Feliz Navidad

The Cubs acquired/signed two Mexican players last week, 18-year old 2B Carlos Sepulveda and 19-year old RHP Jesus Camargo.  

Both played for league champion Diablos de Hermosillo of la Liga Norte de Sonora (the top Mexican professional developmental league) this past season. 

Camargo made a brief cameo appearance with Diablos Rojos del Mexico at the very end of the Mexican League season in August, and Sepulveda was the #1 draft pick of Naranjeros de Hermosillo (and the #1 overall pick) in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican Pacific League) draft this past summer.

The Cubs had previously signed 16-year old Mexican League RHP Hector Garcia in September, after acquiring the rights to the teenager from Leones de Yucatan.

 

The bonuses paid to the three players has not yet been reported, but because they blew past their 2013-14 International Signing Bonus Pool (ISBP) limit by more than 15%, the Cubs are prohibited from giving any international player subject to ISBP limits a signing bonus in excess of $250K during the 2014-15 International Signing Period (ISP). The 2014-15 ISP concludes on June 15th, and then after a "quiet" period of 16 days when no international players subject to ISBP restrictions may be signed, the 2015-16 ISP commences on July 2nd. 

 

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The Cubs had maintained only a token presence in Mexico in previous years, going as far as "loaning" one or two players to clubs in the Mexican League during the minor league season (most-recently RHP Frank Batista, RHP Yoanner Negrin, and C Sergio Burruel), and inviting a couple of young pitchers from the Mexican League Tijuana club (LHP Marco Tovar and RHP Alan Guerrero) to Instructs post-2007 on an "exchange" program (Cubs had the option to purchase one or both pitchers, but ultimately declined). 

Unlike the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, Mexico is generally considered to be a "football" (soccer)-first country that does not emphasize beisbol much at the elementary school level, but there are several decent prospects in Mexico every year, and the Cubs might as well try to sign them.

Most Mexican players are under contract to and are on the Reserve List of a team in the Mexican League, and so when a Mexican player who is reserved by a Mexican League club signs with an MLB organization, a portion of the player's signing bonus is paid to the player's Mexican League club to release the player from his contract (making the deal a sort of cash purchase by the MLB club). It is very similar to what happens when a Japanese (NPB) club signs a player reserved by an MLB organization (as happened in recent years with Micah Hoffpauir, Bobby Scales, and Bryan LaHair), with the MLB organization receiving a cash payment from the NPB club in return for releasing the player from his contract. 

Very few Mexican players sign directly with an MLB organization, and the ones who do are banned from playing in either the Mexican League or Mexican Pacific League. 

The Mexican League is a part of Minor League Baseball, but it operates as an "independent" league and is not subject to losing players or selecting players the Rule 5 Draft, although players can be loaned or even sent outright to or purchased from Mexican League clubs by MLB organizations. 

The Mexican League is really an "A"-ball league, but it is classified as "AAA" because back in the day, players in the Mexican League were subject to selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft, and designating the Mexican League "AAA" meant that Mexican League players subject to selection could only be selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (with the higher $50,000 draft price, and so that a drafted player could eventually be re-claimed by his former Mexican League club if the player did not make the drafting club's MLB 25-man roster). 

 

Comments

BA transactions lists Fernando Cruz RHP as also being signed. He was released earlier by the Royals.

HAGSAG: 24-year old RHP Fernando Cruz was released by the Royals in 2013 after being converted from a 3B to RHP in 2011, after a previous conversion to catcher failed. (He was drafted as an infielder by KC out of Puerto Rico in 2007). Cruz did not pitch in either 2013 or 2014 (he spent the entire 2013 season on the 60-day DL), but he has been one of the best relievers (so far) with Santurce in la Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (the Puerto Rican Winter League), where he is a teammate of Javy Baez (which is probably how the Cubs noticed him). 

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