Chicago Cubs Sign Catcher Danny Canela Out of Independent League

03 September 2010: North Carolina State Wolfpack.The Cubs, as they did last year, will spend the offseason scouring the waiver wire and minor league free agent list to pick up potentially, plausibly, theoretically, maybe useful future pieces (in addition to hopefully signing/trading for legit big leaguers). They’ve signed one such player out of an independent league, catcher Danny Canela.

Less a traditional minor league signing and more of an undrafted free agent signing, Canela was a senior at NC State this past season, but parted ways with the team before the baseball season started (for reasons that appear unclear). Canela played his final collegiate season at Lee University, where he hit .335/.443/.505 with 40 BBs against just 19 Ks.

Canela then went undrafted, and proceeded to play in an independent league this Summer, where he hit .360/.455/.582 (270 PA), and once again looked great in the K/BB ratio department (41 BBs, 50 Ks). The Cubs were probably following him closely, and decided to grab him after his successful debut.

The 22-year-old was a second team all-region performer in his junior season when he hit .348/.457/.507. It’s unclear why such a productive player (in a good league on a good team – he was the guy catching Carlos Rodon, so there were plenty of eyes on him) went undrafted after his junior season. Indeed, poking around the Internetz, it looks like he was considered a very legitimate draft prospect that year (and he was also drafted in the 37th round out of high school by the Tigers). He’s a stocky catcher – listed in the 5’9″ to 6′ range, and the 240 lbs range (for comparison, Dan Vogelbach is listed at 6′, 250 lbs) – so maybe the body type scared some scouts off. Because he’d left NC State in 2013, and because he was a senior, it’s easier to see why he wasn’t drafted this year.

In any event, the Cubs are hard up for catching prospects, and there’s no reason to turn your nose up at one who hit so well at a legit college program, and then duplicated it in independent ball. As is always the case with these kinds of signings, the odds are stacked against Canela emerging as a relevant piece, but it doesn’t hurt to give him a shot.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

110 responses to “Chicago Cubs Sign Catcher Danny Canela Out of Independent League”

  1. dw8

    He’s our Jeremy Brown!

  2. Jon

    I was a big fan of his when he fought Mayweather last month.

  3. Stevie B

    This ^ is a result of Theo catching Jed in his office playing Angry Birds on his I Phone ….

  4. Cyranojoe

    Online forum from NC State discussing his departure:

    Assessment of his skills by the fans seems to be that he’s got a big LH bat, but not much skill behind the plate. Some folks said he lacked the commitment, but I suspect that might have just been because of his weight.

  5. Blackhawks1963

    Yawn. Organizational filler. Not credible defensive catcher material by any stretch.

    1. Kyle


      1. TheRiot2

        Or that.

        1. Kyle

          Maybe the other?

    2. Funn Dave

      Wow. So you’re one of those people who don’t support any acquisitions that aren’t of big name, big talent, sure thing players? Why am I not surprised?

    3. Eric

      Hardly a yawn. The kid is an interesting signing for those who love the game. Will he make it to the majors? Highly doubtful. Still an interesting signing.

    4. Cubs_Questions

      Just to put his defense into perspective, last season in the Frontier League, Canela had a 0.990 fielding percentage at C, and threw out 19% of runners in a league with a 23% caught stealing rate.

      Welington Castillo had a 0.988 FP and threw out 29% in a league with a 28% CS rate. His defense obviously isn’t stellar, but it seems serviceable. *disclaimer* I’ve never seen footage of Canela behind the plate.

      1. ssckelley

        Well at least he can catch. Kinda reminds me of the conversations of putting different players at catcher because they project well offensively at the position.

        I do wonder if this signing was because they decided moving Gioskar Amaya to catcher was not going to work.

      2. Kyle

        Yeah. Those numbers are completely and utterly meaningless.

        1. Cyranojoe

          Good to know. Thanks for the explanation… oh… well then.

          1. mjhurdle

            you dont need an explanation, Kyle has spoken!
            kinda like the ‘Soler benched for multiple games because of lack of hustle’ :)

            just take it all with a grain of salt, because none of us (insert any message board poster here) really knows the complexity of the baseball/front office world, we just play it on TV, or in some cases stayed at a Holiday Inn.

  6. ssckelley

    Is playing independent Frontier League as good of competition as Boise and the Northwest League? Because if it is then this is a pretty good acquisition. The weakness of the organization is catching prospects.

    1. CubbieBubba

      not even close

    2. Kevni F

      The FL is mostly undrafted collegians and those released from lower level leagues (short season to high A). You can see that each player does something well, but lacks the “package”. Because you’d find high draft picks on a team like Boise, I’d not rate the FL that close to their level of play, even considering organizational filler on the affiliated team. It’s good quality baseball along the lines of Div-II or -III, with wood bats. And pretty good, inexpensive entertainment for a fan. Windy City, the team in Crestwood, has sold its share of contracts to big league teams (the White Sox have purchased several over the years), and Dylan Axelrod made the jump all the way to the big leagues from Windy City.

      1. ssckelley

        Thanks for the info.

        I know there are some independent leagues that have former MLB players, not all that familiar with this one.

        1. Kevni F

          There are, but very very few in the FL. I did see Billy Petrick suit up for a couple in Crestwood a few years back. The old Northern League had plenty of them.

  7. Diamondrock

    This is a minor league contract, correct? What level is he expected to start at?

  8. AA Correspondent

    We need a solid catcher to put behind the dish in AA with all the stud pitchers that are coming. I like it. Rafael Lopez had a nice season and I can see him moving to AAA. And Left hand hitting power plays well at Smokies Park. Organizational filler is fine with me. As long as they can hit, I am happy.


    1. Eternal pessemist

      Unfortunately he is a decent bat who can’t field.

  9. itzscott

    So long last place!

    How can we lose now?

  10. Carew

    Sign as many players as you can out of the ACC, particularly in NC! They have some players here.

    I hope they keep some tabs on Skye Bolt from UNC, only a sophomore this coming year.

  11. Blackhawks1963

    There is nothing wrong with making moves like this. This is the non-sexy stuff that has to happen in the background, and presumably the Cubs have done good scouting work here and made a decent pickup. That said, this kid is organizational filler and if you look at his defensive credentials behind the plate, they are very subpar. But so what. This is a yawner of a move that flows from the day to day execution of what the front office does for a living. We didn’t acquire the next Yadier Molina here. Hell, I don’t think we even acquired the next Koyie Hill.

  12. Kevin

    The Ricketts are cheap!

  13. Jed

    All I can say is it can’t hurt. Maybe he does turn into something special. I’d put it at a low risk/unknown reward type signing.

  14. Kevin

    Give us a 2 year plan, don’t just tell us that eventually things will get better at the major league level. You are pocketing lots of money. If this keeps up, people will say Chicago has 2 cheap baseball owners.

    1. Blackhawks1963

      Mama always said you can’t fix stupid. The Theo plan for building the Cubs has been very clear since Day One. The “alternative” is to spend big in free agency right now. But tell me, what does adding the likes of BJ Upton, Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, Dan Uggla do for this team via free agency the last two offseasons other than dig the hole we are trying to climb out of a deeper?!?

      Patience. Theo knows what the hell he is doing. There are no shortcuts.

      1. Pat

        Why is it always suggested here that there are only two ways to build an organization? There isn’t one alternative to Theo’s plan, there are several. And until this approach actually works, there’s no reason to consider it the “right” way.

        1. TWC

          Even *if* it works, there’s no reason to consider it the “right” way.

        2. Cubbie Blues

          You can obtain players through the minors, free agency and trades. How else can you build a team?

          1. Kyle

            Choosing one of them isn’t a “way” to build an organization.

            1. Bilbo161

              I don’t really think Theo and company choose only one way. Their way actually encompasses a bit of everything. While they may prefer to be mostly home grown they do still dip into the free agent market. How big they spend in free agency just depends on timing and their perception of the right talent at the right price.

      2. Andrew

        It’s easy to just pick out a bunch of bad signings and decide free agency is a bad place to spend money wouldnt have been right but there are clearly others that could have been. Darvish, Puig, Coco Crisp, Bartolo colon, Anibal Sanchez among many others are players that the cubs could have bid bigger on and still been more than worth it. Hell, even Nick swisher probably will be worth more than what Cleveland is gonna pay him. If the Cubs signed any of these guys, the team would have been better both in the short term and long term and there really is no denying that. So far, the Cubs FO has not made very many great FA signings because he has played it very safe in free agency. The best two I can think of is Maholm and Feldman, but even they probably wont lead to an impact player, because they were safe signings. If the cubs like a good FA, they have to be willing to go out on a limb a little if they want impact players.

        1. cms0101

          They offered a considerable contract for Darvish and came in 2nd to Texas, according to most accounts. The Dodgers went way over every other bid for Puig. I would have loved it if they signed him, but I can’t bang on them for not stepping up on a guy very few had solid scouting reports on. Crisp would have been a marginal improvement on this team. Colon was on steroids. Lets see what he does next season. The Cubs offered a comparable contract to Sanchez, but he wanted to go back to Detroit to win now. Forget Swisher. They received comparable production from Schierholtz at a fraction of the cost. Plus, they didn’t have to sacrifice a draft pick and draft pool dollars to sign Schierholtz. They signed Navarro, Sweeney, Hairston(then acquired a nice pitching prospect for him). Just as it’s easy to pick out bad signings as a caution regarding free agency, it’s also easy to pick out good signings to make the opposite point. Looking at what the Cubs actually did, I’ll grant there is more to be desired. But the rationale for each move makes sense to me. Call me kool-aid drinker or worse, but it makes sense to me to grab the short term, buy-low guys at this stage of the rebuild. It makes sense to acquire as much young talent as possible. I didn’t like the Colvin-Stewart trade, but I could see what they were hoping would happen (Kyle, you were always correct on this one). I didn’t love the Jackson signing, but I understand the thought process that went into it. I didn’t understand the purpose of trading Marmol to the Dodgers and giving them international pool money to take him. They could have simply cut him and ate the money. I didn’t like the David DeJesus signing, but if he was truly that good in the clubhouse, and somebody had to play in the OF, so be it. I didn’t like the lack of depth in the starting rotation after the trade deadline. Jason Berken? At least I heard of Justin Germano, even if he was always bad. I didn’t like that they resigned Shawn Camp when he was clearly bad the entire second half of 2012. I really didn’t know much about Schierholtz, and I wasn’t keen on Navarro either, but they proved me wrong on those 2. Their best moves have been signing international free agents, Soler, the kids this season. But they missed on a few last year too, with Concepcion, and maybe Rivero. There are other transactions to call out, but the bottom line for me is despite the things I didn’t like, I feel good about what they’ve done to date and am willing to see what year 3 brings.

          1. Kyle

            ” according to most accounts. ”

            That’s not exactly true. There were some accounts that the Cubs came in second. There were some other accounts that said other teams did. I’ve run across a few other fan bases around the ‘net who are convinced their teams finished 2nd in the Darvish bidding.

            I’m still not ready to give a smily-face sticker to the Soler signing.

            1. cms0101

              Ok, so maybe they were top 3-4 on Darvish. You have to grant this though, it’s not an easy process entering the Japenese posting system. Teams can really overpay a great deal with a blind bid just to try and outbid the Yankees or whoever else is in the mood to spend. You may, but I just can’t hold it against the Cubs that they didn’t come away with Darvish. It’s not like they put in a lowball offer. Aside from Ichiro and Matsui, how many top Japanese players have been worth their posting fees? Maybe Nomo? Now, it appears, Darvish too.

              With Soler, and the guys signed this year in international free agency, I was really trying to comment on the fact that I appreciate that they were bold in signing young guys where there were no significant penalties to the organization. Soler is still a highly ranked prospect, despite his injury issues thus far. Do I wish they signed Puig too? Yes. Do I hope they win on Tanaka? Yes. Until the posting fee problems get worked out, I don’t fault any team for caustiously approaching free agents from Japan. Anybody have a problem with them not signing the Cubans that went to the Whitesox and Dodgers in the last few days? I don’t. They were never in the running for either guy, and I’m fine with that. If either or both have a great rookie season next year, are we going to hear about how the Cubs missed on these guys too? While I think they could have used Guerrero in the short term, there must be some feeling that Baez is going to be at 2B soon enough. That’s the only reason not to kick the tires on him, in my opinion.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                The other issue is that Darvish simply was worth more to the Rangers at that time than he was to any other team. In Daniels’ mind (and in the collective mindset of the Rangers’ FO), Darvish was at least one more out. Thus, Darvish alone was worth however much a WS title is worth to them.

                (This probably was not a sound mindset, but the Rangers were not the first team to into this trap of getting a player that they thought would have made the difference in the post-season series that they just lost. They will not be the last, either.)

                1. Andrew

                  well that move still worked out for them regardless. The posting fee was what 51 mill or something. If the cubs had done 52 (obviously hindsight is 20/20) they would have had an ace for a good price. Thats what scouts are paid to do. If the cubs do indeed have the excellent scouts they say they do, they should be willing to go out on a limb more than any other teams and get some of these types of great signings like Puig, Darvish, Cespedes (although theres some doubt there, but regardless he’s probably going to be worth more than what he gets paid).

                  1. Andrew

                    I’m not saying they should be hitting on all these guys, but the FO has solely focused on acquiring impact talent (by that I mean guys that can be expected to produce at least 4 wins on a somehwhat consistent basis) at the minor league level and not at the major league level. Hopefully it will work out but I think the team would have been better if they went after more impact talent that was close to the majors even if it came at a higher cost.

                  2. cms0101

                    With the uncertainty of the Japanese posting system, how would they have known it was going to take $52mil? It’s easy to say they “could” have bid that, but they had no way of knowing their bid was not the highest. Should they have gone to $70mil, just to be safe? I don’t think that’s the best approach. They didn’t go in and bid $20mil, or some other lowball offer.

                    There were plenty of questions on Cespedes during the time before he was going to sign. Honestly, I’m glad they didn’t get him, in hindsight. Same with Puig. Let’s see what his sophmore season looks like. The Dodgers appear to have been smarter than everyone else on him, but rival teams/scouts were laughing at the silliness that is his contract at the time. While not very reliable, there was at least one report that stated the Cubs offered more for Puig, but he wanted to go to L.A. I don’t look at anything they’ve done and see how anyone can say they didn’t try to sign the “impact” talent. This isn’t the Cubs of old, ignoring Kirk Gibson’s interest in signing with the Cubs, or making Andre Dawson hand over a blank contract. They went out and approached the best free agents, that fit with the team and financially under their budget. As a whole, I believe the organization has been better off with the decisions made. I would like more wins at the ML level. I’m tired of watching losing seasons. I don’t like seeing the young players regress. But this isn’t Jim Frey or Ed Lynch asleep at the wheel. And it’s not Larry Himes letting Greg Maddux walk away so he could sign 5-6 nobodies for the same amount of money. Maybe comparing what this front office has done to previous front offices is aiming too low, but they still have to live up the Jim Hendry’s legacy. I know that sounds even funny to read, but Hendry’s term with the Cubs could be considered successful. 3 playoff appearances, 2 in back to back years. Growing the payroll well over $100mil. Despite his failings, the current regime is not in his league yet. But if their plan comes to fruition, I think they will surpass him soon enough. And I’m starting to get excited about the young players about to make their debuts, despite the losing we as fans have endured.

                    1. Andrew

                      im saying the ways teams get better than everyone else is by making deals that dont look that good at the time of the deal. This FO hasnt made any big questionable moves. One of Hendry’s best moves was signing Lilly to a contract that everyone thought was an overpay, and it ended up being one of the biggest reasons those 07 and 08 teams were good. The dodgers made a really stupid move according to everyone at the time in signign puig and it ended up being one of the biggest reasons they had such a good run this year. The FO has to make some risky moves if they want to get better fast.

  15. cubmig

    “I’d put it at a low risk/unknown reward type signing.” [Jed]

    Translation: Keep throwing at the wall, maybe something will stick.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      … which is kind of the entire idea behind minor-league signings.

  16. Spoda17

    Building an effective minor league system doesn’t happen by chance. It’s not like people are calling the Cubs, we actually have to go find player… Not all minor leaguers are stud prospects, but you still have to field a team… Theo and Jed have done a great job signing these types of players.

  17. Lou Brock

    Brett, I mentioned this signing in a post about 10 days ago and now you are reporting as if this signing just occurred. I saw it on the Cubs Online sight which reported that Baseball America had published it. By the way he was voted Rookie of the Year in that league which I also mentioned in my previous post.

    1. ssckelley

      So when you going to start your own blog?

      1. Lou Brock

        Is you name Brett ?

        1. Lou Brock


        2. ssckelley

          Nope, but it does appear that you are butt hurt for not have gotten a gold star for mentioning this signing. Since you are on top of stuff like this perhaps you should start your own blog.

        3. DarthHater

          If you want to communicate privately with Brett, email him. If you want to piss and moan in a public forum, the public is going to respond.

          1. Hookers or Cake


    2. Cubbie Blues

      You must be better than anyone anywhere. Bully for you.

      1. TWC

        I disagree. The Cubs signed this kid back on 10/2. Lou claims that he posted the news on 10/11. That’s 9 days late!

        1. ssckelley

          I was wondering if that date is an error. It shows the signing happened on 10/2 but it is listed after players were assigned to Iowa on the 9th.

          1. TWC

            It’s reverse-chronological — look at any other month: the newest item is at the top, the oldest at the bottom.

        2. Cubbie Blues

          Nope, he had it first. Just ask him. He’s the bestest ever. #nokryptonite

    3. Bwa

      I honestly doubt Brett has the time to read every single post on this site. Get over yourself.

  18. ciscopack

    We (NC State) could have used him last year! Get in good shape Danny and give the Cubs all you have and good luck!

    1. Blublud

      Huge NC State fan. We could have ally used his bat in the WS. I hope this is one of those rare, feel good, success stories.

  19. Cubs_Questions

    On an unrelated note, OF Matt Murton (remember him?) tweeted about an hour ago that he’ll be returning to the US, and it sounds like he’s done playing baseball in Japan, after hitting .311 in four years with the Hanshin Tigers. He’s now 32.

    1. Jon

      I remember all the stat monkeys throwing a shit fit when he didn’t get enough(in their view) playing time with Cubs. It’s as if they were handcuffing the white Barry Bonds.

      1. Cubs_Questions

        In 2006, he led the Cubs in batting average with a .297 and 0.809 OPS in 508 PA and never really got a chance in ’07 under Sweet Lou.

        He just got pushed out of the picture by the signings of Alfonso Soriano and Cliff Floyd (They also still had Jacque Jones then).

        1. Jon

          Billy Bean didn’t want anything to do with him after getting him for Harden, and couldn’t find a way to hit in Coors field after that. He just wasn’t that good.

          1. hansman

            Nope, the Cubs ruined him by limiting his playing time. Only explanation.

            1. Kyle

              He was the original Klafcynzski

            2. Cubs_Questions

              Not what I was saying even marginally.

          2. hansman

            Nope, the Cubs ruined him by limiting his playing time. Only explanation.

            Forget the fact that his “stellar” year featured an OPS+ of 104 and he wasn’t very good against righties and his defense wasn’t anything spectacular…

            1. Edwin

              He was still a league average LF who probably could have been had for the league minium. In 2010 there were 10 teams with 1 WAR or less from their LF spot. I think Murton probably would have been an upgrade for at least one of those 10, and he would have cost almost nothing.

              He had some poor luck. Oakland already had Seth Smith in 2008, and in 2009 they had Matt Holliday, so they didn’t need Murton. So Murton was traded to the Rockies, where he was competing with Carlos Gonzalez. Murton still put up a 133 wRC+ for the Rockies AAA team, so it’s not like he completely stopped hitting.

              Murton probably deserved another shot, but it’s not that big a deal.

              1. ssckelley

                Don’t worry, as a former #1 draft pick of the Red Sox I am sure the Cubs will be working him out by next week.

                Maybe he can manage?

              2. hansman

                “He was still a league average LF ”

                No, he was a league average bat which would make him a less than average LF.

                Don’t get me wrong, I loved him over Cedeno back in the day but he was a bench bat that wasn’t very good as a bench bat.

                1. Edwin

                  Since about 2005, the average wRC+ for a LF has been between 100 and 105.


                  If Murton would have put up his career 101 wRC+, he would have been close to, or at the very least slightly below league average with his bat for a LF. He also played decent defense, and was a decent baserunner.

                  Even if he was a below average LF, Murton probably deserved at least a look from some teams, considering how many teams got <1 WAR from their LF in 2010. At the very least he could have been a useful player as the RH hitter in a platoon situation.

                  1. Hookers or Cake

                    I love how the OP says (anyone remember him) and all the old arguments break out like it was yesterday. Its like some strange sing-a-long in a favorite old piano bar. You can just yell out “Campana!” and everyone yells for 5-10 minutes.

                    1. ssckelley

                      He should have bunt more.

                  2. hansman

                    I’m sure if you don’t filter out the short time guys it will drag down the offensive average by quite a bit.

                    Once you filter the 2007-2008 list of LF down to 800 PA you get a wRC+ positional average of 113. You also get 31 players. Going down to his 103 wRC+ during that time, there were 37 LF that all provided a similar or better wRC+.

                    1. mjhurdle

                      nerd :)

            2. ssckelley

              Sounds like a perfect fit for the 2014 Cubs. Sign him up Theo!

      2. ssckelley

        Yeah, and he had 1 decent season statistically. Reminds me of the fit some fans through when Brant Brown was traded for Lieber.

        1. Bilbo161

          I still remember Santo’s response to that ball he dropped against the brewers. That one play did in brown with the cubs.

  20. Roscoe Village Fan

    Even if canela doesn’t make it out of the minors, he would achieve an enormous feat just by being a career minor leaguer. Bull Durhamesque career. Not bad for either side considering the price but not gonna be a game changer my friends. These our the off seasons of our lives…

  21. ssckelley

    This guy was named to the BA Independent All Star team. Along with another former Cub catcher prospect.

    1. Hookers or Cake

      Jake Fox lives! Crank it up!

  22. Steve Ontiveros' Mustache
    1. mjhurdle

      Ha! didn’t even realize that i have seen Canela play. I go to a lot of the Gateway Grizzlies, and they play the River City Rascals.
      Kinda cool to see one of those players get a chance. That league and its players do a great job providing some good entertainment, and the players are especially good with the fans. My kid has baseballs, game hats, and even a jersey from some of the Grizzlies players.

  23. Jason Powers

    Looks like the first thing Danny should do is distribute his weight to CJ Edwards.
    But seriously, he needs to condition down to a 215lb weight level at least by Spring Training. (Hopefully his defense isn’t so woeful – pop to pop under 2.0.)

    I suspect the Cubs are deep in a search for catchers on all exchanges, foreign and domestic. ;)

  24. FastBall

    This guy is big enough to play 3 Technique for the Bears. Just because he is big that means he can’t play the 2. I don’t know about that. Why not have a look see and make that decision in about 8 months. He is obvioulsy good enough to get picked up by the 5th best farm system in baseball :0)

    I think he sticks for a full season at Daytona.

  25. Rynomite

    Having seen Canela play at least a dozen times, I can say that he is not a catcher prospect. He’s a passed ball waiting to happen and cannot throw well. But he is an OPS machine with a little pop, so he may become a 1B prospect. He’s actually Vogelbach-esque but with a better walk rate and less power.

    I think the reason he left State was that he wanted to catch and they were going to move him to 1B/DH. Brett Austin, a former supplemental round pick, is the catcher at State and unseated Canela.

    He may well be allowed to catch for a year or two in the minors, but if his bat plays at higher levels, he’ll be moved off the position. He makes Navarro look like a thin, nimble gold glover in comparison.

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