I want to be very clear, in the introduction: I’m not feigning expertise when I talk about the four prospects the Cubs seem to have acquired in the Yu Darvish trade: Owen Caissie, Yeison Santana, Ismael Mena, and Reggie Preciado. My experience with these players is no more than anyone else with curious Google searches yesterday, and so until I can talk to some people that help contextualize these players for me, I can’t pretend to have more than that.
Nonetheless, this feels like a good dumping ground for some links and first impressions. In terms of how I might organize these players as a first instinct …
YEISON SANTANA, SS
Biography: 20 years old. 77 career games, including a 150 wRC+ in the 2019 AZL.
Favorite scouting report: Jason Pennini’s in his 2019 AZL prospect list.
My thoughts: Check the 1:10 mark in that video for good evidence on Santana’s bat speed. The combination of small package and big swing reminds me a bit of Trent Giambrone (though Santana is taller), which gives me some optimism the Cubs will be able to tap into some unexplored power. I’m a bit worried on how Santana will fare against more advanced breaking balls, as he seems to have a tendency to get caught cheating a bit on the fastball and left lunging at off-speed. You like the athleticism; I timed him at 4.12 seconds to first in a video from Friar Lounge, which is about 65 speed on the 20-80 scale. I’d be willing to let Santana compete for a High-A job in Spring Training.
OWEN CAISSIE, OF
Biography: Late riser in the draft signed a below-slot $1.2 million at 45 overall. One of the youngest prospects in the draft, and a Michigan commit from Canada, like actual Wolverine and Cubs draft pick Jordan Nwogu.
Favorite scouting report: How about straight from the man himself? I also loved his quotes in this piece on what jumps out to him about some of baseball’s best. He clearly has the biomechanical mindset the Cubs are putting more emphasis in.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit with one of baseball’s best and ask them to walk me through a scouting report on themselves, and I missed it!
— Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballexis) August 29, 2020
My thoughts: Despite being so young, Caissie is one large, large human. Your mind jumps to the classic slugger here, so I’m really curious where we’re going to settle in with the strikeout and walk rates. You see him caught out in front on a decent changeup in Prospect Live’s scouting video on him, for instance. I think a question here will be how Caissie’s athleticism holds up when he adds weight, as we might see a move needed from right field to first base, even given his arm strength. Nice to see him shorten up with two strikes in the video, can’t think of a Cubs first baseman that might yield a comp to …
Even at 18, Caissie might be someone who you just plug into middle of the the Low-A Myrtle Beach order right out of the gate this year, and you let the results do the talking.
REGGIE PRECIADO, SS
Biography: Signed for $1.3 million from Panama. Turns 18 in May. Baseball America said that Preciado now stands 6-foot-5. Pro baseball bloodlines.
Favorite scouting report: Ben Badler at BA from his 2019 IFA rankings. Link below:
Here’s video I took of Reggie Preciado playing in the Dominican Republic after he signed with the Padres for $1.3 million at 16.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) December 29, 2020
My thoughts: There’s just no chance this kid is staying up the middle. Sorry. This is a third baseman for sure, and given the Cubs significant shortstop depth, I think it might be best just committing this positional switch sooner rather than later. Given the pending move, the important thing here is going to be how Preciado fills out his frame.
I think the Cubs keep him at Extended Spring Training and focus almost entirely on muscle gain in Arizona. Contact impact seems softer than it should be given a decent bat whip, is going to need some loft added to that swing in time. The good news is that Longenhagen’s recent eyes-on at instructs this fall suggest Preciado has already improved in that area.
ISMAEL MENA, OF
Biography: Actually received the largest bonus of any of these guys, at $2.2 million. Just turned 18.
Favorite scouting report: Eric Longenhagen’s from his last Padres prospect rankings.
My thoughts: Jumps out defensively more than anything, showing both plus-plus speed and throws with good carry. I’m kind of all over the board with my evaluation of him offensively. The body wants you to see some projection with the high-waisted 6-foot-3 frame with muscle left to add. The swing does not lend that same optimism, but I do like the bat-to-ball skills he shows on some balls to left-center in various videos from the 2019 Instructional League. I feel like the push and pull between contact leadoff guy to swing-for-fences prospect might be tough here. Outside chance at Low-A, but I think he joins Jose Lopez and Yohendrick Pinango in a loaded AZL outfield next summer.