Toronto Blue Jays snatch FIBS Academy graduate Alberto Mineo from Chicago Cubs in Rule 5 Draft

In what appears to be a lucky twist of fate, Italian-born and developed catcher Alberto Mineo has joined Team Italy pitcher Jordan Romano in the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a result of being selected in the minor-league portion of Rule 5 Draft. The Jays were fortunate in acquiring the talented 23-year-old Italian MLB prospect who was signed at age 16 by Cubs scout Bill Holmberg while attending the Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) Academy in Tirrenia. Toronto also was lucky to escape any poaching in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft as Canadian-born Jordan Romano, the highly-touted pitching prospect who was left vulnerable by not being placed on the Jays' 40-man roster, was not taken by any of the other MLB franchises. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process.

Mineo and Romano will now be teammates in the Jays organization.They were in opposing dugouts when the Chicago Cubs played Team Italy in a 2017 World Baseball Classic warm-up exhibition game at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 7, 2017. In that contest, Alberto Mineo entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-runner for Cubs DH Kyle Schwarber. In his only at-bat, Mineo was hit by a pitch to reach first base, then later scored. However, Team Italy eventually went on to upset the 2016 World Champions 7-6 after Azzurri DH Rob Segedin crushed a two-run homer to right field off Cubs right-hander Jake Buchanan with two out in the top of the ninth inning to give the Italians the lead.Jordan Romano at 2017 WBC (FIBS)

Alberto Mineo is currently listed as a catcher on the 2018 Jays' Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons roster. Although this may be a leap of faith in the Italian catcher from his playing days for the Single-A South Bend Cubs, where he served as the team's primary catcher in 2017, Mineo demonstrated his versatility and willingness to play every day by also starting at first base in 21 games. Jordan Romano, who pitched for the 2017 Single-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays, might just be ready for a double-jump to Buffalo with Mineo after dominating hitters in the Florida State League. Regardless of where these players end up in MLB during the 2018 season, one would hope that they will soon play for the same team in an Azzurri uniform representing Team Italy in the 2020 Olympics. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti