Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua has parlayed a suspension into a bigger bonus for a second time, signing today with the Cubs for $1.5 million.
Like any international signing, Paniagua will still require a background investigation and the contract approval of Major League Baseball, which in Paniagua's case has been a problem before.
Paniagua, 22, originally signed with Arizona as Juan Carlos Collado for $17,000 on May 8, 2009. He pitched in Arizona's Dominican Summer League program for parts of two seasons with a pending contract (an option that is no longer allowed) but had his deal terminated due to fraudeulent paperwork and was declared ineligible to sign for one year.
During his time off, his fastball rose from peaking at 92 mph to touching 98 mph, and in 2011 he signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million as Juan Carlos Paniagua. MLB also terminated that contract due to what the league called "falsified documents" and declared him ineligible to sign for one year, a penalty that ended today.
Paniagua hasn't shown the same velocity he had when he signed with the Yankees—he sat at 93-95 mph at a May workout in Puerto Rico—but his 81-84 mph slider has improved after some scouts last year thought it was a slurvy pitch that graded out behind his changeup. He also throws an occasional curveball, and while he was around the plate in Puerto Rico, his command and pitchability have been issues in the past.
The date of birth he is using (April 4, 1990) is the same one he used to sign with both the Diamondbacks and the Yankees. Since Paniagua had to wait until after July 2 to sign, his bonus will count against the Cubs' bonus pool for the 2012-13 international signing period if his contract is approved.
Paniagua should have the opportunity to move quickly with the Cubs. The organization also signed Frandy de la Rosa, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop and the No. 19 international prospect for July 2, for $700,000.
Paniagua has worked with several representatives since leaving the Diamondbacks. He was with Alfredo Arias of the Arias and Goodman academy when he signed with the Yankees, though most recently he has been working out with Felix Liriano, Dario Moreno Marte (known as "Ochoa") and Rudy Santin.
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