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.