Int'l roundup: Brothers unite; Ross gets his C?

VP of international scouting discusses Cubs' recent haul

January 21st, 2022

CHICAGO -- When the Cubs were scouting and recruiting prospect Cristian Hernandez, his little brother was usually nearby. Now Cristian and Alexis can dream about taking the field alongside one another in Chicago.

Last weekend, the Cubs agreed to a reported signing bonus of $1.3 million with Alexis Hernandez out of the Dominican Republic. The younger Hernandez is considered a five-tool prospect with a chance to play up the middle, with shortstop or center field potentially in his future.

"Hopefully they'll be together at some point as they go through the system," said Louie Eljaua, the Cubs' vice president of international scouting, who was named baseball's 2021 International Scout of the Year.

"We expect that Alexis will catch up, and hopefully we'll see them in Wrigley together."

Alexis Hernandez, 17, was ranked No. 18 on MLB Pipeline's Top 50 international prospects list and gives the Cubs a plus runner with a plus arm and raw power. Cristian, 18, made his professional debut last year and is currently ranked No. 3 on the Cubs' Top 30 prospects list, per Pipeline.

The elder Hernandez has drawn comparisons to some impressive players -- a young Alex Rodriguez being one -- and could have a future home at shortstop or third base. No matter where the brothers wind up on the field, Eljaua knows it will be beneficial to have them pushing each other in the upcoming seasons.

"We love his ability first and foremost," Eljaua said of Alexis Hernandez. "His tools are above average across the board. There's a chance to have an impact on the offensive side as well. We love the whole package. Love what he brings. And, of course, it's great to keep the brothers together."

'You better learn this name'

As Panama's Adan Sanchez rounded the bases, following a three-run homer against a Canadian team in the 2018 Little League World Series, the color commentator made a bold statement.

"I know the Panamanian folks know his name, but you better learn this name. Adan Sanchez is an absolute stud."

It was the voice of David Ross, who was in the ESPN booth for that game. Ross, of course, is now manager of the Cubs, and Sanchez might one day be in his dugout. Last weekend, Chicago signed the prospect with a reported $1.5 million bonus.

"It's coming full circle," Eljaua said, "with him signing with us and having that moment where Rossy called that shot and what he said at that time."

Sanchez checked in at No. 43 on MLB Pipeline's international prospect rankings and joins the Cubs as a versatile player with plenty of power in his bat. Eljaua said the the Cubs also love that Sanchez has already been tested in high-pressure environments around the globe. The plan is to have the prospect -- currently listed as 6-foot and 205 pounds -- focus on catching, though third base is another option.

"He can catch and throw," Eljaua said. "He's got a strong arm. He's very headsy. He's a leader. So, yeah, everything that goes with playing that position and excelling behind the plate, he's got that in his toolbox. We expect him to handle the transition fairly easily."

And you can quote him

Eljaua on:

• Outfielder Josefrailin Alcantara (D.R.), who agreed to a $500,000 bonus per's Jesse Sanchez:

"He's a left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing center fielder. We think he's got the athleticism to stay in center long-term. He's a five-tool guy. I mean, he can run, he can throw, he's got power. He's got a chance to be more of a physical guy that can play that position and bring some power to his game and really impact the game in many different ways. He's just an exciting type of prospect."

• Outfielder Daniel Benschop, who is the first player from Aruba to agree to a deal with the Cubs:

"He's going to be able to handle the center field position and at least start his career there, and hopefully, long-term, stay there. He's played some shortstop in the past, but we see him more in the outfield, at least for now. He's another kid who's very athletic. He's fun to watch."

• Catcher Yidel Diaz (D.R.), who is the younger brother of catching prospects Yainer Diaz (No. 13 on the Astros' Top 30 list) and Victor Diaz (Dodgers system):

"Obviously, the little brother always has to keep up with the two older ones. When we signed him the other day, his father told me two or three stories about the kid when he was growing up. He just followed the two older brothers around and wanted to be a catcher just like them. All of a sudden, the three of them are signed professionally. We'll see what happens, but it's pretty cool. We'll see if they can turn into the Dominican Molinas."

• Shortstop Jefferson Rojas (D.R.), who received a $1 million bonus per's Jesse Sanchez:

"The offensive side is probably his best attribute right now. Although, he can play in the middle of the field. His hands are good. His feet work well. But it's one of those where everyone can't play the same position, so eventually, because he's versatile, he can play second or third, and has played there. He's pretty solid all over the infield. But we think he's going to hit. We think he's got a chance to hit for average and have some power, and he has high bat-to-ball skills."

• Righty Freiylin Silverio (D.R.), who agreed to a $100,000 bonus per's Jesse Sanchez:

"He has the potential to be a starter. He's got a pretty good three-pitch mix. We've seen him up to 92 [mph] right now, recently, and probably sits 89-91 for the most part. And we still project more in the tank long-term. His curveball is his best pitch right now. It's a potential out pitch. And he's got a feel for a changeup."

Other reported signings

• C Carlos Altuve (Venezuela)
• OF Albert Belliard (D.R.)
• C Abel De Leon (Panama)
• SS Darlyn De Leon (D.R.)
• SS Moises Febrillet (D.R.)
• OF Josias Ramirez (D.R.)
• SS Sandy Sanchez (D.R.)