International Cubs Class Review - Prospect Analysis and More IFA Funds Remaining

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International Cubs Class Review – Prospect Analysis and More IFA Funds Remaining

Chicago Cubs

Some more prospect reading for you today – hey, the big team is in a slump, so let’s focus on the future … or something like that – as Baseball America has reviewed and written up the Chicago Cubs’ 2023 international free agent class.

You may recall that the top of the Cubs’ class this year was comprised of three seven-figure shortstop signings, but there are more members:

There are write-ups on Derniche Valdez ($2.8 million), Angel Cepeda ($1 million), and Ludwing Espinoza ($1 million).

One of the most fun sections was the reveal of a pitching prospect the Cubs signed, whom I had otherwise totally never heard of:

The Cubs have long been one of the most active teams signing international prospects going back the last couple of decades, but until this year, they had never signed a Brazilian amateur prospect. That changed this year when they signed righthander Emannoel Madeira for $10,000. Madeira pitched in the U-18 World Cup in September 2022 in Bradenton, Fla. He threw four scoreless, no-hit innings against Canada, finishing the tournament with a 1.75 ERA, nine strikeouts and three walks in eight innings. Even more impressive, Madeira did it as a 16-year-old and is one of the youngest players signed this year, as he won’t turn 17 until the end of August. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Madeira has a big frame with a loose arm, a sound delivery for his age and he throws strikes with a fastball that has been up to 91 mph. There could be mid-90s velocity coming, and with the way hitters react late to his fastball, it already plays up because of its life. Madeira’s fastball is his predominant pitch, with the beginnings of a curveball, slider and changeup in his repertoire.

Up to 91 mph at 16 years old? 6’3″ and 225 lbs at 16 years old? My word!

And before you blanch at the price tag and assume it means there’s not a real prospect here, keep in mind the nature of IFA signings: (1) the biggest money deals tend to be “agreed to” years in advance, which means sometimes later-blooming prospects don’t get big deals because the money isn’t there and/or because scouts weren’t all that aware of him; and (2) pitching prospects in IFA, in particular, frequently aren’t big money signings because of the obvious development risks involved in teenage arms.

None of that is to say Madeira is definitely a legit prospect, but it does make his story – especially being the organization’s first prospect from Brazil – all the more interesting.

Much more in the Baseball America review, including more details on the Cubs’ three big money signings (one of whom really sounds like he might have been a steal).

A side note in the piece that is particularly interesting: the Cubs still have about $500,000 left in IFA pool space in this period. That’s highly unusual for the Cubs after signing day, because typically they’ve committed their full pull by the time signings are actually permitted. Either a deal fell through, or the Cubs were intentionally reserving some funds for a late-arriving/uncommitted prospect (someone from Cuba? a player who was too young to sign but is turning 16 later this year?).

It’s possible the Cubs could trade a bonus pool slot, too, but that isn’t usually the way they operate on the amateur market.

So, anyway, stay tuned on that. Could be another prospect coming later this year.

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.