Without much fanfare, most of the Cubs’ 2015-2016 International Free Agent class arrived in Arizona to begin fall instructs two weeks ago. Mostly 17 to 18 years old, the young phenoms seem to have acclimated very well to Mesa and its environs. Some, more than others, are showing glimpses of why the Cubs signed the 34 international free agents that summer and fall. There are a plethora of pitchers and a myriad of minors who can flat out play baseball. The Cubs may have hit the motherlode of pitching with these free agents. While it is still too early to see how these players will pan out the next five years, they clearly look ready to play now in instructs and Mesa next summer.
This past summer, the majority of players signed were assigned to two Dominican Summer League Teams where they gained experience. Others made it to Mesa, Eugene, and Eddy Martinez was the big boy playing at low-Class A South Bend. Next year, the players will be spread out mostly between Arizona and Eugene.
Here are some players, currently in Mesa, who could cause a ruckus stateside next summer.
Aramis Ademan – The young 17-year-old got off to a rough start in the Dominican this summer, but had a solid second-half showing a good approach at the plate. So far in instructs, he’s shown to be one of the better hitters in the entire complex according to John Arguello and Arizona Phil. Ademan also is easily the top defender at the shortstop position in instructs. Depending on how much he develops over the course of the next six months, he could be at Mesa or Eugene in 2017.
Yonathan Perlaza – This young 17-year-old shows advanced bat to ball skills. As of now, he’s a second baseman. That could change as he sees time at third base. Next year he could be at Mesa, but his position is still yet to be defined.
Yonathan Sierra – All summer long, Sierra was one of the top on-base percentage guys in the Dominican. Physically, he still looks like a Darryl Strawberry clone, but he has yet to develop the power the Cubs foresaw when they signed him a year and four months ago. I expect him to be in Mesa just based on his plate discipline. What impresses me most, so far, is that that plate discipline could lead to power as he is showing to be a very selective hitter.
Abraham Rodriguez – At just 17, Rodriguez will likely be in Mesa after a very good summer in the Dominican. He can play multiple positions in the outfield, and he is still developing as a hitter and has shown a good approach.
Faustino Carrera – This 17-year-old lefty out of Mexico had the lowest ERA of any starter on either of the Cubs 2 Dominican summer league teams. He will be in Mesa next year with a chance to go to Eugene by the end of the season if he continues to show great command and control.
Jose Albertos – He is another 17-year-old. Albertos impressed many last year at extended spring training. A shoulder injury sidelined him the rest of the year as he only pitched four innings at Mesa in rookie ball. It was hoped that he would be able to pitch in instructs this fall, but he has yet to do so. If healthy next year, I am not sure what the Cubs are going to do with his 95 to 97 mile an hour heat. They could take it easy with him at Mesa to make sure he is healthy, or he could go to Eugene and start 2 to 3 innings à la with the Cubs have done with other pitchers in the past.
Hector Garcia – Garcia is a young 17-year-old pitcher (there seems to be a theme here) who did really well this summer in the Dominican and should also be in Mesa next summer.
Brailyn Marquez – One of two tall lefties that are 17 years old, Marquez came to instructs and flashed some potential with his low 90s arsenal. His 6’6” and 190-pound frame still has a lot of projection left.
Alfredo Colorado – Colorado had a good summer but faded a bit going down the stretch. However, he has shown up in a big way and instructs and his been in the top picture on the mound in Mesa. An old man at 20, the young Venezuelan RHP should develop well enough to pitch in Mesa next summer
Andres Bonalde – The final 17-year-old lefty starting pitchers came on like gangbusters in the second half in the Dominican this summer. Although he’s not at fall instructs, he’s a candidate to make it to Mesa and spring training. Like Marquez, Bonalde is still growing into his 6’6” body.
What I like most is that the Cubs were able to sign so many pitchers in this 2015-16 international free agent class who they could project as possible starters. The Cubs didn’t just scout one country. They scouted most of the Caribbean and it looks like it will pay some dividends in 2017 in Mesa and Eugene.
*All cards made from pics by John Arguello