Brennen Davis isn’t the only Cubs position prospect who is going to get some time at big league camp. Today the Cubs added two infield prospects to the group, and it’s a couple guys who were both getting a lot of positive attention in the fall: Chase Strumpf and Andy Weber (Bastian).
Strumpf, who was recently ranked the 7th best second base prospect in baseball, will be coming to big league camp as a non-roster invitee. The 2019 second rounder crushed it at instructs, but otherwise has only six games played in a full-season league (A-ball at the end of 2019). Strumpf turns 23 next month, and is generally considered one of the top ten or so prospects in the system. Bryan ranked him 9th in the system this offseason, and here’s the write-up:
Skill Set: I’m paraphrasing, but one source essentially told me: Chase isn’t going to meet a fastball that he can’t smack. I think he knows this, too, and takes smart, patient-but-aggressive, fastball-hunting at-bats. He was the Cubs best player at Instructs, bouncing back from injuries that plagued him since getting drafted and showing an exciting offensive ceiling. The power extends to all fields – observers were really happy about his work to right field – and has the potential to end up above-average for the keystone.
Developmental Focus: The Cubs tested him defensively in Arizona, and observers were consistent in their praise. He gave both confidence about sticking at second base as well as intrigue about how he can play above-water at other positions. If Strumpf starts in High-A South Bend as I project, I don’t think he’ll be there long, and the real key will be how he adjusts to AA-and-above breaking balls. I think he will.
Big League Projection: Above-average regular upside, and an exciting second option as an Enrique Hernandez-like tenth man.
Weber, who was an under-the-radar performer at instructs this fall, was the Cubs’ 5th rounder in 2018, and thus has also not had a lot of time to get in game action as a pro (127 games of full-season A-ball in 2019). The 23-year-old is a shortstop by trade, but he can pretty much play all over. Bryan ranked him 28th in the system:
Skill set: Checks every defensive box. Precise, fundamental footwork. A strong arm even from the hole. Soft, quick hands. It leads to a plus shortstop, but it would also work at any infield position.
Developmental focus: Just needs to be at least a league average hitter to have value, which he was in the 2019 Midwest League. Cubs would like to see more line drives and more walks.
Big League Projection: It’s probably a utility infielder profile, but a strong-side platoon starting shortstop is a valuable thing.
Had 2020 been a normal year, it’s possible each of Weber and Strumpf could have played their way to AA at some point during the year, and thus would’ve been pretty logical non-roster invitee prospects this year. Being that 2020 was not normal, and neither guy was at the alternate site, it’s something of a mild surprise that they’re getting pulled in this year. Then again, with minor league spring training delayed, this is how you can get some of your top prospects extra work.
Can either Strumpf or Weber shockingly win a job on the big league team? Well, I suppose anything is possible, but it would be a monstrous leap. I think the more realistic – but still quite big! – leap would be these guys trying to win a job at AAA Iowa right out of the gate. Again, in a normal year, you’d never suggest a guy would go from full-season A-ball to AAA, even a college bat. But with the 2020 season lost, and with AAA starting a full month before AA and High-A get underway, I’d say it’s possible.
In either case, it’ll be fun if we get to see them in some Spring Training games, as it is with Davis.