A look at some of the latest prospect bits as we head into the offseason …
- As he does, Arizona Phil has a thorough and enjoyable read on the Instructional League in Arizona this year over at TCR. If you want the complete roster of players in Mesa right now, Phil’s got it. The short version: everyone who’s on the younger side. As Carrie Muskat previously indicated, and Phil fills out in a little more depth, the Cubs are using the Instructional League quite a bit differently this year. Rather than play a bunch of games with the other organizations who have players in town, the Cubs will almost exclusively focus on instruction, with only a handful of intrasquad games at the end of camp (it ends October 12).
- There is so much of interest to note in Phil’s piece, but among the most notable items: (1) Kevin Encarnacion, who missed all of 2014 after that horrible accident in the DR last December, is finally back in full baseball action – great to hear; (2) the Arizona Fall League players are in town gearing up for that league, which starts October 7; (3) a few notable international prospects are making their stateside debut, including catcher Yohan Matos and third baseman Wladimir Galindo; and (4) there are a couple catcher conversions underway, including Jordan Hankins (caught some in college, but mostly played third base with the Cubs) and Gioskar Amaya (a second baseman who hit well at Daytona (see tweet below), and who had been pegged as a possible future catching convert a year ago).
— Sean Kernan (@KernanSean) August 26, 2014
- That’s obviously a super old tweet right there, but I’d been meaning to share it, missed my window, and then the Amaya catching conversion thing came up. So there you go. Amaya, who turns 22 in December, is a well-regarded prospect who is Rule 5 eligible this year. I strongly doubt he’ll be protected on the 40-man roster, and the Cubs will have to hope another organization doesn’t want to reach *really* deep to try and stash him. Amaya hit .276/.379/.369 this year, which would look especially good behind the plate. We’ll see if he enters Spring Training still behind the plate.
- Apropos of nothing, Charcer Burks, man. The Cubs’ 9th round pick in 2013 (word immediately after the draft was that the Cubs thought he was underscouted and that they got a steal) just finished his first full professional season, and it was a killer. Not only did Burks, 19, hit .311/.393/.409 over 226 plate appearances, he actually improved on his line when he was promoted midseason to Boise: .313/.416/.391 (21 walks, 31 strikeouts). There’s a good chance he’ll start 2015 in the outfield with the South Bend Cubs having just turned 20.
- BA’s Bill Mitchell says that in his top 20 AZL prospect list – the one we discussed yesterday, featuring Carson Sands, Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres – had two Cubs prospects who just missed, and likely would have been 21 and 22: pitchers Justin Steele (drafted after Sands, in the 5th round) and Jefferson Mejia (one of the Cubs’ big IFA signings in 2013).
- Mitchell also called Kevonte Mitchell, the Cubs’ 13th rounder (who was slightly over slot), his top later round sleeper in the AZL this year. Mitchell, 19, hit .294/.374/.371 in 39 games in his pro debut. He’s obviously a name to watch next year. The Cubs have a few of those low-level outfielders to watch (you can include Encarnacion in that group now that he’s back, given that he was thought to be on the verge of a breakout before the accident in December).
- Baseball America’s minor league All-Star team, and then the All-Stars at each level of the minors. You know the drill: Cubs prospects feature prominently.