The Cubs haven’t been doing much in the way of adding big-league talent, but they may have just inked a pair of young Cuban prospects. According to Francys Romero of Las Mayores (Major League Baseball en español), the Cubs have landed 17-year-old outfielder Christian More with a $400,000 bonus and 19-year-old outfielder/right-handed pitcher (although maybe that’s first baseman) Felix Stevens Cañizares for $300,000.
Sources: @Cubs sign two cuban prospects. Christian More (17) OF with 400.000 in bonus and Felix Stevens Canizares (19) OF/RHP in 300.000. They are in Dominican Republic and left Cuba in 2018. @RyanQDavis @ESPNChiCubs @NBCSCubs
— Francys Romero (@francysromeroFR) January 23, 2019
The bonus figures match up with the roughly $750,000 in international bonus money the Cubs had remaining, so that checks out. So does the timeline, which closely parallels that of fellow Cuban Yolbert Sanchez. A more sought-after prospect, Sanchez defected with Jorge Tartabull back in June and recently popped back up in the Dominican within the last month or so.
Romero broke the news of that defection and is a reliable outlet, so there’s really no reason to doubt the veracity of his report. As for information about the players themselves, well, that’s a different story. Perhaps a more enterprising blogger could turn over more stones, but all I could find was the below workout video of Cañizares from 2017 when he was still just 17 years old.
And I’ve got to tell you, folks, I like what I see. The video is shaky enough to trigger motion sickness and neither the picture nor the sound is what you’d call pristine, but still. With all due allowance for skepticism of the measurements, Cañizares looks every bit of the 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds he’s listed at. And remember, this was two years ago so he could have filled out even more. That could also be why Romero lists him as a two-way player and the video has him as OF/1B.
The first thing that jumps out is that Cañizares is fast as hell when it comes to straight-line speed, clocking a 6.5 – 6.8 second 60-yard dash. He doesn’t appear to be incredibly agile, though again, we’re talking about a teenager here and a big one at that. The arm looks strong, accuracy maybe not so great. His batting stance is very wide and he generates plenty of pop with a quick, compact swing.
It’s not clear how far apart the BP session is from his live at-bats against a righty and lefty, but that stance looks even wider in the latter examples. It appears to have done him well too, as he orders up an oppo taco from the righty in one clip and nearly decapitates the southpaw in another.
As you might imagine, a search for “Christian More” doesn’t turn up a lot of hits on teenage Cuban ballplayers, so I’ve got bupkis on that one. Although I am told he was a member of Cuba’s U-17 national team, which is a fairly solid indication that he’s okay.
Don’t expect to see either player Stateside right away, as they’ll likely spend a while acclimating to the organization at the Cubs’ Dominican facilities. From there, maybe some time in Mesa to further transition into the culture and polish their skills.
At the risk of getting way out over my skis, Cañizares makes me think of Jorge Soler back in the day, a raw kid with crazy physical gifts. We’ll see how things play out, but this could end up being a really good day for the Cubs.