Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is unsurprisingly pleased to have 20-year-old Cuban lefty Gerardo Concepcion officially in the fold. Depending on your ranking service preference, Concepcion ranges from a top 20 prospect in the Cubs’ system, up to a top 10 guy. Getting to add a kid of that caliber in the Spring without having to trade anything away is a rare and impactful opportunity.
The Cubs rightly jumped on it.
“One of our focuses has been on continuing to bring in pitching depth. He’s a 20-year-old left-hander, a really good feel for pitching, a three-pitch mix,” Hoyer said of Concepcion. “He’s had success at a young age in Cuba and a guy we’re excited to bring over here and work with.”
“He’s the kind of guy we want to keep adding to our system,” he added.
Hoyer wasn’t ready to commit to where Concepcion would play in 2012, noting that there’s an adjustment process for Cuban players coming to the States.
“He had success early on there [in Cuba], and he’s advanced when it comes to a feel for pitching,” Hoyer said. “I don’t want to put any expectations on him. Let’s get him to the Minor Leagues, let him perform, and we’ll figure that part out. With any Cuban guy, there is an assimilation process, both socially and baseball-wise. We don’t want to put undue expectations on a guy who does need to assimilate to our culture.”
There’s no reason to rush Concepcion, whom the Cubs will control for six years of Major League service time (don’t let the “five-year Major League contract” fool you – that’s just about getting him more money and a 40-man roster spot (Jeff Samardzija also received a five-year Major League contract)). While he’s highly polished, the Cubs can still afford to let him get acclimated in the low minors for a year before testing him at the higher levels in 2013, when he’ll still be just 21.
Hoyer is also probably happy that the contract is relatively favorable to the Cubs – originally reported as $7 million, the Cubs will pay just a $3 million signing bonus, and then $3 million spread over five years. Given the impending limitations on international signings imposed by the new CBA, it’s simply a great move for the Cubs.