Cubs Prospect Breakout Candidates: The Position Players

A while back I did a similar piece on pitchers, so it’s time to finally do part two on the position players.  The Cubs are loaded with position player talent, so picking breakthrough prospects is a little bit more tricky.

First of all, I want to define what I mean by a break out candidate.  I’m using a broad definition here in that I’m defining it as the player who reaches the next level, whatever that may be.  For some, that could mean a top 10 Cubs prospect — or perhaps even a top 100 ranking in MLB.  For others it could just mean getting on the prospect map.  It could mean just establishing themselves as potential big league ballplayers, even if it’s not in a starring role.

Now that I’ve briefly explained my thought process, here’s my list of position player prospects to watch for 2014.  I’ve listed the prospects current age, position, and expected playing level.

Jeimer Candelario, 20, 3B, Daytona

Candelario has the best pure pitch recognition skills in the Cubs system.  He has the strong hands and good size to hit for power but his swing path is more conducive for hitting line drives.  He keeps his hands short to the ball and has excellent hand-eye coordination, traits which allow him to make consistent contact.  I don’t see Candelario as a big HR hitter unless he tweaks his swing but I’ve seen him hit a ball 400 feet to dead center against a howling wind — so when he connects, he can really drive the ball a long way.  Candelario has worked hard on his physical conditioning and defensive play so that at this point I think he can be an adequate 3B in the big leagues.  He’ll have to keep working to maintain that condition because of his naturally thick build but I have no doubts that Candelario has the work ethic to do so.  I’m looking forward to seeing that Daytona staff work with him this year.  This could be the year Candelario gets more national recognition.

Trey Martin, 21, CF, Kane County

There are two Cubs prospects capable of playing CF in the majors right now.  One is Albert Almora and the other is Trey Martin.  I first saw Martin live in Arizona last year and he stood out because of his long, lean athleticism.  He eats up ground in CF with long, fluid strides and as I watched him play a name instantly popped into my head: Torii Hunter.  Like Hunter was as a prospect,  Martin isn’t nearly as advanced at the plate as he is in the field.  He has an aggressive approach and his long, lanky build can cause him some issues.  He likes to get his arms extended and in doing so he tends to lengthen his swing.  Pitchers with good fastballs and command can bust him inside and tie him up at times.  Still, there is that raw ability and we saw Martin tear up the rookie league and then hold his own at Boise as a 19 year old.  He just needs a few tweaks and lots of reps at the plate.  His ceiling is that of a top shelf defensive CF who can hit 15 HRs or more in the big leagues.

Marco Hernandez, 21, SS, Daytona

There are times when you catch Hernandez and you think, “that’s a big league ballplayer” and there are other times where you wonder if he’ll get out of AA.  The physical skills are there but he has a ways to go.  An image that stuck in my head was a minor incident I saw on Opening Day last season.  Hernandez made a lackadaisical effort on a practice throw that drew the ire of catcher and teammate Willson Contreras.  It made me wonder if it wasn’t the first time.  Later that season, one rival scout mentioned to me that Hernandez was one of his favorite players on Kane County but that he “needs to grow up”.

But here’s the good news:  I think he started to do exactly that by the end of last season.   Looking back at my notes, I’m reminded at how Hernandez was going all out on every play and running out every ground ball at full speed toward the end of the year.

Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come because as I mentioned, the physical skills are there.  Hernandez has average to above average tools across the board.  On defense he flows through the ball exactly the way you want to see from a true shortstop.  He has the arm strength and range to be a good defender there.  One offense he has quick wrists and can make surprisingly hard contact.  I’ve seen him drive the ball on a line over the CF’ers and last year he hit a few over the fence in a league not noted for big HR totals.  He is aggressive but started to take more pitches as the season went on, even if it didn’t reflect in his walk total.  I’m anxious to see what another year of maturity and some work with Mariano Duncan can do for Hernandez next season.

Willson Contreras, 21, C, Daytona

You’ll have no trouble lighting a fire under Contreras.  He plays the game with passion but it sometimes gets the best of him.  There were a few incidents last year that involved Contreras at the plate last season.   He’s a tough kid with excellent athleticism for a catcher.  You may remember me raving over a year ago about how he stood out in instructs during catchers’ drills, pouncing on bunts with incredible quickness and agility and firing missiles to 2B.  He has yet to develop a feel for the art of catching, however, and that may take some time.

At the plate Contreras wavers in his approach.  He can go from being overly aggressive to remarkably patient.  He walked in 7.5% of his plate appearances last year despite going through long stretches where he didn’t walk at all.  He obviously has the pitch recognition skills, it’s now just a matter of developing consistency with his approach.  He has strong wrists and forearms that look like they were wrought out of iron.  It’s that strength that led to a surge in Contreras power numbers.  He hit 11 HRs, 3rd on the team behind Vogelbach and Shoulders, and had a respectable ISO of .174, both numbers were more than double his career high.

Contreras needs to channel his aggressive play and refine his catching skills to take the next step.  The athleticism, passion, and work ethic is there for him to continue to improve.  I think he has the upside of a a solid everyday catcher in the big leagues but he is also a high risk player with a low floor.

Yasiel Balaguert, 21, OF, Kane County

I first saw Balaguert as a 19 year old playing for the Peoria Chiefs.  It was early in the season and there was no Javier Baez yet, so it was Yasiel Balaguert (and Taiwan Easterling) who were the most impressive in BP that day.  Balaguert showed strong wrists, very quick hands, and very good bat speed, driving the ball hard consistently into the OF.  Unfortunately it didn’t show up in games that year.  Balaguert may have been rushed after signing out of Cuba but he also looked out of shape to me.

Balaguert showed up in Boise this year in better shape and perhaps a bit more adjusted to life in the U.S.  It showed in his performance.  Balaguert took his batting practice performance to the plate in live games last year.  He hit 15 doubles and 8 HRs in 269 PAs last year, putting up an ISO of .172.  He also showed good plate discipline, walking in nearly 10% of his ABs.  To me, Balaguert was just scratching the surface last season.  He  just turned 21 today so there is plenty of time to grow as a ballplayer.  I think there’s more in the tank as long as he comes into camp ready to take that next step.

Jacob Hanneman, 22, CF, Boise/Kane County

The Cubs have quite a few CF’er with Hanneman’s build and athleticism, most notably Matt Szczur.   Not to take anything away from Szczur, who is himself an MLB prospect, but the game appears to come a bit easier to Hanneman.  The physical skills are similar but his instincts give Hanneman a bit higher upside.  Like Szczur, Hanneman is one of the fastest players in the system and so far has relied on speed early on to provide above average range in CF.

What Hanneman needs more than anything is to stay healthy and get reps to develop his skills.  He is already older because of time missed while serving on a Mormon mission.  Considering he doesn’t have much experience, he’ll need to adapt quickly and make his way up the ladder to remain on a desirable timetable.

Shawon Dunston, Jr., 20, CF, Kane County

Dunston had a bit of a breakthrough last season, hitting .290/.378/.357.  The OBP is an encouraging number and is one of the major difference between Shawon and his father, who played SS for the Cubs for many years.  Junior’s 12.6% walk rate gives cause for optimism.  He shows the potential to get on base and utilize his speed.

There are some similarities to Shawon, Sr. — his quick twitch athleticism shows in his hands and gives him the potential to hit for average power despite his slight build.  He also has good range in the field and a strong arm, though he doesn’t possess the bazooka his dad did.  Who does?

A breakout for Dunston would entail maintaining his OBP skills at the full season level while providing a bit more extra base pop at the plate.

Mark Malave, 19, C, Boise

I may be a year early on this one as Malave is switching back to full time catcher after moving around the infield last year.  Malave has good size (6’3″, 185 lbs) and natural strength but has yet to show any in-game power.  What he did show was very good plate discipline for an 18 year old playing his first year in the states, walking nearly 16% of the time.

I think Malave can eventually provide some power and has the arm strength to control the running game behind the plate, but both of those skills may take more time to develop.

Carlos Penalver, 19, SS, Kane County

Penalver struggled out of the gate last year but was one of Boise’s most consistent’s hitters by the end of the season.  He may be the best defensive SS in the system.  He has a strong arm, quick feet, and the fluid athleticism to stick at SS.  He is not going to hit for a lot of power but he has a good idea up there at the plate, working counts and taking walks in 9.5% of his PAs.  As he matures physically he could show some doubles power to go with good OBP skills and above average speed on the bases.


A couple of players I considered putting on the list was 2B Stephen Bruno and C Will Remilliard.  Bruno already has shown what he can do at Boise and early on in Daytona before getting hurt, so in the end, it was hard to call him a break out candidate.  How do you break out from hitting .361 in your debut and then skipping a level to Daytona and hitting .362 before going down with an elbow injury?  Still, a whole season of that kind of performance will garner more attention. Remilliard has yet to play so I couldn’t call him a break out guy but I do think he’s a guy to watch.  He’s in that mold of catchers the Cubs are trying to develop in that he is an athletic defender with a strong arm and the potential to provide some power.

Wes Darvill is another guy I like who has some MLB potential.  He’s always had solid athleticism and a good approach at the plate, but his slight build prevented him from being any kind of threat at the plate until last season.  Last year Darvill put on about 25 lbs. of lean muscle and started to show glimpses of his talent.  I think he’s a utility guy but the more I follow prospects, the more I realize just how difficult it is just to make it to the big leagues.  I think Darvill has a shot.

I don’t know if I’d call John Andreoli a break out candidate since I think he’s doing pretty much what we would expect, perhaps even more than some expected when he was drafted.  However, he has a thick build and is physically stronger than his power numbers would imply. His swing isn’t indicative of someone who is going to be a HR guy, but I think he can have some gap power with the occasional ability to poke one over the fence.  I can see him becoming a Reed Johnson type player in the bigs with perhaps a bit more base stealing ability.

Charcer Burks is an intriguing player with great athleticism.  he surprised scouts with his consistent ability to but the barrel of the bat on the ball during pre-draft tryouts.   He’s still a bit raw and struck out more than you would like in his debut, but you hope that becomes less of an issue as he gains experience.

Casey in Boise reminds me about Daniel Lockhart, on whom I have heard great things from Cubs people.  Lockhart isn’t a big player but he consistently squares up the ball and has the instincts and enough athleticism to play all over the infield.   I don’t think he has star written all over him, but I think he can be a quality role player in the big leagues.





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  • How bad as Bruno's injury and what's his realistic ceiling ?

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    I think Bruno is more likely a utility player but there is little doubt about his hit tool and he's a better athlete than he's given credit for. I think he has a shot to be a starter and, as long as he's healthy, I'd be surprised if he didn't make it at least as a utility guy.

    The injury shouldn't affect him too much but it likely rules out the possibility of him becoming a catcher. But if he comes back strong from TJS I see no reason why he can't continue to play multiple positions.

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    I wonder if we could have a Shawon-o-Meter for junior, too. But instead of AVG we could use OBP.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Ha! Good idea.

  • You do love yourself some Candalerio, John.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I do! I love all these guys for different reasons. That's the fun part for me is finding the diamonds in the rough.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, have you considered Vogelbomb to have had a breakout year, or is it more because hes already considered an above-average offensive player, albiet w/o a likley defensive position?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think Vogelbach had more of a learning type season than a breakout year. That may bode well for 2014 and I think he's capable of breaking out, especially in the power department, but I wanted to avoid consensus top 10 prospects, especially a guy who has already gotten some top 100 consideration nationally.

  • The OF at Kane County will be really crowded next year. John, you have 4 guys on your list as possible there. You have Hanneman at Kane/Boise, but for his age I can't see leaving him at Boise. I would even consider bumping him to Daytona. I wonder how everyone will get the ABs? Someone may have to jump to Daytona and/or someone may have to stay at Boise. I have these 7 guys as most likely at Kane as far as development, but something will have to give: Martin, Balaquert, Hanneman, Dunston, Encarcion, Gretzky and Golden.

  • In reply to cubman:

    It's a nice problem to have and the Cubs will have to do their best to mix and match. Encarnacion already had his breakout year and he may need to move quickly as well. He had his own delays getting out of the DR because of visa issues. He and Hanneman should be heading to Daytona by now but the Cubs will have to determine who is actually ready for it.

  • John, Speaking of Gretzky and Golden, where do you think they stand now in the organization?

  • In reply to kevie:

    I think they're more wild cards than anything. Gretzky has an intriguing skill set at the plate and Golden has ridiculous raw power, but right now both have had trouble translating those things into live games.

    I'd say they'd need break out seasons of their own in 2014.

  • Good to finally have some very young athletic prospects in our system.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It is indeed.

  • Thanks for the insightful information! This is why I always read the Cubs Den!

  • In reply to RxMan55:

    You are welcome and thanks for reading!

  • John, it will be interesting to see how they mix and match. Too bad Hanneman got injured last year because on account of age he should be in Daytona this year. The Cubs may have several potential problems next year about playing time that I have pondered. How do you balance Watkins and Alcantrara if the former doesn't make it as a utility on the Cubs? If Olt doesn't hit at spring training how does he and Villanueva split time at Iowa? The FO are smarter than your average bear, so they will have something figured out. Interesting to ponder these problems, but the root of the problems is the depth of the farm system.

  • My breakout pick would be Danny Lockhart. The type of guy all good teams seem to have. Versatile, extremely intelligent, good glove and makes solid contact.

  • In reply to Casey n Boise:

    You know what? I should have added him to the list. That's a good call. Not sure why I left him off -- I'd been raving about him in the recaps.

  • Nice overview John. There are definately worse things to have than an overabundance of potential CF and SS/3B prospects.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks and absolutely agree with the second part of your comment. If you want a glut anywhere, that's exactly where you want it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really like Bruno I have seen him play and the guy can hit. Doesnt walk much, so as pitching gets tougher he will have to walk more.

    The other guy who may have a breakout year is Tim Saunders, he
    had a great first year then was hurt a lot of last year. So 2014 will
    tell us who Tim Saunders is.

  • Right now it seems they are playing the wait and see game with a lot of guys. I think next off season is when we will see them choose a direction and possibly trade some of the depth for an mlb need.

  • I think you should always wait and see with prospects when the team is rebuilding. I think this is especially true with up the middle prospects.

  • Saw Trey Martin play in a couple of Arizona Fall Instructional league games this October. He missed the second half of the season at Kane County with an injury and was flashing a lot more power in Arizona than he showed earlier at Kane County. I talked with Arizona Phil from The Cub Reporter and he said he thought that the injury may have hampered Martin's hitting at Kane County. He looked fully recovered at Fall Instructs, smoking the ball with authority to the far reaches of the field. On the downside, he made a couple of boneheaded running plays on the bases that you would have criticized a little leaguer for. Got thrown out going from 2nd to 3rd on a ground ball to short that was well in front of him -- not even a close decision on whether to go. The other one was equally as bad -- both looked like he wasn't paying any attention at all to the situation on the base paths or the game. Not at all the kind of headiness you see in Albert Almora's game.

  • In reply to JoePepitone:

    I don't know about that. Martin wasn't hitting when he was healthy, but I do think he'll bounce back this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Arizona Phil thought that he was playing through the injury at Kane County until they shut him down for treatment and/or surgery (not sure about the surgery part and haven't looked that up yet). He suspected that playing injured at Kane County was affecting his bat. I will say that he looked like a different hitter altogether in the Fall Instructs and Phil is pretty good at paying attention to the details about prospects in the system and does a lot of talking to Cubs personnel and and scouts down at Fitch Park in Scottsdale. It made me think there may be something to that.

    In essence, he looked like a "all glove, weak hit" guy at Kane before his time off. At Instructs, he looked like a definite offensive threat with some plus line drive power at the least -- lots of doubles and a 10-15 HR potential-type power. I believe he had a non-throwing arm injury (again, going from memory here), which could explain for the difference in his power after healing up.

    Anyway, he looked good, but raw. Needs to get his head to catch up to his tools, at least on the base paths. Gotta like what I saw in the Fall.

  • In reply to JoePepitone:

    It's certainly possible it affected him. I've been doing this a while too. I know what to look for and I watch a ton of games. I often talk to scouts as well. Personally, even before he got to Kane, I think Martin's swing tended to get a bit long, which is fine, it just means he probably isn't going to be a high average guy. I do think he'll have some power as he fills out. He's fast but he's a long strider and doesn't really have the burst to be a base-stealer. He's a good player with interesting tools. Definitely one of my favorite prospects. He actually injured himself in a game that I attended, though I don't know if it was bothering him before the game. He hurt his non-throwing (left) shoulder and he did have surgery, but he should be fine long term.

  • Hopefully by the end of the season we have better idea of which
    prospects are keepers. Let's hope no more major injuries.

  • I think if Hannemann can stay healthy he will be on the fast track through the minors. I envision him as our version of Ellsbury.

  • In reply to John57:

    I think he needs to be. I hope he can be Ellsbury, that would be quite a nice development.

  • Nice list, John. I can't wait to go to Geneva to see Hanneman, Dunston, Encanacion, and Balaguert in one athletic outfield!!!

    It will be interesting to see your pitching list "breakout" list. Daytona will need someth help there this year or it could be a long summer by the beach. I hope Maples, Pugliese, Paniagua and Arias can put it together this year. In Geneva, seeing Blackburn and Underwood should be a treat. I think it is hard to come up with names for breakouts with as much as information we have on every player nowadays.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Thanks. Don't forget about Trey Martin.

    Kane County will be a fun experience next year but if all goes well, we'll be seeing those guys promoted to Daytona again, so best to go early and often!

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    In reply to historyrat:

    Zastryzny probably starts in KC, too. I'm hoping he can find the fastball that had Cubs' scouts drooling.

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    In reply to historyrat:

    I see a lot of Daytona games and I'm pretty pumped about the position players that will be there. Almora and potentially Hannaman in the OF, and an IF of Candelario, Hernandez, Bruno, and Vogelbach (/Shoulders?), with Contreras behind the plate...should be a very exciting group!

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    John,what are your thoughts on Jeffery Baez, any chance he has a break out year, more than likely in Boise with the abundance in Kane County.

  • In reply to Kevin:

    I like Baez. I do expect him to start in Boise. Good speed and a solid approach. It'll be interesting to watch how it plays out with him as he gets older and fills out. Does he lose speed and add power, can he stay in CF? Definitely a guy to watch.

  • Will some of these guys start in Tennesse? I know it is a nice problem to have but where do we fit them in at? Since nobody will make the Biggs out of spring training do the cubs have release a bunch of players or can they keep them all?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You don't typically skip the high A league so I'm inclined to say no. Too big a jump from the MWL and all of these guys have things to work on. None are elite prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is there a roster limit at those places. Seems like we will have a plenty of kids at that level.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yes, there is a roster limit. The Cubs may have to do some juggling.

  • Zeke Devoss? Gioskar Amaya?

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Amaya maybe. I have some doubts about Zeke's hit tool and whether he can sustain those walk rates at the upper levels if he doesn't become a threat at the plate. Great athlete and defender. Amaya has a chance to be a league average 2B who does a little bit of everything but doesn't stand out in one area.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I thought Amaya was part of the catching experiment. Has he been moved back to 2B for good?

    With regards to DeVoss, I've met him in person and he's really small. Athletic but very slight of build, and I suspect, shorter than his listed height of 5'9". That's not to say smaller players can't be successful at the MLB level, but it is a concern.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I've always thought Zeke was shorter than 5'9" as well. I believe the Amaya experiment didn't go as well as others such as Malave and Carhart. If that's true, then I'm a little surprised, he's a smart kid with good athleticism. I thought he would have adapted quickly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Amaya didn't play any catcher at the Fall Instructs this year and, in the skills workout contest at the end of Instructs (which I was there for), he didn't take any part of the catching skills drills. Az Phil also didn't see him doing any actual catching work at Instructs and he only played in the infield -- and he attends a lot of their drills as well as their games. So, from that, I'm going to guess that the "Amaya as catcher" thinking by the Cubs' brass ended shortly after the announcement that he would be considered at that position. So, unless we hear something further from the Cubs' organization, my (really amateurish) guess is that Amaya remains as an infielder. Az Phil didn't know the origin of the original talk about trying him out at catcher, nor what, if anything, led to that "experiment" being short-circuited.

    Just thought I would relate some of the intelligence I gathered on my short vacation to Fall Instructs this last October.

  • In reply to JoePepitone:

    Thanks. I remember they talked about it and then it seemed like the idea was shelved. I guess they shelved it before instructs even started. I wonder why. I think he could have handled it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I keep wondering why they don't move Candelario there. The bat plays much better as a catcher. Maybe they're afraid his bigger body can't handle the wear and tear of squatting 9 innings a game?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think it probably has to do with that. They probably don't want to mess with that bat either. i don't know if he'd be agile enough back there and his arm isn't special.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's also showing he has the ability to stick at 3B. Why mess with success...

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    @Quedub Because the bat doesn't profile particularly well at third base, especially when he'll probably end up being average defensively. Of course, if Javy Baez does wind up giving you left field production out of second, you can go for a contact hitter at third.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Could be, but we don't really know how his bat is going to profile yet. As a 19 year old in a league not known for it's power numbers he hit 11 HRs and 35 doubles while having a 1.3-to-1 K/BB ratio. Let's at least let him hit as a 20 year old before we start calling him a contact hitter.

    Of course, I'm probably irrationally high on him, so...

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you could add Zeke to the list of guys who could handle CF right now...the hit tool just isn't there, though. All the Daytona games I saw, he goes out there looking to take a walk, not waiting for his pitch. Like you said, I think he'd be eaten alive at the upper levels by guys with better control.
    I swear though, I saw him make some unbelievable catches in center! I live in Ft. Myers, where Byron Buxton spent most of the year, and I saw him make what a lot of people said was "the catch of the year" (and it WAS great). I saw DeVoss make TWO catches I thought were more impressive than that one!

  • I'd like to see Ruby Silva break out, just a little more plate discipline and he could be a fine outfielder candidate as early as this coming season. He already is a great defender considering his 16 assists. What do say folks.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Silva has a great arm and he's a great athlete. He also has good plate coverage and some surprising pop, but I think he needs to improve his approach or I'm afraid MLB pitchers will eat him up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yea. But he seems to be the best shot at a lefty outfielder in the near future. Just reaching I guess. Thanks John. And happy new year.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Maybe as a 5th OFer, but expecting him to be that left-handed hitting starter to provide balance in a righty-dominant line up is a pretty big reach. He's got a loooong way to go in the plate discipline department to be successful at the major league level. A 5:1 K/BB ratio and a .026 IsoD at AA doesn't bode well.

  • Great work as always John...I saw the link earlier but just got time to read the article. I was trying to think of a couple deeper guys who might not make the list and you ended up covering them all.

    I do think Tim Saunders is better than he showed in 2013 and I'm curious to see what Rademacher can do now that he's at a more age appropriate level (he seemed to have a good idea of the zone at KC). But I don't think either guy is really capable of breaking out like the players on this list.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Saunders had some unfortunate injuries last year but I know the Cubs like his makeup and athleticism a lot. The same goes for Bijan, who we interviewed here a while back. I think both can be role players -- and Bijan can switch to the mound if things don't go well for him this season, but I know he wants to give it a go as a hitter.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    You beat me to the punch on Saunders, NSI. His injury really made 2013 a real setback he will overcome with that breakthrough season, IMO.

  • Looking at the depth we have built up, 2014 just might be Jackson and Vitters last shot with this organization. Especially with their 40-man occupancy, they could find themselves passed by Theo's First Wave (I feel like we should trademark that).

  • I think you're probably right on that.

  • I would expand the candidate list to include Amaya and Eloy Jimenez. I believe the Cubs may start Jimenez and perhaps Torres in Mesa next year.

  • I also have a man crush on Candelario. He also seems to have his head in the right places off the field as well.

    John correct me if i'm wrong but isn't he already doing some good charity work in the D.R.?

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    He certainly is. Does a lot of good work with youth baseball, giving kids there a place to play and learn baseball.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Fantastic evaluations John!
    I'm blown away with this info and can remember just a few years ago when you could scan all ML levels and count the true MLB prospects on one hand!
    The depth is impressive and even if one in ten get to MLB the Cubs will be in great shape.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Thanks. That's a good way to look at it. most of these guys won't pan out but the Cubs have enough talent that even if they have some attrition, there still should be plenty of talent left.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the depth of this system is going to keep the Cubs in the top 10 minor league rankings for several years to come. It's still yet to be seen what the Cubs top 100 guys will do at the major league level, but just to have 7 players on that list is a measure of what Theo & Co. have done in two short years.

    But the depth of the Cubs top 30 can go unnoticed at times and is another testament to the job they are doing building from the ground up. And it just a lot deeper with additions like Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jen-Ho Tseng and Corey Black, each of whom make my top 30. Add in a top 4 pick and a high 2nd rounder in what is considered a deep draft and looks to get even deeper next June.

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    Wonder if Soler's injury from last year forces the Cubs to start him out in Daytona. I'd think it might be the wise choice.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I'd agree. A quick bump in place, but he has a lot to show at that level still.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Almora was sort of his wing man in the Arizona Fall League, translating for him, helping him adjust to the U.S culture, etc. It would be nice to have him there with Almora to start the year in Daytona. Some of Almora's attitude and effort rubbing off on Soler couldn't hurt either...

  • Good stuff, John! We are often cautioned that our big boys won't all pan out. Very true, but...with this kind of depth and an emphasis on development, I'm sensing a plethora of legit prospects by '15. I'm excited!

  • Thanks. At the very least it means that the more depth you have the better your odds of a few players panning out.

  • Pretty all-encompassing list, John. Good work.

    Candelario has been my top candidate to breakout this season since September. There is a history of 19 year olds in Low-A who struggle to hit well but show good plate discipline having great bounce back seasons in High-A the next year. That's what so encouraging about Almora was that he was a 19 year old in Low-A who didn't struggle at all!

    Penalver will start the year as a 19 year old in Low-A, but will turn 20 in mid-May. Either way, if he struggles to hit for average but manages to hit .235ish or better and maintain a good BB/K ratio, he may also be a candidate to improve his production the following year (2015) in Daytona. It's anecdotal, but there have been several former top prospects who have gone on to have successful MLB careers that have followed this pattern.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Thanks Q. And appreciate the anecdotal stuff. I know it doesn't prove anything but still cool to know that the history with comparable cases has been positive.

  • I'm less concerned with Hannemann's age to level. I agree with John, it won't matter where he plays, so long as he stays healthy and gets reps. His level will sort itself out if he performs, but right now he just needs reps.

    We tend to get caught up, myself included, in this notion that if a player is still in AAA at 24 or 25, then he's not any good. There's nothing wrong with being 25 (he'll be 23 in April), an athletic CFer and playing a very good all-around game in AAA in a couple years. Ellsbury he likely is not, but not all contributors to a championship team need to come up when they're 22 or 23.

    Jon Jay came up when he was 25 and hit .300/.359/.422. If Hannemann can do that for the Cubs, I'd be thrilled. David Freese got a cup of coffee when he was 26 and got his first extended playing time at 27 hitting .296/.361/.404. Allen Craig got a taste at 25, but came back the following year and hit .316/.362/.555 in 200 ABs. David Carpenter got his first extended look at major league pitching at 26 (340 PAs) and hit .294/.365/.463.

    None of these guys are superstars along the lines of what we are hoping from Bryant or Baez, but they were all important contributors to a championship team. If Hannemann can do that for the Cubs, he will be considered a steal in the 3rd round. Just think how many 3rd rounders never make it at all. Now, he's nowhere close to doing that yet, but I think we should be patient and temper our judgement of him if he doesn't fly through levels and get to the bigs by 2015.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Agreed 100%. He just has a bit of a different situation in the development timeline, getting started later. If it takes him until age 27 or 28, so be it.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    He was 22 when he was drafted last year and I don't see that as too old. Of course his body is more mature than drafting an 18 year old so we don't have to wait for him to fill out physically. We just have to wait for his baseball skills to be major league ready. What I remember reading about him is his baseball instincts were very good. His speed is the best in the farm system. He has some pop from the left side of the plate. I am guessing it takes him 3 years to get to the majors and that would put him at 25 years old. I see 3 years in the minors as moving pretty fast. As you can tell I really like him and am keeping my eye on him. I just hope he doesn't catch the injury bug.

  • Saw Dunston Jr. In Boise. Big body, very good athlete...has a great day at the plate. Looked great. David Bote also looked like a player.

  • So I dreamt about Masahiro Tanaka signing possibilities. This thing is getting out of hand. Anybody think the uncertainty regarding the Alex Rodriguez suspension gives the Cubs an angle to play? I say make the move now, with one of those fat signing bonuses that have been discussed around here.

  • Watching Shawon Jr. occasionally in Northwest League games has made me a fan. I hope he can keep improving as he moves up. Not saying he'll ever get there, but Cub fans would embrace him at Wrigley as much or more as they did his Dad.

  • Shawon Jr. is a good looking athlete and player. He sure looks like he has a chance to blossom into a real contributor someday in the majors.

  • Thanks for the writeup on these kids John.I would expect a few of these prospects to make the Cubs top 20 lists as some already there get called up or used in trade packages.

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