The Cubs' desire to sign above-average athletes with above-average baseball skills is one of the main reasons why they have been so successful on the international market.
:: 2018 International Signing Period ::
Just ask Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres, who both originally signed with Chicago.
It's time to add a few new names to add to the Cubs' international pipeline.
According to industry sources, the Cubs agreed to deals with right-handed pitcher Richard Gallardo, who ranks No. 5 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, for $1 million, outfielder Jose Lopez (No. 17), for $1.5 million, and left-handed pitcher Joel Machado (No. 28) for $850,000.
The club also agreed to $850,000 deal with shortstop Rafael Morel of the Dominican Republic and outfielder Yohendrick Pinango of Venezuela for $400,000.
The club did not confirm the deals.
The best pitching prospect out of Venezuela and the top hurler overall in this year's class, Gallardo is smart and fearless on the mound. He projects to be a top-of-the-rotation type of pitcher if he stays healthy and continues to develop his tools at a normal pace. His best pitch is his fastball, but he also projects to feature a good curveball and an above-average changeup.
As for Lopez, he is not as physical as some of the other top prospects, but he is still a plus athlete and makes hard contact to all fields. A plus runner, Lopez is a former youth league star and participant in Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program in the Dominican Republic. He has a chance to stay in center field.
Machado grew a couple of inches and added close to 20 pounds while also increasing the velocity of his fastball from the 85-87 mph range to 89-90 in the last year. In addition to his fastball, he also features a changeup at 80-81 mph and a curveball that usually hovers in the 70 mph range.
Pinango, who stands at 5-foot-11 and weighs 195 pounds, is a physical prospect who can hit and run. He's also athletic enough to stay in center field. The lean and muscular Morel impressed scouts with his bat and is a plus runner. His older brother Christian is a shortstop who signed with the Cubs in 2015.
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the MLB Draft received a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Draft received $5,504,500. All other clubs, including the Cubs, received $4,983,500.
Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 75 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.