One of the things I’ve seen over and over again this year is the phrase, “If this were a normal season …” and it breaks my heart every time I see it. But …
… if this were a normal season, today would have been a huge day. July 2 marks the beginning of the International Free Agent signing period, so today would’ve opened up the 2020-21 period. The period in which the Chicago Cubs were going to sign, among many interesting players, one of the top prospects in the entire class, shortstop Cristian Hernandez. But that period has been punted to January because of the pandemic.
As we’ve discussed, Hernandez will still likely join the Cubs when the IFA period does finally open up in January, so the pandemic did not necessarily create a loss in this respect. But for a player that talented and this young, it’s easy to feel down about not getting him into the Cubs care and under their direction as soon as possible.
But again, he’ll be a Cub eventually – battling alongside Ed Howard for most interesting teenage shortstop prospect in baseball, let alone just in the Cubs system – and there’s some new scouting you’ll want to check out:
I mean … what do you want me to say?
The guy is drawing comparisons to Manny Machado and Alex Rodriguez. I know big league comps are almost always bollocks (first time I’ve ever used that word, thought it might be fun … it was), there are reasons he’s one of the top prospects in the class. So ignore the specific names and internalize the implied compliment: “The most talented Dominican shortstop in this year’s class, Hernandez will earn his bonus thanks to a combination of a powerful bat and a body that looks like it will add strength without forcing him to move off shortstop.”
There’s more: “You can easily project (his power) to plus. The ball really comes off his bat well. It’s a clean, easy swing with power to the middle of the field,” the international director said. “The lack of projection in the body over a one-to-two-year window, it probably points to him sticking at shortstop. It probably points to him growing a couple of inches, adding on a little weight and looking like a middle infielder more than a third baseman,” the international director said. “I don’t have any concerns about him slowing down or being forced to move to third base.”
Adding a guy like that to an organization that already has shortstop talent like Javy Baez, Nico Hoerner, Ed Howard, Kevin Made, Aramis Ademan, and others is just flat out exciting. The Cubs are rebuilding the same stockpile of middle infielders that fueled their 2016 run to the postseason (both on the field and in trade).
Although I still wish the Cubs could start working with him sooner, he does seem to be staying on top of his game, even if he’s ready to get going: “I’ve been staying in shape, working out at home and doing my exercise routines,” he said. “I do feel a little anxious waiting for some news on when the day I’m going to sign will be. I’m a little nervous and anxious because there’s so much unknown out there.”
If you get a chance, click over to the Baseball America post, because there’s more there – from Hernandez – on his background and preparation and more from scouts on his potential impact and overall ceiling. The Cubs minor league system is about to take a massive leap forward, and Hernandez could be a big part of that.