Hey, I told you more upper-level minor league outfielder signings were coming, even after the Cubs re-signed Ian Miller and signed Rafael Ortega. Another one today, as the Cubs have inked former Angels outfielder Michael Hermosillo, according to Jon Heyman.
Hermosillo, 25, went to high school in Ottawa, Illinois, and was going to play football at Illinois before the Angels signed him away to play baseball in the 2013 draft.
From there, he was a long-time decent Angels prospect who kinda did it all very well as he climbed the ladder in the minors: he hit for average, he took his walks, he didn’t strike out a ton, he had a little power, he had a little speed, and he played solid defense all over the outfield. That continued all the way up to AAA, which he first reached back in 2017. Because he continued to be just a good, solid, all-around productive player at AAA, he got a shot at the big leagues in 2018, but struggled at the plate in very limited duty. It was a repeat in 2019, splitting time between AAA and MLB, but again, he struggled in very limited duty with the Angels. (It also looks like – from scouting the stat line – he was maybe trying to add power in 2019 at AAA? Remember, the ball was massively juiced there that year, so when I see the uptick in strikeout rate and ISO, I kinda wonder if he adjusted his game to account for the league (to his own detriment).
He got in just seven games with the Angels this past year, and that was that.
Even as recently as June, Hermosillo still ranked as the 18th best prospect in the Angels’ improving system, according to FanGraphs:
It took a $100,000 bonus to sign Hermosillo away from a football scholarship to Illinois. What with two-sports and a cold-weather background, he was understandably raw when he entered pro ball, and it took Hermosillo three years of adjustments before he finally experienced a statistical breakout in 2016. Since then, he has continued to make mechanical tweaks to reshape his skillset, and was rewarded with brief major league stints in 2018 and 2019. He likely would have graduated last year had he not missed a big chunk of the season recovering from hernia surgery and post-op issues with scar tissue. He’s likely to be Brian Goodwin’s platoon partner this year.
Hermosillo has always hit lefties extremely well, so even if he doesn’t take any steps forward, it’s conceivable he could become a righty-batting option for the Cubs in an outfield that currently projects to feature three starters who are either lefty or don’t hit lefties well (or both).
My guess is Hermosillo was a reasonably well-sought-after minor league free agent, and the Cubs may have had to offer a little something extra to land him (which they probably wanted to make sure to do today before probably non-tendering fellow-righty-outfielder Albert Almora, Jr.). Probably didn’t hurt that his hometown is located between Chicago and Des Moines.
Generally speaking, Hermosillo’s is the story of a guy whom you want to see the Cubs able to tweak a little here or there, and see the success carry over from AAA to the big leagues. You’re almost certainly not going to find yourself a star – Hermosillo doesn’t quite have that profile – but a useful 4th/5th outfielder? Yes. A surprising occasional starter? Yes. His is a type who can emerge in a new organization. And the Cubs NEED wins like that, especially on the positional side, where the upper minors are really thin. I mean, the Cubs have signed THREE outfielders who figure to play at AAA in 2021. That’s how bereft things are on the prospect side in the upper minors on the positional side.
Hence all those minor league signings I mentioned. There have been a lot already, with only a few of them pitchers: outfielder Rafael Ortega, catcher Taylor Gushue, righty Jake Jewell, lefty Jerry Vasto, outfielder Ian Miller, shortstop Abiatal Avelino, and lefty D.J. Snelton.