he is a better player than Elier Hernandez, who received $3M from the Kansas City Royals. This year, Jimenez is widely expected to get the largest signing bonus in this year's class and Badler said the Cubs are in "heavy pursuit". Earlier he had described them as "heavy favorites". Scouts compared Jimenez with the Royals' Hernandez. Here is one of those comparisons,
“He’s a lanky, long-armed hitter,” said a third international director. “He’s very similar to Elier Hernandez. They’re calm in the box during BP—(Nina) teaches them well—so they’re pretty efficient, pretty simple. They don’t have a lot going on before the swing and they’re not wild hackers, so that’s all good. But it’s all about games, tools turning into skills and how they perform in the game.”
In general, Jimenez is described as a hitter than needs some polish, but all the tools are there for him to hit. As one scout said, it's a natural skills, you either have it or you don't. Jimenez appears to have it, but it hasn't always shown up in games.
What Jimenez has is good size, excellent hand-eye coordination, good swing plane, bat speed, and the ability to barrel up baseballs consistently. He hasn't shown power yet because he needs to gain strength and perhaps add a little lift to his swing, but he can drive the ball into the gaps right now.
Apart from his bat, Jimenez is said to have above average speed, good instincts, and a strong arm, which should help him become a good outfielder. Off the field, he is described as a good, intelligent kid with a strong upbringing and good work ethic.
Of course, he is still 16 -- though he's already 6'4", 200 lbs., so there is a lot of work to be done. The younger age also means he will be subject to the new CBA rules, so the Cubs will have to work within their signing pool, which is the 2nd highest in baseball. The Astros, of course, are first.
The Cubs are also interested in SS Gleyber Torres, and most think the Cubs will sign him. Torres already has advanced baseball skills for his age. He has a strong arm and is good hitter with some power potential.
Sounds like some exciting talent. Now let's go get 'em.