Cubs shut down Venezuelan summer team

VSL cancels 2016 season as clubs pull out due to unrest; Chicago continues to run academy

Cubs shut down Venezuelan summer team

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have signed talented prospects such as Gleyber Torres, Willson Contreras, Gioskar Amaya, Jeffrey Baez, Jonathan Mota and Carlos Penalver in recent years from Venezuela. But the difficulties in the country have forced the Cubs to drop their Venezuelan Summer League team this year.

Jason McLeod, senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting, said Monday the Cubs are currently looking at their options on how to best operate in Venezuela at this time. The Cubs will continue to run their academy there and use it for scouting purposes as well as a base for the Parallel League, which is a shortened fall league for young players.

The Cubs joined the Tigers, who confirmed Monday that they are pulling out of the VSL this year. There were only four teams in the VSL: the Cubs, Tigers, Phillies and Rays. When the Cubs opted out, leaving the league with three teams, the VSL announced it was cancelling the 2016 season. To make up for the loss of the VSL team, the Cubs will have two teams in the Dominican Summer League.

There is plenty of baseball talent in Venezuela, but it's a difficult and sometimes dangerous situation for players, scouts and team personnel as the country deals with political unrest, inflation and a lack of basic goods.

Torres, a shortstop who turned 19 in December, was the top Venezuelan prospect when the Cubs signed him in 2013. He is ranked No. 1 on MLB.com's list of Top 30 Cubs prospects, while Contreras, a highly touted catcher who batted .333 at Double-A Tennessee last season, is ranked No. 10.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.