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Cubs Prospect Notes: Happ Breaking Through, Butler Impresses, Almora’s Offensive Potential, More

Chicago Cubs News, Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

In case you missed it earlier, the Chicago Cubs landed a grand total of … two prospects on FanGraphs’ latest Top 100 prospect list.

Eloy Jimenez (15th) and Ian Happ (51st) were the lone representatives on one of the weaker Cubs’ top 100 prospect showings in quite some time.

But, as we know, there are plenty of interesting prospects in the system who would likely fall in that 100-200 range, as well as an assortment of very young, very talented players at the Major League level.

Put plainly, there’s nothing to see here in terms of discomfort about the Cubs organization’s prospect health.

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But there is plenty to discuss, in general, about Cubs prospects and the state of the system – starting with #51 himself, Ian Happ.

  • Happ has had himself quite a nice Spring so far, which actually means a lot more for a guy on the bring of the Major Leagues than it does for someone like, say, Eloy Jimenez who isn’t quite as close to the Majors. With the second most plate appearances (27) on the Spring, Happ’s .407/.429/.741 slash line is fourth best on the Cubs. He leads the team in hits (11) and is tied for first in doubles (3) and home runs (2). Steve Greenberg writes about Happ’s big Spring and how he’s trying to become more versatile in the field – something that’ll be necessary before he can make that final leap to the Majors (that is, if it’s going to be with the Chicago Cubs).
  • But from the sounds of it, Happ’s been doing well and has the best possible attitude about improving his versatility: “That’s just the way this team is,” Happ said. “When you have the MVP playing five positions, you’d better be able to play your fair share.” Good point. You can read more about Happ’s transition from the outfield to second base here at Cubs.com. Clearly, the Cubs camp is happy with him.
  • In fact, he and Jimenez have been getting a ton of praise for their play this Spring, but the loaded Major League roster continues to be something of an issue. “It was only one inning in a spring training game that doesn’t count, but it was also a glimpse into the future for Cubs fans. A future, that is. Probably not the future, not with so many young stars already reveling in the championship spotlight in Chicago.” Read more from Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago) about how Cubs prospects Happ, Jimenez, Jeimer Candelario, Victor Caratini, and Chesny Young are taking their Spring Training opportunity seriously … and are making the most of it.

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  • Also from that article at the Sun-Times, Joe Maddon is impressed with Eddie Butler’s progress this Spring and expects big things from him going forward. “His stuff is well above average, velocity-wise, and he has a really good breaking ball. I think he’s very interesting.” As a former top prospect, Butler’s stuff has never been short on praise, of course, it’s the implementation of that stuff at the big league level that’s been the issue. Hopefully, with the Cubs, those problems will disappear.
  • At the center of the prospects that are definitely going to impact the big league Cubs this season you’ll find Albert Almora Jr. Almora, of course, is just barely still a prospect, and might actually be the Cubs 2017 starting center fielder by the end of the season – or at least, that is the goal. At CSN Chicago, Tony Andracki wonders what if Almora became a really good big-league hitter? We know he has the upside in his bat and is already a Gold Glove caliber defender in center field, so it’s fair to dream on what might be, if everything comes together.
  • And finally, Baseball America is reporting that the Chicago Cubs have signed left-handed (hitting) outfielder Brandon Cummins out of the Frontier League. Cummins, 23, hit .269 in his debut season with the Southern Illinois Minors last season, after previously playing for Delta State University. But my favorite fact about him (you can see more here) is that he managed to hit an inside the park GRAND SLAM for his first professional home run on August 17, 2016. That’s just pretty fun.

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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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