Chicago Cubs Sign Canadian Undrafted Free Agent Jesse Hodges

The Chicago Cubs must have been following the Canadian National Junior Team in South Korea, currently playing in the World Junior Tournament. According to the Island Sport News, the Cubs have signed infielder/pitcher Jesse Hodges.

Hodges, 18, has been playing in the infield (shortstop and third base, it appears) for the Canadian team, as well as pitching well (he’s a righty). I could flash some stats here, but high school stats are always huge. Just assume he had ridiculous numbers in high school and for his traveling Canadian team. Hodges had a college scholarship at Grayson College, a juco in Texas, set for the Fall, but he’ll give that up for an undisclosed signing bonus and money for school. (A good sign? When you type “Grayson College” into Google, the first suggested search is “Grayson College baseball.” Must be a decent program.)

As a big kid – info on him is somewhat sparse, but the Canadian Junior National Team roster lists him at 6’1″ and 212 lbs – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs like him better as a pitching prospect than a positional player. It looks like in his career he’s primarily been considered an infielder, though, who merely dabbles in pitching.

The Cubs were undoubtedly in communication with Hodges before the Draft, and then followed his progress this Summer before deciding to make an offer. Hodges was sufficiently “prospect-y” to have a short scouting video put up at MLB.com in advance of the Draft, but not sufficiently “prospect-y” to show up on Baseball America’s top 500 list (then again, a number of the Cubs’ draftees did not show up on that list – given the enormous group of players from which to choose, I imagine that the difference between number 201 and number 501 is smaller than it might seem). Speaking of that video:

Hodges looks like a very big kid, and although he’s playing shortstop in that video, he doesn’t exactly have the look of a shortstop. I’d imagine that, if he’s going to play in the field in the Cubs’ system, it’d be at third base.

Hodges was eligible for the 2012 Draft, so his signing does not count against the Cubs’ international signing pool (which, after the Frandy De La Rosa and Juan Carlos Paniagua signings was largely exhausted), but is subject to the bonus restrictions associated with undrafted free agents. Namely, he can receive a bonus of up to $100K, and any amount over that would count, retroactively, against the Cubs’ 2012 Draft bonus pool. I highly doubt he received more than $100K, so this is largely academic.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

30 responses to “Chicago Cubs Sign Canadian Undrafted Free Agent Jesse Hodges”

  1. EQ76

    I guess with Dempster gone, we have to replace our Canadian.

    1. Leo L

      does he have a passport?

      1. ferrets_bueller

        That story was one of the most surreal things I’ve seen in baseball.

  2. Njriv

    I’m curious, and I’m not sure if this was posted before, but is there a list of undrafted free agent players that made it to the big leagues?

    1. jungledrew

      I found this link to an article in 2010 on mlb.com about undrafted players who were playing at the time….

      a lot of relievers and catchers on the list…. and Matt Stairs….

  3. donnie kessinger

    Maybe we will sign Greenberg next….

  4. Steve

    I think Id rather have Bryan Adams…

  5. Tommy

    That was an unimpressive scouting video if I ever saw one.

  6. Christian J. Stewart

    Hi Guys:

    Chris Stewart here, author of the article on the Hodges signing for Island Sports News. More than likely, as Brett stated, Hodges will be targeted for third base. While he played middle infield for the Premier League Victoria Mariners (essentially elite high school age ball here in BC), he has been playing third for the Jr. National team in Korea. I coached him when he was 9-12 and while he was a dominating pitcher then, I suspect that at the pro level he will not see the mound again. He dabbled in it this year for the Mariners (4-2, 2.55 ERA, striking out 28 in 24.2 innings). His bat will be an asset. For the Mariners this season he hit .341 in 37 games, compiling eight doubles, two home runs and 33 RBIs. For the Canadian Juniors he is leading the team in hitting and is sixth overall in the Worlds. He also comes from good stock as his Dad played for Canadian Juniors and Nationals and to minor pro level.
    Cheers!

    Chris Stewart, Editor
    Island Sports News

    1. Fishin Phil

      Very cool! Thanks for the insight. Stop by anytime!

    2. terencem

      Great insight. Thanks a lot!

    3. Carew

      Excellent! Feel free to stick around :)

  7. Christian J. Stewart

    Thanks guys! I grew up around Chicago and was a regular visitor to Cub games in the late 1960′s and early 70′s. in the Banks, Jenkins, Santo, Kessinger, Beckert, et al era. Die hard fan. Very cool to see a kid that I’ve now coached sign with the team! I hope he plays in Wrigley some day…I’d probably try and get there to see it! (and hopefully photograph it!).

    1. Tommy

      Very cool to have you here, Christian.

  8. Christian J. Stewart

    On a related note, when the Cubs get around to formally announcing this (will they even?) where might that be found? Someone asked me if the Cubs had confirmed the signing and I have no idea where to look/ask.

  9. Christian J. Stewart

    Oh and by the way, Jesse’s video says he is from Victoria, Texas which is incorrect. It is Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. And that video really does not show his skill set.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      ’cause, like BC and Texas are so easy to confuse with each other…..

  10. Korean Goat

    Jesse hodges at canada team played against s.korea team today. i captured some short clips. he had 2BB, double, single today. those who want to see his plays go to this blog below.
    http://blog.naver.com/claruskr1
    i think it’s nice contract

  11. die hard

    Maybe he can play for the Blackhawks in the off season?…Theo is a glutton for punishment with all of these signings…must be some sort of I am sorry tour to Boston fans…cant understand what hes doing…

    1. Carew

      What are you talking about

  12. The Dude Abides

    Watched the clip against Korea and what I saw was a 18 yr. old facing another young man who had 85 MPH (137km) fastball and a 70 (114 km) MPH breaking ball. I’m sure he is a very good player but he is light years away from playing in MLB. That exact sequence takes place in summer travel ball on hundreds of diamonds everywhere in the US all summer long. Some go back to high school, some go to college for their freshmen year to maybe play college ball, a few go in the draft. The next year there is another army of 18 yr. olds doing the same thing. I hope he makes it and yes that is where all future MLB players come from, simply put the odds are very strong he won’t make it beyond mid-level minors, most don’t.

    1. bails17

      Dude…that’s what you see. Are you really going to “put down” this signing by watching 2 at bats. You really can’t even begin to know a players tool set by watching two at bats. There is much more that goes into these decisions that just tool set as well.

      Most 18yr old prospects are not goint to sign with a club rather than go to college unless it is a “life changing” money situation. We don’t know what this kids motivation is and why he signed. But, the Cubs obviously had the inside track on what he was thinking.

      We don’t know this kid, but he might just be a upper level make up kid that the brass thought would be a good fit for the org. Too many times scouts and organizations draft players on tools alone. This kid has had a lot of success and might be the leader of a National Team. This is the same reason the Cubs were so high on Almora. This kid my never be a super star. But he might have the ability to make everyone else in his clubhouse better day in and day out. That is something that is so under valued in the draft. Big leaguers get millions of dollars just because they are great “club house” guys at the end of their careers.

  13. Christian J. Stewart

    Update:
    Hodges was 2 for 2 against South Korea in last game of World U18s and is now hitting .500 for the tournament and is SECOND overall in tournament hitting, second overall in slugging % and looks like 3rd overall in OBP. His Team Canada squad will face the USA for the gold medal Saturday. In round robin play, Canada beat USA 1-0 in a 10 inning thriller.

    While I agree with the above post to some degree, this kid is the real deal and is driven and motivated. Will have to work hard to overcome all those other 18 year olds out there? Sure. Can he? I think so.

    Also learned today he was signed by Cubs Pacific Rim scout Steve Wilson and will head to AZ for instructional league activities on Sept 19th.

  14. Darrellb

    Brandon Beachy was undrafted, then signed by the Braves while playing in a summer league.

    He had TJ surgery this season, but he was leading the majors in ERA when he went down.

    1. bails17

      And he played 3B in college as well. Didn’t see much of the mound at all at Indiana Wesleyan University.

  15. Swish

    In answer to Dude Abides about Jesse Hodges . . .
    In his first game against Japan, at the “Worlds” in Korea, his first at bat was against the Japanese phenom (not sure of spelling) IOTTO. Anyway he has been clocked in the upper 90s. Jesse singled off him and it was a fast ball. All this prior to his hitting the game-tieing home run in the bottom of the ninth!

  16. Swish

    That Japanese phenom is Shohei Otani.

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