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.
- Richard Gallardo, rhp, Venezuela (No. 6 prospect to BA, No. 5 to MLB.com ) – $1 million
- Jose Lopez, of, Dominican Republic (27 to BA, 17 to MLB.com) – $1.5 million
- Rafael Morel, ss, Dominican Republic (46 to BA, not in MLB.com top 30) – $850,000
- Joel Machado, lhp, Venezuela (47 to BA, 28 to MLB.com) – $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 MLB.com, 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 MLB.com, 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.
Cubs adding a pair of Top 50 international prospects, Rafael Morel and Jose Lopez, from the Dominican Republic. They've also agreed to sign the No. 1 Venezuelan pitcher, Richard Gallardo. https://t.co/YaXTsiQ1Mr pic.twitter.com/gGmwrrU0Td
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 2, 2018
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.