And the Chicago Cubs have opened up their 2013-14 international signing period with a big name, if not one of the biggest.
It’s 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Jefferson Mejia from the Dominican Republic. According to Baseball America, Mejia is getting an $850,000 signing bonus, which is quite large in the post-CBA world. It’s especially large for an international pitcher, who tend to be slightly riskier investments than positional players (who are, themselves, exceedingly risky because – let’s be honest – we’re talking about teenagers who haven’t played much, if any, competitive ball yet).
The Baseball America report is worth reading for a take on Mejia, who has had some issues with his age, and was declared ineligible to sign last year. His current birthdate has him turning 19 in early August, and because of his unique situation, he’s eligible to start pitching immediately (unlike most teenage signees who are signing contracts for the 2014 season). At 6’7″ and 220 pounds, Mejia is already an extremely big young man, with a fastball in the lower 90s and decent secondary offerings.
Because of his previous eligibility to sign/ineligibility to sign, Baseball America did not consider Mejia for its international prospect rankings. He did not rank on MLB.com’s top 30 list, either. That said, an $850,000 bonus for a pitcher these days indicates that the Cubs really, really like him.
Despite his age, I suspect we’ll still see him pitch in the Dominican Summer League this year, with an eye toward possibly bringing him to the States early next year.