I am still recovering from last weekend‘s Cubs Convention and international free agency extravaganza. The two days were fun as I live blogged on both but while typing and embedding, videos and tweets, it doesn’t leave me a lot of time to just sit and process and analyze the information. That is what this week was about.

What I’ve been thinking about most this week is what exactly was the talent level of this year’s IFA haul. So far, the Cubs have unofficially signed 13 players in international free agency.

PITCHERS: Jostin Florentino, Miguel Cruz, Emmanoel Madeira, Santiago Payares, Eduardo Castillo

CATCHERS: Daniel Campos

INFIELDERS: Derniche Valdez, Angel Cepeda, Ludwig Espinoza, Brailin Pascual, Omar Ferrera, Grenyerbert Velasquez, Albert Gonzalez

We do know that they got three top 20 players from MLB Pipeline’s top international prospect board. But we don’t know much about the skills of the players after the top three. And when it comes to those top three, all I could think about was whether any of them would be in a top 30 prospect list? It’s a solid thing to think about, but it’s still way too early to tell for me. Those guys need to play some in the Dominican or Arizona.

If Derniche Valdez is polished enough to play in Mesa this summer, that gives us a little inkling of how much the Cubs think of him. Every single prospect the Cubs have on my prospect list is a very talented player, but some have yet to set themselves apart and that’s what Valdez, Espinoza, and Cepeda have to do.

It is getting close to my busy time for school starting on February 2 and running through the middle of March. So when spring break comes, that’s when I’ll begin to dive headlong into just exactly who all the Cubs got in international free agency, as well as who they might get in the upcoming draft. We actually reached a point where we’re closer to the next draft then we were from the last one.

One thing to remember for 2024……the Cubs are linked to the top prospect in next year’s IFA class and that is Fernando Cruz who does not look like he is 16.

Owen Caissie Love

The Cubs are still rolling out profiles of all the guys who came to the prospect camp at the end of the major league season. This week, one of my favorite players that I got to know last year was profiled and that is Owen Caissie.

MLB Pipeline Big Time Buzz

MLB Pipeline had quite the busy week. They rolled out their top 10 players at each position in the minors this week. As well, they also did this really cool profile on Kevin Alcântara.

So far, only two Cubs made a top 10 position list so far. They are Jordan Wicks, who is ranked at six in the top 10 left-handed pitchers, while Matt Mervis is at 4 in the top 10 first basemen. Those lists should wrap up this week as well as their top 100 which is supposed to go live sometime on Thursday night.

Tweet of the Week

This goes out to our own Greg Huss who put out this menu for you to peruse from and buy certain players for $15 total. It is a fun way to put together a group of guys that you would want on your team.

Changes to your NSB

When the 2022 minor league season rolls around, there are not going to be a lot of changes to what we do here at North Side Bound. The website is going to look pretty much the same as it does now in terms of design. We added Stephanie Lynn and Rich Biesterfeld to our team as contributors. Both of them will be writing and taking pictures in separate locales – Stephanie with Myrtle Beach and Rich in Arizona. I will be with South Bend on the road in Davenport, Beloit, Appleton, Peoria, and Cedar Rapids. And the two Gregs will be writing about whatever piques their interests. I also hope to make it to Des Moines for a few games.

Last year, I did a Players of the Day post on a regular basis. We’re going to tweak that a little bit this year. Rather than have a specific hitter of the day, starting pitcher of the day, or reliever of the day, we are just going to have “Awards of the Day.” It could include those three aforementioned awards but it might also include a Picture of the Day, Dinger of the Day, or Web Gem of the Day. What we are going to try to do is to not get so locked down into those old three specific categories. Still, it’s still going to be fun showing you the highlights each and every day.

Cards of the Week

I took a couple of Stephanie Lynn pics and did them up this week!

Coming Up Next Week on NSB

The Position Breakdown Series concludes tomorrow (I know!) with a look at left-handed relievers in the system. Wednesday will see a look at Tennessee’s bullpen in the Affiliate Sneak Peek while DJ Herz’s upcoming 2023 season gets the 5 Series treatment on Friday. Earlier in this post, I talked about MLB Pipeline’s top 100 coming out on Thursday. Not to be outdone, Baseball Prospectus is scheduled to drop their top Cubs list on Monday the 23rd.

In Memoriam – Jeff Beck

All winter long I have been looking at some of my favorite albums of all time. One of those was by Jeff Beck who passed away last week. Instead of doing an album in his honor, I just embedded three of my favorite songs by him. There’s never going to be anyone like him again.