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Cubs Prospect Notes: Candelario and Zagunis Raking, Pitching Prospect Explosion, IFA Class Recap, More

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

On Tuesday afternoon, a trio of Chicago Cubs prospects – Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis, and Victor Caratini – each homered to power the Triple-A Iowa Cubs past Omaha, 6-4.


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But it’s the former-most prospect, Candelario, that I want to discuss upfront, because he’s been on quite a hot streak. In his past nine games alone (39 plate appearances), Candelario is slashing .333/.385/.611 with four doubles and two homers – good for a 155 wRC+.

As a 23-year-old switch hitter, Candelario is breathing down the neck of a permanent job in the Major Leagues. Of course, whether or not that opportunity comes with the Cubs has yet to be seen. But make no mistake, he’ll get his shot.

  • Of course, then there’s the other homer hitter, Mark Zagunis, who was recently called up to the Major Leagues. He made his Major League debut for the Cubs last night, and although he went 0-5 at the plate, he did knock in an RBI and steal a base. Not a bad debut, all things considered. Before his promotion, he’d been hitting .249/.399/.474 at Triple-A Iowa. Luke discussed what you might expect from Zagunis earlier today.

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  • Speaking of those homers, you can take a look at each of them below (with bonus footage of an excellent diving catch from center field prospect Jacob Hannemann):

  • At 2080 Baseball, John Arguello discusses the Cubs’ 2015 blowout IFA class and it’s various strengths/weaknesses. According to Arguello, while the Cubs’ 2015 class lacks the star power of 2013 (which included both Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez), it is actually a much deeper crop of prospects overall. At the top of the list, according to Arugello, is the right-handed pitcher we keep hearing about, Jose Albertos. Here’s what Arguello had to say:

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“One of the Cubs shrewd signings out of Mexico, Albertos has been recovering from a minor injury this spring, but is back up into the 94-to-96 mph range, though he hasn’t shown the same consistency with his command yet. His curveball and changeup are also considered potential plus offerings. Albertos doesn’t offer much in terms of projection as his body is somewhat mature, but he is so advanced as a pitcher that the lack of physical projection is not of concern.”

  • Eric Longenhagen also caught up with Albertos recently, and echoed Arguello’s velocity reports. He also mentioned that he was “untouchable” when he was in the zone, and has the potential for three plus pitches (fastball, curveball, change-up). He struggles to throw strikes at times, but that remains his last big obstacle to success. I have to say, based on a lot of reports (from completely different scouts/organizations/publications), Jose Albertos might be something pretty special. I’m really looking forward to watching his career.
  • FYI: John also touches on Aramis Ademan, Eddy Julio Martinez, Isaac Pareddes, Miguel Amaya, Javier Assad, Jonathan Sierra, Jose Gutierrez, Yonathan Perlaza, and many others from the 2015 class. As usual, the Cubs were very active in international free agency two years ago, so if you feel like you missed out on what they did, that’s a good place to catch up.

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  • The Cubs first pick in 2016 MLB draft, Thomas Hatch, wasn’t taken until the third round (104th pick overall). However, he’s been on an absolute tear lately, and has dominated as a starter overall. Through 14 starts (70.1 IP) at High-A, Hatch has posted a 3.33 ERA with a stellar 2.77 FIP. However, in the six starts he’s made in just the last month alone, he looks even better: 0.72 ERA, 2.12 FIP; 26.9 K%, 5.5 BB%; .199 average against. Those numbers are absolutely spectacular and even more impressive when you consider that this is his first professional season and he’s already pitching at High-A.
  • The Cubs first overall pick this draft, Brendon Little, has high hopes and lofty goals for his role with the Cubs. In fact, he hopes to be pitching in Double-A Tennessee by the end of next season (which would be his first full professional season). “That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said among many things via the Chicago Sun Times, “and what I’m visualizing. I visualize everything. The more I think about it, the more I can picture it.” If he manages to get to Double-A in his first full professional season, the front office will be extremely happy with their first non-positional first-round pick with the Cubs.
  • But that brings me to my final thought: has any one else noticed a distinct and seemingly overnight change in the Cubs’ collection of pitching prospects? All of a sudden, I can name Little, Alex Lange, Thomas Hatch, Jose Albertos, Dylan Cease, Oscar De La Cruz, Trevor Clifton, Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay, and probably a few others as legitimate starting pitching prospects in the Cubs system. No longer are the Cubs bereft of any pitching prospects of note. There’s a ton of them, and, by chance alone, at least some of them should hit the big league rotation. It’s been so long since the Cubs have had this many arms to be excited about (to be honest, I don’t even remember when that time would’ve been), but it sure is nice. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing the fruit of the front office’s labor soon.

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Michael Cerami

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