International Fire Power
The Cubs have signed one of the top international prospects, inking a $3 million deal with Cuban Eddy Martinez. The 20-year-old is a five-tool talent and joins Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez as top international additions to the Cubs farm system. The signing will cost the Cubs an additional $3 million in penalties as they have already surpassed their allotment of $3.2 million. The Cubs will not be able to spend more than $350,000 on a player over the next two signing periods. With this in mind, don’t be surprised if the Cubs add a few more players from Cuba as most of the top young talent has left the island with right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez and outfielder Yusniel Diaz two of the top players that have yet to sign.
The Cubs invited seven of their 2015 International signees to fall instructs— P Jose Albertos (Mexico), C Miguel Amaya (Panama), SS Aramis Ademan (Dominican), SS Luis Diaz (Dominican), SS Isaac Paredes (Mexico), OF/1B Kwang-Min Kwon (Korea) and OF Jonathan Sierra (Dominican). They also have reportedly signed RHP Yunior Perez, 16, Dominican; SS Yonathan Perlaza, 16, Venezuela; RHP Wen-Hua Sung, 18, Taiwan; and LHP Brailyn Marquez, 16, Dominican.
This marks the second time in the past three years the Cubs have blown by their pool allotment. In 2013 they signed SS Gleyber Torres, OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, P Jefferson Mejia (sent to D-backs in Miguel Montero trade), P Erling Moreno and C Yohan Matos.
Arizona Fall League
All eyes will be on catcher Willson Contreras as he spends his fall in the AFL. The 23-year-old should be added to the Cubs 40-man roster after the World Series to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. The Venezuelan native had his best season as a pro as he’s made the transition from third base to behind the plate. In his third year at the position, Contreras has transformed into a solid defensive catcher and become a force at the plate. After a strong season playing winter ball back home, Contreras spent the year in the AA Southern League and won the batting title, hitting .333/.413/.478, all career-highs. The right-hander smacked eight homers, knocked in 75 runs and drew 57 walks. He was named to Baseball America’s AA and Minor League All-star teams as well as earning mid-season and post-season all-star status in the SL. He was named the Cubs 2015 Minor League Player of the Year after leading all Cubs full-season minor leaguers in average, on-base percentage and slugging. Pretty sure no Cubs minor leaguer has progressed more in the last two years than Contreras and is a testament to the Cubs ability to develop players, especially catchers with good athleticism.
The other backstop that will see time in the AFL is Cael Brockmeyer, the Cubs 16th round pick in 2013 out of Cal State-Bakersfield. Brockmeyer spent the 2015 season at all four full-season affiliates, playing 63 games for Myrtle Beach. He started the year in South Bend with a walk-off homer in the opener and was promoted to High A in late June. He made two stops at Iowa (5 games) and Tennessee (7 games) in early July and was returned to the Pelicans for the final six weeks of the season. In 111 games, 62 behind the plate, the 24-year-old hit .251/.338/.389 with 9 HR and 61 RBI. Brockmeyer was a non-roster invite to spring training last year to help with catching duties. Despite being 6-foot-5, Brockmeyer has the ability to give a low target and continues to fine tune his game behind the plate. With the bat, he’s shown good power and the ability to put the ball into play however his strikeout rate spiked this season.
Venezuelan Winter League
Gioskar Amaya (.182) went 0-for-3 but knocked in a run in Aragua’s 9-1 win over Caracas. In an interview, Amaya said he would be playing the infield for Aragua and not doing any catching this winter. The 22-year-old was an all-star second baseman in the Florida State League in 2014 and spent 2015 behind the plate at South Bend, catching 60 games.......Former Cubs prospect Loiger Padron tossed two innings of scoreless relief for Caracas with a pair of punchouts.......P.J. Francescon earned his second save with a scoreless ninth in Margarita’s 5-4 win over Lara. The right-hander retired the first two hitters, gave up a single, and the game ended on a caught stealing at second. Former Cub Rubi Silva (.231) went 2-for-4 and scored once for Lara.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
Culiacan defeated Jalisco 2-0 in the season opener as the rest of the league didn’t play. LHP Ryan Buchter worked ? of an inning to earn a hold but walked two in the 8th for Culiacan.