Cubs Prospect Notes: Why Pinango Jumped, Why Cruz Fell, Sleepers, Top Bats, Hernandez Love

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Why Pinango Jumped, Why Cruz Fell, Sleepers, Top Bats, Hernandez Love

Chicago Cubs

In just a couple weeks, big leaguers will head out for the MLB regular season, while a Triple-A squad of sorts heads to an alternate site for the month of April to practice and stand at the ready. Meanwhile, the rest of the organization’s players – the young prospects – will finally at that point get to work, with minor league spring training underway. I’m eager for the regular season and all that, but man, I’m also super eager for the 2021 minor league season to get underway. It’s been so long.

Some recent prospects notes for your enjoyment …

•   With the release of the new Cubs top 30 prospects list over at MLB Pipeline, Jim Callis offered a write-up of the system here. It’s got your general overview on a system that is regarded, at best, as middle-of-the-pack (and Callis was not inclined to say in a later chat that the Cubs have uniquely more upside relative to other organizations). It’s got your best tools in the system. And it’s got a note on the biggest riser and faller in the system, which I found interesting:

Jump: Yohendrick Pinango, OF (2020: NR | 2021: 14) — Though his 2020 development was restricted to instructional league, he stood out with one of the best left-handed swings and perhaps the best pure hitting ability in the system.

Fall: Yovanny Cruz, RHP (2020: 16 | 2021: NR) — He still flashes a lively mid-90s fastball and a plus slider, but he dropped off the list for now because of all the talent the Cubs added via the Draft, international market and the Darvish trade.

•   The jumper I find interesting because clearly Callis is hearing the same instructional league reports on Pinango as many others are hearing – there’s a lot of optimism on the upside in the bat, and the various pundits are aiming to get out ahead of it if he shows it in the early part of this coming season. The faller I find interesting not because anything particularly negative happened to Cruz over the past year – I mean, obviously – but instead he fell so far mostly because of the talent the Cubs added ahead of him (same thing seems to have happened on Bryan’s list, where Cruz had been 23rd in 2020, but is now 37th). Consider that, since January of last year, the Cubs have added nearly 10 prospects via trade, the draft, and IFA who could be justified as top 30 types, all while not really graduating or trading many. This year will still have to actually prove it out as a success, but for the first time in half a decade, the Cubs were in prospect accumulation mode.

•   Jim Callis also chatted on Twitter about the list, offering up some sleeper potential, and some of the pitchers who just missed:

•   Elsewhere, Cubs Insider posted their top 20 Cubs positional prospects, which is always a fun read for a local take on the farm system. There you’ll see that CI is still very high on Cole Roederer (number six, behind only Davis-Amaya-Howard-Hernandez-Preciado). Jordan Nwogu (9) and Andy Weber (10) also show much much higher than they would be on other lists, but I’m not gonna fight it because sometimes those college bats have the higher floor that gets them further. Meanwhile, CI is still pretty low on Pinango, wanting to see more elevation in his game before buying into the upside offensively (he has, indeed, been a groundball machine so far in his short career).

•   In long podcast on a range of topics, the Baseball America crew wound up spending a lot of time fawning over Cristian Hernandez, much more than just “he’s a good IFA in this class.” It’s clear that some at BA, like those with the Cubs, believe Hernandez’s upside is superstar-level significant. And, for his age, his game is also already pretty advanced. I cannot wait to see where he plays this year, and if he is already competitive in pro ball (whether DSL or AZL rookie ball) at age 17. If he is, I would not at all be surprised to see him get some consideration around baseball for top 100 lists as soon as next fall.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.