chicago cubs logoIf you got all hopped up on international signing hype in July, only to come down when you realized that 16-year-old prospects have a long way to go before they actually arrive on your observational radar, I’ve got some good news: a number of those big-time international signings will be coming stateside this weekend.

That’s because the 2013 Instructional League kicks off on Sunday, and offers an opportunity for many of the organization’s youngest prospects (ones who aren’t playing in a fall or winter league) to continue playing/learning/developing after the regular minor league seasons have ended. The league is a bit unlike more traditional leagues, as it features situational simulations to allow players to work on various, specific things. And this year’s iteration of the league will feature Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jefferson Mejia, and Jen-Ho Tseng – all of whom were top international signings by the Cubs this year.

Carrie Muskat reports the full roster of attendees:

Jose Arias
Paul Blackburn
Johermyn Chavez
Trevor Clifton
Scott Frazier
David Garner
Zach Godley
Trevor Graham
Tyler Ihrig
Trey Lang
Erick Leal
Dillon Maples
Jeferson Mejia
Juan Paniagua
Brad Renner
Jose Rosario
Tyler Skulina
Daury Torrez
Jen-Ho Tseng
Duane Underwood
Michael Wagner
Sam Wilson

Tyler Alamo
Cael Brockmeyer
Ben Carhart
Erick Castillo
Mark Malave
Alberto Mineo
Wilfredo Petit
Will Remillard

Gioskar Amaya
Jeimer Candelario
Frandy De La Rosa
Kelvin Freeman
Jordan Hankins
Jesse Hodges
Daniel Lockhart
Giuseppe Papaccio
Carlos Penalver
Gleyber Torres

Jeffrey Baez
Yasiel Balaguert
Charcer Burks
Rashad Crawford
Jose Dore
Shawon Dunston
Eloy Jimenez*
Trey Martin

*Arizona Phil also has a preliminary instructional league roster for the Cubs over at TCR. He does not list Jimenez among the attendees, and later says that Jimenez is expected to make his debut at the Dominican Academy Instructs next month. Muskat’s report is more recent, so I’ll go with hers for now. But Jimenez working in the DR this Fall would make some sense, given the state-of-the-art facility there, and his residence there (as opposed to Torres, who hails from Venezuela).

A few interesting things to note from the preliminary roster: it looks like those catching conversions we’ve heard about will include Mark Malave (a 2011 bonus baby who was signed as a catcher, but who’d been converted to third base thereafter) and Ben Carhart (a later round 2012 pick out of college who was more of a utility guy). The Cubs’ top two international signings from last year (Juan Paniagua and Frandy De La Rosa) will be in attendance, as well as a number of picks from the last two drafts.

More interestingly, and mostly relatedly, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports that Jimenez and Torres are sufficiently advanced that they “should skip the DSL and head straight to the Rookie-level Arizona League next year.”

If true, that would be a very strong statement about the two top-ranked international prospects. Typically, even the best best international youngsters spend a season in the Dominican Summer League or the Venezuelan Summer League before making their way to the States for rookie ball. Jimenez turns 17 in November,  Torres in December, meaning that they would play their entire rookie ball season as 17-year-olds next year.

Among the 2013 AZL Cubs, only pitcher Carlos Rodriguez saw time as a 17-year-old, but he turned 18 in July, and had previously pitched in the DSL. Indeed, only three international prospects on the AZL Cubs were as young as 18 this year (Rodriguez, pitcher Erick Leal, and 3B/C Mark Malave). In other words, Jimenez and Torres would be mighty young for rookie ball next year.

Badler adds that he expects Jimenez and Torres to slot into the Cubs’ organizational rankings in the 11 to 30 range, which suggests that they are the kind of special prospects who could make such a quick ascent (BA did rank them 1 and 2 on the international side this year, after all). I tend to follow Luke’s school of thought that it’s very hard to accurately rank a prospect who hasn’t played any competitive ball in the United States yet, but maybe these two will prove to be the exception.

  • BD

    That roster makes me incredibly happy. I know the odds are against most of these guys, but it’s a nice group of future potential to fill in the levels behind our more well-known prospects.

    Foundation for sustained success.

  • ssckelley

    If Jimenez and Torres get ranked into the organizational top 11-30, given the amount of quality prospects the Cubs have that is impressive. Especially for teenagers that should be in their senior year of high school.

    • C. Steadman

      heck, they should be juniors right now…16 turning 17…which is even crazier to think about

    • cub2014

      jiminez & torres would be juniors in hs
      this year. curiously how does the organization
      help these kids out with education?

      • Funn Dave

        Good question; I wondered the same. It’s not unheard of in sports for an athelete to forgo traditional education in favor of specializing even further in his or her respective sport. While that may be the best decision for athletic development, I think it comes with the risk of developing these youngsters into less rounded individuals. If anyone’s interested, David Foster Wallace has a great essay that’s partly about this phenomenon as it relates to tennis. I hope the Cubs are doing the right thing and training their prospects educationally and socially as well as athletically.

  • Luke

    As Brett pointed out, that is a really interesting list at catcher.

    And bringing the 2013 IFA crop to the US this fast is very good news. They are still a very long ways away from the majors (if they make it at all), but maybe not quite so long as we initially thought.

    • ssckelley

      Luke, do you have any info on why Remillard never made an appearance in Arizona this summer?

      • Luke


      • Brett

        He was dealing with some kind of injury issue, I believe.

        • Cedlandrum

          Back is what I think I heard.

  • TonyP

    I thought I saw that Giuseppe Papaccio was converting to catcher also….???

    • Luke

      That would surprise me a little. Papaccio’s bat fits better on the middle infield than it does at catcher, I think.

      I think – could be wrong since I’m going off memory here – that when he was drafted the Cubs took as a catcher initially, but shifted that to 2B a little later in the draft.

      • C. Steadman

        papaccio played SS throughtout college at Seton Hall

      • Brett

        I think you’re thinking of Jordan Hankins, whose position is still a bit up in the air.

        • cms0101

          AZ Phil lists Papaccio as a catcher, along with a “(ex-INF)” next to his name. I was surprised by that one, but the more I think about it, I like the conversions they’re trying. These guys are all clearly blocked behind better infield prospects. Carhart and Papaccio might be able to hit enough as catchers, if they take to the position.

          • TonyP

            Yeah, it was the AZ Phil list that I saw….

      • MoneyBoy

        Luke… FWIW, Cubs Den had him among the catching conversions…

  • Ivy Walls

    When the season comes to an end the Cubs Top 20 and Top 40 will probably change dramatically.

    Moving off (no brainer)
    B Jackson

    Maybe off

    Moving Down

    Moving up

    Moving On

    On the cusp

    • ssckelley

      Good list, just a little bit of a foot note. The only reason why Candelario might move down is because of the recently acquired Edwards, Olt, and Hendricks moving up. Candelario is still considered a very good prospect that would probably be top 5 in most other organizations.

      • cms0101

        I’m not sure he’d be a top 5 candidate in most organizations, but he’s still a decent prospect. He’s going to have to come on strong to catch up to the guys ahead of him though. Luckily he’s young and has time.

    • ETS

      I think Olt still has some perception of being able to turn it around. I don’t think he moves off the list entirely.

      • ETS

        Olt still is perceived able to turn it around*

        Maybe less ambiguously worded.

        • SalukiHawk

          Wasn’t his perception part of the problem?

      • Funn Dave

        He does seem to be one of those players that, no matter how much he regresses, scouts still give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to returning to his former glory. I have my doubts, but we’ll see.

        • Danny Ballgame

          He did finish the season in Iowa doing pretty well. And he actually plays a solid 3B. I am not willing to give up on hm yet. Hell, he could be starting in Wrigley at the beginning of ’14. Hopefully the FO makes some moves with a few of the “non-prospects” to open up 40 man spots and add a few lotto tickets to the mix. I do not see the Cubs competing for a playoff spot next year, but they should be able to make an improvement over the past few shitshows.

        • BWA

          It was one bad season after a concussion injury. Look how long it took for Morneau to come back, and he still doesn’t have the power he used to. Not saying I think Olt will end up hitting 30 dingers for the Cubs next year, just that at least wait till next year to completely count him out.

    • Jason P

      Mike Olt moving off the top 20-40 lists? No way. His stock has dropped, but not that far. I’d imagine he’ll still make some organizational top-10 lists. There’s still no comparison between him and Rafael Lopez as to who’s the better prospect.

  • SenorGato

    Frandy de la Rosa is crazy young as I think Gleyber Torres is the only player younger than him. Hodges is younger than I thought too.

    I’m unnaturally high on Torres for an IFA, though more in a Christian Villanueva (at SS) way. He could be anything.

    Malave has been around since 2011 and is only 18. He was one of the three big bonus guys, and considered the best athlete of the three. He got Victor Martinez comparisons, which is good in the sense that people were very excited and throwing out lofty comps on him as an amateur. He mostly played 3B in the VSL. Neither Acosta or Marcano, the other two, are legit prospects anymore. I’m glad he’s moving back to catcher. He, Alamo, and Contreras are three longshot catching prospects with the size, athleticism, and tools to maybe squeeze a top guy out of in 3-4 years.

    Next year is a big year for Dunston Jr. I think he’s the most interesting CF prospect in the system after Almora, but he needs to stay on the field and hit. 2014 would be his college draft year so he’s on a fine pace, but it would be nice if he can get to at least High A next year with a good performance KC to start.

    I really like Jeimer Candelario and want him to become the Bernie Williams (obviously at 3B) of the Cubs. OTOH, he’s 19, was good but not great offensively in KC, and is at least 3 years away anyway. He is one of those projects that is coming along at a solid and steady pace.

    Penalver’s back on the radar, as is Maples. Amaya is borderline.

    There’s a bunch of pitchers who could be something but right now just don’t have the innings or anything to say much about. Skulina gets all the love as a 2013 college sleeper, but I like Frazier and Wagner just as much. Seems like pretty big turnover on pitchers here with more starter potential and velocity. Paniagua needs to do…something.

  • http://Bleachernation Oliver

    Bring up the kids, can’t be any worse.

    Just sayin.

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