We're back with our second installment of our 2015 Chicago Cubs sleeper prospects. These are players that just missed out on making our Top 30 prospect list, and could potentially find themselves on future lists.
Charcer Burks – Burks was drafted in the 9th round of the 2013 draft by the Chicago Cubs. The 20-year-old Houston native stands in at 6’0” 170 pounds. While he’s not the biggest guy on the field, he certainly has a good build and it looks like he can still add more weight.
Through his first two seasons, Burks has spent time playing in the Arizona League and the Northwest League, both of which are short-season leagues. In 2015, he should find himself playing for the South Bend Cubs, who replaced the Kane County Cougars as the new Low-A affiliate. His home is in the outfield, but the question remains, which position? So far he has spent time in all three-outfield positions, more specifically, 22 games in left field, 28 games in center field, and 37 games in right field. Ideally, you hope he can stick in center field to maximize his value, but left field could be his future home.
There’s no question about it, Burks can hit, but he hasn’t shown much in the way of power. In 301 at-bats, he has just 17 extra-base-hits, 13 doubles, 3 triples, and 1 home run. He has a set of wheels, which allows him to beat out weakly hit balls. Despite having decent speed, he doesn’t steal very many bases, which is something we would like to see more of.
Here’s hoping he can show us a little more in the way of power. Not necessarily via the long ball, but more doubles and more balls hit into the gaps. When Burks joined the Boise squad, his BB/K numbers got substantially better, a trend that we would like to see if he can maintain. Realistically he profiles as a fourth outfielder, but there could be a bit more in him.
There’s a lot to like with Burks, it’s just a matter of him putting it all together, and that’s why he’s on our sleeper list. If he keeps progressing, he will certainly jump on our midseason or 2016 top prospect list. He’ll start the season with the South Bend Cubs.
Trevor Clifton – Clifton was the Chicago Cubs 12th round selection in 2013 out of Heritage High School in Maryville, Tennessee. At just 19-years-old, Clifton stands 6’4” and 170 pounds, which is an excellent frame to build off of. He was committed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky, but instead chose to sign with the Cubs.
In a way, Clifton was viewed as a project when he was selected, but one that offered projection and a high ceiling. His delivery needed the most work, as it wasn’t very fluid and often led to control and command issues. Let’s just say he’s come a long way in that department. In 2015, he’ll be looking to further refine his delivery as well as continuing to work on his pitches.
His fastball sits in the low 90’s with good arm side run, but he is capable of running it up into the mid 90’s when needed. With further maturation of his body, we could see him in the mid 90’s much more frequently. In addition, he should be able to carry his velocity deep into games. He throws a sharp breaking curveball that sits in the mid to upper 70’s and also throws a changeup.
In 2014, Clifton tossed 61 innings for the Boise Hawks. He gave up 59 hits, 25 earned runs, and 3 home runs. He walked 30 while striking out 54.
Clifton will start the 2015 season with the South Bend Cubs, just like Charcer Burks. It’s perfectly reasonable for Clifton to experience growing pains as he climbs the ladder, and the results may not always be pretty. He’s young, projectable, and will be working on plenty of things. If all goes right Clifton could settle in as a #3 starter. His realistic outcome is that of a #4/5 or a back of the bullpen reliever.
We hope to see both Burks and Clifton when we make a trip out to South Bend in May.
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