Offseason Prospect Overview: Aramis Ademan

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Developments I looked for in 2018

1) Given Cubs aggressively assigning him to Myrtle Beach at 19, I just wanted to see him hold his own and not look overmatched

2) Improve plate discipline

3) Decrease youthful mistakes like running into outs, throwing to wrong base, etc.

Season Review

It is impossible to look back on Aramis Ademan's 2018 season and label it a success. It is also fair to say that the Cubs did not exactly set him up to succeed given they pushed him to High-A Myrtle Beach to open the year. There had to be questions regarding whether he was ready for that level of ball given his lack of physical maturity and moderate struggles during his 29-game audition in South Bend at the end of 2017. The Cubs pushed forward anyway, and stuck with the decision all year, relying on Ademan's mental maturity and advanced approach to see him through the challenges he faced.

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

If there was a silver lining, it appears the Cubs did accurately assess his ability to handle the psychological rigors, as Ademan (.207/.291/.273) showed no signs of pressing or taking a downturn in attitude, nor did he take his struggles at the plate out into the field. Ademan also showed improved plate discipline, raising his walk rate from 5.7% in 2017 to 8.4% in 2018. His average did drop off precipitously (.267 to .207), but given the fact every plate appearance he made during the season was against a pitcher older than him, it was expected Ademan would struggle in this area. Pitcher's parks are also prevalent throughout the Carolina League and the ball does not carry well at the stadium in Myrtle Beach in particular, so a decrease in power production should not have come as a shock, but I was expecting a bit better ISO than what Ademan ultimately produced (.066).

Positives

A slick defender with a quick first step, soft hands, and fast transfers, Ademan possesses the necessary tools to handle any infield position. In a system stacked with quality shortstops, Ademan can make a case for the best. His arm strength doesn't measure up to some of the others, but you won't find many teenagers with better balance or smoother actions when turning double plays. He may not match Javier Baez's standard, but Ademan is capable of making adjustments to poor throws and laying down lightning tags around the bag as well.

His bat speed looked to be down a little from 2017, but that may also have to do with the rigors of full-season ball on a 19-year old. Capable of an all-fields approach, Ademan flashes good barrel control, and the ability to hit line drives all over the field. He remains balanced and recognizes offspeed pitches well. Even as he struggled throughout the season he rarely grew impatient in an effort to break out. He didn't expand the zone often and showed a better overall feel for the strike zone than he did in 2017.

Ademan has strong hands and wrists reminiscent of a former undersized middle infield prospect, Arismendy Alcantara. It gives him enough pull side power to project double digit HR production in the future. Right now his lack strength elsewhere in his body has held him back from driving offspeed offerings with much authority, or showing much pop to opposite field, but the hope is that improves with time.

Just an average runner, Ademan is not going to be a consistent base stealing threat, but he did pick his spots better in 2018, while also making better reads and running into fewer outs on the paths. He could eventually settle in as a 10-15 SB guy at the MLB level.

Negatives

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Size, strength and stamina. There really isn't a way to sugarcoat this: Ademan is small. He may be strong for his size but that size (listed at 5'11" and ~160 pounds) may ultimately prove a limiting factor. His quick feet and hands mask his lack of raw strength in some aspects of the game, as does his advanced baseball mind for his age, but in the Carolina League last year he looked like a boy among men.

That isn't always a concern with teenage prospects because you can often project their frames to fill out and their strength to gradually build. I am not convinced Ademan is going to get much bigger though. If he doesn't, it could prove difficult for Ademan to handle elite velocity on a consistent basis, while also bringing into question his ability to hold up as a regular over the course of a 162-game season.

If there is one concern regarding his defense it is how often Ademan will manage to finish plays deep in the hole. This is where his lack of ideal arm strength shows. He makes up for it on other plays because he gets to and gets rid of the ball quick, but when moving to his right, away from first base, his throws fail to carry. This won't prevent him from playing MLB-caliber defense at SS, but it will keep him out of any discussion of the elites at the position.

Summation

After 2017 I projected Ademan as an above average MLB shortstop with the potential for a league average bat. His skills remain relatively untarnished in my eye, and Ademan's character and work ethic are still unblemished, so I still believe he has a good chance of maximizing his athletic abilities. I envision the same ceiling I did last offseason, but I also can't ignore the questions I have regarding whether his frame will actually allow him to put those skills on display on an everyday basis.

2019 Outlook

This will be a big year for Ademan. He is likely to return to Myrtle Beach to begin the season. He'll need to show that he can physically match up against the competition on a regular basis. He will remain one of the youngest players in the league, but as a returnee, you want to see him take the lessons he learned last year and make adjustments that translate into greater productivity. He doesn't have to post impact numbers, but improvements are important. The Cubs are obviously believers in his potential and ability to handle challenges, so if he does make strides in the first half, don't be shocked to see him promoted to AA.

Comments

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  • Good that we have many good prospects.
    Which of all pitchers signed might help the team

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Of the MiLB free agents they brought in?

    Rea is the most experienced. They brought back Webster as well. Ramirez and Carasiti have solid stuff and a little MLB experience.

  • Cubs are pretty well stacked with middle infielders.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Yeah. It's not a long term concern. They have legit prospects at SS at every single level.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Short at AAA
    Hoerner at AA
    Ademan at A+
    Vazquez, Weber at A
    Verdugo at A-
    Huma, Pertuz at AZL
    Martinez, R. Morel at DSL

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Hoerner comes to Birmingham in April this year - I'd better get some photos in case he's at AAA by the time the Smokies return in July!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Nothing would surprise me with Hoerner. They may want to make a few tweaks in his swing, which could keep him down in AA for a while, but it wouldn't shock me to see him take to it quickly either. If he does, honestly, Hoerner could be in the Majors by late summer.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'm a little concerned that he'll be rushed to MLB to replace Russell. Hopefully, he'll get the time he needs to develop first.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, have you seen Hoerner play? I have not but a couple of friends of mine who are friendly with some MLB scouts seem to think he's not going to be an everyday player in the majors. Not seeing him myself I'm not making any judgements but I do have a bias against smaller players. That said that same bias was sure that Altuve would never be a star, so oops. Not doing that again, just curious what you thought.

  • In reply to TC154:

    He got hurt right before I was going to get to see him in person, but I've watched plenty of video.

    They are wrong and he will play everyday IMO. Hoerner is not small. He is actually above average size for a SS and is ripped. Strength is not an issue. Maybe not a full-time SS (arm and flexibility are borderline for position), but at 2B if not.

    Ademan is the small one. I have seen him in person a couple of times, and I do believe there is concern about him holding up everyday, as I stated in the article.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Hoerner is the same size as Baez and Russell.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Good info, thanks. I had heard he was listed at 6'1" but was closer to 5'10". Granted that came from one of the people who think he's a utility player so the bias is expected. I honestly just didn't know a lot about him except for the draft reports last year which were mixed.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Well, I can't vouch for his listed size being accurate, and I haven't seen him stand next to Javy. But on video they are at least comparable. I'd be concerned if his body was soft, but Hoerner is shredded.

  • Looks like a mix of Alcantara and Castro. I don't like 19 and slim to have "average" speed. Castro got a lot slower after he put on the adult weight. Although with him, that sometimes looks like a hustle issue to me. I hope that won't be the case with Ademan.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    If he doesn't figure out how to hit the ball, it won't matter much...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He's hitting the ball, just not hard enough (consistently). He was 2-4 years younger than majority of the league and they were all much more physically mature. It is very important to keep in mind that every single pitcher Ademan faced last season was older than him. Every single one.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It may turn out that the bigger challenge of being underage for the league will benefit him in the long run. Time will tell.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    There are no hustle issues with Ademan. He is constantly praised for his instincts and work ethic.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Good to hear. Thanks Michael!

  • Ademan's slash line of .207/.291/.273? Baseball America has him as the Cubs #10 prospect? The future does not look very bright as far as prospect go.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    He wasn't physically ready for the league the put him in.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This has to be a make or break year. We haven't spoken of prospects in here over the last 4-5 years that have a ceiling or floor that could be described as major league starting SS or bagging groceries within 3 years.

    Very concerned over the bat. Never been a fan if anyone who hits like he is swinging a wet newspaper regardless of ARL.

    Hopefully he has addressed his strength issues this off season.

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    Thanks for the great breakdown, Michael... someone tell CJ Edwards Jr to send Aramis the peanut butter CJ used to eat in the dugout. :))

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