2021 International Free Agency Opening
Delayed by the pandemic, the 2021 international free agency opening was pushed back to January 15th. Although it's largely a formal day to sign contracts that were previously agreed to, it's still an exciting day as MLB teams can sign a batch of new prospects from other countries. The Cubs have signed 7 players so far, per Baseball America:
Cristian Hernandez, ss, Dominican Republic (scouting report)
Moises Ballesteros, c, Venezuela (scouting report)
Daniel Ferreira, of, Dominican Republic
Carlos Cabrera, lhp, Dominican Republic
Offerman Hernandez, of, Dominican Republic
Raino Coran, of, Curacao
Carlos Ramos, c, Venezuela
Joel Sierra, rhp, Dominican Republic
This year's haul has been compared to the famous 2013 class, which included Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez. Time will tell if Cristian Hernandez and others grow to become the blue chip prospect that the 2013 class included, but for this to even be a serious conversation is a big win for the organization. Here's some juicy tidbits to get you excited.
Cristian Hernandez is a RHB 17 year old shortstop from Santo Domingo. He's the 6th highest ranked prospect from the IFA class. His current scouting reports ranks as being a 55 across all tools. He's being compared to Alex Rodriguez, Manny Machado, and Javy Baez already. He's a plus defender, and some scouts think he can develop into a 30 HR hitter capable of also maintaining a .300 average. His got a reputation for having a high baseball IQ and fantastic instincts.
Moises Ballesteros is a LHB catcher from Venezuela. He's 17, and regarded as one of the best bats in the class. He's already 5'11 and 215 pounds. Despite having a smooth arm, there's talk he may eventually shift to first base, depending on how his body and athleticism fills out.
Not much is known about the other five yet, but they will likely join the Cubs rookie ball affiliates, and we'll start to learn more soon.
In the coming months, more details will be revealed about this new batch of prospects. But one thing is clear right now. It's time to get excited about prospects again.