Prospect Notes: Zagunis, Russell, Schwarber, Almora, Edwards, Good Guy Bryant, More

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Prospect Notes: Zagunis, Russell, Schwarber, Almora, Edwards, Good Guy Bryant, More

Chicago Cubs

cubs azl spring training logoSome of the latest Chicago Cubs prospect notes to take you into the weekend …

  • At Baseball Prospectus, Chris Crawford is going to be previewing the guys to watch on each team (likely to be on that team, anyway) in each minor league, and he started with the Midwest League. That’s the home of the South Bend Cubs, and Crawford has a writeup on each of Gleyber Torres, Jake Stinnett, and Mark Zagunis. I encourage you to read them all – because yay – but here’s a bit from the Zagunis piece: “Mark Zagunis is one of the fastest catching prospects I’ve seen, and while there’s work to be done with the glove, he has a chance to stick there. He has excellent bat-to-barrel skills, his hit tool is advanced for his age …. He’s a potential regular even if he does have to move to the outfield, but expect the Cubs to give him every chance to play behind the plate.” I don’t know nearly as much about scouting as Crawford, but that all comports with what I saw of Zagunis when I was in Arizona. He’s got the build of a catcher, but he struck me as extremely athletic.
  • Joel Sherman with a look at the stars-in-the-making shortstop class right now, including Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, and, of course, the Cubs’ own Addison Russell. The piece wraps up with an anonymous AL GM saying Russell is his favorite of the bunch.
  • Keith Law was at the game on Tuesday, and, in addition to seeing Baez’s struggles at the plate (he did seem to have some particularly poor at bats in that one), Law saw Kyle Schwarber for a couple innings behind the plate. In short, he was seeing the same thing I was seeing: Schwarber looks like a perfectly adequate catcher on pitches level or up in the zone, but he doesn’t yet look comfortable with pitches down or in the dirt. Where Law and I would differ, though, is that, while he sees that as confirmation that Schwarber is likely not a catcher long-term, it instead struck me as simply something particular on which he’ll have to work hard this year. We’re talking about a guy who’d had almost no catching instruction in his career until the second half of 2014, after all. If those particular struggles don’t abate by midseason this year, then maybe it’s time to start more seriously talking about the outfield full-time.
  • An interesting read over at BP on how you can try and “scout” by using plate discipline numbers. It’s a bit of a complicated read, but the upshot is that, based on this analysis, Albert Almora is more likely a fringe big leaguer down the road than a good big league player (with the bat, anyway). Billy McKinney also doesn’t fare well, but his sample size is so small that you can mostly throw it out. As for Almora, who gets a full writeup in the article, the concern is that his extremely low walk rate (and the lack of seeing pitches, generally) will derail his otherwise quality bat skills. Almora could wind up the rare, elite contact guy who can succeed with virtually no walks (think Pablo Sandoval or Howie Kendrick – but even those guys walk more than Almora). But he’ll have to hit close to .300 regularly to do it.
  • Although he was cut from big league camp this week, everyone sees a big league future for C.J. Edwards, including Joe Maddon (CSN).
  • Ben Badler points out some very serious allegations against 2011 Cubs international signee Luis Enrique Acosta. The 20-year-old Dominican has not progressed at all since receiving $1.1 million from the Cubs that year, and may now find himself out of baseball for good, depending on how the allegations against him shake out.
  • Minor League Spring Training games are underway, and you can read Arizona Phil’s take over at TCR.
  • Here’s a little from BP’s Jordan Gorosh, who took in the Cubs recently:

  • What else can you say about Kris Bryant at this point? Watch him make the day (month? year? decade?) of a young fan and his parents (I dare you not to melt):

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.