I finally watched ‘Pelotero’ last night (for free on Amazon Prime, I should add), the documentary about players trying to get signed out of the Dominican Republic, with a focus on the stories of Miguel Sano and Jean Carlos Batista. If you’re a baseball/prospect nerd, it’s a must-watch. I didn’t realize how eager the top prospects are to sign on July 2nd (just as the teams are eager to get the youngsters locked up), and how it’s almost like you’ve failed if you aren’t able to sign on that day. Well, at least that’s the impression the picture gives you. The whole thing is an interesting look at this process of signing teenagers – seriously, don’t forget how young these kids are – in the DR.
- Sano’s story was really fascinating. For context now, Sano is considered a top 10/20 prospect in the game (some have him as high as a top 5 type), and any organization would love to have him. I knew there were alleged shenanigans with age discrepancies and shady recruitment tactics back when he signed four+ years ago, but I didn’t know the extent. And, get this: the finalists for Sano were the Twins and Pirates, and, if Sano had decided to sign with the Pirates, he’d be a 23-year-old prospect right now, not a 20-year-old prospect. Yeah, that sounds weird, but it’s apparently what happened – Sano’s age was being investigated, and the Pirates said they would sign him despite the MLB investigation if he would just “admit” that he was 19 at the time, and not 16, which he always claimed he was (and, presumably, still asserts that birthdate to this day). He waited things out, and eventually MLB cleared him to sign but would not approve his age. The Twins were willing to take the risk for a hair over $3 million, and they got him. (Sano was originally expected to get over $5 million, which a Cubs scout is depicted as saying was probably too much – oops.)
- More on new Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller, and thoughts on his approach from Darwin Barney (the two have been working together already in Mesa for some time now). Reverse Barney’s offensive course could be hugely important for the first half of 2014 – no, not because Barney is likely to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman too far beyond 2014, but because, if he shows anything whatsoever with the bat in the first half, the Cubs might be able to spin him off mid-season for a low-level prospect, while simultaneously opening up an infield spot for Javier Baez or Arismendy Alcantara.
- A little more on Keith Law’s Cubs top 14 list from Jesse Rogers, who gets some feedback from Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod. He had some nice things to say about Kyle Hendricks, who did not make the list.
- So maybe the Cubs are going to be involved in the developments around the new ballpark in Mesa (the Wrigleyville West commercial area)? There are some conflicting reports about whether the Cubs are going to be handing all of that off to the city of Mesa, but a spokesperson says the Cubs are still interested in doing some of the developing. I guess we’ll see what happens.
- The February issue of Vine Line is all prospecty, and Kris Bryant lands the cover. Much to the chagrin of everyone, Bryant’s dreamy eyes are not featured prominently. I guess we’ll have to settle for “baseball ability.”
- Daniel Bard, whom the Cubs picked up off of waivers late in the year and then non-tendered, wound up signing on with the Rangers after thoracic outlet surgery.
- If you’re just now tuning in, each of the Cubs and rooftops had a spokesperson on the radio early this morning. Check out the highlights.