If I had taken a poll before opening day and asked fans to pick three prospects that would have the most impact over the first month of the season I'm sure Jeimer Candelario would have been a popular choice. However, I don't believe that Charcer Burks or Jason Vosler would have been included in many lists. But that is where we stand at this point in the season.
Charcer Burks followed his strong second half (.275/.369/.439) last season with an equally strong spring training showing and has now begun the 2017 regular season on an even more impressive note (.300/.414/.455). Already a good defensive outfielder, he is turning himself into a more consistent offensive threat thanks to a more discerning eye and improved strength which has led to him hitting the ball with more authority. Fans that miss the contributions from Matt Szczur could find similar or even greater value from Burks down the road, although Burks may face the same obstacles for playing time.
The left hand hitting Vosler must traverse an even tougher path to the majors. Not only because of the insane infield depth the Cubs possess ahead of him at the MLB and AAA levels, but because Vosler is also a tougher fit defensively. He does not possess the range or versatility to become a utility man like Chesny Young, instead he is stuck on the corners like Jeimer Candelario. So not only must he contend with two young MLB All-Stars, but a top prospect in Candelario as well.
Very few of the Cubs hitting prospects have struggled to begin the season and correspondingly very few troublesome indicators have popped up in the early going. Most of the red in the chart below will not come as a surprise. Chesny Young, Carlos Sepulveda and P.J. Higgins still lack power. D.J. Wilson, Robert Garcia and John Andreoli still strike out more than you would like, but also still find ways to contribute despite that deficiency. Although they will need to eventually fix that issue if they hope to forge MLB careers, but at least in the case of Wilson there is still plenty of time to improve.
The positive trends in the early going include the improved strike zone judgement of Eddy Martinez, who has significantly cut his K rate from nearly 22% last year down to 12% so far this season. It hasn't translated into an impressive slash line yet, but as we preach around here: process before results. Martinez improved throughout last season. He is undoubtedly still transitioning to life stateside and it should also be noted that the Carolina League is known to be a tough hitting environment so it wouldn't be surprising for his numbers to not blow you away while he is down there.
I have included each player's BABIP as an indicator for which players we would expect to see regression from, both positive and negative, as the season progresses. On top of his strong plate discipline, Martinez (.244) has also been the victim of the BABIP dragon, which also bodes well for improved production from him moving forward. On the flip side it won't come as a shock that Jeimer Candelario is unlikely to maintain his ridiculous pace throughout the season. One particular note to remember in regards to Ian Happ and his seemingly low BABIP is that HRs are not balls in play, meaning his early homer binge is suppressing his BABIP a bit, so while his power output will likely decrease and his BABIP increase, it won't necessarily lead to the type of batting average increase you would expect.
|Great||> .370||> .200||> 12.5||< 12.5|
|Average||~ .320||~ .140||~ 8.0||~ 20.0|
|Poor||< .300||< .100||< 5.5||> 25.0|