Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein recently remarked that, by the end of the year, the Cubs’ short-season Low-A club had a prospect at every position. Those Boise Hawks went on to make the Northwest League finals, so they must’ve had something good going on. Epstein’s comment was notable – as he, himself, pointed out – because it’s actually quite rare to have an entire lineup full of true prospects (rather than minor league journeyman, fringey future minor league journeyman, roster filler, etc.).

FanGraphs’ Marc Hulet recently wrote up a bit about a number of those prospects, and it was interesting to read his in-person take on that lineup full of prospects. A few selected notes:

 Albert Almora, CF: Known for being a very good defensive player as an amateur, the lanky Almora showed easy skills in center field and made a nice over-the-shoulder catch. It was made all the more impressive considering the fact he had a nasty collision with the outfield wall in the previous game, was helped off the field and was not expected to play again. At the plate, Almora – the Cubs 2012 first round pick – showed an open stance. His bat was very flat, almost parallel to the ground when the pitcher was delivering the ball and I’d like to see the young hitter start his bat in a better position, allowing him to attack the ball.

Stephen Bruno, IF/OF: A 2012 seventh rounder out of the University of Virginia, Bruno stands just 5’9” but has some pop in his bat and reminds me a bit of a young Aaron Hill. Drafted as a second baseman, he’s played multiple positions for Boise including second, third, shortstop and all three outfield spots. The right-handed batter took Taylor Cole deep and off the right-center field wall for an opposite field double in his first at-bat of the game. He definitely showed a pronounced upper cut to his swing in all of his at-bats. I could see Bruno making the majors as a utility player, in the Ryan Roberts mold, if he can tone down the upper cut and become a little more selective.

Dan Vogelbach, 1B/DH: Conditioning has always been an issue for Vogelbach and the 19 year old looks more like a beer league hitter than a professional baseball player. He has future 70 power, though, and absolutely crushed a fat, over-the-middle-of-the-plate fastball for a 400-plus foot home run to deep center field. He doesn’t have to hit the ball squarely to crush it. In the fourth, the left-handed hitter showed why he’s hit for a decent average by taking the ball where it was pitched and going the other way for a single to left field against a left-handed pitcher.

It’s a good read, and includes thoughts on Gioskar Amaya, Jeimer Candelario, Marco Hernandez, Trey Martin, Juan Paniagua, and Tayler Scott.

Obviously there’s only so much you can take away from a single game viewing, but, then again, it’s more than nothing. In other words, while there’s only so much you can take away from a single game viewing, it enhances the picture you can get from the numbers, alone.

While the entire crew won’t move up in lock-step to Kane County (Low-A) next year, a great many of them will. In other words, for you Chicagoans, the move from Peoria to Kane County could be incredibly well-timed: you’ll get to go see a heck of a nice roster next year.

  • cubsin

    I posted this on the message board, but it’s notable that the only three teenagers among the top 25 OPS leaders were Hawks. Amaya (19) finished 3rd, Candelario (18) finished 20th and Marco Hernandez (19) finished 24th. There were 54 qualifiers. Most of the top 25 were 22 years old or better. Vogelbach and Almora hit well (Vogelbach was behind only Mike Zunino among the nonqualifiers with 100+ AB’s, while Almora was just behind Candelario), but they didn’t have the AB’s to qualify.

  • MightyBear

    The comment on Paniagua was very encouraging.

  • Luke

    At the end of the season, the Hawks may have had the most talent infield in the minors. Cadelario, Amaya, Hernandez, and Vogelbach are tough quartet to beat; if I include Bruno as a utility infielder, I can’t find a group at any level that clearly has more talent. It is a very impressive bunch.

  • jim

    Who hit most doubles in 90s? Answer in 5.

    • Drew7

      Do’oh! silly me. Who needs all these fancy measuments of offensive production when everyone knows that whoever hit more doubles is the better hitter.

  • CM

    Mark Grace.

  • MoneyBoy

    Brett … Mentioned same to my son just yesterday !! Woo hoo!