Although the Chicago Cubs are heavily involved and invested in the international scouting scene, the nature of that world is such that you aren’t going to be able to land a prospect at the top of the various rankings every year. Part of that is owing the limitations of the rankings themselves, part of that is owing to the limitations of scouting in every international market (some teams can do it better than others), and part of it is that you just won’t land the top of the market all the time. Guys at the top aren’t a lock in any case, but generally speaking, you’d like to land some top names with your IFA bonus pool (a la Cristian Hernandez in the last round).
Then again, a good signing class could have 15 to 20 prospects or more in it, and when you multiply that across 30 organizations and consider the scouting limitations, it’s just so much more of a crapshoot than, for example, the MLB Draft (which is itself quite an imperfect exercise). Oh, also? Thanks to the way bonus pools are created in the current CBA, the Cubs will always be in the group of teams that starts with the smallest bonus pool to work with, because of their market size.
With all that in mind, then, you might have mixed feelings on the updated Baseball America IFA rankings for the upcoming 2021-22 prospect class, where the top expected Cubs prospect – Panamanian C/3B Adan Sanchez – comes in at number 22 out of the initial group of 25 ranked prospects. To that I say, ah, hey now. First of all, with only 25 prospects ranked at the moment, having any prospect on the list is a good start. Second of all, the rankings – for now – are by expected bonus amount. That means the bonuses for players from very highly-scouted areas (think the Dominican Republic and Cuban players who’ve relocated there) tend to skew much higher.
I say all that because the Cubs’ top prospect on the list is Adan Sanchez, a catcher/third base prospect, who is the top player from Panama. As we saw before with, for example, Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya, the top prospect in Panama tends to get a smaller bonus relative to players from the DR or Cuba or Venezuela, even if traditional scouting methods might ultimately rank him a little higher. I’m not saying that’s what WILL happen with Sanchez, but I am saying this: I love that the Cubs are landing the top prospect from a country’s entire class. Indeed, Sanchez is the second-highest-ranked prospect from anywhere other than DR/Cuba/Venezuela.
[Sanchez is] an instinctive player who has an advanced offensive approach for his age, which he showed by hitting well against older competition while playing in Panama’s youth national league at 14 in 2020. He makes consistent hard contact to all fields with home run power to his pull side now, with a chance to develop into a strong, physical hitter with more power as he fills out. Sanchez has the attributes to catch, with a strong arm and a high baseball IQ. He should be able to play there long term, but he has also spent time at third base, where his hands and feet work well.
If this year’s IFA period goes according to schedule, the Cubs will be able to sign Sanchez, officially, on July 2. Last year’s period was moved back to open in January, however, and it’s possible it happens again this time around.
For fun, you can see Sanchez playing in the Little League World Series a few years ago in a game called by none other than Cubs manager David Ross. Home run clip here, with Ross saying, “I know Panamanian folks know his name, but you better learn this name. Adan Sanchez is an absolute stud.”
Another highlight reel here for fun, and an interview clip I was able to find on a quick search: