We haven’t even gotten to the June draft, and we yet we already have big news regarding the July 2 start of the international free agent signing season.
The Cubs went on an expensive signing splurge a couple years ago, and as a result they were hit with two years of limitations that forbade them from signing any player for more than $300,000. This is year two of those restrictions. However, as we’ve discussed in the past, due to the fact that pretty much all the good prospects from Mexico are affiliated with a Mexican League team, there is a loophole that effectively allows the Cubs to still make very high profile signings out of Mexico while staying under the limits. Only the part of the bonus that goes to the player counts against the cap, but in Mexico the team and/or league keep a large portion of that bonus. As a result, the Cubs can make a higher dollar signing with a lower cap figure.
And it looks like the Cubs are going to use that technique again this year, and it could net them one of the better arms available. Ben Badler of Baseball America is reporting (subscription needed) that Florencio Serrano appears to be headed to the Cubs. Serrano is a 17-year-old pitcher with a good fastball and promising secondary stuff who could be a bit in the rotation or the bullpen.
The fact that the Cubs may be able to land high end international talent while being subjected to the spending limits is a very good thing; keeping their farm system stocked to the level they will need to maintain a winner in Chicago is not going to be easy under the current CBA. The Cubs will need to get as much talent as they can at every opportunity, and moves like this (if it comes to fruition) are an excellent start.
- Aaron Brooks: 6 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K
- Zac Rosscup: 1.2 IP, 1 BB, 4 K
- Victor Caratini: 2 for 4, 2B
- Bijan Rademacher: 1 for 3, HR
- Preston Morrison: 2.2 IP, 9 R, 11 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Brad Markey: 2.1 IP, 3 K
- Ryan McNeil: 1 IP, 1 K
- Charcer Burks: 1 for 4, 2B
- Jason Vosler: 1 for 4, HR
- Erick Castillo: 1 for 3, 2B
- Ryan Kellogg: 6.2 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K
- Casey Bloomquist: 2.1 IP, 4 K
- Daniel Spingola: 2 for 4, 2B
- Eddy Martinez: 3 for 4, HR
- Tyler Alamo: 2 for 4
- Jesse Hodges: 1 for 4, 2B
- Bryan Hudson: 5 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 1 BB
- Vimael Machin: 2 for 4
- Luis Ayala: 2 for 4
- Roberto Caro: 2 for 4, 2B, 3B
- Pre-draft prognostications continue to link the Cubs to a defensively gifted high school shortstop, a move that would not be entirely out of character for this front office given that the only time they have spent a first round pick on a high school player he was certainly defensively gifted (Almora). But some experts are also still linking the Cubs to high school pitching, and that makes almost no sense what so ever. High school pitching is by far the biggest risk in the draft no matter where you are picking; unless the talent gap is simply too big to pass up (unlikely at the bottom of the first round), I have a hard time seeing this front office veering off in that direction in the first round given their history.
- It would be easy to look at the (often bad) starts Aaron Brooks has put together this season and conclude he isn’t a prospect worth watching, but that verdict might be premature. Since being acquired by the Cubs for Chris Coghlan, Brooks has not done a lot of pitching. Two lengthy DL stints for a hip issue cost him most of 2016, and while his 2017 starts have not been pretty, the trend line is decidedly positive. He has struck out 19 over his past three starts after striking out 19 over his previous eight. Walks haven’t been a problem, and his groundball rate is decent. He isn’t an option for the Major League rotation today, but if the positive trend continues he could be by the end of the summer.
- The Pelicans’ auction for tornado relief is still going, and so far the hot item has been that Eloy Jimenez busted bat. Five bidders have been fighting for that one.