A few prospecting bits to lead you into the weekend …
- Carrie Muskat says that there are some younger prospects participating in a mini-camp this week, including Jeimer Candelario and Eloy Jimenez. Those guys – and the other lower-level prospects – will also be participating in minor league Spring Training, of course, but I’m sure having the youngsters interact with the big league players and coaching staff when possible is a good development/evaluation tool.
- The part of that report that really caught my eye was the mention of Jimenez. I’m wondering if this is the first clear signal (there have been suggestions, but not confirmations) that Jimenez – one of last year’s big international signings – will start his Cubs career at rookie ball in Arizona, rather than in the Dominican Summer League. It’s not inconceivable that the Cubs could allow him to participate a bit in Spring Training before sending him to the DSL later in the year, but I’m not sure I’d bet on it at this point. All of this probably applies to fellow big-timer Gleyber Torres, who was signed with Jimenez last year. At just 17, rookie ball be a pretty healthy challenge for Jimenez and Torres. I’m not aware of any international prospects in the Cubs’ system who skipped the DSL or VSL last year to come straight to rookie ball. I know it happens, but it’s rare. Even Miguel Sano, for example, started out in the DSL, and he was believed to be a monster when he signed.
- BP’s best tools series continues, and they looked “makeup,” that amorphous quality that you want your players to have, but which is hard to define. You probably know which Cubs prospect shows up here – although he didn’t claim the top spot, Albert Almora was right there. If you saw him speak at the Convention, or if you’ve read, well, pretty much anything about him, you know that he’s a high-character, hard-working, teammate-helping kind of guy, and his makeup is expected to allow all of his tools to play up in games. (Francisco Lindor was at the top, and the other two who received mentions were Dylan Bundy and Reese McGuire.)
- The good news is that Cubs prospect Kevin Encarnacion survived the horrible car accident in the Dominican Republic last month that injured several young players in the Cubs’ system, but the unfortunate news is that he’s still recovering from his injuries. According to a report from Fox10 in Phoenix (h/t CCO), Encarnacion suffered serious burns on his arm, torso and foot, and also suffered other injuries to his throwing arm. Encarnacion, who is recovering in an Arizona burn center, says he’ll play again, but it’s obviously hard to know how long his recovery will take. Encarnacion, a switch-hitting outfielder, broke out last year between Boise and Kane County at age 21, hitting .319/.399/.504 (and skipping over rookie ball in his stateside debut). Hopefully he recovers fully, and can resume his career soon.
- Baseball America isn’t all that high on Dan Vogelbach, it seems, ranking him only the 10th best first baseman in the minors, in what BA describes as an exceptionally weak crop, at that.
- Javier Baez shows up at number two on BA’s top 30 shortstop list (but we already knew that, based on the top 100 rankings). More interesting is number 28: Gleyber Torres.
- Arismendy Alcantara is 6th on the second base list. Seems like these rankings are rolling out throughout the day. (UPDATE: Indeed, they are, as third base just came out, with Kris Bryant at 2, Jeimer Candelario at 18, and Mike Olt at 22. Not bad.)
- In a chat, Ben Badler guesses that Jeimer Candelario is the Cubs prospect with the best chance of taking a big leap this year. Badler’s thoughts on C.J. Edwards: “An athletic power arm with a plus breaking ball, throws strikes, misses bats, gets ground balls. Everything’s there for him to be a No. 2 starter if it all comes together.” I think that’s probably the highest opinion you’ll see of Edwards among the major gurus.