Yesterday we talked about the pitchers, today it's the position players. Because it's a large group, I'll start with the outfielders and then move on to catchers and infielders in a separate piece.
One player noticeably absent from the list is Reggie Golden, who was certainly a prospect going into the year but had yet another devastating injury. The fact that he's not here tells me he's still not 100%. I would think the Cubs would try to make up as much as possible for his lost time had he been able to go.
If there's a theme with this group, it's unlocking some of the power potential that all these players have. Whether it's more extra base hits, the 20 HR potential of Albert Almora, or the light tower power of Jorge Soler, it seems like all of these players will be looking to turn it up a notch for next season.
- Albert Almora, 18, CR: Almora is going to be a busy man this fall. The Cubs let him get his feet wet this season in AZ and Boise, but now it's also going to be about developing a more patient approach. Almora isn't a free swinger, but he was advanced enough to make consistent contact (13 Ks in 145 PAs) with pretty much anything that was being thrown up there. His ability to eventually hit for power will depend on learning to wait for pitches he can drive. I'd be surprised if he didn't vastly improve on the 2 walks he drew this season. I wonder also if the Cubs will tone down his leg kick much like they've been doing with Starlin Castro. His defense is advanced. Almora will likely start the season in low Class A.
- Jorge Soler, 20, RF: Soler and Almora will be linked this fall and probably for their entire careers if we're lucky enough to see both make it. Almora will continue to help Soler learn English and adapt to American culture. And it probably won't hurt to be around someone who works as hard as the Cubs future CF. For Soler it's mostly about gaining experience and continuing to shake off some rust. The raw power is obviously there, it's a matter of dialing it up more consistently. He has shown a good ability to recognize pitches and I think he'll eventually draw more walks and be more selective as to pitches he can drive. Given his age, it wouldn't be surprising to see Soler jump to Daytona despite just 20 games in Peoria, but the Cubs may want to keep him paired with Almora to start the season.
- Yasiel Balaguert, 19, LF: Balaguert probably won't stray too far from the other OF'ers, having played with Soler in Cuba. Balaguert was a disappointment this past season. He didn't show the solid hit tool I expected and looked a little out of shape. He'd played CF in Cuba but no way did he look fast enough to play that in the U.S. That will put more pressure on his bat. A return to the Midwest League seems like his most likely destination.
- Shawon Dunston, Jr., 19, CF: Dunston really struggled at Boise but picked it up when he dropped down to AZ. For a player that is considered a bit raw, he did show a good eye at the plate, walking in about 10% of his PAs. Dunston has quick hands and may have a chance to develop some power as he fills out. He also runs well. More famous because of who his dad is, he's a legit prospect and has the ability to make it to the bigs on his own merits. He'll be 20 and probably starts the year in extended spring training with another crack at Boise in the cards.
- Trey Martin, 19, CF: Martin was one of my favorite players at Boise. It's easy to get forgotten on that prospect-laden team, but Martin made sure he got noticed. He oozes athleticism and put it on display on defense with more than his share of highlight reel catches, though he's not as smooth and instinctive as Almora is out there. He also runs well, but is a bit of a long strider and I don't think it's going to translate to stealing bases. Martin, though, is not just an athlete playing baseball. He can hit and started to show some extra base power at Boise. More of a sleeper prospect. We'll likely see him start at low A ball.
- Trevor Gretzky, 20, LF: Gretzky was one of the hottest hitters on the AZ team down the stretch, but it was mostly singles (1 double, 1 triple no HRs in 132 PAs). He shows good plate discipline and for him it's going to be about tapping into the power potential lurking in that 6'4", 190 lbs. frame. Given his best positions are LF and 1B, he'll need to fill out some and gain strength to supply the kind of power the Cubs prefer to see at those spots.
- Bijan Rademacher, 21, OF: Some thought his future was on the mound but the Cubs kept him in the OF and he immediately hit his way out of Arizona and Boise, then got off to a nice start in Peoria before stalling down the stretch. Rademacher showed a nice arm, extra base power, and some athleticism in the outfield. He's the oldest player on this list so the Cubs may see if they can get him up to speed for Daytona and the FSL.
Filed under: prospects