The Cubs have been rather busy in the IFA market since the 2016-16 International signing period began on July 2. The Cubs have added six of the top International prospects to the system and are expected to be very active prior to the end of the signing period on June 15.
OF Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros is grabbing the headlines, but there is a lot of talent that will soon be available for teams to sign including INF/OF Jonatan Machado, 2B Jose Fernandez, OF Jorge Ona, INF Randy Arozarena, OF Yadiel Hernandez, 2B/3B Luis Yander La O and RHP Norge Ruiz.
Lazarito was declared a free agent Monday and can sign with teams as early as Feb. 10. According to Jesse Sanchez, Randy Arozarena, Carlos Gomez, Norberto Castellanos, Pedro Castillo and Maikel Hernandez were declared free agents Tuesday.
Showcases have been scheduled for several of the Cuban prospects. According to Jesse Sanchez, OF Yadiel Hernandez, SS Alejandro Rivera Martinez and 3B Luis Perez Tejada have a showcase set for Feb. 23 in Mexico City. INF Randy Arozarena, C Dariel Crespo, RHP Navid Cosme and LHP Yasmany Hernandez scheduled a showcase on Jan. 22 at Toros de Tijuana Stadium in Mexico. 2B Jose Fernandez has scheduled a showcase for Feb. 3 in the Dominican Republic.
The Cubs signed five of the top International prospects when the 2015-16 signing period began on July 2: SS Yonathan Perlaza, OF Yonathan Sierra Estiwal, SS Aramis Ademan, C Miguel Amaya and RHP Yunior Perez. The Cubs also signed OF Kwang-Min Kwon and OF Eddy Julio Martinez and in the process have sailed past their adjusted International signing bonus pool of $3,169,300.
The Cubs International bonus pool for the 2015-16 signing period was $3,230,700. The Cubs added $149,000 to the pool when they acquired LHP Manny Rondon and International slot number four from the Angels on July 4 for C Rafael Lopez. The Cubs sent International slot number four ($211,100) and a player to be named later to the Mariners for OF Austin Jackson on Aug. 31. It has not been announced how the two teams finalized the trade for Jackson. If a player from the Cubs system has been sent to Seattle it has not appeared on any of the transaction reports.
The Cubs had agreements in place with six of the top International prospects on July 2. The Cubs voided the contract with Christopher Martinez in late August according to Ben Badler. Martinez’s deal, which was reported as $1 million, fell apart after issues with his physical. The Cubs tried to sign him for $50,000 instead, but he rejected the offer.
The Cubs committed $7.65 million to the five players on July 2: SS Yonathan Perlaza ($1.3 million), OF Yonathan Sierra Estiwal ($2.5 million), SS Aramis Ademan ($2 million), C Miguel Amaya ($1.25 million) and RHP Yunior Perez ($600,000), signed Kwang-Min Kwon for $1.2 million and landed OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3 million. Based on the multiple reports, the Cubs have spent $11.85 million during the current International signing period that ends on June 15, 2016.
With the Cubs facing the max penalty of 100 percent tax of the overage and not being able to sign a player for two years for not more than $300,000, the front office should add more talent to the organization through International free agents. Specifically, the Cubs are expected to be heavily involved with the top Cuban players subject to the bonus pool.
Based on the signings and figures that have been reported, the Cubs have committed $20,530,700, including taxes. The Cubs are currently $8,680,700 over their International bonus pool for the 2015-16 signing period and will have to pay $17,361,400 on July 15, 2016.
It is common for teams not to announce signing International free agents unless it was a high-profile prospect. The Cubs have likely signed several players and their deals have not been reported by Jesse Sanchez or Ben Badler. Here is the information available on the players the Cubs have added to the organization during the current International signing period.
Aramis Ademan, SS
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60
Age: 17 (Sept. 13, 1998) – 5-foot-10, 150 pounds – Bats: L Throws R
Aramis Ademan has “the best hands out there right now, no question” according to MLB.com. Ademan has “opened eyes with his athletic ability and skills on defense.” And scouts expect him to grow into his frame. Ademan has shown the ability to hit in games among intense competition. Considered a glove-first player right now that “has to get stronger and become more physical as he matures.”
Ademan is a slick fielder with quick hands and he should stick at shortstop. Ademan has an advanced feel for contact.
Yonathan Perlaza, SS
Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50
Age: 17 (Nov. 10, 1998) – 5-foot-8, 175 pounds – Bats: S Throws R
MLB.com said to “picture Martin Prado as a teenager, that’s how some scouts view Perlaza.”
Considered one of the better hitters of this year’s class, while there is a chance he could stay at shortstop, there is “a belief he will end up at second base.” Perlaza has “been praised for his swing and strong wrists, leading some scouts to believe that he could hit some home runs and drive the ball into the gaps” as he matures. Fundamentally sound “in all areas of his game” but his “bat, now and in the future, that makes him an appealing prospect.” Perlaza has a smooth swing and produces hard contact.
Miguel Amaya, C
Scouting Grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 20 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60
Age: 16 (March 9, 1999) – 6-foot, 160 pounds – Bats: L Throws R
Scouts have seen that Amaya can hit but he has really impressed them with his defense. Amaya “looks the part” of a catcher, calls a good game and “takes control behind the plate.” Amaya has the potential to have a “plus-arm and could be a plus defender.” The opinions vary slightly on his defense, but according to MLB.com, “it’s impossible to ignore the total package and overall potential he presents.” Amaya has a smooth swing and hits to all fields.
Yonathan Sierra Estiwal, OF
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45
Age: 17 (Oct. 17, 1998) – 6-foot-3, 205 pounds – Bats: L Throws L
MLB.com reported that “one famous player comes to mind when scouts talk about Estiwal: Darryl Strawberry.”
Estiwal is a “tall and lanky left-handed hitter and thrower with some raw power.” Estiwal is projected as a right fielder and that is where the comp to Strawberry comes in. Estiwal has a “graceful swing, and scouts like his ability to barrel up balls.” Can hit to all fields, shown power in games and the ability to hit for power to opposite field,” described as a “good baseball player who knows the game.”
Yunior Perez, RHP
Yunior Perez is 6-foot-3, 175 pounds and features a 90-94 mph fastball with a below average curveball.
Kwang-Min Kwon, OF
Age: 17 (Dec. 12, 1997) – 6-foot-2, 194 pounds – Bats: L Throws L
Scouting information on Kwon is very limited; stats are all that are available. Kwang-Min Kwon possesses above average raw power. Reports at the time of his signing indicated the Cubs’ Paul Weaver called him a complete player, with good baseball tools. Kwon was an infielder during his sophomore year in high school and moved to the outfield.
Eddy Julio Martinez, OF
Age: 20 (Jan. 18, 1995) – 6-foot-2, 195 pounds – Bats: R Throws R
MLB.com Scouting Grades – Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60
Martinez has a “quick and compact power stroke,” can hit the ball out of the park to all fields and he works the count. Defensively, he has shown “good instincts” according to MLB.com with an “accurate arm” that would allow him to play center field. Martinez has played left field and according to Baseball America he has the ability to play all three outfield spots.
Most scouts feel Martinez will stay in center field. Depending on how his transition goes, Martinez could be ready for the majors after a couple of years in the Cubs’ system.
The 2015-16 International signing period ends on June 15, and it’s believed the Cubs will be heavily involved with the top Cuban players subject to the bonus pool.