Gerardo Concepcion, the Cubs most recent acquisition, was at practice Tuesday at Fitch Park.The Cuban defector did not pitch, but was working through defensive drills in the beginning of practice.
The 20 year old is a highly touted prospect for the Cubs organization. A left-handed pitcher, Concepcion has three pitches, a fastball, circle-change up and what he said was a hard curveball.
I got a chance to speak with him Tuesday, and although he speaks little English we were able to understand each other through my butchered Spanish and the help of a teammate. “I’m not nervous about playing here,” said Concepcion, “It’s something I’ve done my whole life. I’ve played baseball since I was 9.”
Concepcion was signed on a 5 year, 6-million dollar contract by Epstein and the Cubs. Concepcion was the Cuban National Series Rookie of the Year last season. He finished 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA. When asked about his batting Concepcion replied with a laugh, “mas o menos,” and then said, “it’s alright.”
The Cubs organization has welcomed him with open arms. “The Cubs have helped me here and done everything they can to make me feel comfortable,” said Concepcion.
Concepcion’s family still lives in Cuba, but he hopes they’ll be able to see some of his games down the road. Concepcion’s story is similar to Aroldis Chapman. He defected from Cuba while the Cuban national team played in a tournament in the Nethlerlands last year. After gaining residency in Mexico, the MLB listed him as a free agent. Concepcion said he worked out down in the Dominican Republic for a short time, until the Chicago Cubs eventually agreed on a contract.
It hasn’t been decided which minor league team Concepcion will play for to start the year, however he is on the 40 man roster.