One of my joys is inventing language. Instead of saying “There ought to be a word for.....”, I create one, and roll with it. Perhaps the term catches, and starts getting used. Occasionally, it pancakes. And another word fills the spot later. However, when a word is needed, I start to use one. And let the marketplace decide. Today is such a moment with the term Internacionale.
In the NFL, the Green Bay Packers are considered a very good “Draft And Develop” team. I try to limit my “expert commentary” on the NFL, as I’m not a football guy anymore. However, they tend to crush their division through the draft, and win division titles rather regularly. Draft and develop, it is.
They occasionally venture into free agency, but not enough for the Packer backers on my timeline.
However, in MLB, the draft and develop premise has a gaping hole.
International players aren’t drafted, in most cases. Canadians and players from Puerto Rico are eligible to be drafted. However, the rest of the globe falls under a different globe.
Internacionale covers all of “that.”
That includes recruitment, by whatever method. Deciding how much to offer which players. Monitoring the MLB payroll, so as to not lose a million or two in spending. Locating the new hot spots across the globe before they get “played out.” Having useful hitting, pitching, and positional coaches to get the most out of the players.
That’s the basic list, though it could get longer.
Any time the Cubs flip some “random” sounding player with a foreign-sounding name, like Frandy De La Rosa (for Spencer Patton, who received a ring) or Bryant Flete (Sent to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade), that’s internacionale.
Recently, I received a few links to the MLB Top 30 International Prospects list. The scuttlebutt on who’s likely to go where is usually rather accurate. The Cubs are projected to claim three of the top 30. Which is refreshing to hear.
That said, last year they were in line to get two of the top names, despite being in the penalty phase.
The top pitcher on the list is Richard Gallardo, a 6-1 righthanded pitcher from Macaray, Venezuela. I’m familiar with the name from my previous reading. His fastball is considered a 65 (on the scouts’ 20-80 scale), but I think of him more as a repertoire righty. He has an arsenal of pitches to get hitters out.
His control is pegged at 60, which impresses me more than the 65 fastball.
Outfielder Jose Lopez has a bit of a loopy swing. That will need some work. Which he’ll have plenty of time to get worked on, whoever signs him.
Lopez is 50’s across, with a 55 for Run and Field. He’s considered a center fielder, and this is my shocked face.
Lopez is from Santiago, Dominican Republic.
The lefty arm at 28 is Joel Machado. A 6-0 pitcher from Barlovento, Venezuela (less than an hour from Caracas) with a 55 fastball and change.
Seeing the Cubs atop the expectation boards for two pitchers from Venezuela has me hoping the scouts are getting proper hazard pay.
With internacionale, it isn’t merely about the Top 30 guys. It’s finding guys that not that many other people are aware of. It’s getting the players that are going to “keep at it” (a la Willson Contreras), and not “mail it in” once the bonus check clears.
It’s about developing players in the affiliate pipeline that can be flipped to teams who are less interested (for whatever reason) in the internacionale game. And, from these trades, adding more talent.
As time progresses, teams are less interested in trading Competitive Balance draft choices. And, they might become less interested in swapping players for $250,000 in international signing money. Therefore, having talent they like is helpful.
Getting quality innings from Luke Farrell helps in that angle.
In my view, everything flows together.
You’re certainly entitled to commit your attention to the Chicago Cubs, almost entirely. My job, as a writer, is to get some of you to be intrigued enough in the other angles of the big picture to glance elsewhere, on occasion.
And, truth-be-told, when two minor league games are doing their impressions of “car veers into the bushes,” I take a nap.
The reality seems to be: The better the Cubs do in the draft, development, and internacionale fronts, the more joy there ends up being at Clark and Addison.
In early July, I would expect the Cubs to announce the signings of Gallardo, Lopez, and Machado. To beat you to the punch, “No.” Neither pitcher will be an “ace.” Both will be absolute novices, unlikely to play in the Dominican League this summer.
The two DominiCubs teams (Cachorros and Potros, since I enjoy language) will already have filled rosters.
All three figure to begin their assimilation process upon signing their contracts. And the long, slow process to being names you might hear from, again.
In the day, it made sense to mock paying attention to players like Gallardo, Lopez, and Machado.
“We’ll probably never hear about them, again.”
However, if you’ve been paying attention since “the new guys” started making executive decisions, the complete whiffs have been a bit fewer. The players brought in have marched up through the ranks.
I’m not guessing stardom for any of those three, or the doubtless few that will be poached from the Mexican League. And the handful that will ink contracts of low-five figures or less.
However, the internacionale aspect of the development pipeline has gotten reasonably good at bearing fruit. Even if they don’t reach the I-Cubs.
Gleyber Torres had his first hit a few days ago.
Still has a nice “ring” to it.
Think for yourself. Ask questions. Be nice to others.