Spring Training Prospect Notes: David Bote

It has been easy to overlook David Bote throughout his career. An 18th round pick out of a community college in Kansas, he entered the Cubs system in 2012 as a utility infielder and failed to hit above .235 his first three seasons. He certainly didn't light the world on fire during his fourth season spent entirely at South Bend either (.251/.328/.384) but it at least represented a step up, and earned him his first everyday gig as a professional.

My first extended and in-person look came the year before when Bote spent a partial season in Kane County (.210/.323/.290). His results were ugly, but I came away impressed with his bat speed. He also flashed solid plate discipline and decent athleticism. I also remember telling John that I liked his swing, however, I admitted there was something I wasn't picking up on because most of his at bats ended with him grounding out to either the SS or 2B. They were often hard ground balls, and some did sneak through, but something was preventing him from lifting the ball. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

And I never did. To this day I'm still not sure the exact alterations David Bote made, and I no longer have access to video from his early years, but whatever those changes were seem to have occurred during the 2016 season. To begin the year Bote was essentially being treated as an org player.  He started off in High-A Myrtle Beach before heading to the DL in in April. When he returned to action it was not with the Pelicans however, instead Bote found himself filling in at AAA, and then AA when injuries struck at those levels before returning to Myrtle Beach in June. That is not the way organization's typically handle prospects they have high hopes for.

David Bote

David Bote

The funny thing is, despite the detours, Bote began to hit. After batting a combined .277 during his upper levels stints, he settled into an everyday role with Myrtle Beach upon his return in late June and everything began to click. Bote earned an everyday role for just the second time in his career by slashing a highly unexpected .337/.410/.518 for the Pelicans.

He credits the organization's mental skills coordinators for helping him throughout 2016, and mentions that in second half of the season he finally grew comfortable with staying in the moment, concentrating on the importance of the current at bat. In short, he learned what he could control on a daily basis and kept his focus on just those things.

Last season, Bote took yet another step forward with the bat. With AA Tennessee he doubled his career high in home runs (14) while hitting .272. He went on to hit .333/.395/.536 with 4 HRs and 14 RBI in 19 games during the Arizona Fall League. The strides Bote made throughout the year prompted the Cubs to add him to the 40-man roster in the offseason in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. It also meant Bote would attend his first big league camp this spring.

To say he has made the most of the opportunity would be an understatement. Taking advantage of short absences from Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, and now Javier Baez, Bote has received more playing time than anticipated when camp opened. And his play has not gone unnoticed. He's drawn praise from Joe Maddon, who has already chimed in with walk up music recommendations for the young infielder.

The power surge in 2017 is not a fluke either. Bote has always hit the ball hard but he is still learning to translate that power into game situations. He arrived in Mesa a month earlier than normal in order to work with hitting coaches Chili Davis and Andy Haines to help further bring that aspect of his game to the forefront. While he doesn't possess the same raw strength as some of the Cubs current mashers, 20-25 homer seasons are not out of the question moving forward.


For more of a taste of what Bote can bring to the club in the near future, take a look at his day at the plate during Friday's Cactus League action. He delivered an RBI single through the hole on the right side in his first at bat. This is an example of how Bote contributed early in his career, a hard ground ball:


Then he showed off that emerging power I spoke of in his next at bat. When he gets a hanging breaker, thigh-high on the inner half... he can now annihilate it:


Once the season opens the Cubs will likely carry just three extra position players in Iowa from the 40-man roster. They'll create room for Chris Gimenez meaning catcher Victor Caratini and corner outfielder Mark Zagunis will return to Iowa to serve as the potential first call ups depending on the situation. Bote stands as the lone infielder. His versatility as a potential corner outfielder means that with a strong start he could even supplant Zagunis as the first recall if a need arises in the outfield as well. Bote's one limiting factor is his inability to play shortstop. So an injury to either Addison Russell or Javier Baez could prompt the club to add either Mike Freeman or Chesny Young to the 40-man so that one could be summoned to Chicago.

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  • Thanks Mike! Had been wondering about Bote as his numbers in the upper levels of the minors are better than in the lower levels, and he's certainly putting on a show at Sloan Park.

    Interesting to see this FO start to now 'develop' hitting prospects. There are questions that remain about the ability to develop pitchers. I think it would be a fair argument to question hitting as well -- i'm not sure I would be on the negative side of this argument, but just think it's more a question than gets discussed.

    The question arises because to date the only position players to make an impact on the major league club have been first round picks, or Willy. Granted Javy, Almora and Willson needed some seasoning in the minors, but KB, Schwarbs and Happ simply shot through the minors. Hard too to wonder if Eloy was also just a freak of nature.

    Bote appears to be one of the main arguments to date about the positive impact of 'the Cubs Way.' Maybe Jeimer as well?

    I'm starting to feel a bit better about the Cubs MiLB resources than a 25+ ranked system would warrant.

  • In reply to Gunga:

    Willson, similar to Bote started coming around late with the bat. Would love to see Bote make those kind of big strides!

  • In reply to Gunga:

    I agree with your point about developing hitters who don't carry the first-round pedigree (though that is true in every organization), but want to clarify your thoughts on the time these guys spent in the minors. Javy and Almora Jr. were drafted out of high school and Contreras signed at age 16 (?), wereas Bryant, Schwarber and Happ all shot throught the system but were drafted out of college with much more seasoning.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    To expand on that point, the days of high first-round picks are gone for the foreseeable future, putting more emphasis on the organization's ability to scout and develop very young talent through the international signings or out of high school in the amateur draft. I'm very confident the FO has put the necessary infrastructure in place to do so.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Also, you need to remember, in other orgs some of the lesser prospects would have already gotten time. The Cubs traded Candelario because they already had Bryant. They traded McKinney (and Eloy) because they had Schwarber. Rizzo left no room for Justin Bour or Dan Vogelbach. They traded Torres because they already had Russell/Baez, who also displaced Starlin Castro. They may end up trading Caratini because they already have Contreras.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That's the benefit of having a deep and strong organization, and sort of ironically driving prospect-savvy fans mad. The entire 25-man roster is so young and under control, moreso than I can ever remember, that we can deal those minor-league pieces to compliment the big-league roster. It's an old cliche to say you deal from strengths to address weaknesses, but this is truly the case.

  • Although it’s true most of the best Cubs prospects were first round draft choices, I think they also have developed them well. I actually think if Baez had been under a previous regime, he might have gone the way of Felix Pie. Instead, the Cubs give him clear and accurate guidance and he has a chance to now really become elite. Rizzo has also developed. He’s gone from being terrible at hitting lefties to being excellent. I suspect that have given clear advice to guys like Happ and Schwarber on what, specifically, they need to do to get to the next level. That advice will be backed by hard data and consistently communicated across the organization. So if Baez continues to swing at the wrong pitches, he’ll ultimately have just himself to blame.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I agree completely with the development plan for Baez. So many prospects with a world of talent flame out. The Cubs brought him up in 2014, clearly not ready, but they saw something that told them Javy needed a "tough-love" approach in his particular case. That half-season was a disaster, but it apparently fit in with the team's timetable and Javy's personal plan.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Why I’m at it, there have been at least two huge developed pitcher. I listened to a radio interview with Kyle Hendricks where he called himself a “system pitcher” and said he would not be the player he is now without the Cubs infrastructure. When asked about it, Epstein downplayed the Cubs role, but Hendricks seemed to believe it. And how about Jake Arrieta. They took an arguably failed pitcher and turned him into Cy Young. Let’s see what happens with Chatwood and Q.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I consider Hendricks a Cubs product. An argument can be made for Arrieta. Even though we didn't draft/sign them, I'd throw in Edwards and even Strop. I don't think it is as bad as people. make it out to be, but we can always do better. We're starting to see the results after a couple years of focusing more resources on the pitching side.

  • I like the different groups to keep an eye on. It used to be which 1st rounder & when. Now w/out those 1st round top 10 OA picks, we get to watch a group of SPs, a group of relievers & next group of depth hitters to come up in place of injuries & see who are possible diamonds in the rough from those groups. It is fun to do & also why I like ST more than some. Last night I got to watch Like Farrell, Underwood & Alvarez... & some others all in the same game. It wasn’t fair that hitters had to face Rich Hill, Ha Ha, but seeing the pitchers battle the Dodger hitters was fun.

  • Bote, if he can learn and play the corner OF spots, while be able to 'man' both IF spots is the organization's Zobrist reincarnate.
    Only weakness is he does not bat left.

    I disagree on Caratini, I think the Cubs bring him up and keep him on the roster as his offense pushes TLS

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    Given that we have no idea what's up with Grimm (he may be working on something for all we know) but I wonder if Eddie Butler is starting to work his way into consideration for the last bullpen slot.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wonder if Holland is a possibility. He and Moustakas are both Boras clients, and Moustakas signed for $6.5m, significantly less than the $17.5 the Royals offered in November. If Holland needs to take a huge discount, he may as well pick a contender.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I've seen you mention Holland on a couple occasuons, and I see your point on a cheap deal, but I don't think so. We only have about $10M under the tax threshold, and I don't see the FO blowing that now. I think we're pretty comfortable with the bullpen as-is, and will save that little financial cushion until the deadline. I firmly believe the plan is to not go over the limit this year but blow by it next season, as the penalties compound. The only way I see us goiing over the limit this year is if we are in the hunt and a piece away. That threshold won't keep us from another Championship, but it is not part of the current plan.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They’re both out of options. Who’s more valuable to the team &/or in trade value...? I’d say Butler.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    Kind of my gut, too. He seems like he'd be similar to Grimm in that role and he's a nice spot starter there.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I doubt Grimm is claimed on waivers given his salary.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I believe -- but could be wrong -- if the release him in ST they can avoid most of the salary. That date may have passed though.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I believe that March 13 is the release date.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Tomorrow is the date for paying 30 days termination pay. Between then and Opening Day, you’d pay 45 days termination. So as long as Grimm isn’t on Opening Day roster, his contract wouldn’t carry a full guarantee.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    True. And I believe Butler wouldn’t last long on the waiver wire.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This is true, but I believe Grimm has enough service time that he can elect free agency if they tried to outright him. I believe he is then in the position of going to Iowa if he cleared waivers to keep his arbitration award or forgo the salary to elect free agency for a chance to catch onto a big league roster. Lots of wrinkles with the Justin Grimm story and about the only roster drama we have at the moment.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    To do so would mean he forfeits his 2.2M salary. And I cannot see him doing that since he won't get that much as a free agent.

  • Jake to Philly at 3/$75MM.

    Good luck Jake. Thanks for the years in Chicago.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Interesting terms. Opt out aft yr 2 but the Phillies can void it by extending the contract to 5 yrs making the total worth $115M.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Good for Jake - and good for the Cubs, come playoff time.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Jake may help Philly beat up Nationals some. Hopefully the Cubs have the best record in the NL making the Nats & dodgers have to play each other. Also the Cubs now get another draft pick. :-)

  • In reply to John57:

    I think adding Jake makes Philly a 80-82 win team. If they over achieve they could consider themselves buyer at the deadline competing for a WC. I'd say they're neck and neck with the Mets for second in that division unless Matt Harvey or Steven Matz can actually pitch.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I am hoping the Mets, Phillies, and Braves all do better than expected to lower Nats win total.

  • In reply to John57:

    Washington is still by far the class of that division but the Mets could overperform, I like Philly and if the Braves kid pitchers ever pull it together they'll win some games but they'll all beat up on Miami.

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    Did the Cubs just inform Jake before signing Yu or did they offer him a similar deal? I can't believe they offered him so many years or a $100M deal. Times have changed, and I really believe that Jake's performance from now on will be on the decline as his number's and effectiveness have gone down since his record 2015 2nd half season.
    You helped us win a WS and I appreciate it, but I have a feeling that each Cubs pitcher will be better than Jake this year.

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