The Chicago Cubs signed 20-year old Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion on Sunday, ending weeks of speculation as to the details of the contract. The deal guarantees $6 million to Concepcion, including a $3 million signing bonus. The remaining $3 million will be spread out over the five years of the deal, as reported by ESPN.
Concepcion becomes only the seventh left-handed pitcher on the Cubs' current 40-man roster. Despite this fact, there is absolutely no rush to bring Concepcion to the majors for quite awhile.
Perhaps most importantly, Concepcion must adjust to the grueling MLB season. Concepcion's previous league, the Cuban National Series, consists of only a 90-game season, just over half of the length of an MLB season. Perhaps no other players than pitchers are more affected by the length of the season, given the rigorous routine they must practice and the continuous strains placed on the arm.
Additionally, Concepcion is only 20 years old. Especially considering he will be adjusting to new hitters and a new game, Concepcion must be mentored not only on pitching strategy, but also on mental toughness and maturity.
In order for the Cubs to become contenders in the upcoming years, they must learn to play a smart and clean game...certainly something that has been missing on the North Side for a few years.
Like any big-name prospect, Concepcion has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Not only does he have a great deal to prove, but he also has to prove himself on the most championship-hungry franchise in perhaps all of sports.
Although much of this pressure falls on his own shoulders, it also falls on the shoulders of the front office. For years, the Cubs have excelled at unsuccessfully developing prospects. Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Mark Prior, Tyler Colvin...I could go on forever, baby.
For once, the Cubs organization needs to properly develop their star prospects. With enormous weight on the shoulders of Concepcion, Bryan LaHair, Anthony Rizzo and other prospects, it's time for the youth to take over. However, now more than ever the Cubs need to be patient with their prospects.
Because of this, Concepcion MUST start the season in Triple-A Iowa, and I personally wouldn't be upset if he didn't see the majors this year, barring a last-minute call-up if the Cubbies are out of contention.
The boy needs to be developed properly, and for more than half of a season. So buckle up Cubs fans, it's time to start Theo Epstein's real test.
Which by the way, we expect an A. No pressure.
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