Cubs Land Five Big Prospects on Day One of International Free Agency, Including Two Top Pitchers

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Cubs Land Five Big Prospects on Day One of International Free Agency, Including Two Top Pitchers

Chicago Cubs

With the first day of the 2018-19 International Free Agency period more or less in the books, I wanted to slip in a quick rundown of the prospects the Chicago Cubs signed today.

Per Baseball America and, here are the prospects the Cubs inked today, with bonus figures:

  • Richard Gallardo, rhp, Venezuela (No. 6 prospect to BA, No. 5 to ) – $1 million
  • Jose Lopez, of, Dominican Republic (27 to BA, 17 to – $1.5 million
  • Rafael Morel, ss, Dominican Republic (46 to BA, not in top 30) – $850,000
  • Joel Machado, lhp, Venezuela (47 to BA, 28 to – $850,000
  • Yohendrick Pinango, of, Venezuela (unranked) – $400,000

Obviously rankings – especially of 16-year-old international prospects who’ve showcased for scouts only a handful of times – are not the be-all, end-all of quality signings. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that even in this era of hard-capped bonus pools, the smallest of which are for large-market teams, the Cubs were still able to come away from the first day of the period with notable signings.

Gallardo is ranked as the best pitching prospect in the class by, and second best by BA. He already works with a good fastball, and above-average curveball and changeup, so he’s got everything you’d want in a frontline pitching prospect. The rub, of course, is that he’s a teenager with very little high-level competitive experience, and development is far from a certainty. Great prospect to get into the system, but you might not hear much about him for a couple years.

Much of that could be said for Machado, too, who is the top ranked lefty in the class to, and third best to BA. Pitching prospects at this age on the international stage are such a crapshoot that, as you can see, the top arms tend not to command bonuses in the same range as the positional prospects. But you have to take your swings, as it were.

You can read more on the Cubs’ new prospects here and here, and we’ll keep tabs on the rest of the class as it fills out.

The commitments so far have the Cubs up to $4.6 million out of their $4.983 million bonus pool. Lots of intriguing signings come in the $30,000 to $100,000 range, so the Cubs aren’t finished, but if they want any shot at a big fish like outfielder Victor Victor Mesa out of Cuba, they’ll have to trade for a significant additional chunk of bonus pool money. My guess is they’ll feel that market out, determine whether they could realistically sign him *IF* they managed to add enough pool space, and then they’ll set about trying to do so if the signals are good.

All in all, good start, Cubs. Get those prospects in the door, and continue about the business of rebuilding the farm system despite being in a competitive window. Not easy.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.