Studious observers like BN’er Kyle have been asking for a little while now: where is Juan Carlos Paniagua?
The Cubs’ top international signee in 2012, and one of the better pitching prospects in the system, Paniagua has been out of sight so far this year at Spring Training. No one has expressed any concern about it – it’s not on an operating table somewhere – but he’s not in Arizona.
So where is he?
Still in the Dominican Republic, according to Ben Badler. Paniagua successfully received his work visa to enter into the United States last year after signing, but this time around the U.S. Consolate is asking for additional paperwork, including some for his younger siblings, according to Badler. (Is the implication there that the Consolate wants to make sure Paniagua isn’t posing as one of his younger siblings? I’m guessing so.)
You may recall that Paniagua, 22(ish), was twice signed before by teams whose deals with Paniagua were voided because of questions about his name/age/paperwork/etc. The Cubs felt confident enough that, this time, everything was in order, and took a chance on signing Paniagua to a $1.5 million bonus.
Badler goes on to explain that U.S. Consolate personnel in the Dominican Republic just rotated this year, and this is the first Spring Training with that new personnel in place. So, there’s probably a learning curve for both the personnel and Dominican citizens who are looking to come to the United States for baseball. And, in a case like Paniagua’s, where there’s already a history of document issues, you can understand why there might be a closer look.
Hopefully this is merely a delay, and everything will be sorted out shortly. Even if it’s just a delay, Paniagua is already missing development time (though I’m sure he’s been staying in shape), and may now have to stick in extended Spring Training for a while before finally joining a minor league squad.