I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but I had minor surgery on my shoulder Friday. I did a podcast today with Ivy Envy and then decided I should gather all my left over notes from the Top 25.and the lists that preceded it (Tools Preview, Teen propsects).
The clutter on the table was getting out of hand.
So if you haven't had enough of prospects yet, here are 25 (+) more. With the exception of the group that just missed, these are not necessarily the next top group of prospects.
5 who just missed
Adbert Alzolay, RHP: I didn't get to see much of Alzolay before he left for Eugene, but what I did see was a live, loose body capable of generating very good arm speed . The FB was in the low to mid 90s heat and touched 95, to go with a cutter and a good breaking ball. Alzolay is competitive and attacks the strike zone. A lack of size may have unfairly knocked him down this list, though I did have him as high as #22 in one draft.
Chesny Young, IF/OF: One of the best contact hitters in the system, Young possesses exceptional hand-eye coordination and bat control to go with his short, quick swing. He has solid athleticism and is a competent defender at multiple positions. Works hard at learning the nuances of all the infield positions. Best at 2B and 3B, but can handle SS and the OF in spurts.
Ryan Williams, RHP: A very advanced pitcher with excellent command, good size, and an assortment of fringe average to average pitches -- though he is able to play all of them up overall. The good height and high arm slot help give him good downward plane while making it easier to get on top of his curve, which is his best breaking ball. The Cubs have a lot of pitchers with this average to good range of skills (Blackburn, Tseng, Martinez, Torrez, Skulina to name just a few), but Williams combo of performance, advancement, pitchability, and command give him the edge.
PJ Higgins, OF/IF: Higgins took a while to get into uniform but once he did, he started hitting line drives almost from the day he stepped on the field. Like Young, he will surprise you with his athleticism and that, combined with good instincts will make him capable of playing all over the field. Higgins did some catching at the college level and there was some speculation as to whether he would be tried there, but he did not catch at all during the fall, so if it is in the plans it may be on hold at least until the spring
Pedro Araujo, RHP: Araujo is one of those guys who looks the part at 6'3", 215 lbs but did not perform up to expectations until this past year. He generates good plane on his 91-93 mph FB, which is up a couple of ticks from last season and features good downward movement. The curve gives him a second potential average or better pitch and he throws an effective change as well. Araujo put up outstanding numbers at Eugene (12.52 Ks and just 1.61 BBs per 9 IP, 1.67 FIP, and just 0.18 HRs per 9 IP) and has a ceiling of a #4 type workhorse starter. Hitters should have a lot of problems trying to drive the ball up and out of the park early on in the cold MWL weather, so he has a chance to get off to a good start.
Others: Jeremy Null, Paul Blackburn, Jen-Ho Tseng, Daury Torrez, Jonathan Martinez, Tyler Skulina, Christian Villanueva, Felix Pena, David Garner
IFA signings to watch
Aramis Ademan, SS: Smooth and silky in the field, he is a SS all the way for me. Fluid athleticism and a good arm that he plays up with a quick release make him a good bet to stay there. At the plate he is similarly smooth with a nice, short RH stroke that generates consistent line drives all over the field, but right now he lacks the kind of extra base power you want, even from a SS. In some ways similar to defensive standout Carlos Penalver, but perhaps with better hands and to me, a much more polished stroke on offense.
Kwang Min Kwon, OF-1B: A surprisingly good athlete who is being used primarily in RF, Kwon generates easy raw power from the left side. Right now he's mostly a dead red hitter so there's a big development curve ahead of him, but the raw power and surprising athleticism to go with a competitive nature and strong work ethic gives him a shot to plug the holes in his game. He'd probably end up at 1B as he is pretty close to outgrowing the OF already at age 17.
Miguel Amaya, C: One of the rare young IFAs whose mental side of the game is about as far along as the physical side. Amaya is a born leader at age 16 and has a competitive nature while still being a good teammate. The tools are about average right now and the defense is well ahead of his offense, so right now he projects more as a heady backup - but he has so much time to develop that bat that it would be unfair to pigeon-hole him there now. He showed some line drive ability in BP and won't need to be a great hitter to start. He has a chance to be at least an average hitter.
Jonathan Sierra: OF, the sweet-swinging Sierra has a ways to go in terms of physical maturity -- he just turned 17, so it will be a while before we see some of the raw power show up in games. Still growing into his body, he profiles as a prototypical RFer (hit, power, arm ,at least avg defender). Intelligent, coachable kid.
Yonathan Perlaza, SS: One of the IFAs that was not in camp, Perlaza is the best pure hitter among the Cubs strong class of infielders. Standing only 5'8" and not possessing another above average tool other than his arm, his bat and his ability to stay in the middle infield is his ticket to the big leagues. Short, quick strong with strong wrists should allow him to hit for some pop as well as contact.
Extra catchers/infielders (AZL and higher)
Cael Brockmeyer: An unusually tall catcher (6'5"), Brockmeyer has a strong arm and does a surprisingly good job of getting low in his crouch once there are men on base. Solid approach but some swing and miss to his game, in part because of a somewhat long swing. Despite his size, he hasn't shown much power as a pro, but the Cubs like him for his game management skills.
Jason Vosler, 3B: A favorite of some of the coaches down In Arizona, Vosler can play 3B, 2B, and 1B and provide a solid bat off the bench. Vosler seems to have a knack for situational hitting. He really broke through during a late call-up at Myrtle Beach (.391 wOBA, 149 RC+ in 157 PAs) and if he can build on that, then Vosler has a chance. He has a good feel for the game.
Andruw Monasterio, SS: Monasterio is a loose, live-bodied athlete with good middle infield actions, some speed, a strong approach (10.1% BB rate), good contact ability (12.7% K rate), and some surprising pop for someone as thin and relatively young as he was last year playing in the AZL. He was the youngest player on the team, playing the whole season at age 18. There's some room for growth and he could grow into average power...but that could mean he'd grow off SS as well. Right now he has very good range to his left but struggles a bit with the play in the hole. Monasterio is a very coachable kid who works hard on his game.
Wladimir Galindo, 3B: Galindo displayed good bat speed for the AZL Rookie Cubs, though it was mostly doubles power that pretty much extended from the RF-CF gap to down the LF line. He is still somewhat raw and vulnerable to pitchers with advanced command and the ability to change speeds. He can turn on good fastballs, however. He is a little rough in the field. He has a strong arm and works hard on his defense, often staying late after practice, but may not have the athleticism to stick. If he can't then corner OF becomes his next option and that will put a greater burden on his bat.
Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: I could probably have went with Penalver here but since we mentioned him earlier and there are increasing questions about the bat, we will go with Sepulveda, an undersized LH hitting infielder with good feel for the barrel and a solid approach at the plate, though a lack of power and defensive versatility may limit his upside as a utility infielder. If that profile sounds a little like a LH version of Stephen Bruno, you aren't the only one who has made that connection.
Others: Carlos Penalver, Ho-Young Son, Stephen Bruno, Daniel Lockhart, Ben Carhart (C), David Bote, Carlos Sepulveda, Sutton Whiting, Blake Headley, Vimael Machin (C). Gioskar Amaya (C), Ian Rice (C), Marcus Mastrobuoni (C), Tyler Payne (C), Taylor Davis (C-!B)
Extra oufielders/1B(AZL or higher)
Rashad Crawford: For me he has taken over as the Cubs best all-around defensively oriented CFer in the system after Almora, surpassing both Jacob Hannemann and Trevor Martin, who are not showing the kind of progress hoped so far. Crawford is an exceptional, fluid athlete with very good speed, which helps give him tremendous range in the outfield at all 3 positions. He's also younger than Martin and Hannemann and continues to improve on offense (.280/.322/.382; .328 wOBA, 105 RC+). He's not a scrappy little guy, he is 6'3" and looks to be around 200 lbs. right now, so there is some potential to drive the ball for extra bases.
Bijan Rademacher: Rademacher had more walks (15.5%) than strikeouts (13.9%) but saw his power numbers go down substantially in AA (4 HRs, .107 ISO). His overall offensive numbers were still good (.379 OBP, .357 wOBA, 119 RC+) and he played 3 games in CF as he tries to increase his defensive versatility and value off the bench. As you might expect from a former pitcher, Rademacher shows a strong arm from the OF and fits best in RF.
Charcer Burks: I have this thing where I get so locked in with a player's movement that I get thrown off when it changes suddenly, almost to the point where I don't even recognize it as the same player. Such was the case when I saw Burks this fall, who showed a quiet stance and short stroke during BP and then showed more hand movement and a less efficient path to the ball once the game started. Burks is a good athlete and does have a knack for barreling up, but consistency has been elusive. There is some potential here and at times, a solid approach. Burks works hard, but he'll need to keep polishing up his game.
Shawon Dunston: He has seemingly been around, forever, but Dunston will still be 23 when the season starts. He still has those quick hands that can generate some hard line-drive contact when he is going well. He can still run, though some hamstring injuries slowed him down last year. Dunston plays with a lot of energy and hopefully he can stay on the field this year. His ability to play CF and/or hit for more power could help his chances as well.
Robert Garcia: Garcia was a bit old for his league (21 in AZL) but the switch-hitter showed the ability to hit, run the bases, and play all 3 OF positions. The speed pads his batting average as he'll get more than his share of infield hits and bunt singles, but he can drive the ball at times as well. More of a Ben Revere type player, but keep in mind that Revere had already reached the majors at age 22 while Garcia will be trying to make it to Class A Ball.
Others: Trey Martin, Jacob Hannemann, Kevonte Mitchell, Jeffrey Baez, Michael Foster, Alex Bautista, John Andreoli, Kevin Encarnacion, Ricardo Marcano, Chris Pieters, Matt Rose (1B), Yasiel Balaguert (1B), Tyler Alamo (1B)
5 Bullpen Arms...
When I refer to bullpen arms, I am referring to pitchers that are there full-time as minor leaguers. It's hard to make any list as a minor league RP unless you have overwhelming stuff, results, and/or are close the majors...and probably some combination of all three.. The list of the extra arms at the bottom are both starters and relievers, though it is likely that if any of them make it, it will be out of the bullpen.
Corey Black, RHP: Black was left unprotected and went unclaimed for the Rule 5 Draft. He can still dial it up to 98 mph, as he did this fall and he still has that good slider, but the max effort and the head movement make it difficult for him to consistently find the plate. When he throws strikes, he can command, but sometimes you wonder if he he should just dial it down a few ticks and concentrate on throwing more strikes and sharpening that slider instead. This season is probably his last chance to break through with this organization.
David Garner, RHP: Loose, athletic pitcher who routinely hit the mid 90s this fall. Easy gas is how one evaluator put it. It looks like he's just playing catch and all of the sudden the baseball is on top of the hitter. He'll also throw a slurve once he is ahead in the count. It's an average pitch but it is effective in that he commands it well and uses it to change pace and eye level.
Dave Berg, RHP: Mid 80s sidearmer with a frisbee slider and advanced command could make an interesting niche player out of the bullpen. He'll be especially tough on RH hitters. Berg possesses the kind of tough mental makeup you like to see in high leverage situations -- even if the stuff isn't what you'd typically expect for that role. Still, use him in the right situation/match-up and he should be able to get some big outs for his team.
Josh Conway, RHP: Former 4th round sleeper who slipped after he had TJ surgery late in his career. Injuries have continued to plague him but he started to make his way back this year, hitting the mid 90s often and regaining some of that bite on his slider. Now that he has had a full year to build strength and stamina, we may finally get to see Conway have that breakout season.
Scott Frazier, RHP: Standing about 6'8", Frazier had some issues with injuries and what may have been a case of the yips. He came back throwing hard -- in the upper 90s and rivaling Cease for the best pure velocity in the system. The problem was he didn't seem to know exactly where it was going at first. Gradually he began to command the FB better and actually did not walk or hit a single batter in 7 innings at Eugene. He flashes an occasional slow curve that made the inexperienced hitters in AZ look ridiculous as they were too busy trying to time the heat, but it isn't a major league pitch right now.
Extra arms (SP and RP): Eric Jokisch (L). Spencer Patton. Andury Acevedo, Jack Leathersich (L), Drew Rucinski, Matt Brazis, Ryan McNeil, James Norwood, Steven Perakslis, Michael Jensen, Juan Paniagua, Starling Peralta, Corbin Hoffner, PJ Francescon, Zach Cates, James Pugliese, Jasvir Rakkar, Tayler Scott, Erick Leal, Dillon Maples Trey Masek, Scott Effross. Greyfer Eregua, Gerardo Concepcion (L) Jordan Brink (L), Jordan Minch (L), Craig Brooks, James Farris, Preston Morrison, Tyler Peitzmeier, Jared Cheek, Alex Santana, Casey Bloomquist, Kyle Miller, Luis Hernandez, Mark Malave, Jose Paulino (L), Jared Cheek, Andin Diaz (L), Kyle Twomey (L), Austyn Willis, Ryan Kellogg, Tommy Thorpe (L), Jesus Camargo, Manuel Rondon (L), Erling Moreno
That's it for now, at least until the individual team previews this spring!
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