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jason mcleod cubsCuban righty Armando Rivero is the Chicago Cubs’ latest international splurge, costing the organization a healthy $3.1 million signing bonus.

But, like, we still know almost nothing about him.

Unlike the pursuit of guys like Gerardo Concepcion and Jorge Soler, where there was a great deal of build-up before the signing, very little was written about Rivero before he was inked, and much of what was written dates back to mid-2012. He was held up in his immigration process (coming by way of the Dominican Republic and then Haiti, like Soler (who’s Haitian process went much more quickly, just in time for him to be signed to a mega-contract before the new international spending restrictions (not that I’m explicitly connecting any illicit dots, I’m just sayin’ … it was convenient for everyone))), and only recently was able to finally come to the United States.

For those reasons, hearing some thoughts on Rivero straight from the horse’s mouth is pretty interesting. In this instance, the horse is Cubs Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod.

“Obviously, [Rivero] had his saga of getting into the States and getting his residency and all that,” McLeod told CSN. [So] he’s just going through his throwing program right now. I think he’s only been off the mound once, so we’re gradually building him back up. It had been … a year, probably more than a year now, since he’s pitched competitively. He was in Haiti for six, seven months with a few of the other guys [establishing residency]. We’re just taking baby steps with him.”

McLeod says that Rivero will likely start the season at one of the A-ball levels (though I wouldn’t rule out a stay at extended Spring Training as he gets back into the swing of facing batters), though it’s fair to guess that the 25-year-old could move more quickly.

“He’s a little older guy now, but he’s got a really good arm and showed three pitches with a mid-90s fastball,” McLeod said. “So we’re just going to baby-step it and see where he is. Once he’s ready to get out of here, we’ll certainly put him in a starting role somewhere, just to build up his innings.”

By starting Rivero, the Cubs can be more certain that he’s getting in his regular work, with a set number of pitches or innings in each outing. It’s another sign – if the $3.1 million wasn’t enough – that the Cubs really do think highly of Rivero, even if he’s a future bullpen arm. There are only so many “starting” jobs in the system, and the Cubs really do have a number of interesting pitching prospects at the lower levels. So, giving one of those “starting” spots to Rivero reflects the Cubs’ commitment. Fortunately, with piggy-backing, Rivero’s presence likely won’t displace a legitimate starting pitching prospect.

Like so many in the system these days, Rivero will be an arm to watch as the season progresses. Given his age and advanced background, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him getting consideration for the big club in the second half of the season, depending on how he’s adjusting to the States.

  • EQ76

    What is going on with Hayden Simpson? We hear nothing about him. Is he still around? healthy?

    • JR

      Worst. Pick. Ever.

    • Edwin

      He’s a 24 year old pitcher who is struggling to compete in A ball.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Talked about him at length on this week’s podcast, for whatever that’s worth.

      • Edwin

        I’d better subscribe to the podcast so that I can stay up to date on all things Cubs! How much does it cost?!?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Believe it or not, you get more than an hour per week of jam-packed Cubs-related goodness for not $100, not $50, but the low, low price of $0.00!

          • hansman1982

            That’s impossible! Surely, more than an hour per week of you and Sahadev rambling on about your thighs and pillow fluffiness costs hundreds of dollars.

            • Stinky Pete

              It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womprats in my t-16 back home they aren’t much bigger than 2 metres.

              • hansman1982

                Jesus, yes, we heard you the first time. God, always bringing that up.

                And I sure hope you could bullseye something that is 6 freekin feet across. If not, then you’re blind, deaf and dumb.

                bullseying womp rats is easy…getting hours and hours of thigh-talk goodness for free, isn’t.

          • Edwin

            Wow, what a great deal! I’m going to go subscribe today! Where else can I get access to Bleacher Nation’s one-of-a-kind content?

      • EQ76

        just curious.. i work with a distant relative of his who was asking if i’d heard how he was doing.. and yes, that was one of the worst picks ever, so far, i’m just curious if he’ll ever show some sort of promise or just completely flame out.

        • Scotti

          The whole “worst pick” thing re. Simpson is way over blown. The guy got sick for goodness sake. By ALL reports he isn’t throwing what he did pre draft (even if you just consider the low 90s, non Cub reports). The current front office spent 3X as much on a prospect last year who, ta da, got mono too. Don’t see him on any top ten prospect lists either.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            He was a terrible pick before he got mono. Completely off the board reach.

            They fell in love with the idea that they had found a hidden gem and drafted a guy with almost no background of throwing as hard as they may have seen him throw once or twice.

        • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

          AZ Phil saw him pitch this week or last. His curve looked good.

          I’m sure if any of you got hit with a serious case of Mono derailing your pro career, you might be slightly more sympathetic.

          The problem wasn’t Simpson. The problem was Ricketts drafting on the cheap. Which he hasn’t done in either draft since.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            AZPhil is not a scout. He gets people all atwitter every time he says something good about a pitcher, and usually that pitcher is released within a month.

  • JR

    So is a Soriano for Porcello deal just crazy for the Tigers to consider? I mean they’re starting Andy Dirks for F**k sake. They seem to want to move Porcello about as much as the Dbacks wanted Upton gone I wish the Cubs could negotiate directly with Mike Illitch..

    • JR

      Obviously the Cubs would make up for the salary difference.

  • Spriggs

    Stick a fork in Simpson already. He cannot consistently get the worst hitters in professional baseball out. He cannot even consistently throw in the upper 80s – let alone that phantom 95 we used to hear about. He has struggled big time every single time I have seen him pitch over the last 2 years and into spring training right now. Take all the excuses and roll them into one big ugly gooey ball. It doesn’t matter why anymore — he just blows and shouldn’t be in any prospect discussions – unless it’s about busts.

    • JR

      I would love to know on what planet it is a good idea to not spend much money on the draft? I don’t care what the Cubs had going on at that time, that’s just ass stupid. And one of the main reasons our minor league pitching still blows, even after the sell off recently.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It’s very much in keeping with corporate mentality, which in turn strongly influences the way that many FOs work: you pay the established guys big $$$ and pay the rookies as little as possible. (Even better, sack the established guys if they show any sign of slowing down and replace them with rookies making as little as possible: after all, WAR/$ does mean something to shareholders.)

        This also a big reason why some owners (spearhead by Reinsdorf) have agitated so long and hard to make it very difficult to spend much on the draft and amateur free agent signings. To a CEO’s mind, “prospects” are an alien concept.

        • JR

          Thanks Doc. That makes sense. But my argument would be paying a bunch of draft picks good money is still waaaay cheaper than paying Robinson Cano his next contract. Obviously, most of the draft picks will flame out, but the couple that make it, will make up for it. It just seems so obvious to me (an avg dude who knows jack about MLB financing).

          • JR

            I guess it’s a moot pt now anyways, but Hayden Simpson? Come on now people…

  • Mike S

    If the Cubs don’t get Appel at No. 2, I would be very happy with Sean Maneaa. He looks like David Price when he was in college (maybe not as refined, but similar stuff).

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