We posted an article yesterday that broke down the difference between international amateurs and foreign professionals and a handful of players from Asia that could be fits for the Chicago Cubs, you should check that out here. If you don’t do that, the main things you need to know are below.
1. Each team will have a $4.75 million dollar bonus pool to spend unless
A. The team has a Competitive Balance Round A draft pick ($5.25 million)
B. The team has a Competitive Balance Round B draft pick ($5.75 million)
2. International Amateurs are defined as:
A. A player outside of the US, Canada or Puerto Rico
B. A player that is at least 16 years old
3. Teams that exceed their bonus pools have the highest offer that they can make to next year’s crop
of IFA talent reduced
Fernando Cruz is the player in question with the Cubs already reportedly having a verbal agreement with for a majority of their remaining bonus pool at an alleged $4.5 million dollars.
The sixteen-year-old shortstop could potentially be the next Starlin Castro/Gleyber Torres who becomes a top prospect and eventually helps the Cubs in one way or another. He could also be the next Cristian Hernandez who is a much-hyped (still teenage) prospect that hasn’t yet met expectations and has fallen out of the top-100 prospects list due to his season slash line of .223/.297/.300.
Anytime you’re signing the equivalent of high school sophomores for millions of dollars there’s a certain level of risk, but Cruz appears to be one worth taking that risk for. The scouting reports that are available give him a little more contact over power and glove over the bat, but Fangraphs says he has good bat speed and gives him the potential to be a “special defensive player.”
At 5’10 and 160 pounds he still has a very projectable frame and could easily stick in the middle of the infield or, depending on how his arm develops, he could potentially make the shift to the hot corner.
"Cruz shines in a showcase setting. He has gorgeous infield footwork and actions, turning the baseball around in the blink of an eye. He can make strong, accurate throws from all kinds of platforms, and could eventually be a special defensive player. While his swing can be a little noisy and long, Cruz is loose and athletic in the box, has good bat speed, and he can spray contact to all fields. Mechanical polish isn't terribly important at this stage, the talent piece of the evaluation is, and in this regard Cruz is a complete, exciting player with big upside. He and the Cubs reportedly have a verbal agreement for about $4.5 million."- Fangraphs
The biggest concern at this point comes from the fact that the Cubs allegedly had this deal in place prior to the deal they completed last month with the Rays for Josh Roberson. In that deal, the Cubs essentially dumped Adrian Sampson's contract by including an undisclosed amount of international spending pool money. If the amount they included was anything more than $250,000 dollars it could easily push the Cubs to the point that spending $4.5 million on Cruz would push them into the penalty for future signing periods.
The Cubs have the fourth-best farm system in the league which means it might be time to take that risk anyway though. There is plenty of depth in this farm system and if Cruz gives them a shot at acquiring a legitimate future star player, it's worth potentially hindering their future spending to get him into the system.