As expected the Cubs signed 16 year old SS Gleyber Torres for $1.7M. Torres was the consensus #2 prospect in the international pool with some scouts ranking him as the best overall player. BAs Ben Badler had him ranked 2nd while MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo had him ranked 3rd.
I wrote this about him back in March,
One scout described him as a toolsy player with the ability to defend with an above average arm, hit for average, steal bases, and hit around 15-20 HRs per year. For a 16 year old, he doesn't offer a ton of projection but the Cubs like his polished baseball skills. They like him enough, in fact, to invest over $2M to sign him. Because they have the 2nd highest pool allotment, it will be difficult for any team except for Houston to outbid them.
And then this in May,
The scouts who like Torres, and we obviously have to assume the Cubs scouts are among them, feel he can stick at SS. Torres is 5'11", 185 lbs. and doesn't have the frame to get much larger. This is not a guy who is about pure projection, Torres already has advanced baseball skills for his age. He has a strong arm and is good hitter with some power potential.
It's a signing that would be consistent with the Cubs recent philosophy of going after athletic ballplayers in the middle of the field -- but ones with advanced skills and a high floor.
Some scouts have compared his hitting ability to Freddy Sanchez, but Torres' ability to possibly stick at SS would make that kind of offense a big asset at that position.
The Cubs also signed Dominican RHP Jefferson Mejia, 18, who can start playing immediately because his contract is for the 2013 season.
Here is Ben Badler's report,
Mejia was 6-foot-7, 190 pounds last year and was sitting in the high-80s fastball at the time, but now he’s listed at 220 pounds (although that might be a light estimate) and his fastball has jumped along with the increase in weight. While he was ineligible to sign, Mejia pitched at the Rays’ Dominican academy in January in the International Prospect League all-star game, where he showed a 90-93 mph fastball, a swing-and-miss changeup along with a solid curveball in the mid-70s. His athleticism also improved along with his strength, which helped him get in better sync with his delivery.
Unlike other July 2 signings, who sign contracts for the the 2014 season, Mejia can begin playing immediately. However, given the problems he had with his MLB investigation last year, there’s no way to guarantee he will be approved in time to pitch this season.
The Cubs pool total is $4,557,200 and they've spent 2.55M of that, so they still have $2M left to spend, though they could add money in a trade if they haven't done so already. They are still pursuing consensus top prospect Dominican OF Eloy Jimenez and hard-throwing Colombian RHP Erling Moreno. Moreno is currently at 87-90 mph. He has a big frame and projects to be a power pitcher as he fills out and gains strength. He pitches with good downward plane and has the makings of a good breaking ball and change with most scouts preferring the change right now.
I wrote this earlier on Jimenez...
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.”
For what it's worth, Ben Badler does not believe Eloy Jimenez will sign today. That could still mean that there is an agreement in place but that the Cubs need to acquire more pool money.
Filed under: International players