Today is the day 2015-2016 eligibility opens up for International prospects, which includes players from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Latin America, and Asia. Similar to 2013 where the Cubs blew past their budget by signing players such as Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and Jen-Ho Tseng, it appears as if they are doing the same this year. Here's an update on who the Cubs have signed through the first day, which includes 5 of the top 30 players on MLB.com's top 30. As a quick reminder, most trainers will list their infield trainees as shortstops even though there is no chance they'll play there in professional baseball in a chance to improve their stock.
Yonathan Perlaza (SS) - The 13th and 20th ranked prospect on MLB.com and Baseball America respectively, Perlaza is expected to move over to 2B with the Cubs. He's an offensive minded prospect with explosive hands and uses the middle of the field well. He's still only 5'8", and should grow into gaps power. Some scouts believe he could have an above-average to plus hit tool, which is something the Cubs organization loves. The Cubs signed him for $1,300,000 out of Venezuela.
Yonathan Sierra Estiwal (OF) - Ranked #16 and #31 on MLB.com and Fangraphs, the 6'3" 205 pound Estiwal is often compared to Darryl Strawberry due to his lefty swing. He's tall and lanky with average power at the moment, but that should increase as he grows older and gets stronger. From Jesse Sanches "Estiwal has a graceful swing, and scouts like his ability to barrel balls up. Evaluators discuss his improving hit tool when talking about Estiwal's future. Overall, Estiwal has been praised for his ability to hit in games and hit the ball to all fields. He has also shown some power in games and the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Scouts describe Estiwal as an average runner and say his arm might be a tick above average." The Cubs signed him for $2,500,000 out of the Dominican Republic.
Aramis Ademan (SS) - The #12 and #19 ranked player for BA and MLB.com, Ademan has been called a gamer by many sources. At the plate, he has a simple, contact oriented approach and peppers the whole field with a line-drive approach. He has little power and isn't the fastest player either, however, he may be able to stick at short. Here's what Ben Badler of BA had to say on him at shortstop, "his feet are quick, his hands are soft and his actions are smooth. His solid arm strength plays up due to his quick release, though sometimes he tries to do too much in the field, but that should settle down with experience." Signed for $2,000,000 out of the Dominican Republic.
Miguel Amaya (C) - Widely regarded as the best defensive catching prospect, the Panamanian was ranked #22 and #25 on BA and MLB.com. He has the potential for a plus arm and plus defense behind the plate, though his bat is lacking. Ben Badler on Amaya at the plate, "Amaya has a good setup, stays balanced and his loose, compact swing is direct to the ball. The bat speed is just fair, and he’s mostly a singles and gap-to-gap hitter right now, but he projects to be strong, with a chance for 45-50 future power." Signed for $1,250,000 out of Panama.
Christopher Martinez (3B) - #28 according to Jesse Sanchez, Martinez has the arm and glove to stick at third as he matures into his body. At the plate "he has the frame and athleticism that evaluators like to see in young players. What's more, he has shown the ability to spray the ball all over the field while also displaying patience and plate discipline at the plate in games." (Jesse Sanchez) Signed for $1,000,000 out of the Dominican Republic.
A big thanks to Fangraphs, Baseball America, and MLB.com for their hard work on this tough topic to cover. As is customary, most of these players will report to the Cubs Dominican complex and then head stateside in a few years from now. The Cubs had great success with their last international signing period spending spree, and it seems like they went with quantity over quality this year, as they're projected to sign 12 of the top 48 prospects on Kiley McDaniel's big board. Keep these names in the back of your head as they begin to pop up in the AZL in a few years. Also, because the Cubs are going to go over their pool limit this year, it prevents them from signing any prospects the next two years for more than $300,000. Pay attention the rest of the day as more signings trickle in.
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