Cubs Prospect Notes: Tomorrow's the Big Day, Prospects to Watch, Injuries, Placements, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Tomorrow’s the Big Day, Prospects to Watch, Injuries, Placements, More

Chicago Cubs

At last viewing, the Iowa Cubs were in the middle of dropping the conference title series after winning their conference in the Pacific Coast League’s regular season. What we didn’t know then, of course, was that a novel coronavirus would begin to spread overseas a few months later, reaching the United States after the turn of the new year, and taking so much down with it, including the 2020 minor league season.

That Iowa Cubs playoff series was just over 600 days ago. The last Minor League Baseball we saw. Think about how long it’s been.

Minor League Baseball returns, finally, tomorrow. It looks considerably different than it did in those days, now with just four full-season affiliates per organization, no short-season Low-A, and everything kicking off much later than we’re used to. Fortunately for Cubs fans, the four full-season affiliates are familiar: the Triple-A Iowa Cubs (roster discussion here), the Double-A Tennessee Smokies (roster discussion), the High-A South Bend Cubs (roster discussion), and the Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans (roster discussion).

Tomorrow begins the journey of finding out just how much the Cubs’ work to rebuild their development infrastructure paid off during the downtime, and how long their journey to having a top farm system again could be.

Some Cubs prospect bits as you anticipate tomorrow’s big day …

⇒ There’s so much wonderful stuff in this preview from Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney that you’ve gotta check it out:

⇒ On some of the under-the-radar types who’ve popped (together of the now obligatory love for Max Bain):

(T)here are plenty of names to watch for potential breakouts, including Riley Thompson, Michael McAvene and Chris Clarke. Ethan Roberts, who was taken out of Tennessee Tech in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, projects as a reliever, potentially a fast-moving one, and has seen his velocity jump two or three ticks with elite cutting and riding life. Eury Ramos, an international free agent from the 2015 class, was up nearly four ticks, touching 99 mph this spring.

Cam Sanders, a 12th-rounder out of LSU in 2018, is up to 98 mph and has added power to his curveball and better command overall. Venezuelan righty Richard Gallardo was one of the top international free agents in 2018 and has seen another jump in velocity, now sitting between 94-96 mph. His breaking ball looks much improved, he has good feel for pitching and is proving to be a strike-thrower.

A couple of undrafted free agents are also opening some eyes. Ben Leeper is throwing in the upper-90s and has a hard slider that profiles as a plus offering.

⇒ So many more names in there, including positional guys who are ones to watch (Cole Roederer getting some love for apparently looking quite good at the end of minor league camp), as well as the four prospects in the Yu Darvish trade. A big news note in there from The Athletic: both Brailyn Marquez and Kohl Franklin are healthy – so don’t freak that they aren’t on a roster yet – but they were delayed at the start of camp, so they’re still in the slow and careful build-up phase. This was the approach the Cubs took with any delays on the minor league side, so you’ll notice that a ton of pitching prospects are still in Arizona.

⇒ Speaking of which, though, at least one of those held-back pitching prospects was held back for an injury – 2019 breakout lefty Jack Patterson has gone under the knife:

⇒ That sucks. You know it’s going to happen in spring training for SOME guys every year, but it still always sucks. Patterson was such an exciting breakout in 2019 (remember how he had been a couple years away from the game, was a late-round pick, was a “maybe” bullpen guy who just pitched so lights out at Low-A that the Cubs moved him into the rotation, and he just took off?). Hopefully he’ll be fresh and ready come 2022.

⇒ But back to breakout types, the MLB Pipeline minor league spring training report also mentions Max Bain and Cole Roederer, and also gives love to one of the prospects from the Darvish deal:

The only one of the four prospects in the Darvish trade who has appeared in a pro game, Santana finished fourth in the Rookie-level Arizona League batting race at .346 in 2019. The Cubs targeted him in the deal because they liked his bat-to-ball skills and high baseball IQ, and they’re enthused after their first in-person experience with him.

“He’s been really impressive with his approach and ability to use the whole field,” Dorey said. “He also has some sneaky power to his pull side and he can definitely play shortstop.”

⇒ Breakout love for Chase Strumpf:

⇒ Your Iowa Cubs starters to open the season:

⇒ If I had to guess, Biagini is not necessarily being converted back into a starter, and instead is filling in for Keegan Thompson, who would’ve otherwise been the starter but was called up to the big league bullpen. That’s a total guess, though, and maybe Biagini – who did start a few years ago – is being stretched back out. Meanwhile, how about the run that Ben Holmes is getting after being signed following the Driveline Pro Day? I know that the Triple-A rotation isn’t a deep group at the moment for a variety of reasons, but that’s still pretty darn fun.

⇒ Larry Kave takes photos for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and it’s dang cool to see some of these guys in uniforms for the first time:


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A post shared by Larry Kave (@larry_kave)

⇒ Prospect placements:

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.