Chicago Cubs Sign Former Reds Prospect Narciso Crook to a Minor League Deal

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Chicago Cubs Sign Former Reds Prospect Narciso Crook to a Minor League Deal

Chicago Cubs

There it is. The first early minor league free agent target for the Cubs: former Reds prospect Narciso Crook.

The 26-year-old outfielder announced the signing on his Instagram:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Narciso Crook (@ncrook_)

Crook never had a chance to emerge as a “top” prospect in the Reds’ organization thanks to consecutive early-season-ending injuries in each of 2016 and 2017. That put him behind the eight ball, but he managed to put together reasonably strong offensive campaigns in 2018 and 2019 as he climbed to Triple-A. I’m not entirely sure why he started the post-pandemic season back at Double-A, but he performed there as well, and was back at Triple-A to close out this past season. Clearly the Reds didn’t think he was worth a 40-man roster spot at this time, which allowed him to hit free agency, where he was a quick sign by the Cubs.

As you can see in his numbers, there’s a lotta hard contact, but also a lotta strikeouts:

(via FanGraphs)

Crook bats righty and is a true corner outfielder, so this looks to be a signing where the Cubs simply felt they could get a whole lot out of the bat if they could get him into their system. As we’ve seen, they’ve certainly had some recent success on that front, and even if the fit is not ideal, sometimes you just take the guy that’s available and deal with the fit later.

Crook has also been playing the last couple years in the Dominican Winter League, and performing very well (which is often a good indicator, because the league is very competitive), but the sample is very small. He had a particularly big game there last year:

Seems like a really good dude, too:

The only rub with this signing is that it probably dampens the Cubs’ chances at landing former Cardinals prospect Nick Plummer, since, if you’re him, you are slightly less likely to look at the Cubs’ Triple-A outfield situation as a clear and obvious path toward getting onto the big league team. The big league outfield still has jobs to win, to be sure, but now the Triple-A outfield could include all of Brennen Davis, Nelson Velazquez, Greg Deichmann, Jared Young, and Crook (not to mention Michael Hermosillo, who is out of options but currently on the 40-man and could conceivably wind up outrighted to Iowa at the end of Spring Training).

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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.