With Brian Bogusevic coming up to Chicago and Jorge Soler hitting the disabled list for a while, there were some outfield slots available for promotions this week, and the Cubs wasted no time shuffling around a number of prospects.
Among the more interesting prospects changing addresses is John Andreoli, a speedy outfielder who’d been dominating High-A for a year and a half. The relative slowness of his promotion – he just turned 23 – has been something of a debate around these parts, with most of us landing on the “well, there just needs to be space for him to start every day at AA” explanation. Ty Wright, who is more of an organizational guy, got the call up to AAA to replace Bogusevic, and there was suddenly a spot for Andreoli in Tennessee.
Andreoli has the kind of plate approach the Cubs like – he’s walked 113 times in his minor league career, against just 152 Ks – and he’s got a whole lot of speed (23 SB against just 3 CS this year). His line this year at High-A is impressive (.318/.394/.405), and pretty well sums up his game. Andreoli is an on-base speed guy, without much pop. He’ll have to have a little bit of power to keep climbing the ranks, but there’s a chance that he develops into an interesting future bench piece. Maybe a slower, but overall better, version of Tony Campana. At similar ages and stages, Andreoli has always hit for a higher average than Campana and walked much more. He’s not a future star, but Andreoli is legitimately worth watching.
Andreoli’s departure – coupled with Soler’s injury – left a serious outfield hole in Daytona, which will be filled by 2012 draftee Bijan Rademacher. The 22-year-old outfielder is another low-power, high discipline type who was hitting .303/.374/.378 with Kane County. He’d struck out just 25 times against 21 walks.
There’s a theme developing, because the young man who will replace Rademacher at Low-A Kane County is another disciplined hitter, Kevin Encarnacion. The 21-year-old is actually a bit of a surprise promotion, given that this is just his first year in the United States after playing for a few years in the Dominican Summer League. Encarnacion was hitting extremely well at Boise (.298/.400/.489), and the Cubs must have felt he was ready for the challenge of full season ball. His approach at the plate got better and better over his time in the DSL, reaching the point where he walked 12 more times than he struck out last year. For Boise, that story has largely continued (8 BB, 10 K), and he’s showing some pop to go with his speed.
All three are outfielders worth following, particularly as there is a continued organizational shift in approach at the plate. Only Rademacher was brought into the organization by the new regime, but Andreoli and Encarnacion may benefit from being in an organization that now greatly values their offensive approach.
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