The Cubs have long ago established themselves as one of the most active teams on the international market and that trend continues in 2023.
According to industry sources, the club has agreed to a deal with shortstop Derniche Valdez, the No. 6 overall prospect on the international top 50 list for $2.7 million; shortstop Ludwing Espinoza, who ranks No. 14, for $1 million; and No. 19 Angel Cepeda for $1 million. The Cubs, who have a base signing pool of $5,284,000, have not confirmed the agreements, which are pending physicals.
Valdez will stay at shortstop for the foreseeable future because of his tools and abilities. Specifically, he has been praised for his soft hands and footwork. The 16-year-old also shows good instincts and plus arm potential with natural field presence.
The new signing projects to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and run producer if he continues to develop and mature physically at a normal pace. He already shows the ability to hit hard line drives to all fields and drive the ball out of the ballpark to all fields and projects to be an average runner and has been praised for his makeup. Valdez trains with Franklin Taveras in the Dominican Republic.
As for Espinoza, his overall offensive and defensive package made him one of the most appealing prospects on the international market. The 17-year-old projects to be an above-average hitter who will have average power. He is expected to hit near the top of the lineup -- very likely in the No. 1 spot -- because of his ability to put the ball in play and drive it into the gaps.
Espinoza trains with Carlos Yanez, a member of MLB’s Trainer Partnership Program.
Cepeda can play shortstop, second and third base. The 17-year-old is also athletic enough to play center field. Wherever he ends up playing, he’s also very likely going to make an impact when he’s in the batter’s box.
Cepeda is very polished on both sides of the ball for a player his age, and he can flat out hit. He’s shown an above-average hit tool and has the potential to hit in the middle of a lineup. In addition to his game play in the Dominican Republic, he has experience with travel baseball and the showcase circuit in the United States.