Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cubs azl spring training logoI can’t kick off a set of prospect notes without reminding folks to check out Luke’s great work on the BN Top 40 Cubs prospect list here, here, and here. And the two of us will be live streaming tonight at 7:30pm CT/8:30pm ET. So come back here tonight to watch and join in.

  • Your must-read of the day is this piece at Baseball America about developing catcher receiving skills, especially framing. The article touches on other organizations, but the focus is very much on the Cubs. There’s even a video to watch Cubs catching prospects working on their skills. It’s just a great read about the lengths to which the Cubs are going, at an organizational level, to promote framing. There’s a bonus, specific bit on Ben Carhart, a converted infielder who started catching almost full-time last year, and has shown – at least in the practices BA observed – an elite receiving ability. If you’re looking, then, for a back-up, glove-first catcher to emerge as a surprise in the coming years, keep an eye on Carhart, 25. He’s likely to be at High-A Myrtle Beach next year. There’s not much in the bat on which to dream, but he takes his walks and doesn’t strike out much.
  • All kinds of good Cubs prospect stuff here from Ashley Marshall, including expected assignments, and individual notes. It puts just a little more detail on the tweets we saw last time, including the specifics on Eloy Jimenez – the Cubs want him to push for an assignment to full-season South Bend, but it sounds like that’s not necessarily the expectation. For an 18-year-old who’s played only a little bit of Rookie Ball, some time at short-season Eugene would not be a surprise (or a disappointment in the least).

  • Keith Law updated his top 50 prospect rankings, which you can see here. Kris Bryant stays at number one, Addison Russell stays at four, and Jorge Soler stays at fourteen.
  • April Fools or not, I wish this was a thing:

  • Mauricio Rubio was in Arizona, and among his notes at BP is a take on Cubs third base prospect Jeimer Candelario. Here’s a snippet: “Candelario shed weight ahead of the 2014 season and came into camp with a lean, athletic look. He struggled in Daytona as he started dropping the shoulder and in essence sacrificed his approach for over-the-fence power, a trait that he took back with him to Kane County once he was demoted. This spring Candelario still has the sleek look, but the line drive inside-out swing is back.” So, perhaps we’ll see a little less power and a little more average this year. Rubio, in the end, is not super high on Candelario’s ability to contribute at third base, though.

  • It looks like relief prospect Tony Zych is no longer in the Cubs’ organization:

  • It’s not yet clear if Zych was part of a minor trade or if he was simply allowed to join a new organization, but he stalled out at AA the last two years for the Cubs as his strikeout rate plummeted. Zych was with the Cubs earlier in Spring Training over on the minor league side, so I assume we’ll see official word of the transaction at some point soon (given the quiet, no, I wouldn’t expect this to be part of a larger move). I also assume, since Zych posted a picture on Instagram, that this isn’t an April Fools situation, but, le sigh, you never know these days.

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