Baseball America’s tour of the minor leagues continues, and, after placing three prospects on the Arizona Rookie League list and four prospects on the Northwest League list, the Chicago Cubs didn’t fare quite as well in the Midwest League.
18. Duane Underwood, RHP
That’s it. You can check out BA’s full Midwest League list here, but don’t be too disappointed. Although the Kane County Cougars absolutely dominated the Midwest League this year, they were not considered a prospect-laden club. They had a number of interesting pitchers, and a few top prospects who passed through only briefly (and thus did not qualify for the list), but only a handful of guys you’d consider for the Cubs’ top 20.
… but, speaking of that: where’s Cubs pitching prospect of the year Jen-Ho Tseng? Concededly, scouts are split on how well his stuff – which is extremely polished for his young age, but may not have a great deal of upside – will play at higher levels. But, Tseng dominated in full-season ball at just 19 years old, in his first season in the States. With some scouts thinking he’s got mid-rotation big league upside, it’s extremely surprising not to see him in the top 10 on the list, let alone not on it at all. There will be a chat on the list soon, and I hope Tseng is asked about. I think we’ll find that BA’s sources were simply not high on his projectability.
As for Underwood, BA likes his fastball velocity, quick arm, and athleticism. He’s just 20, and he’ll likely be at High-A to start next season. For now, the love on Underwood is still mostly projection, but if everything goes right, he’s one of the few lower-level arms that has front-of-the-rotation upside.
Something to consider on the Midwest League, by the way: it’s quite large, at 16 teams, and it also appears to have been quite prospect-rich this season.