Another month has passed and so it is time to take a peek at inside the stats and see how the Cubs prospects are faring. First, the top guys. This group has expanded since last we looked. The team used its 1st round selection in the draft on Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner who shot up through three levels of the system before suffering a season-ending injury to his non-throwing elbow while making a diving play last week. Before he went down though, Hoerner showed off his impressive bat control, plus speed, and even gave a preview of the power potential the Cubs believe is to come in his future. His two home runs match the total he put up in the entire season for Stanford.
Even though I haven't seen them myself yet, I've gone ahead and included both young hitters the Cubs took in the 2nd round. Brennen Davis and Cole Roederer are 18-year old, potential five-tool center fielders that received large signing bonuses. Davis was a two-sport star (basketball) in high school that signed quickly and jumped into game action, but just as quickly has dropped out of sight. He was hit by a pitch in 2nd game, and I am not sure if that was the cause of an injury or if he is out for another reason, but he only returned to the lineup yesterday. It took a little longer to get Roederer down to Mesa, but since he has stepped on to the diamond the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. He has made an immediate impact with both his power and speed while reaching in every game he has played so far.
As for the rest, Miguel Amaya's strong season was rewarded with a start behind the plate for the World team in the Futures Game. Aramis Ademan continues to tread water a bit in the challenging Carolina League. It seems like every time he takes a step forward, a week later he finds himself with a string of 0-for-4's. He is still drawing his share of walks, which is an improvement over last season in both Eugene and South Bend. Cubs fans have been going crazy over David Bote of late, but the numbers he has put up in the Majors so far are due for a regression, as his skill level is more in line with his AAA totals (.263/.342/.493) than the 400+ OBP he has posted in Chicago.
Down in Eugene, Nelson Velazquez is finally beginning to heat up after a terrible first few weeks that wasn't much different than his rocky stretch in South Bend early this season. Luis Vazquez had to step aside at SS for a handful of games while Nico Hoerner passed through, but has reclaimed the position and is holding his own at the plate so far at the tender age of 18. It is more about projection at this point for both Velazquez and Vazquez as both are raw at the plate and it will likely be a couple of seasons before we see any consistent production from them.
Moving further down the prospect list, the double play combo in Tennessee (Zack Short and Trent Giambrone) continues their solid work and both should be ready to push for a Major League utility role in the next year or so. Jhonny Pereda has added just enough power to his high-contact approach to elevate him from sleeper to legitimate prospect this season. Jason Vosler has gotten back on track and back to his power hitting ways after a slow start to the year. Jared Young is another emerging left handed power bat in the Cubs system.
While Vazquez and Velazquez have managed to hold their own with the Emeralds, the challenge proved too much for fellow teenagers Christopher Morel and Jonathan Soto and both were sent down to Mesa once older replacements from the draft class were ready. I knew Morel was swinging at everything when I watched him but even I am shocked by the 1.8 pitches per plate appearance he posted before his demotion. Those numbers would make Javier Baez blush. He does have pop in his bat, but he will need a far less aggressive approach in order to tap into it with any regularity.
Taking a look at some of the fringe and sleeper prospects throughout the system, Michael Cruz has recovered from a brutal first six weeks or so and is himself emerging as another left handed power threat. One key element that bodes well for him in the future is his high contact rate. Cruz is one of the tougher guys in the system to strike out and still manages to hit the ball with authority on a regular basis. Andruw Monasterio is another high-contact hitter, but one who lacks the power of Cruz, although as a middle infielder that projects to a utility role down the line that is not a huge issue.
Now that the short season leagues have kicked off and the 2018 draft class has debuted in the pro ranks I have put together a quick snapshot of some of the players drawing interest so far. The top grouping is composed of members of draftees, the second is players of note from previous IFA classes, and finally the lowest group is a handful of 17-year olds that have made an impression down in the DSL this season.