Name: Yohan Matos, C
Age: 18 (10/6/1996)
Weight: 175 pounds
How acquired:—Signed as international free agent on July 2, 2013, out of the Dominican republic for a reported $270,000. Scouted by Carlos Reyes, Gian Guzman and Jose Serra.
Dominican Cubs, Dominican Summer League, Rookie League (53 G, .289/.378/.469, 6 HR, 39 RBI)
Unable to play until the 2014 season, Matos made his pro debut May 31 vs. Marlins, going 0-for-2 with a two walks, including one with the bases loaded. He celebrated his one-year signing anniversary with a career-high four RBI vs. Astros and had back-to-back three hits games July 15-16. Matos hit safely in 36 of his 53 games and only failed to reach base in eight games. Not only was the teenager an on-base machine (.378), he also slugged .469 with six homers, four triples and nine doubles. The catcher even swiped seven bases in nine attempts. With 34 starts behind the plate, Matos threw out 26 of 60 base runners but was charged with nine errors and 12 passed balls, so there’s plenty of room for improvement on the fundamentals and knowing when to hang onto the baseball. Cubs moved Matos around during the season as he saw time at first (7 starts), third (2), and a few innings at second and right field.
While the journey for an American youngster to make the majors is a long shot, the odds for a 16-year-old Dominican are even higher. Many spend a few years playing summer ball and never make it off the island. Those that do, struggle to adjust to tougher pitching/hitters, and a new country with language barriers. Matos made his stateside debut at fall instructs and impressed the Cubs brass with his skills. The young Dominican will likely spend this season in Mesa, first at extended spring training and then in the heat of the Arizona Rookie League. Cubs have had several Latin American players put up big numbers in the DSL/VSL the past two years but have been unable to replicate that success stateside. Depending on his maturity level, Matos could find himself in Boise by season’s end in a best case scenario.