Luke touched on one of the biggest names this morning in the Minor League Daily, but how about a couple more guys showing off what they do? A couple guys who could impact the Cubs in 2016 in meaningful, but probably very different, ways?
For example, Albert Almora plays incredible outfield defense, and eventually he’ll be doing it at Wrigley Field. Indeed, his defensive ability is so incredible that this catch he made last night almost doesn’t register as impressive, even though when you really look at how much ground he covered, how perfectly he tracked the ball, and how easily he gloved it … it should become impressive to you:
He’s the best out there. Just the best. As Michael wrote yesterday, it’s not at all hard to see him coming up and impacting the 2016 big league team at some point, and I’d add that it could especially be true late in the year if the Cubs want an “impact glove” available to them in September when rosters expand. Almora will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after this season, so the Cubs will have to add him to the 40-man roster by November anyway. Might as well add him before September so that you can use his elite glove for the stretch run (and, hey, if the bat keeps developing, too …).
Let’s just hope Almora takes it easy on the wall crashes when he arrives at Wrigley Field.
And then there’s Dan Vogelbach, who was drafted the year before Almora, and has steadily progressed his way through the system with an absolutely tremendous approach at the plate and line drive stroke. The one thing we haven’t seen quite enough is the elite power that we know he’s capable of showing – if and when that comes, he immediately becomes one of the best overall offensive prospects in the minors. (Whether he can play big league first base is a discussion for another day, and probably not one that will manifest for the Cubs at the big league level absent a serious injury to Anthony Rizzo (knock on wood).)
Speaking of that power, Vogelbach did flash some last night, hitting his first homer at AAA:
It’s very early, but the homer boosted Vogelbach’s line to .387/.441/.548, which is nice – though you’d like to see the unnerving and un-Vogelbach-like 13/2 K/BB ratio improve dramatically.
I do wonder if that figure, as well as his 0.50 groundout to fly out ratio (extremely far below his 1.21 career average), indicates that the Cubs are really making a push for him to better utilize his power by getting the ball in the air more often. That could lead to more whiffs in the process, but would be good for his offensive ability long-term by not only increasing his slugging, but also increasing his BABIP quite a bit (balls on the ground will rarely turn into hits for Vogelbach, especially as teams shift on him).
That’ll be something to watch over the course of this season – or at least the first half of the season, since it’s a given that Vogelbach’s name will pop up in rumors as the Trade Deadline nears.