Chicago Cubs Already Have Four Undrafted Free Agent Signings: Avitia, Brereton, Powell, Santana

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With the draft behind us – and down to 20 rounds from the pre-pandemic 40 – you know there are going to be some intriguing undrafted free agent signings across baseball. The Cubs did an excellent job targeting prospects last year, most notably Ben Leeper, who has become arguably the organization’s best relief prospect just one year after being an undrafted signing. Now, would Leeper have been undrafted in a 20-round draft? It’s conceivable, but maybe not. So it’s a little tougher to pull off THAT kind of success story (heck, if Leeper had been a third rounder, his rocket-shot still would’ve been impressive!).

Undrafted free agents can be signed to a maximum bonus of $20,000, which is not nothing, but obviously it isn’t the kind of bonus you’d hope to land if you were drafted.

So far, the Chicago Cubs are up to four undrafted free agent signings …

David Avitia, C, Grand Canyon

If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because the Cubs drafted the younger Avitia brother, righty Daniel, in the 19th round this week. Funnily enough, here’s what Bryan wrote when guessing that the Cubs wouldn’t be able to sign Daniel: “I think there’s a chance they figure this one out, but Avitia has an opportunity to play with his brother at Grand Canyon University and that might create enough leverage to ask for a number the Cubs simply can’t get to.”

That’s not to say that signing David was all about getting Daniel to sign, but it does suggest that maybe SOME of the reason for Daniel to head to school before going pro just transition from that school to the Cubs organization.

But about David Avitia, who was a light-hitting four-year catcher at Grand Canyon (because of the pandemic, players were generally granted another year of eligibility if they wanted it). You can surmise that the target here is for the glove, which may or may not ever be enough to carry him to a future big league back-up job, but you want great catchers – like, great at calling, game-planning, receiving, blocking, etc. – throughout your farm system as part of your development process.

Richard Brereton, RHP, Duke

Brereton, who originally hails from London, England, pitched at Emory and then Duke in his college career. The results overall were not great, but he racked up the strikeouts and had a couple great ACC appearances in relief. It’s a scouting play, and the Cubs have quite the pipeline going at Duke. They signed first baseman Matt Mervis as an undrafted free agent there just last year.

Walker Powell, RHP, Southern Mississippi

Absolutely outstanding results, getting better every year for Powell. He’s a relative giant at 6’8″, which can make it (1) very hard for young, amateur hitters to get on plane with their swings, and (2) very hard for the pitcher to maintain his mechanics. If I had to guess, Powell would be a bullpen conversion at some point, where the Cubs have had some success with extremely tall pitchers. Sometimes, you just want to get guys who do something “extreme” into the system, and you figure out the rest from there.

Tyler Santana, RHP, Jacksonville

Santana was striking out a batter an inning by his senior year, and apparently has a lively fastball that the Cubs will probably aim to boost.

https://twitter.com/tyler_santana17/status/1415504682185895937

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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