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July 2 is a date you’ve been hearing for months with respect to a variety of Cuban prospects, including Jorge Soler. Now that Soler is officially in the fold, you may have allowed yourself to forget why July 2 was a notable date. Let me remind you: today marks the start of this year’s international free agent signing period (oversimplified explanation: the date on which you can finally sign 16-year-old prospects). It was notable this year, in particular, because the rules for this year’s period are going to be different than in years past, thanks to the new CBA. In short, teams are limited to $2.9 million in international bonuses this year, lest they incur penalties that include an inability to sign as many prospects as you’d like.

The Cubs kicked off this year’s period by signing 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Frandy De La Rosa. A 6’1″, 180 pound switch hitter, De La Rosa was ranked as Baseball America’s 19th best international prospect this year, and MLB.com had him at number 10, while John Sickels had him number 2. Sickels described De La Rosa as having “enormous potential if he can stick at shortstop.” Baseball America calls his swing “smooth.” Let’s be real: there’s only so much you can say about a 16-year-old prospect.

The Cubs gave De La Rosa a $700K bonus, which is substantial, given the spending limitation. To appropriately calibrate your excitement, in the free-spending days of the past, De La Rosa probably would have received closer to $1 million, which would have made him one of the Cubs’ top five international signings (based on dollars) in the past five years. Heck, had he been allowed to sign before July 2, he probably could’ve received many millions. That is all to say: don’t let the $700K make you think he’s not a solid prospect. He is.

But, here’s the caveat: he’s 16. So many things can happen in the next six(!) years of development that we may never hear from him again. Quick: how are last year’s big signings Mark Malave and Enrique Acosta doing?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be excited about the signing, of course. It’s just about keeping that excitement in a reasonable range. Here’s hoping the Cubs make a few more of these signings in the coming days.

  • nkniacc13

    its a good solid signing given where he has been ranked

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Quick: how are last year’s big signings Mark Malave and Enrique Acosta doing?

    Thanks for asking!

    Malave has been playing regularly at third, but his bat is not shaping up yet (OPS .623).  Acosta (listed under Luis now, not Enrique) has been getting plenty of starts at shortstop, but only has an OPS of .686.

  • Webb

    How many players are typically signed per team. More specifically how many players has Theo historically invested in?

    • nkniacc13

      this year will be different than any other because of the cap limit they are able to spend

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Exactly.  Theo has always invested in IFAs (as have the Cubs), but this year is a whole new animal.  Theoretically every team will be investing up to the full $2.9 million (plus exceptions) this year.

        • Cubbie Blues

          White Sox caveat.

          • nkniacc13

            yeah the White Sox were one of the teams wanting the international signing limit I believe

            • Cubs fan 4748475

              The white sox owner Jerry Reins is cheap when it comes to the draft and international free agents

              • DocPeterWimsey

                That sentence went on 10 words longer than necessary….  ;-)

                • calicubsfan007

                  Doc: Good point (=

  • BD

    These signings are like pre-ordering a DVD or video game- you know you are going to be getting something after a certain amount of time, and it has a variable risk of whether or not you will like it as much as you hope.

    Just in this case, the amount of time and variable risk are both extremely larger.

    • Webb

      Video games usually cost less that $700k too.

      • BD

        I thought that was kind of obvious, but yeah.

      • hansman1982

        Wait, WHAT?!?!?! I am going to have to beat up my 13 year old supplier…

        • calicubsfan007

          Hansman: Hahaha, nice. You trust the 15 year olds, the 13 year olds are scammers!

  • Cubs fan 4748475

    I am sort of disappointed. I get he’s a top international prospect but I’ve read a lot of positives but scouts think there isn’t much star power to the guy. He well grounded and fundamentally sound for a kid his age and what makes him a top international kid is that he is a switch hitter but I am not a big fan of this signing. He has no star quality physical tools. I believe a $1 million we gave him could have been spent better else where on a better player in my opinion. I’m no scout but I would have spent on someone else. Don’t get me wrong he has upside but he isn’t the eye popping wow you kid you’d like for $1 million dollars

    • nkniacc13

      remember he’s 16 and the cubs want to add depth to the system. They can’t really go over 2.9 mil this year and they got a top 20 signing for 700k which allows them still 2.2 to go get more talent

      • Cubs fan 4748475

        Did Jairo Beras ever sign with the Rangers before the signing period? Now that a kid who has star tools. Scouts rave about that guy. I would have liked the cubs to go after that SS instead of Frandy De La Rosa

    • chirogerg

      he’s a shortstop with good hands that can hit. that’s enough for me

      • djriz

        plus he is said to have great makeup. at 16, that’s a skill that you can be sure of, whicj means he has a better potential to reach his ceiling. 16 year olds are risky, but i’d prefer one who works harder at it.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Neither was Starlin Castro. He did alright for himself. He is 16. There are very few 16 year olds in the US you could say are going to be a star for sure. You could say he has the possibility. But, you can’t say he has x-star quality. There have been only 2 kids in my lifetime where people said, they will be stars at that age. Bryce Harper and Ken Griffey Jr.

    • Scotti

      As has been mentioned Starlin Castro (2 All-Star games in 3 years is star power) wasn’t even considered good enough to make anyone’s list. And, FWIW, you need one hand–not five fingers, just one hand–to count the successful MLB players who drew top money from the D.R.

  • pfk

    Malave lost the sight in his right eye in a tragic motorcycle accident. Acosta lost the sight in his left eye in another tragic motorcycle accident. Actually, they ran into each other while racing motorcycles.

  • MightyBear

    Are there any top international pitchers the Cubs are rumored to be eyeing? I would like to seem them get some more pitching. (Like money and sex, you can never have too much. – I cleaned that up a bit.)

    • Cubs fan 4748475

      MightyBear: The top pitchers are RHP Jose Mujica (Scouts comp: poor mans but still very felix hernandez). Top LHP Jose Castillo who is a big kid! Who has big arm! Would love to see the cubs get these guys

      • calicubsfan007

        I like the sound of Mujica.

      • Carew

        Rays signed Mujica according to mlbtr

        • calicubsfan007

          Crap. Stupid Rays… )=

        • nkniacc13

          and only cost the 1 million

        • Patrick G

          Of course they did, they get all the good pitchers

    • chirogerg

      only 2 of Mayo’s top 20 international are pitchers

  • calicubsfan007

    Hooray for more incoming young talent!

  • tim815

    Next year’s rules will be even more different. Teams with bad winning percentages will b e able to spend significantly more than good teams. The worst team will be able to spend about 3 times the value of the best record. So you know.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Anyone else having trouble getting the full page to load today? I can’t tell if it’s the site or the beach wi-fi. Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • calicubsfan007

      No problem for me Brett. Enjoy the beach.

    • ReiCow

      No problem all day.

    • scottie

      might be ur beach wifi.. going ok for me..

    • Carew

      No problems…I think the beach is trying to keep you away from us

  • cubsin

    The Cubs (and several other teams) have their eyes on a Brazilian LHP (Luiz Gohara) who won’t be 16 until later this month, and can’t sign before then.

  • MightyBear

    It’s the beach.

  • Jp

    It’s probably the adult lemonades. Those are great on the deck looking over the beach. Kettle citron and country time lemonade mix with water= delicious

  • Mike S
  • elizarudi15

    The Rockies signed Manny Corpas at 16 and look where he is now…

  • TakingWrigleyToSãoPaulo

    Cubs said to be interested in the Brazilian lefty, Luiz Gohara, as well. Maybe I´ll try and check him out before he can sigh on the 31st (turns 16 then)

    Tomara que aconteca…. aka hope it happens…

  • MightyBear

    Brazil huh? You don’t hear about too many baseball players from Brazil. That would be cool. I guess the expanded scouting may be paying off.

  • PKJ

    I just thought I’d add my two cents for anyone who cares about these things that I think this whole process of signing 16 year-olds is maddening and a bit disgusting. These are still kids, right?

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      This has been going on for quite some time now. Not a new thing. Most casual fans didn’t know it existed until they put a cap on spending and made a point of it.

    • Kyle

      Maddening in disgusting? I save those words for situations where someone is actually getting hurt.

      Nobody’s getting hurt here. Everybody wins.

      • PKJ

        Major League Baseball doesn’t draft 16 year old kids living in the states and they shouldn’t so so internationally. Last I checked, 16 year olds are still considered minors.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          MLB does draft 17 year old kids in the States, though.  Pretty sure they are legally considered minors too.

          • PKJ

            Still, Ozzie Guillen was right. These kids are treated like mules.

        • Toby

          I remember going to MLB try-out camps in the early to late nineties where there were 16 year olds. All they had to do was have one of their parents sign a consent form. The only downside was you could only pick one position. I understood why, but I would have loved to have tried out as a SS and C.

    • Scotti

      They are being given money to play a game that their fellow 16 y/o are playing for free (if they aren’t working full-time by that age already). Many teams also invest in their education–often the only education they ever get.

  • EB

    I found another list by Aaron Bentley at Baseball Instinct (don’t know much about him or the site, but it is a list nonetheless) and he has a lot more pitchers with 10 of them in his top 21 including his #1, Julio Urias, a LHP out of Mexico who is still 15.  The other pitchers on his list are

    2. Jose Castillo– LHP, Venezuela, 6’4″, 200 lbs

    5. Osiris Ramirez– RHP, DR, 6’3″, 185 lbs

    8. Luiz Gohara– LHP, Brazil, 6’3″, 215 lbs

    10. Jose Mujica (signed by Rays)

    13. Victor Magallenes– RHP, DR, 6’4″, 195 lbs

    14. Ronald Medrano– RHP, Nicaragua, 6’0″, 170 lbs

    16. Jose Almonte (signed by Red Sox)

    19. Bienvenido Morales–LHP, DR, 6’2″, 170 lbs

    20. Yeralf Torres–(signed by Braves)

    • calicubsfan007

      Let’s get Castillo!

  • LEO R.

    There doesn’t seem mention of many Asian prospects as international signings. Has that area dried up somewhat or has the new FO decided to go more into Cuba and the Carribean
    area? Hendry always was signing youngsters from the Far East although none have really worked out that well… yet.

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