Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Preciado, Stevens, Mena lead Cubs to win in opener of Arizona Complex League

ACL

Cubs 7, D-Backs 4

Top Performers

  • Reggie Preciado: 1-2, HR (1), R, 2 RBI, 3 BB
  • Felix Stevens: 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI
  • Ismael Mena: 2-4, 2 RBI, BB
  • Owen Caissie: 2-4, BB, SB (1)
  • Ezequiel Pagan: 1-5, HR (1), R, RBI
  • Malcolm Quintero: 1-4, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • Rafael Morel: 1-4, R, BB
  • Shendrick Apostel: 1-3, BB
  • Porter Hodge: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K
  • Johzan Oquendo: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (W, 1-0)
  • Alberto Sojo: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
  • Dawal Rodriguez: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (S, 1)

Preview

It has been a struggle offensively for much of the season up and down the Cubs full season affiliates. Injuries and inconsistent output have plagued the Cubs upper level prospects, while inexperience has slowed the Cubs young talent in Myrtle Beach. The hope is the Cubs Arizona Complex League affiliate in Mesa will be the bright light in the system.

The Cubs possess an exciting group of young talent, led by a trio of prospects acquired in the Yu Darvish deal, as well as recent IFA prizes Rafael Morel, Ronnier Quintero, and perhaps in the future Kevin Made (who is currently on the IL in Myrtle Beach where he had been filling in for an injured Ed Howard).

First, let me reiterate what I said about the prospect the Cubs received in the Yu Darvish trade: they are talented, and the Cubs essentially traded for the equivalent of a top crop of prep age draft talent, and could end up happy with the deal five years from now. The problem with the deal wasn’t the talent, but rather the fact that the Cubs as an organization should not be playing for five years from now. With that said, let’s now examine that talent, because the Cubs may end up with two starting position players out of that deal, and perhaps more.

At the time of the trade infielder Reggie Preciado received most of the press as the key piece, with only a murmur that former Canadian prep star Owen Caissie might be able to join him one day as a top prospect. I was definitely intrigued by the power potential I saw in Caissie’s 6’4″ frame. He’s built like your classic slugging corner outfielder. There just wasn’t much film to go off of, and most of that from a couple of years ago before the Padres selected him in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft.

The lost 2020 Minor League season meant Caissie, along with Preciado and Ismael Mena had yet to make their professional debuts. All we had were encouraging scouting reports from last year’s fall instructionals. Preciado made the biggest impression at the time, and so Preciado was earmarked as the top prize. Since that time Caissie has begun to emerge as an equal or perhaps even as a higher upside prospect (at least offensively). In an updated prospect list for the Cubs, it is likely both Preciado and Caissie land in the top ten of an improving pipeline.

Preciado is a switch hitter, currently playing shortstop, but could one day outgrow the position (he is also 6’4″ although with a leaner frame). He has the potential to be a four or five tool player depending on how much athleticism and speed he maintains as he fills out and where he ends up defensively. My first impression off video from the fall is that he ends up at 3B down the line, but that he should hit enough to profile. But nothing should be ruled out yet. Preciado is a very good athlete and there are still a number of potential outcomes as the 18-year old develops.

It is unlikely Caissie ever develops much defensive value. He is a corner outfielder with enough arm for RF, and decent enough straight line speed, but hasn’t shown great natural instincts. As he fills out his range and athleticism may diminish to the point where LF is the best option. That should not be considered a bad outcome though, because if it is good weight that he adds, it should only increase his offensive ceiling. The Cubs don’t have much in the way of power hitting prospects in their system, but Caissie is at the top of the list. There is the potential for 30+ homers from the left side of the plate, and plenty of walks to go with it.

Toolsy is the best way to describe Ismael Mena at this point. He received the highest signing bonus of the players received from San Diego, but has been the slowest to develop. I probably shouldn’t use slow to describe him though. Mena rates as a 70 runner which puts him in the company of Zach Davis and Edmond Americaan as the fastest players in the Cubs system. He uses that speed to track down balls in CF, and there is the potential for a plus or even plus-plus defender down the line. The only thing that may hold him back there is an average arm. Mena has a long way to go at the plate though according to most reports. Despite a solid 6’3″ frame, Mena doesn’t drive the ball very often, settling for ground balls and line drives (and bubt-for-hit attempts). While Preciado and Caissie could jump a rung or two on their ascent up the ladder, I would expect a more deliberate development from Mena, with the potential to even repeat a level if needed.

Rafael Morel is the younger brother of Christopher, and while he is known to play an exciting brand of baseball like his big bro, he is a different kind of prospect. Shorter and more powerfully built than his brother, there will not be as much defensive versatility out of Rafael (currently 3B/2B although I’ve heard he could project to anywhere in the OF), but there is the potential for a bit more sock in his bat.

A burly catcher with a powerful left-handed stick, the question for Ronnier Quintero will be whether he can stick behind the plate and/or hit enough to profile at 1B/DH. Right now there is a chance for both, but from what I’ve heard the likelihood is he eventually lands at first, so the bat will need to develop fully.

Kevin Made is a top 20, maybe even top 15 prospect in the system. A slick defender at short, with a line drive stroke at the plate, the 18-year old did not look out of place during his short time at Low-A. I’m not sure of his injury status, but if he can return I think it more likely he ends up in Mesa as long as Ed Howard stays healthy at Myrtle Beach.

There are also some under the radar prospects who are looking to make a bigger name for themselves. Felix Stevens was a two-way player signed out of Cuba in March of 2019. The 21-year old converted to the OF full time, where he shows off his impressive arm strength from RF, and is developing impressive power from his 6’4″ frame at the plate. A mid-level IFA signing back in 2017, 20-year old Widimer Joaquin was considered a power before hit third base prospect, but he’s batted at least .290 in each of his two pro seasons. He’s added second base to his defensive profile this year. Shendrick Apostel is a big (6’5″ 245) first baseman who slugged in two DSL seasons for the Pirates before coming to the Cubs in exchange for Duane Underwood, Jr. this spring.

I’ll cover the pitchers soon.

Comments

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  • Thank you Michael for this update. It’s really nice to read the profiles you provide for these young guys, that are harder to follow at these stages of their careers. This is a great ‘primer’ to help us understand where these guys can be headed.
    I remember watching the draft on MLB network when the Pads took Cassie. They really talked up his power potential, but also mentioned him being from Canada and having a long road to becoming a finished product.

  • Thanks Michael. Good stuff.

  • Great article Michael ! Keep up the good work !

  • Q.
    What happened to Cub killer Ryan Braun ? Is he still with the Brewers, injured, retired?
    I hope he proves me wrong batting Javy in the 3rd slot. Ross won't or can't move him back in the lineup.

  • Is Javy finally listening to his hitting coach ? Javy stopped swinging for the fences and hit a triple ! Javy needs to teach Alcantrera how to make the swipe tag.

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    thanks so much Michael. I know we can't judge a trade right away, but if we can see an upward trajectory to these prospects it might be worth it. They could be in the next wave, although 4 or 5 years is a while to wait.

  • It is time to get rid of Happ. Every once in awhile he starts hitting but it is few and far between. This has been going on for years. Today he has left another 6 on base (3 in scoring position).

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    No kidding,
    Another one of Theo's top ten draft pick failures. I'm not saying Alcantera and Wisdom are better than other players but it
    appears to me, along with Joc Peterson that they have a better approach at the plate.

  • The Cubs have been lifeless since that combined no hitter. They look spent, tired and out of ideas. It doesn't help much to get runners on, because with an opponent on the rocks, they fold like a cheap suit.

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    The Cubs are exactly the same team as circa 18,19, and 20, the players haven't changed much, except the starting pitching, still the same injuries every year, the players have not improved, more or less
    digressed, and we still believe everything will change and this season will be special.
    A month ago I stated the Cubs should unload these free agents to be,
    Bryant, Baez,Kimbrel, Contrares, break it up and start over, my only problem is I don't know if I can trust Hoyer to rebuild it, since he has been here through the previous rebuild.
    I sort of liked the Darvish deal since I thought the Cubs were going no where this year anyway, and I believe the Cubs will dump the roster this year, now we need to plan on next year, a good crop of free agents coming out, lots of money available, use our draft to infuse some pitching in the system, quit this take the top hitting prospects, I might add, which is harder to develop, pitching or hitting, I think it would be easier to sign hitters that can put the ball in play than pitchers who can carry us in our starting rotation, was never in the Epstein theory of the opposite.

  • In reply to tater:

    So tater, I take it that you think Ricketts intends to spend money this off-season to replenish the roster? After seeing his anxiety in ordering the salary dump and being ok with trading Darvish, I’m not so sure he intends to spend this off season. He sure didn’t care about knee capping the 2021 season.
    My mind keeps changing, but I wouldn’t give any of our ‘core’ long term contracts except Hendricks. I’d actually like to keep Kimbrel just because of his dominance. I see teams like Milwaukee and SF winning with mediocre, somewhat patchwork everyday lineups, and it makes me think that anything can happen in baseball if your pitching staff can get the job done.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    And I do think Jed Hoyer deserves a fair chance to show what he can accomplish on his own, without the Theo shadow. We might be surprised in a good way.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Don't forget the Cubs faltered with Darvish and Caratini as well. I agree that Hoyer isn't Epstien. Ricketts envy again? Although, I don't know that Tom would spend this time either. Times have changed and the front office will be trying something different. Personally, I trust their motives. Results are never assured in this business.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    Why wouldn't he spend money on new players, he sure as hell not going to give any of our top 4 players long term contracts and I don't blame him, he has stuck a lot into this team the last 4 years and they have under performed, but now they want to get paid like they accomplished something. Believe me it is a what have you done lately league, and I believe he is done with his current stars, as am I.

  • In reply to tater:

    I agree with tater. Cubs should be sellers at trade deadline. They should trade pending free agents for whatever they can get, even if the return is mostly teenagers. I would like the Cubs actually focus on hitters in draft & international free agents... volume of pitching might work if Cubs continue going after a different kind Prospects.

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    In reply to Naujack:

    Aren't you tired of the way we seem to disregard pitching in the draft and concentrate on hitters? My god what hitters have we produced, I mean Bryant has been our best and he is just an average hitter the last three years, that's when he's on the field and not injured.
    Hitters, what hitters have we produced through the draft, Happ, Baez, Schwarber, I'm waiting, the best is Bryant and he was taken no.2 and has digressed from his rookie year.
    We have spent most of our money on pitching because we haven't drafted anything special in the last 10 years, you have to be really unlucky or incompetent to not hit on any.

  • In reply to tater:

    No, Theo’s original theory is still true. Dodgers draft lots of hitters in first round, more hitters than Cubs in the first 10 rounds. Yet they still develop pitching. Cubs look like heading in right direction with player development/amateur scouting....they need to get better. Especially with owner saying he wants team built up through the minors.

    Cubs just need to develop more players not picked in first round. I do agree it is easier to find mlb hitters as free agents.

    Cubs need playoff caliber starters..... those type of starters seem beyond hard to develop.

  • In reply to tater:

    Totally agree ! The dumbell Epstein had Castellanos but he was still waiting for one of his mistakes to blossom and let Nick walk. That decision told me the Cubs were screwed.

  • Marisnick in for Jhey. Other than that no changes in today’s lineup. More futility expected. Injuries and lack of hitting are really hurting ..

  • It really hurts to see Jake pitching this poorly who is probably at the end of being a starting pitcher.
    Jed, its time to clean house , including Theo's mistakes !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Sell, sell, sell!

  • Another bad throw from Baez ! 180 million ? ha ha ha !

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    It's time to say goodbye to Jake. He was great but now just doesn't have it, and now almost took Wisdom's arm off.

  • Blow this game Ross and I hope the Cubs give you your walking papers.

  • If the Cubs lose this game with a 7-0 lead, maybe they should get rid of Rossy also for leaving Jake in this game.

  • If the Cubs lose this game with a 7-0 lead, maybe they should get rid of Rossy also for leaving Jake in this game.

  • Jake is "FRIED" and Rossy continues to leave him in too long. Rossy is going to let his good ole buddies get him let go.

  • It's time for thompson-steele-abbott or anyone beside arrieta sorry but the expirement is over.

  • Did Rossy throw in the towel for this game batting the pitcher?

    If KB and Rizzo are hurt and can't play then put them on the IL and get some players up here that can play instead of batting the pitcher to lead off an inning.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Agreed ! Are they afraid to bring up a 1st base prospect ready to come up ?

  • 10 out of 11 bad starts for Jake. Even the BP last 6 games is showing cracks now. Hard to ride the pen this hard all season long.

  • Have you seen today lineup .220 .230 .180. 230 .190. Yet they still scored 7 runs.

    Probably not, but arent there guys in the minors that are better than this?

    You have to say goodbye to Happ, Heyward, Arrieta, William's. These guys arent any good.

    How good would Schwarber, Darvish and Caratini look right now?

  • Looks like Nance may be the first casualty of the loss of spin rate for the cubbies.

  • Tapera too, creature. Meanwhile, start the bidding on our pending F.A.'s.

  • As my real estate lady told me it's a sellers market. Time to see what offers you can get on the table. Doubt really they would get high return on the handful of assets.

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    Absolutely,
    The Cubs keep hoping(too long) some of their mistakes will pan out.
    Ross chosen by Theo, Schwarber, Almora,Happ(top ten picks), Also chosen by Theo. The disastrous Colorado trade, also by Theo !
    I could go on and on but what good would it do, the damage is done.
    Its probably too late to try to trade . Other clubs know the Cubs are screwed and wouldn't give away anything of value.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Couldn’t agree more but you seem to forget there was a World Series team consisting of the Theo group. By the way have you noticed Schwarber has 25 HR in the first half this yr while only batting .250.

  • In reply to stix:

    I'm glad Schwarber is doing good, but he didn't do it playing for the Cubs, and certainly had many chances.
    Picking Schwarber with the 4th overall pick was a major mistake. The Cubs probably could have picked him in the second round. He had no definite position, he couldn't play 1st base because he was blocked by Rizzo and I doubt no National club besides the Cubs would have drafted him.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Theo and Jed put the world series team together. Theo put two world series rosters together in boston. So I dont blame Theo (yes the colorado trade was bad, but they apparently didnt know what they had).

    It was a confusing off season. You dont resign schwarber then trade away caratini & darvish. But then you sign Pederson and other mid level guys?

    I am not sure what the hell they were doing. But losing those 3 guys is very painful right now.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Yes Bleachercr, losing those 3 players is very painful, as you say. It was knee capping this season just to save money. What makes it even more painful is that this division was so winnable- and this team (with Darvish) won it last year. As you say, it is confusing.
    You cannot go deep into the playoffs without a dominant starting pitcher and another SP having a nice year. They had that in Darvish. They are difficult to acquire or develop- you don’t trade them away. If they wanted to take chances and change the composition of the team - fine - I’m ok with that. I’m ok, even though I was a fan of his, of trading Schwarbs. I’d have been ok of trading KB or Javy last winter. But we had Darvish and Hendricks- and Kimbrel. We HAD a chance to repeat. Now a rebuild is absolutely mandatory, unless big money is thrown at free agents. And that is not going to happen.
    I guess what I’m saying, is that there were other ways of saving money.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Well, that is one way to look at it, but I doubt that there was an offer out there that made sense for Javy and Bryant. None with the return of high talent upside of Darvish and Caratini anyway. It was destined to be a transition year. The Cubs just did not expect the scarpheap bench to be so productive and lately it hasn't for various reasons. I guess I'm just not cynical enough to think that it wasn't done with big picture in mind.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Serious question here slug: will you admit then, that part of this ‘big picture’ that you feel was part of their plan: Was sacrificing the 2021 season????
    If your answer is ‘NO’, that means you feel the Cubs could’ve made a serious playoff run, without Darvish!

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I'll admit that that is a good question. I don't know about serious, but kind of serious, I think. There was so much going on with folks not being in the ballpark and a host of other variables, including the past meltdowns down the stritch the last couple years, I don't know? Davies had a good years prior and the 'big picture' means down the road as well. So I think it presented a little bigger gamble, but a sacrifice of the season? I believe Ricketts and Jed were looking out for the Cubs not Tom's pocketbook.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    What's painful is the Cubs are screwed because of Heyward's contract that no other clubs are willing to take on. The Cubs
    passed on free agents Michael Brantly, McCutchon from
    Pittsburg.
    And I would have emptied the club to acquire Yellich.
    The club signed Peterson ( which was a positive move ) because
    they let Castellanos walk, after giving up two top 30 prospects and still waiting for Schwarber to develope,
    Theo screwed the Cubs payroll into the ground with bad drafts, bad contracts and bad trades, not only to Colorado, but other teams as well.

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    This has to be one of the most deflating games for the cubs, 7 run lead and can't score any more and the crew just rolled on them.
    Time to back up the wagon and start the freefall, didn't look like the boys were even interested after the crew went ahead, that picture of Bryant and Rizzo in the dugout looked like a couple disinterested
    players thankful they were not out there getting their asses kicked, waiting to get out of town.
    Start the move now and take the best you can get for this team of misfits, get a top ten pick and restock the team next year, build around some players who don't need to hit homers or strike out, let's play some KTLM baseball.(Keep the line moving)

  • In reply to tater:

    I'm going to agree. The Cubs went belly up so definitively that, I don't see how this can be fixed. No longer does a little help at the trade deadline seem like it could be enough. I know things can change, but in two or three weeks?

  • In reply to tater:

    Actually, I don't think that Bryant and Rizzo looked disinterested. I think that they looked deflated. Sitting there watching, and hurting physically and mentally, with the realization that we can't compete, because we simply don't have horses. Or at least we don't the health and enough of right combination of horses, 'stick a fork in this season'.

  • This year the Cubs jelled when Hoerner came up and Duffy was inserted into the everyday lineup. I don't know if stats can measure the significance of contact and game situation hitting, but all should realise by know that too many homerun or strike out players is not a formula for consistency.

  • zero issues with trading Darvish or any one else after 2020. I was not a fan of a salary dump return, but still ok. I also assume Cubs have to increase 2021 payroll of $150 million going forward.

    If the Cubs front office become sellers I hope they get creative with trade packages to hopefully get a slightly better return.

    I’m really interested to see the kinds of trades they might pull off, see who they draft, & the of course the off-season trades, & signings. Internally we all know lots of stuff changed in the organization. I hope that puts excitement back into the team.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Baltimore got basically nothing from the Dodgers to acquire Machado. I doubt if the Cubs will get anything of value for
    their free agents, except to offer a qualifying offer which
    most certainly will be turned down and the Cubs will
    acquire draft picks.
    The time to trade for maximum value has probably
    passed.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I agree maximum trade value is long long long gone. 2 or 3 extra draft picks around the 80th draft pick doesn’t get you much value either.

    If the Cubs trade. I want them to trade as many as they can absolutely will end up with way more value than 80th pick in draft. More deals made better chance of getting lucky.

    Those deals just get Cubs more controllable players & prospects.... The Cubs should not be afraid to use some of the newly acquired players/prospects, along with what they already have to make other deals.

    The received McKinney of from Cubs in Chapman trade. Yankees used him as part of a package the next season I think to get JA Happ.... Yankees did the same thing with at least one ranger & Indian prospect acquired in 2016 sell off.

    The Cubs will have to get creative they maybe will need multiple starting pitchers, closer, 3b, 1b, SS, & maybe 3 new starting OF’s for the 2022 season.

    Cubs front office has a lot of work to do. I agree with tater Cubs have all the same flaws, & less talent in 2021....

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    One problem is Ron, Javy would jump all over a QO of about $19M/yr. Are you ok with paying him that much? I’m not. That’s why Javy should have been sacrificed last off season instead of Darvish, if they felt the need to save money.
    Only FA’s worth offering the QO, IMO, are KB and Rizzo. KB will decline it, and if Rizzo accepts it, well, I could live with that for one year.
    I don’t know if Ricketts could, though. Lol.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Good point ! Javy is leading the league by a large margin in strike outs. Maybe the Yankees would throw money at him ? Who knows how this will play out.
    To Jed Hoyer,
    Do you have the guts to put Rizzo on the ten day disabled list and bring up Alfonso Rivas ???
    Q. If Javy did accept a qualifying offer, could he then be traded ?

  • I hope the Cubs cut Jake Arrieata loose. I can't stand to watch another terrible performance from a former champ.
    Is Jake too close to Ross ?

  • Hermosillo belongs in Chicago!

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Why might feet a look at him after the trade deadline.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    We might get a look at him after the trade deadline. My devise is fried. Sorry.

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    I don't know what players in triple A see in the way of pitches to hit, but Gushue hitting the other day didn't seem to know what a slider or curve ball looked like, when he did swing he was lucky to be 6-12 inches away from touching the ball, my God, what has become of our catching in the minors.
    I do realize we have had injuries,but the players we stocked up in the minors have really showed we are totally inadequate in scouting, even the one catcher who was released, I can't think of his name , signed with his countries team instead of a major league deal with the Cubs, I believe his name might have been Ramos.
    Don't really care if we go on a hot streak now or not, we need to blow this thing up, have way too many swing for the fences or strike out hitters on this team, should have 1, maybe 2, the rest should be made of high contact or medium contact and modest power with room to grow.
    Stop screwing around drafting pitching later in drafts, unless you have a top 10 draft position you never have enough money to draft high profile pitchers late and get them to sign below market, it has not worked, besides the Cubs are a large market team and get no breaks when it comes to the league rules, understand this and move on...

  • The state of the org top to bottom probably isn't as bad as it looks right now. In the second half, who ever is in Wrigley should just go play. I was glad to see no Cubs will be all stars (so far). If ever there was a team that just needs to stay home to rest, it's this one. At this point it just doesn't look like it's going to be our year. Way too many guys just not having the kind of year that they were hoping for. Maybe some of that swing and miss is guys putting too much pressure on themselves. Baseball is a game that needs to be played with intensify, but in a mentally relaxed way.

  • Kyle Gibson to the Cubs ? One MLB insider seems to think this may happen ! Stay tuned !
    Cubs, back up the truck and start a new era at Wrigley !
    Cut Happ, and possibly trade and sign Marte to play center field.

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