Baseball America (in the form of Ben Badler) is in the process of recapping all of the under-23 International Free Agency signings to date. Today he takes a look at the Cubs and the rest of the NL Central, covering everyone who received a signing bonus of at least $100k. The article looks to be ungated, though it can be difficult to tell sometimes with BA; do check it out.
The Cubs have signed a total of 27 players in the current period. All of the names in the piece (Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, etc…) have been previously covered here at OV with the exception of Jesus Gonzalez. Gonzalez, it turns out was a 2012-2013 signee; he agreed to a $100k bonus last June.
At 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, Gonzalez signed as a shortstop but played mostly second base last year, though he’ll probably move back and forth between the two spots this season. He’s an average runner with… solid hands in the field, with second base probably his best fit. He needs to get stronger and bring better performance to the plate in games.
Most of the reports are fairly positive, though Badler seems lukewarm on Eloy, who he rates as having average raw power, and worries about his long arms and in-game performance to-date.
The report on Jen-Ho Tseng is encouraging, as we heard in July that many scouts had backed off of him after seeing declining stuff in the World Baseball Classic. Badler reports that the Cubs were one of a few teams to stay with him and they saw the velocity get back up around 95 again in June.
19 year-old RHP Jefferson Mejia gets perhaps the best reviews of the bunch:
His fastball has explosive life down in the zone, with downhill plane and hard sink. It’s an uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters, who also have to deal with a solid upper-70s curveball that Mejia has added some power to over the past year with late, sharp action at times.
On Gleyber Torres:
He has a compact, relatively filled out frame for his age, though he has leaned out some since signing… He has good bat-to-ball skills with his ability to stay short to the ball and good hand-eye coordination.. The Cubs see Torres as an above-average athlete who can play shortstop, though others aren’t as sold on his athleticism and see… a skill set that elicits comparisons to Freddy Sanchez.
Absent from BA's writeup is Wladimir Galindo. In December, the Cubs signed Galindo off of his strong performance with the team's minor-league affiliate in the Venezuelan Winter League. The omission likely indicates that his signing bonus was less than $100k, but it's possible that BA just hasn't been able to confirm his signing yet.
*UPDATE*- Badler confirms on twitter that Galindo was a lower-bonus signing.
@luftmich They signed him, but he's a lower-level guy.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 11, 2014
Badler hears that Eloy and Gleyber won't start out in Arizona this season. (In Torres's case, that conflicts with a previous report.) He has Mejia slated for Arizona and Tseng possibly starting in Boise or even Kane County.