Rubi Silva: 5-11, 180 pounds.
OF, signed in January, 2011 as an international free agent for $1 million.
Rule 5 Eligible in 2014
Cubs Comp: Dwight Smith
Silva was among the early Cubs signings out of Cuba. He had a bit of buzz about him, and played most of his first season in Low-A Peoria, jumping late to Daytona. He was tried at 2B, but eventually adjusted to a corner outfield role. His best pro season was his most recent one in Double-A.
While there will be a temptation to throw around Silva's age (he will be 25 in June) as a negative, Silva will never be a star in the majors, so his age isn't an issue. If he makes a mark at all, it will likely be as a spare outfielder/pinch hitter. Silva will never draw many walks, and his speed isn't anything special for an outfielder. However, teams like to have solid pinch-hitter options on the bench, and Silva's OPS was .793 in the Southern League.
He figures to get plenty of outfield chances in 2014, likely in Triple-A Iowa. With Silva, the stat to follow will be his OPS. A big-league pinch hitter who can hit .250 is of value, as long as he hits better than that as a regular. Therein, likely, is Silva's niche. I he can start twice a week against righthanders, and pinch hit as well, he can play at the top level. The rub will be if he can hit well enough to pull it off. Pinch hitters are rarely in the business of walking, and if Silva can be a spare outfielder, he can play as a cheap option if his bat plays. He can play center field as absolutely needed.
If he can fill a bench role, or flip as a tweener piece in a trade, he will be well worth his bonus money as a "First in a set" of Cubans in the system.