Just like eating your vegetables as a kid, reading up on the health of your team’s Minor League organization is extremely good for your growth (as a fan).
And also like vegetables, the more you consume, the more you begin to like it (well except squash, everybody hates squash*).
Fortunately, over the past four to five years, the Chicago Cubs farm system has been so loaded with talent that following along and keeping up has been nothing but an extreme pleasure. Heck, at times, it seemed like the only thing to be cheery about.
And even though so many of the big name prospects have long since graduated up to the big league level (and, you know, won a World Series), many more still remain. This, then, is a gathering of notes on some players in the Cubs’ Minor League system.
Consume the information, learn the players’ strengths and weaknesses, and enjoy watching them become real Chicago Cubs before your eyes.
- The lovely people over at Baseball America have continued to keep tabs on the various winter leagues, most recently putting together their Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet for the week of October 28 through November 3. And, as I hope you’ve already guessed, the Cubs’ most recent and explosive breakout prospect, Eloy Jimenez, takes the top spot overall.
- At just 19 years old, the Cubs outfielder hit .455/.500/.909 with two doubles and a homer in his week of destruction in the AFL – a typically top-prospect heavy league. He continues to rise up the ranks around baseball and draw attention from scouts and analysts everywhere. He may have a couple seasons left before he joins the big league team in Chicago, but Jimenez is among the most exciting prospects in all of baseball.
- Indeed, at the Athletic, Mauricio Rubio just wrote about the dynamic sound of Jimenez’s swing as it makes contact with a ball. A sound, Rubio writes, you just have to hear in person to understand. For a full scouting report and detailed understanding of Jimenez, his raw power, his risks and future outlook, check out Rubio’s excellent piece at the Athletic. You will not be disappointed.
- Jimenez isn’t the only Cubs top prospect in the Arizona Fall League, by the way. He’s been joined by the Cubs’ other top positional prospect, the switch-hitting infielder/outfielder Ian Happ. MLB caught up with both of them for an interview and recap of their time in the Arizona Fall League so far. Check it out:
- Happ also had a big first full professional season with the Chicago Cubs, making it as far as Double-A Tennessee in one year. And, perhaps more importantly, Happ fits the mold of a Cubs/Joe Maddon player. In addition to the obvious versatility of being a switch-hitter, Happ, now an infielder, used to play in the outfield. That sort of positional flexibility is something we saw the Cubs do with tremendous success in 2016, and continues to be a strategy they’ll probably employ next season as well.
- And to take it a step further, Happ is thought to have an extremely advanced, polished approach at the plate. Selective aggression is the Cubs’ mantra, of sorts, and Happ did well to emulate that style of play in 2016. Given where he’s at right now (Double-A), it’s not inconceivable to think that he could show up in Chicago as soon as the second half of 2017. To be fair, 2018 is more likely, though (always remember: Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber are NOT the norm).
- The Cubs saw a bunch of minor leaguers head into free agency this week, but one of the more intriguing arms is staying in the organization:
- And finally, a retirement:
- Chicago Cubs infield/catching prospect Ben Carhart has retired at the age of 26, after five seasons steadily moving up the Cubs organization. He made it as far as Triple-A this past year, but will progress no further. Sometimes, I suppose, it’s just time to hang ’em up, and perhaps move into another role.
*I’ll take, “Sure-fire ways to get some to comment about how much they love squash” for $500, Alex.