I feel as though I’ve said this before, but it remains true now as much as ever: knowing your organizational prospects is important – especially at this time of the year.
Over the next 9-10 days, the Chicago Cubs will most likely part ways with several prospects. Some of them may be names you’re exceedingly familiar with, others may ring a bell, and still some may be guys you’ve never heard of.
That said, the Cubs current starting catcher, Willson Contreras, was a guy most had never heard of just a couple years ago, so keeping up with the system to the best of your ability will serve you well as the trade deadline looms and the Cubs act as buyers.
- Heck, the Cubs have already moved two prospects – Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn – this deadline, and received one from the Mariners – Jordan Pries – in return. We’ve already gotten to know the Cubs new reliever, Mike Montgomery, but at FanGraphs, Chris Mitchell projects each of the three prospects in the deal, as well. In short, KATOH (a projection system for players that aims to forecast a players first 6 seasons in the Major Leagues), doesn’t love Vogelbach. Although his power is for real, his defensive limitations, lack of speed, and “iffy contact numbers,” limit his overall potential. KATOH doesn’t love Blackburn, either. Although he’s pitched well this season, a low 17% strikeout rate in Double-A doesn’t bode well for his chances in the Majors. And even despite those less-than-stellar reviews, Mitchell calls Pries (the prospect the Cubs are receiving) the least interesting player in the deal. So, I guess the Cubs did well with their acquisition of Montgomery, then.
- Even if KATOH doesn’t love Vogelbach, however, he was one of the better prospects in the Cubs system. And now that he’s no longer with the Cubs, his place on the top prospect rankings will have to be replaced. MLB Pipeline has already made that call, promoting pitcher Jose Albertos into their top 30 Cubs prospect rankings. The Cubs signed Albertos, 17, in the last IFA period out of Mexico, and he’s now ranked as their 11th best prospect overall. That’s quite a leap for a new and young prospect, but Jim Callis seems to have some faith in Albertos and his scouting report is pretty exciting: “He operates with a 93-95 mph fastball and can reach 97, showing the ability to throw it for strikes on both sides of the plate. He’s still refining his secondary pitches but already flashes a well above-average changeup and a solid slider.” That, right there, is a bona fide pitching prospect. I’m anxious to see Albertos get to work.
- Meanwhile, another Cubs pitching prospect you may not be too familiar with, Jose Paulino, is being promoted from the Class A Short Season Eugene Emeralds to the A-Ball South Bend Cubs. In Paulino’s six starts (35 IP) at Eugene this season, he’s struck out 37 (!) batters (29.6% K-rate), while walking just 2 (2.4% walk rate), on his way to a 0.51 ERA (1.88 FIP). In his last start, Wednesday, Paulino, 21, allowed no earned runs on just 2 hits and a walk with 7 Ks in 7.0 innings pitched. If ever a pitcher earned a promotion with dominance in six starts, Paulino is him.
- Eloy Jimenez, the Cubs’ big breakout prospect and candidate for top prospect overall, had missed three straight games over the weekend, but has since returned to the lineup, in case you were panic-stricken. He’s only recorded one hit in his two games back, but all that matters right now is that he’s healthy and playing (the word on the absence was “precautionary,” but injury reports can never be taken at face value especially during this time of the year). This season, Jimenez is slashing .330/.369/.517 over 350 plate appearances.