International signing day has come and gone and, once again, the Chicago Cubs had no reservations about doling out one of the largest financial guarantees, giving Baseball America's #3 overall ranked international prospect Fernando Cruz a $4 million bonus.
Here's what Baseball America had to say about Cruz in its scouting report:
"Cruz separated himself as a top talent in the class early in the scouting process. He has strong hands and forearms, generating big bat speed and driving the ball with impressive impact especially for his size ... He’s a plus runner with slick actions at shortstop. Like a lot of young shortstops, he can get out of control at times, but his first-step quickness, hands, range and arm strength with a quick release all give him a good chance to stick at shortstop."- Baseball America
Cruz, one of the most highly regarded international prospects available, will look to follow in the footsteps of his cousin and former Cubs standout Starlin Castro as he begins his professional career. Very young - having just turned 17 a couple months ago - we're not going to see how his tools translate to the big leagues for some time, but he's a nice add for the organization regardless.
Really, there's no reason to rush here. The shortstop position on the North Side is locked down by Dansby Swanson for the foreseeable future and, after signing an extension last spring, Nico Hoerner will be alongside him for at least the next three years, as well.
Scouting reports love the raw physical tools, consistently calling out his all-field power and baserunning abilities. He's an exciting player to add to the club's already impressive prospect depth that's been bolstered largely by trade - no other team in baseball has added more top 100 prospects recently than the Cubs.
Cubs may have the steal of the day in right-hander Yander Maria
But Cruz isn't the whole story here. Chicago also signed right-handed pitcher Yander Maria, who Baseball America included on its list of potential breakout candidates from this year's international class. Already touching the mid-90s with his fastball, with the possibility of more velocity to come, the 6-foot-4 righty could develop into an overpowering weapon for Chicago in the years to come.
The Cubs will look to help the teenager continue to add polish to his raw arsenal, which also includes the makings of a plus curveball. If he's to wind up in the rotation, he'll probably need to round out his offerings a bit more, but, at least at first glance, he feels like someone who could be a powerful late-inning weapon someday.