Cubs Prospecting at the Back Fields: Amaya, Davis, Morel, Albertos, Thompson, Estrada, More

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Cubs Prospecting at the Back Fields: Amaya, Davis, Morel, Albertos, Thompson, Estrada, More

Chicago Cubs

It was a fun first week at the back fields, if a bit disorienting. I’m still getting used to dealing with sensory overload, as you’ll have at least two games happening simultaneously, perhaps with live BP on a third field. Or all four teams working out in the morning. Where to look? What did I just miss? It’s a challenge.

  • On my first day in camp, the priority was spending some time watching Miguel Amaya. He looks bigger than last year, is a magnetic personality, and is someone that handles whatever they throw at him. The swing is looking good:

  • How about the minor leagues guys representing in big league camp? Nico Hoerner and Trent Giambrone, Jared Young and Mark Zagunis, Dakota Mekkes off the mound. Has to be nice for Joe Maddon to see some young reserves getting close to helping him should injuries hit.
  • Zagunis really interests me, because with Daniel Descalso potentially beginning the season on the IL, Zagunis would be possibly be the favorite to be the 25th man, as he’s already on the 40-man roster and the Cubs have plenty of infield depth as it is. He is probably one of the Cubs best nine options against left-handed pitching in the organization, so who knows, perhaps he draws an Opening Day start against Mike Minor? Weirdly, Zagunis had just 3 XBH in 90 PA against LHP in Triple-A last year; he’s hit for more power against them in his tiny Cactus League sample.
  • I highly recommend this piece from Jason Pennini at Prospects Live, with his notes from Cubs camp. It talks about how good Brennen Davis is looking with a new body and new swing. I haven’t seen Davis hit yet, but I’ll tell you: I’m super ready to move him up my prospect rankings.
  • One guy that stuck out to Jason, as well as Brett and me, is Christopher Morel. When I saw how good Morel’s swing was looking, with him getting the majority of time in practice as the South Bend shortstop, I grabbed some video. At the end of that batting practice, Brett came over to me and raved about Morel, who is only 19. He’d shown the most raw power in a group that included Nelson Velazquez and Jonathan Sierra. [Brett: Seriously, the way Morel uses the torque in his body is incredible, generating so much more power than you’d expect when you just look at his frame.]

  • The next day, Brett had a good day solo at minor league camp, where he was impressed by Yovanny Cruz, and notably got to see a nice clean inning from Jose Albertos:

  • It looks like Albertos will be in the Opening Day South Bend bullpen, where he’ll probably be tasked with clean innings every four days or so. The crazy thing about Albertos is that he will already be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next December, if not added to the 40-man roster by then. With Albertos’ amazing arm, if he has a solid controlled season pitching as a reliever or piggyback starter, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine some second-division team selecting him in that draft.
  • The Cubs added another player in International free agency: Cuban outfielder Felix Stevens.
  • Speaking of Arizona Phil, ’tis the season for Phil’s unofficial box scores of backfield games. So far we had a day when Riley Thompson was really good, a nice day for the South Bend infield, and some love for Andy Weber. This is something you should be reading every night. It’s great material.
  • I haven’t kept formal score for the games I’ve been to. Keegan Thompson was really good yesterday, getting numerous strikeouts with the Double-A team on his secondaries. Trevor Clifton looked good in 2 innings with the Triple-A squad. On the first day of games, Alex Lange had a really awful day, particularly with fastball command. Nothing I’m going to make too much of, but his control is part of why I ranked him so high.
  • Another fun thing has been seeing live BP on the backfields. I saw Danis Correa throwing his mid-to-high 90s fastball, I saw Justin Steele against Cole Roederer, Brett saw Tyson Miller against Jonathan Sierra, and then Brett snapped some video of a really intriguing match-up of 2 of the highest-ceiling guys in the system:

  • Just a note that I have now seen 2 Double-A games, and in both of them, D.J. Wilson led off with an extra-base hit to deep left-center field. Wilson had just 2 XBH to LCF last year.

I will be here until this Thursday, so more to come!

Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.