When Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres return home from the Cubs’ instructional league, the two prospects will have a better understanding of what to expect in professional baseball and know how to ask for a glass of water in English at a restaurant. Jimenez and Torres are both 16 years old, and were ranked first and third on MLB.com’s list of top 30 international prospects. Both signed this summer with the Cubs, part of the team’s international shopping spree. Jimenez is a six-foot, four-inch right-handed-hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic who agreed to a $2.8 million deal; Torres, a shortstop, was the top prospect out of Venezuela, and signed for $1.7 million. Players included on the instructional league roster are either recent Draft picks or international signees, such as 19-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng, or players whom the Cubs’ staff felt needed more at bats and innings.
The month-long instructional league was their first taste of life in the U.S. as professional baseball players. “They’re not raw in their physical abilities, it’s just being raw to the United States, how things are run,” said Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs’ Minor League hitting coordinator. “As far as the way they play the game, they’re pretty advanced for 16 years old.” Fuentes works not only on their language skills, but he also teaches what can best be described as coaches’ speak.
“We sit together in games, and we do kind of a play-by-play announcing of the game in English so they can learn phrases and the words,” said Fuentes, who a few coaches called the “MVP” of the instructional league. “I’ll take them to eat sometimes, and they have to order and learn how to ask for a menu, ask for water.” Jimenez and Torres do not room together; the Cubs made an effort to pair a Latin player with one from the U.S., which benefits both. They can learn about each other’s music, food preferences and clothing styles as well as baseball. —By Carrie Muscat at MLB.com
Chat Review: Dave Cameron from FanGraphs
Comment From Gila Monster: Is Edwin Jackson’s deal a good comparison for Ubaldo? Similar age, stuff and meh history with great upside.
Dave Cameron: Jackson’s track record was a lot stronger. I don’t think Ubaldo gets near that.
Comment From Andrew: I keep seeing Josh Johnson listed as a turn around candidate/buy low option does, does a terrible 81 innings really suppress his value that much, or is more the injury history?
Dave Cameron: It’s both.
Comment From Jack: Re: defense, and how it ages– what evidence is there that it peaks early/declines steeply? I hear this said/written often, but rarely accompanied by hard evidence.
Comment From Juandrew: What correlates better to winning, runs scored or runs allowed? Or is a run a run?
Dave Cameron: A run is a run
Comment From Tim: Do the Angels have a realistic chance to get back in the playoff hunt next season? What would have to happen for that to become a reality?
Dave Cameron: They need to build a good bullpen from scratch, find another good starting pitcher, and get big bounce backs from Pujols and Hamilton. It’s possible.
Comment From Joey: Where do you stand on the Sox QO guys? I know you wrote about this month or so ago, but Napoli almost certainly gets it, right? What about Drew?
Dave Cameron: Napoli/Ellsbury get one, Drew/Salty do not.
Comment From Psy: If the Angels put Trumbo on the block he’ll be pretty overrated, right? Solid guy but he’s not that good. Big HR totals would really inflate his market value.
Dave Cameron: Someone will overpay for him, yes.
Draft and Prospects
“After a below-average 2013 draft, the 2014 class has potential to be the best class since 2011’s banner crop,” say John Manuel and Clint Longenecker at Baseball America. “The two headliners of the class are both college pitchers in North Carolina. N.C. State lefthander Carlos Rodon, who had a strong summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, gives the class a clear No. 1 prospect, combining size, plus stuff, good makeup and a strong track record of success. Jeff Hoffman was the top prospect in the Cape Cod League, solidifying his status as the draft’s No. 2 prospect, The high school pitching class is as deep as it has been in years and is replete with big velocity arms that could go in the first 50 picks. The high school hitters did not fare well against top pitching this summer, as many of the top hitters offer loud tools but struggled to hit in games. There is a fairly deep supply of college power hitters in the class.”