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Cubs sign 1st round pick RHP Alex Lange

The LSU pitcher signed an underslot deal after the Cubs had some concerns about his health

Alex Lange
LSU Athletic Communications

Today was the final day for teams to sign players taken in last month’s draft and the Cubs came to terms with the final three unsigned players taken in the first three rounds.

Lange was the second of two Cubs draft choices in the first round and his negotiations were delayed by his LSU team going to the finals of the College World Series. When Lange went in for a physical, there was reportedly a problem that made the Cubs think twice about the agreed-upon bonus money. However, the issue must not have been too serious as the Cubs and Lange agreed upon a deal that was just about 10% less than the $2,184,300 that was the slot total for the 30th pick in the draft.

Here’s what Lange had to say about it.

I think that pretty much says it all.

Signing Lange also allowed the Cubs to sign two of their “tough signs” in 5th-rounder Nelson Velazquez and 6th-rounder Jeremy Estrada.

The pool amount for Estrada was $222,600, so one million dollars was significantly over slot. (And I hope Estrada did a Dr. Evil impersonation when he made his bonus demands.) However, it is below the amount that a team could go over slot without losing a draft pick, assuming that Velazquez signed for somewhere near slot. The Cubs also saved some bonus pool money on their ninth- and tenth-round picks, Chris Carrier and Brian Glowicki.

You can read up about Lange in the draft recap that I wrote the night he was taken. I will say that it is very possible that the Cubs shut Lange down for the 2017 season after all the innings he threw in college, as they did with Thomas Hatch last year. So we may not get a chance to see Lange pitch until 2018, unless you wander the back fields of Fitch Park.

Estrada was a player who had a chance to go in the first or second round coming into his senior season in high school, but his fastball lost a couple miles per hour and scouts questioned his mound presence as he seemed to get discouraged when confronted with bad results. Still, before his senior season he was a guy who projected to have a plus fastball and changeup at the major league level.

Velazquez is a raw athlete out of Puerto Rico, although he had lived previously in Texas. His speed grades out to be a 70 on the 20-80 scale and he has decent power and a strong arm for right field. However, his approach at the plate will need to be refined and he’ll definitely be a long-term project.

With that, I believe that the Cubs have signed 21 of their top 22 picks, although it is possible that 14th-round pick Luis Vazquez signed and no one reported it. (EDIT: Vazquez did sign. So it’s the top 22 picks.) Those taken after the 21st round who had not signed by today were very unlikely to have done so.