Among the Cubs prospects we heard a little bit of buzz from the Instructional League that wrapped earlier this month, second baseman Chase Strumpf, the Cubs’ second rounder last year, was probably the one that stood out to me the most. Not so much because the buzz was really positive – though that is obviously where this conversation starts – but instead because Strumpf’s pedigree is such that he’s a guy you’d really WANT to hear great things about this year.
It’s important context to remember that Strumpf was a first-round-caliber bat out of UCLA in 2019, but slipped to the second round (still a high pick!) because of a step back in his power in his junior season, and the acknowledgement that he probably was going to be limited defensively to second base or left field. In general, people always believed in the bat. You just wanted to see the power come along.
Thus, it was great to hear via Bryan that Strumpf was turning some heads this fall, and then to see this in Baseball America on a list of players who impressed at instructs:
Strumpf began showing opposite-field home run power during instructs while maintaining the calm, controlled approach extolled by scouts since he was drafted. He led all Cubs’ hitters in hits, runs, home runs and OPS and showed just enough defensive ability to solidify his longstanding projection as a potential bat-first, everyday second baseman.
The way this year played out was probably worst on 2019 draft picks, among prospects. They got into systems last year, and then their first full year … goes poof.
Had there been a minor league season in 2020, we may well have seen Strumpf explode at High-A. And if that had happened, for a college-drafted bat, we would have been talking about how he was going to be at AA or AAA this coming year, and would be on the big league radar as soon as the second half. The lost year really skews the perspective here, and admittedly, we don’t know how far along he really is in his progress. But he was impressing people at instructs, and that’s certainly what you’d want to see if we were going to have our eyebrows raised going into 2021.
I can’t wait to see what early 2021 looks like for Strumpf.