Gleyber Torres, shortstop, 5-11, 185
Early in the 2013-14 international signing season (which started on July 2), the Cubs signed Venezuelan infielder Gleyber Torres for $1.7 million. He has had some swings in Arizona (I think they were at the old facility), and is either home, in the Dominican at the Academy, or in the new venue now. The question is: Where will he start this season?
Torres will likely start at extended spring training. While he may play in the Venezuelan League, the Cubs brass might want to keep a closer eye on Torres than most prospects. If in Venezuela, he will get to play most every day in a real game. There is upside to that. However, he might be better off taking BP from pitchers or pitching coaches more experienced than the 17-year-olds he might get a steady dose of in the VSL. Also, the VSL season won't start until May.
Torres and fellow prospect Eloy Jimenez will both be test cases, either way. For me, at least. A similar talent for Toronto in 2012 was Franklin Barreto. He played some short-season ball last year, though the Cubs don't have a team in the equivalent range of the Appalachian League, which is between Mesa and the Northwest League Boise plays in. The Gulf Coast League equates to the Arizona Summer League.
(The Cubs didn't used to bother to spend much on individuals from Central and South America. They preferred to spend on a basket of prospects, rather than limiting their choices. Last time around, the Cubs did a bit of both, spending heavily on five or six well-known options, and paying a league-induced penalty for doing so. Not only am I good with it, I wish more time and money had been spent internationally the last few decades.)
I expect they will both stay stateside, and get a measure of experience in the Arizona Summer League. For them, getting in games in the States that sort of keep stats will be a coup. The hope for either would be to get to Boise by 2015, with a possible call-up to Kane County in August that year.
To be realistic, if Torres can break camp with the Low-A Cougars to start the 2016 season, that would seem a decent target for a high pick. In other words, when people refer to international signings as far away from the majors, they are correct. It does sound like Torres has a good attitude, and is very talented. However, that doesn't mean he can hit good sliders yet.
The important thing is, the Cubs are going after top end foreign talent now. Hopefully they are recognizing talent well, and developing it, also.