Cristian Hernandez Leads Big IFA Class, Continues Cubs’ Youth Movement

After waiting for 16 months for the Cubs to sign shortstop Cristian Hernandez, the deal was officially announced Friday. One of the top-rated international prospects in the entire class, 17-year-old signed for $3 million of the Cubs’ $5.3 million bonus pool. Hernandez has drawn comparisons to Manny Machado and Alex Rodriguez and should find himself in the Arizona Rookie League this summer.

The Cubs wound up signing nine other players in addition to Hernandez, twice the number we previewed earlier this week. Catcher Moises Ballesteros, outfielders Daniel Ferreria and Oferman Hernandez, and lefty pitcher Carlos Cabrera were in that group. Outfielder Raino Coran and catcher Carlos Ramos were announced Friday morning.

Not yet listed on Baseball America’s tracker are pitcher Wilton Quintero and a pair of positionless players in David Benitez and Ronny Corniel.

Hernandez should fall somewhere from 4-10 once the new prospect lists come out, continuing a recent trend of going young. Out of the Cubs’ top 20 prospects on MLB Pipeline, all but three are 21 or younger. In fact, there are six teenagers on that list before including Hernandez. There are several more when you expand that list to the top 30.

The Cubs appear to be going all-in on young talent, something they weren’t really willing to do under Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod. According to reports, they could aim to continue going in that direction if they end up making additional moves with core players. That means they’re looking a little further into the future than Jed Hoyer seems to be indicating publicly, but it also means they’ve got the utmost confidence in their revamped development infrastructure.

While the Double-A Tennessee Smokies might have most of the top prospects in the system once the minor league season starts, the Arizona Rookie League teams and Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans are going to be home to a lot of very talented players just getting there start in professional ball. Just don’t forget that wer’re talking about teenagers who will take some time to develop.

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