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dominican flagApropos of all of the chatter about this year’s increasingly expansive international crop of signees, the Chicago Cubs’ top international prospect from last year’s class is finally, finally, finally in the United States.

Last year, the Chicago Cubs signed Dominican pitcher Juan Carlos Paniagua to a $1.5 million contract – a large sum, given their $2.9 million pool – which was actually his third deal with a Major League organization. After signing twice before and having contracts nullified over concerns about his age/identity, the Cubs took a chance on Paniagua’s talent last year. Although Major League Baseball declined to concur with the Cubs about Paniagua’s stated birth date – April 4, 1990 – it did eventually approve his contract in August. Paniagua came to the States, pitched a teeny tiny bit, and eventually headed back home to the Dominican Republic for the Winter.

When it came time to re-enter the States this year, Paniagua had some visa issues as the government investigated his background further. The process was torturous, and we haven’t even really had an update since early May. In the meantime, Paniagua has theoretically been staying sharp while pitching with the Cubs’ Dominican Summer League team.

But huzzah! At long last, the nightmare is over, as Ben Badler reports that Paniagua has finally passed through the visa process, and has arrived in Arizona. The 23-year-old righty is likely to spend some time getting re-acclimated before being assigned. Where he’ll be assigned is something of a mystery, given his strained development but advanced age. With the minor league seasons ending in late August/early September, he’s not going to get in a whole lot of time either way before instructional ball, and he’ll have lost almost another entire development year.

For that reason, and because we’ve seen him so little, it’s hard to say where he falls on the prospect scale. When he signed, there were numerous reports about just how good he was and how quickly he could move up the Cubs’ system. Some folks even said he instantly became the Cubs’ best pitching prospect.

To me, he’s an intriguing but unknown quantity. I have no doubt that he’s got good stuff, but I fear what two years of development purgatory have done to him. Hopefully he’s been keeping extremely sharp and had some good coaching from the Cubs’ staff down in the Dominican Republic (working with raw teenagers is probably quite different from working with a much more polished 22/23-year-old).

  • When the Music’s Over

    I think you forgot a couple of longs.

  • cms0101

    Throw him right into the Kane Co. starting rotation. They’ve got to get him to AA by next season.

    • MoneyBoy

      He just got here. Can we give him a few days to realize he’s in Arizona before we start moving him around again???

      I think JoshO has it right, fwiw.

  • JoshO

    Would guess he goes to Daytona for the rest of the year and maybe Tennessee next year

    • cms0101

      Even better.

  • Spencer

    So, uhm, can he just stay in the US this off season?

    • ssckelley

      agreed

  • JoeyCollins

    Of all the random stories that could have/have come up today, draft signings, international signings, trade talk, extension talk, etc., this is not one I would have guessed. Great news though.

  • João Lucas

    Speaking of Cubs pitching prospects: Matt Loosen pitched a no-hitter today!

  • Kev

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Can we all PLEASE start referring to him by his translated name of “John Chuck Bread-n’-Water”?

    • Abe Froman

      Joke of the week. Nicely played.

    • Internet Random

      Heh.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Brett/Luke,
    Since Paniagua’s advanced age at 23 and since he’s lost 2 yrs of minor league development, when do the Cubs have to put him on the 40 man roster to protect him? Because of his advanced age will that force the Cubs to put him on the 40 man roster even though he clearly isn’t ready for the majors? Will the MLB commissioners office give the cubs a break and not force the cubs to put Paniagua on the 40 man roster once he hits the age that forces you to put a player on the 40 man roster.

    I guess I am just unclear about the 40 man roster rules and I know the Cubs are going to have a 40 man roster problem this upcoming offseason, with needing to put a lot of good players on the 40 man roster that aren’t already on it, such as Alcantara. If we need to add Paniagua because of his age thats just another problem.

    • ssckelley

      MLB cannot force the Cubs to put him on the 40 man roster but I did see somewhere that he is rule 5 draft eligible if he is not placed on the 40 man.

      • HackAttack

        His status is certainly a confusing one. I found a link. All the way at the bottom there’s a note.

        http://www.thecubreporter.com/rule-5-draft-eligibility

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Yeah that was what I meant by Paniagua needed be added to the 40 man roster bc of his advanced age and being exposed to the rule 5 draft. A team would definitely take a chance on Paniagua in the Rule 5 draft and just stash him the bullpen. I’m sure that the cubs will protect him by adding him but it really sucks because we’re going to have to put a guy on whose barely played any professional ball in the last 2 years, and it was all had to do with confusion with his birth date and the US government holding up his development because of visa confusion.

  • G2Ellis

    The internet isn’t always true I hope he doesn’t have to go on the 40 man roster

    • Michael

      Here’s my date he’s a French model

      • Jp3

        Bonjour!

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