When North Side Bound began back in the late fall of 2021, one of the first things I did was to begin building profile databases with links. I started off by making a prospect profile database with him links to every profile that the original four of us had written either at Cubs Central, Ivy Futures, Cubs insider, BP Wrigleyville, or Out of the Vines.
Next, I added an international free agency database. I didn’t think there was any where you could go and look and see who all the Cubs signed. I still need to go and update it for the past couple years as some guys have slipped through the cracks or were late signs.
Shortly after the database was completed, I graded each class on its own merits. It was still a little too early to grade the 2019 and 2021 classes as those players need to develop more and we can see how it plays out over time.
In doing the research for this post, one thing I found interesting is the amount of players who burned out in the Dominican and never made it stateside. As well, very few make it beyond HIgh-A.
However, things are changing a little bit because of short season class A baseball being eliminated we’re seeing more and more guys get a crack at Low A than ever before.
Let’s take a look at this year‘s grades.
2012 – Last grade: A-
This class is known for Jorge Soler, Gerardo Concepción, and Adbert Alzolay. It’s still getting an A minus. We got a World Series champion out of it along with a possible closer for the next four years.
2013 – Last grade: A+
This class also helped produce the World Series champion, but it was Gleyber Torres, who was traded to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman. I still can’t fathom that the Cubs also signed Eloy Jimenez as the Cubs got the top two prospects that year. Of course they paid for it inpenalties for the next year. This year’s grade is also an A+.
2014 – Last grade: F
Crickets. There is nobody in his class that the Cubs cannot spend more than $300,000 on. It will be an F for eternity.
2015 – Last grade: B
With Christopher Morel and Miguel Amaya both making it to Chicago, we are still in the beginning process of evaluating the totality of the class. We still need to see what happens with Brailyn Marquez, but this class improved to a B+, as it looks like we are going to have several major leaguers eventually make it, including Yonathan Perlaza.
2016 – Last grade: B
This class was also limited by penalties, but the Cubs could get a reliever or two out of here between Manny Rodriguez and Danis Correa. The problem is no one has gotten over the hump in the majors yet. they get a B minus this year.
2017 – Last grade: C-
Luis Devers is going to bump this grade up all by himself. Most of them just turned 22 including Luis Verdugo but several of them are still 21. I’ll be interesting to see how Fabian Pertuz and Reivaj Garcia do this summer. Meanwhile, Pablo Aliendo could easily push this grade to a B by the end of the summer. I am going with a C+ this year.
2018 – Last Grade: B-
It looks like Richard Gallardo is rounding into form this spring at South Bend. Jose Lopez washed out very quickly despite signing for over $1.5 million. Pitcher Joel Machado looks like he’s going to finally debut this summer. This group is also notable for Yohendrick Pinango and Felix Stevens. I hesitant to go any higher than B- until someone gets to Double-A and shoves.
2019 – Gets Their First Grade Today
I am not quite sure where to begin grading this class, considering that the Cubs just released the player with the biggest bonus in this group and that is Ronnier Quintero. The Cubs still have Kevin Made, and most of these players are just now reaching. Myrtle Beach and Mesa due to the pandemic. With Quintero washing out, it’s hard to give this class a solid grade, but I’ll give them a C minus. Kevin Made could change that quickly along with some of the relievers that are currently in Myrtle Beach like Angel Hernandez. At some point these guys got to get out of Mesa for this grade to go up at all.
There was no signing class in 2020 because of the pandemic. As a result, Major League Baseball moved the signing date from the summer of 2020 to January 2021 and that’s where it has stayed ever since.
2021 – Gets Their First Grade Today
Cristian Hernandez and Moises Ballesteros are the headliners class along with Carlos Garcia. Garcia really impact next years grade with a good summer after missing all of 2022 due to a PED suspension. A lot of these guys are being passed up by the 2022 class in Mesa. With Hernandez and Ballesteros at the top of this list, it’s hard to not give it an A but we are still very early in this process of development. Therefore, their initial grade is going to be a B+ as I’d like to see more depth move up the ladder with the two phenoms who are currently at Myrtle Beach.
2022 – Still Too Early to Grade Today
They’ve played one season of rookie ball in the Dominican. It would be extremely unfair to judge them based on playing against 16 and 17-year-olds and maybe a few older guys. Now that most of the class is in Mesa, I feel like they could be much better than the two classes before them. There seems to be much more depth here, and possibly some pitching, which has been almost nonexistent coming out of the Dominican for a few years. They will get their first grade next year.
2023 Begins Play Next Month
They begin play for the first time in less than a month. I’m excited to see exactly how Derniche Valdez is going to do at the plate, as well as seeing where Angel Cepeda is going to end up playing. I doubt Cepeda will be at shortstop, he’s more than likely to move to centerfield or right.
The thing that’s hard to understand is that these kids signed before 2017 have been around awhile but they were 16 when they signed. That means that most of them from 2017 on are still 22 and under. That will give you some pause for thought about their development. Add in a pandemic and that explains the log jam in the Dominican and Mesa the past two seasons. and why some of them are just now to getting to A ball.
Great article – thanks. My rule of thumb is that any draft that produces two significant major leaguers (or one stud) is a success. I’m excited to be going to Appleton this weekend.
Great article, Todd. I have occasionally spent time looking up “what happened to that guy/draft” and it is very difficult to find anything on the international signees. This is a great compilation.