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Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler aren’t the only Cuban defectors the Chicago Cubs are hoping to land this Winter.

Top Cuban pitching prospect Gerardo Concepcion has just been declared a free agent after establishing residency in Mexico this week, and the Cubs, among others, are expected to be in heavy pursuit.

Concepcion, 18, is a lefty who was the rookie of the year in Cuba’s highest league last year, which is very impressive, even considering the lessened level of competition. To contextualize: Cuba’s highest professional level is often compared to High-A ball in the States. If a 17/18 year old pitcher was the best pitcher in the Florida State League, he would easily be considered one of the best prospects in baseball.

That’s not to say that Concepcion would immediately be a top prospect in all of baseball, but it is to say that he’s a very, very good prospect.

The Cubs have been connected to Concepcion for a couple months now, and it’s hard to figure why his imminent free agency hasn’t gained the same kind of national attention as that of Cespedes and Soler. It’s possible that those two are simply better prospects/players. But it’s also possible that Cespedes got the most hype because of his age (he’s less of a “prospect” than a close-to-ready player) and YouTube videos, and Soler got tag-along hype by virtue of also being an outfielder, who is frequently described as a younger, higher-ceiling version of Cespedes.

Because there hasn’t been as much hype surrounding Concepcion, I can’t rightly tell you if he’s a prospect on par with Soler (whose signing would generate immense, deserved excitement), or if he’s a lesser type that won’t knock your socks off. I suspect he’s more of the former, but I’m waiting to hear scouts’ takes before drawing any conclusions.

For now, all we have are his 2010/2011 stats, from which it’s hard to extrapolate too much: 3.36 ERA in 21 appearances (16 starts), with a 10-3 record. Concepcion is currently working out for teams in the Dominican Republic.

If you’re looking to test your Spanish, here’s a little more on Concepcion’s defection and free agency.

Ultimately, spending big bucks on international prospects like Concepcion is as good an idea as any for the Cubs’ remaining dollars – the international spending cap under the new CBA doesn’t kick in until July. So, until then, it might make some sense to go a little nuts.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Sign ‘em all! This is the last obvious inefficiency in the market, so the hopefully Theo exploits it fully…adding this guy, plus Soler, along with the trades this offseason, would go a long way to making us actually have a farm system that produces players in the next two years.

    Go Cub(an)s!!

    • Fishin Phil

      I’m with you Bueller!  Keep stockpiling them assets.

      • Hawkeyegrad

        Because you can’t buy players/prospects from other teams but you can eat salary as part of a deal, these types of assets are really the currency to improve the team if you don’t use them internally. It is kind of like the beer line at the Cubs Convention…you have to covert your cash to tickets and your tickets to beer.

    • Dave H

      Gobble up them youngins’ before the emperor stops us in July!

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    18 yo, wow, my wallet is older than he is.

  • rich

    yes you’re rite Dave there is a conspiracy with the emperor of baseball and some of the other owners 1 possiblly in chgo. to stop teams that are willing to spend money and not be cheap but charge large ticket prices and just pocket the money instead of making the team better

  • DRock

    Brett, when you say “High A” ball, is that the same as AAA or are you referring to single A?

    • Bails17

      DRock…there are different levels of A ball…Short Season or Rookie Ball….Low A (Midwest League for instance) and High A ball like the Carolina League or the Florida State League.

    • TonyP

      single A

  • die hard

    Wrigley Field. ….home of the Chicago Cub[an]s……problem is very few Cubans or other minorities will be able to afford a ticket …. the other problem is how do the Cubs maintain security over these players to prevent Cuban secret service from kidnapping them and taking them back to Cuba?….Also, when MLB expands to Cuba, do these players become free agents to be available to new Cuban entry?…Hopefully Theo will look ahead to these and other such issues…

    • Cubbie Blues

      “problem is very few Cubans or other minorities will be able to afford a ticket” I didn’t know the tickets cost more for Cubans and other minorities. Or, are you suggesting that minorities don’t have good enough jobs to afford a ticket? Either way it sounds very racist to me.

      how do the Cubs maintain security over these players to prevent Cuban secret service from kidnapping them and taking them back to Cuba?” That would be the job of law enforcement if a kidnapping took place.

      “Also, when MLB expands to Cuba, do these players become free agents to be available to new Cuban entry?” I believe there is an embargo in place since the bay of pigs in the early 1960′s. I don’t see this being reversed anytime soon.

    • Doug

      Wow…Nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind!!

    • Doc Evans

      They defected from Cubs and became or are becoming, citiizens of other countries. That’s why other Cuban players like Alexei Ramirez don’t have the Cuban secret service after them. And as for your “MLB expanding to Cuba” point, which I believe is a pipe dream, I believe MLB would likely begin expansion in Puerto Rico before Cuba, even though both are EXTREME (caps lock for emphasis) long shots.

    • Da Cubs

      Lol! Some of the things that you say Die hard.You must be smokin some good stuff!!

    • BlueBlood

      Wow, as a minority, that is very offensive. I have a great job and while I’m not rich, can afford a ticket to baseball game. Also, I worked with a lot of CUBans in Florida that might try to rip your head off after that comment.

      • hardtop

        im not cuban, a minority, nor a miamian… yet, after that comment (and past comments), i too would like to rip die hard’s head off. i have a feeling i wouldn’t have to “try” too hard, as its clear her head is very loosely attached.

      • die hard

        Your reply is disgusting and offensive and not worthy of comment but I will try ..crying racism is an old tactic used to try to divert attention away from the facts…. Wrigley ticket prices are not affordable except for the well off…the percentage of well off among persons of white anglo saxon European background far outweighs other groups in the USA…Los Angeles and New York recognize the disparity and go out of their way to make ticket prices more affordable so not just the well off can go..The Cub org has not made a comparable effort…go to any Cub game and check out the ticket prices and check out the persons sitting in the stands…then you will see the facts and regret your claim of racism…your apology is not necesary but would be accepted

        • Cubbie Blues

          I was the first to “cry racism” and I did not try to divert attention away from anything you wrote. As you can see in my response directly below your original post I addressed your concerns. I merely let you know how offensive your statement was.

          Here is a list of ticket prices. I’m sorry I just don’t see where these prices are out of reach for anyone. $17 a seat is not exorbitant. There are also upper deck tickets for $8.

          Section Color Section Name Marquee
          (13)
          Platinum
          (9)
          Gold
          (21)
          Silver
          (27)
          Bronze
          (11)
          Budweiser Patio (Reserved Seating) Prices coming soon
          Budweiser Bleachers (General Admission) $78 $52 $38 $27 $17
          • TWC

            die hard isn’t one to let the facts get in the way of his comment section trolling.  It’s best just to pat him on the head and move on.

          • matt3

            I remember the C.J. Wilson post a couple months back and the comments about gun owners and their lack of intelligence. As a gun owner I was offended.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            The only seats in Yankees stadium I could find for less than $17 have an obstructed view.

            The Mets have not yet posted their 2012 ticket prices.

            The Angels do have some $12 seats for select games, but only on the very upper level down the foul lines. Those are the only sub $17 dollar prices I could find.

            The Dodgers, to their credit, do have a fair amount of seats for less than $10, and some of them even look like they’d be pretty decent seats.

            I don’t see any systemic evidence that teams in LA and NY have more affordable tickets. Only the Dodgers fit that description at all, and the Cubs upper deck $8 seats are very competitive with the Dodgers offer. In fact, compared to other major market teams, the Cubs actually look very reasonable in their ticket prices.

            • TWC

              Again, those are facts.  I’d recommend traffiking in emotion and befuddlement.

        • Rick Vaughn

          If it weren’t for Die Hard, nobody would hold Theo and the Cubs accountable. Preach on! Love it when he forgets his medication.

          • DocWimsey

            Actually, the funniest part is about the Cuban secret service kidnapping the players and hauling them back to Cuba. I mean, remember how the Yanks lost the WS after El Duque was kidnapped between innings?

    • TWC

      And that, folks, is how you successfully troll in blog comments.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Well that was interesting lunch time reading

    • Dean

      Ignorance must be bliss.

    • RoughRiider

      Die Hard, Have you considered changing your name to Archie ? or Mr. Bunker ?

    • Drew

      I’m pretty new to this sight…is this die hard guy for real with these questions? Surely hes kidding

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I think he’s serious. But that doesn’t mean you should take him seriously. Welcome.

        • The Other Matt

          Hey Brett, will you be offering a Die Hard T-shirt soon?

    • ferrets_bueller

      Die hard, you take stupidity to never before seen levels.

  • Timmy

    Mark my words, in about 20 years, after the Castros are gone, there will be a MLB team in Cuba.

    • EtotheR

      You know what, Timmy? Baseball might have been the way to Castro’s soft underbelly.

      Interesting point.

      • ferrets_bueller

        I know Starlin is a little pudgy, but soft underbelly?  Thats going a little too far.

        • EtotheR

          I’m very disappointed in your response. Your access to the petty cash drawer is being suspended until Tuesday.

  • Spencer

    I like the concept of signing him. Based on your last sentence, Brett, I think you and I have similar conceptions of him. Theo and co. will have to try to conceptualize the pros and cons of signing him and come to a smart decision.

  • Rob

    He looks like a young Humphrey Bogart. This alone is reason enough to sign him. Imagine him on the mound in a white blazer, winning by simply out-classing the other team.

  • ncsujuri

    I’d be down with those type of numbers even from a A ball kid who was 20-21 which he might be based on past age fiascos we have seen.

  • fearbobafett

    Let’s PUt that non prince fielder money to good use and swoop in and grab all these guys. let Soler and Concepcion come through the system together.

  • Adam

    I hope the cubs can get all 3 (soler, cespedes, and concepcion). Can you imagine the team the cubs could have in a few years? Cespedes, Jackson, soler patrolling the OF. Vitters, Castro, ?, Rizzo, soto on the infield. And concepcion and Garza anchoring the rotation.

    • DocWimsey

      Well, again, the issue of whether Cespedes has the batting eye to hit MLB pitching is up in the air. The limited scouting data that we have suggests that he’s just amazingly good at getting his bat on to pitches. You can count on one hand (Vlad, Yogi, um….) the number of guys who were able to sustain that at the MLB level: even winding up the way of Dunston or Patterson is exceptional.

      I have no idea what info exists on this for Soler, and he might be a more worthwhile investment because he’s so young that he cannot be looking for a MLB contract right away.

      Concepcion seems like a good idea. You can never have enough live arms in the system: it’s very much a case where you expect only one in several to pan out and it’s so very tough to predict who that one will be.

  • Joker

    Fausto Carmona just tweeted – Concepcion is 43.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Still makes his rookie of the year impressive.

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