Cubs' Rubi Silva Gets U.S. Career Off To Flying Start

MESA, ARIZ.Speed is among the tools that prompted the Cubs to give a $1 million bonus to Cuban center fielder Rubi Silva. They're finding out he is also a quick learner, which is helping him get his North American career off to a running start.

Silva, 21, had a strong spring training, according to farm director Oneri Fleita. He adapted quickly to the organization's routine and played well in camp games, landing a spot on the roster with low Class A Peoria.

"He's an interesting guy," Fleita said. "He's a lefthanded hitter, 65 runner, great instincts for the game. He's a confident kid."

Silva played on Cuba's junior national team alongside highly regarded prospects Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria and Dayan Viciedo. He played for La Habana in Cuba's Serie Nacional for two seasons before defecting after 2009, when he led the league with 10 triples and had 16 outfield assists.

Silva is an aggressive hitter with gap power. Some scouts project that he could develop into a double-figure home run threat, but the Cubs see him more as someone who can be disruptive on the bases.

While Silva didn't sign with the Cubs until January, he spent a lot of time in 2010 at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic. He was recovering from a broken leg but shared with coaches there that he had played shortstop before having his path blocked by Iglesias and Hechavarria.

Silva has worked at second base during spring training, and could play there as well as center and right field for Peoria. The highly regarded Matt Szczur, who like Silva is a center fielder/leadoff man, is also ticketed to start the season with the Chiefs.

"Because he has the ability to play second base, we are going to make sure we use that as an option," Fleita said. "It's hard finding second basemen who come along like that, who can run and have real good instincts."

Cuban catcher Yaniel Cabeza, 21, who received a $500,000 bonus from the Cubs, is headed for a stint in extended spring training before beginning his career.

"He can really catch and throw,'' Fleita said. "He reminds me a lot of a young Yadier Molina."


• Righthander Hayden Simpson, the Cubs' first-round pick last June, is generously listed at 6-foot, 175 pounds, but he lost 20 pounds during his bout with mononucleosis after signing. Some in the organization felt he could begin his career with high Class A Daytona, but he's expected to be assigned to Peoria.

• Righthander Chris Carpenter, a starter throughout his first three seasons, will continue to work out of the bullpen after a successful stint there in the Arizona Fall League. He could pitch his way to Wrigley Field this season.