With the Chicago Cubs sending Arodys Vizcaino, still technically a prospect, to the Atlanta Braves for Tommy La Stella, not technically a prospect, a spot on their top 20 list over at MLB.com has opened up.
And it has been filled by one of the best hitters in the AFL this year, outfielder Bijan Rademacher, who now ranks as the Cubs’ 20th best prospect.
The Cubs’ 13th rounder in 2012 out of a community college, Rademacher was a two-way player whom many teams were viewing as a lefty pitcher. The Cubs, however, wanted to give Rademacher a shot on the positional side, and it’s a decision that’s payed off well.
After a solid but unspectacular debut in full season ball in 2013, Rademacher broke out this year at High-A Daytona, batting .281/.363/.448, which was good for a .372 wOBA. His .811 OPS was second best in the Florida State League this year among guys with enough plate appearances to qualify, just five points behind the leader (offense is always stifled in that league, but it was particularly down this year). He walked 9.6% of the time, and struck out just 19.9% of the time.
Rademacher, 23, headed to the AFL as a taxi squad participant, but still made a name for himself, hitting .350/.404/.525 over his 11 games.
Here’s what MLB.com has to say, in part, about the outfielder: “Rademacher’s arm still stands out as his best tool, but his bat isn’t far behind. He has a smooth left-handed swing to go with bat speed and decent patience at the plate. He mostly hits gap to gap but does have some power and could provide as many as 15 homers per season. Though he doesn’t have the speed to play center field, Rademacher gets the job done as a defender on the corners and has enough arm strength for right field.”
While he may wind up something of a tweener, not unlike Billy McKinney (potentially light offensive profile for a corner, but without the ability to play quality center), or he may continue to develop power to go along with his quality plate approach.
Rademacher, together with McKinney and possibly Jacob Hannemann, should head to AA Tennessee next year, where he’ll rotate around with those three, and likely also Albert Almora (and maybe Kyle Schwarber a couple days a week, too). That’s a heck of a nice group of outfielders together on one AA squad, and I can’t wait to see all of them continue to develop. Every single one of them has significant breakout potential in 2015.