Cubs Prospect Notes: Hannemann's Catch, Hultzen's Comeback, De La Cruz/Underwood Dealing, Top 100 Draft Picks, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Hannemann’s Catch, Hultzen’s Comeback, De La Cruz/Underwood Dealing, Top 100 Draft Picks, More

Chicago Cubs

In case you missed it, Luke has started revealing the Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospect list, with Cubs top prospects #40-35, #35-29, #28-23, and #22-17.

What I found most interesting/exciting so far is his write-up of outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez. If you recall, Martinez was a fairly big IFA signing prior to the 2016, who never quite came around as quickly and strongly as we had hoped. However, as he heads to Tennessee this year, Luke seems to believe Martinez could finally be in store for that big (relative) breakout. It’s far from a guarantee, of course – hence the relatively low overall ranking – but there’s always one of those guys, and his profile and accrued experience might finally start paying off.

Speaking of which, the Minor League seasons kicked off yesterday, which means Luke’s first Minor League Dailys of the year! If you want a daily briefing of the Cubs’ various minor leaguers with unparalleled insight, Luke’s got you covered. He’s the best.

Bonus from that Iowa Cubs win – Jacob Hannemann showing off the leather:

Some other Cubs prospect notes for your Friday …

  • Although he’s not a true prospect anymore (28 years old with two shoulder operations will do that to ya), new Cubs pitching prospect Danny Hultzen isn’t giving up anytime soon. When he signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs this offseason, this is what Brett had to say: “For those who are not familiar, Hultzen was the second overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of Virginia. The tall lefty had made something of a mockery of the ACC in his three college years, winning Freshman of the Year honors, then Pitcher of the Year honors, and then the John Olerud Award (best two-way player in college). That he was selected just after Gerrit Cole at the top of the draft was not a surprise, nor, necessarily, was it a surprise that he immediately got a big league contract (back in those days, you could do that as an enticement to sign). The guy was as certainly a future stud as a pitching prospect can be.”
  • Unfortunately, Hultzen’s career has been rocky (mostly) thanks to injury-related reasons, and this feels like his last shot to really make it work as a big leaguer. At The Athletic, Peter Gammons caught up with Hultzen to discuss his past, the weight of being a 2nd overall pick, the injuries, his journey to the Cubs, and a whole lot more. Considering his pedigree, Hultzen’s comeback will be an interesting one to follow this season.
  • At MLB Pipeline, Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Mike Rosenbaum came together to pick out their candidates for biggest breakout prospect on each of the NL Central teams. For the Cubs, the guys pick left-hander Bryan Hudson (#24 on the MLB Pipeline’s Cubs top 30): “Hudson might have been the most projectable pitcher in the 2018 Draft, standing 6-foot-8 with plenty of room to add strength to his lanky 220-pound build. The Cubs paid him an over-slot $1.1 million as a third-round pick out of Alton (Ill.) High … and knew his development would take time. After struggling in his first full pro season and the beginning of his second, he showed signs of improvement by going 7-0 with a 3.39 ERA in his final 11 starts of 2017 in the Class A Midwest League.” The article has more on Hudson, including quotes from Cubs farm director Jaron Madison. I’ll admit, I wasn’t particularly high on Hudson before this, but after considering everything presented here, I’ll be keeping an eye on him this year.
  • Thanks to compensatory picks following the free agent departures of Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, the Chicago Cubs will have five picks within the first 100 of the upcoming MLB Draft. That’s huge. At The Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzales gets the low-down on how they might use those picks, and, contrary to previous drafts, pitching may not be as big of a priority. “We’ve made no bones about going heavy on pitching the past couple of years,” said Jason McLeod, Cubs senior VP of player development and amateur scouting. “I don’t think that will be much of a mandate as far as focusing specifically on pitching. Having all those picks will allow us to get more players and bring more talent into the system.”
  • It’s not as though the Cubs Minor League pitching woes have been magically fixed (and it’s not like they won’t take any pitchers, either), but after spending so many of their recent draft lots – including two first rounders last year – on pitching, they can certainly afford to just add the best player available. In fact, given the Cubs’ continued youth movement in the Majors already, I wouldn’t mind seeing some high-risk, way-down-the-line types with the highest ceilings. They have the time to develop them, so use it.
  • Speaking of the improved crop of pitching prospects, one of the Cubs’ best, Oscar De La Cruz, just tossed six innings of one run (unearned), three-hit ball in extended Spring Training. He also struck out five batters and walked none. Given how dominating he was when we saw him in limited action this spring – and given his upside when healthy – I might be *most* excited about his 2018 season. Although, the speed with which Brendon Little, Alex Lange, and/or Thomas Hatch could rise and the upside of Jose Albertos and Adbert Alzolay definitely make it a tough choice.
  • Oh, and don’t forget about Duane Underwood, the Cubs’ former big-time pitching prospect who’s finally regained some stability and seems to be in store for a solid year. In his last pre-season, intra-squad/extended Spring Training game, Underwood tossed 6.2 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits throughout. Underwood needs to stay healthy, as you say with all pitching prospects, but more than that, he’s gotta start missing some bats consistently.
  • Underwood also got to be the fake, extra-innings runner last night:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami