Cubs Sign a Cuban, But Not That One
The Cubs did sign an acclaimed player out of Cuba, but it's not Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler. Rather 18-year old LHP Gerardo Concepcion. A player Kevin Goldstein called polished for his age, but with the ceiling of a #4/#5 starter and whom Goldstein would put at #6 on his Top 11 Cubs prospect list. Standing at 6'2", he throws in the upper 80's to 90mph with a curve and a change-up (what's up Ted Lilly?). Considering his age and alleged polish, he should start in Peoria rather than hang back in Arizona and then join Boise or the Arizona Rookie League in June. Enrique Rojas says the deal is for a total of $7M and a major league deal, which means a 40-man roster move would be necessary. ESPN Chicago adds that incentives can take the deal up to around the $8M mark. All this makes the Jeff Samardzija draft deal look good.
The Cubs have also signed Ryan-Rowland Smith to a minor league deal. The 29-year old Aussie pitched in the Astros minor leagues after spending parts of 4 seasons in the majors with the Mariners, but I'll always remember him from this commercial. I presume he'll be added to the non-roster invite list for spring training.
Also, with Edwin Jackson signing with the Nationals, the Cubs at the moment own the #6, #43, #55 and #65 picks in the 2012 draft. Derek Lee and Raul Ibanez are the last two Type B free agents out there and there's no guarantee they'll sign, but if they do, they both rank higher than Carlos Pena in the Elias Rankings, so those last two picks I mentioned could drop to as low as #57 and #67 if I did my math correctly. BA put out an early top 100 prospect list for the 2012 draft for some early obsessing.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!