The Cubs best long-term SS prospect may be the unheralded Marco Hernandez

The Cubs have 22 year old Starlin Castro manning shortstop for the foreseeable future.  They also have high profile prospects Junior Lake and Javier Baez currently playing the position.

But the player with the best hope of someday moving Castro to 3B or 2B is a 19 year old SS named Marco Hernandez.  Hernandez is a 6’0, 170 lbs, switch-hitting prospect who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009.

He’s athletic and posseses both above-average speed and quickness, which give him plenty of range at short to go with his strong arm.  He has solid tools across the board and, unlike Baez, doesn’t figure to outgrow the position. Baez has a  projectable frame and that has most thinking he’ll eventually need to move to 3B or perhaps the OF.  Lake may have already outgrown shortstop and at any rate doesn't possess the same defensive ability as Castro.  If Lake and/or Baez make it to the big leagues, they'll be the ones that will change position.  That may not be the case with Hernandez.

In addition to being a legit SS defensively, Hernandez has a pretty good bat.  A line drive stroke helps him make plenty of contact and he figures to hit for average from both sides of the plate, though he's better from the left side. His smaller frame doesn’t portend many HRs down the line but he figures to have some extra base power.  His above average speed could be an asset on the bases as he better learns the nuances of baserunning.  Last year at Rookie Level Arizona, Hernandez put up a line of 333/.375/.486.

Jason McLeod stated that there were about a half dozen surprises in camp and I've specifically mentioned RHP Ben Wells as one of those players, but I believe Hernandez is in this group as well.  At the very least, the Cubs were impressed enough with his performance in camp to have him skip short-season Boise.  He'll start the year with the Peoria Chiefs while the more highly touted Baez stays behind in extended spring training. It's a big step-up in terms of the talent he'll face, but  I asked Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Kevin Goldstein via Twitter if he thought Hernandez could handle the leap from the rookie league to full season A ball and his response was yes.

If he does, that would put Hernandez on track to reach Chicago by about 2015 when he’ll be about 22 years old.  By then Castro will be at the ripe old age of 25 and the Cubs will likely have made a decision by then if he will be the team’s long term solution at SS.

For the record, I think Castro sticks at SS, at least for the next 5-6 years.  He has the actions and arm to play there and I believe the better coaching will help him cut down on the mental mistakes and errors.  However, if there is any prospect would could one day move him to 3B, it’s not going to be high profile guys like Lake and Baez, it'll be Marco Hernandez.



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  • Great report, I enjoy these profiles on the international prospects.
    Other sources do not cover them the way you do. Keep us
    up-to-date on these great prospects. Great work.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Thanks e! I appreciate that.

  • Who are the top 5 non-pitching international prospects in the
    system. What position will they finally end up at.

  • Do you mean recent signees or in the system overall?

  • I'll split them up because hard to compare MLB ready prospects and low level guys. Positions hard to guess for early guys but going with best case scenario...

    High Class A and above

    W.Castillo- C
    Lake- 3B
    Torreyes -2B
    Ha - OF
    R.Silva OF

    Lower Levels (Peoria and below)

    Hernandez - SS
    Candelario - 3B
    Amaya -2B
    Chen- CF
    Malave - C

    Also like recent signees Acosta (LF) and Marcano (LF). The recent Cuban signee Balaguert (RF) has reportedly looked better in camp than advertised.

    Of course, if the Cubs sign Soler, he'll top them all.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Can also add Carlos Penalver to that list as he has a good chance to stick at SS, bat will determine whether he makes it.

  • Can you remember the last time they had some many good
    infield prospects. Naturally all will not make it.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It's been a while. A lot of 2B and 3B, but a bit short on true shortstops -- then again, true shortstops are rare. That the Cubs have Castro, Hernandez, and possibly Penalver all at 22 or younger is not a bad coup.

  • fb_avatar

    Red Sox closer Bailey out, needs thumb surgery. Will Lucchino claim A's secretly cheated them and demand new compensation?

  • In reply to Just Win:

    If Castro sticks at SS could Hernandez shift to 2B ? Devoss has long term potential too. Lots of depth at mid Inf in the Cubs system .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Absoliutely. I would think Hernandez would be well above average defensively should he have to move to 2B.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Haha! I actually said something similar on Twitter the other day :)

  • John - how did the recently traded prospects/players look in their respective camps....Marshall, Cashner, and the farm team we sent for Garza: Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer?

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    None of them stood out, though Hak Ju Lee remains well regarded. Archer still has great stuff but struggles with command, Chirinos and Guyer look like backups. Marshall will still be good, but I think the Cubs sold him pretty high..,

    Cashner reportedly hitting triple digits frequently, but with him it's always been a question of health, not talent.

    I'm most worried about Lee and Cashner as far as these guys becoming impact players.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John - always like to keep track of how these trades pan out...

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I'll probably do an update at a couple points during the season.

  • John
    And how did the most renowned recently traded player (Big Z) look in the Florida camp?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He was the same old Z...and by that, I mean the recent Z who throws a lot of pitches, walks batters and gives up a few runs.

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