I’d penciled in some time today to talk about Cubs prospects because I figured there would be another new one or two after the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. But it turned out that the Cubs basically took a big leaguer in that draft, and none of the deep flyer types we would have expected. So, let me turn to some other prospect items for your Thursday afternoon …
⇒ Eric Longenhagen chatted over at FanGraphs on the prospect side, and several Cubs came up:
Dave: Rough news for Miguel Amaya. How much longer should the Cubs give him before moving on?
Eric A Longenhagen: all his option years? Look at what Jacob Stallings ended up becoming, catching is so shallow you take all the depth you can get.
Kate: Has the stuff ticked up on [Caleb] Kilian enough that you could see him as a mid-rotation guy? Or is he still more of a 4/5?
Eric A Longenhagen: saw three Fall outings, fastball utility is great (can cut or sink, works east/west at will), cutter/slider thing is a 40, curveball is good, changeup is good. in that 45 area for me
GWAS: Were you able to watch any DJ Herz starts? Do you think he’ll get a bump on his current 35+ FV?
Eric A Longenhagen: I do. Fastball really carries, changeup has developed into an above avg offering. Still think his extreme cross-body delivery (which is freaking cool) pushes him to the bullpen, but probably as a nasty multi-inning guy
QBall: How much does late-season and/or AFL performance change your evaluation of a prospect? Example Nelson Velazquez, who you stated is not a top100. But did last couple months change evaluation meaningfully, or do you need to see what happens when he gets to AAA next year?
Eric A Longenhagen: Perfomance? Like stats on paper? None. We’ve all been burned by this too many times not to adjust at this point. Fall league stats mean almost nada. Nelly’s eval has meaningfully changed though, he’s in better shape now.
⇒ The Cubs have signed righty Jair Jimenez out of the international free agent market (the latest in a string of those signings). I have very little share on him other than the fact that he’s 19, 6′ 1″ and 172 lbs, and he’s in that age range where you see pitching prospects frequently signed internationally in October/November/December. Remember: it’s a lot easier to project a 16-year-old shortstop prospect than a 16-year-old pitching prospect, so it’s not at all uncommon for these guys to sign later.
⇒ Speaking of international free agency, the expectation is that, whenever a CBA gets done, it’ll include a plan for an international draft. It might not kick in right away, but eventually, there will probably be the US-based draft you know and love, and then a separate draft for international prospects who currently sign in International Free Agency. To that end, Kevin Goldstein said in a chat some things about the expected international draft: “Likely 15-20 rounds. Likely hard slots. Likely hard cap on players signed after the draft. And yes, [likely eligible at age] 16.”
⇒ Depending on how quickly the international draft comes, the Cubs are already attached to a top future IFA prospect, according to FanGraphs. Fernando Cruz, a 15-year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic, appears to be the early favorite for top prospect in the 2023(?)* class, and is one of the best prospects on the entire board (i.e., the next several years of international arrivals): “Cruz shines in a showcase setting. He has gorgeous infield footwork and actions, turning the baseball around in the blink of an eye. He can make strong, accurate throws from all kinds of platforms, and could eventually be a special defensive player. While his swing can be a little noisy and long, Cruz is loose and athletic in the box, has good bat speed, and he can spray contact to all fields. Mechanical polish isn’t important at this stage, the talent piece of the evaluation is, and in this regard Cruz is a complete, exciting player with big upside. He’s expected to sign with the Cubs for a top-of-the-class bonus.”
*(The reason for the asterisk here is that I’m having to take a guess on what class he’d be in, based on his listed age, and some assumptions about when the periods will open going forward. You’ll recall that the pandemic totally screwed up when various IFA periods open – it had previously been July 2, but last year’s July 2 opening was pushed back to this past January 15; and then this year’s July 2 was pushed back to this coming January 15 – and it’s not entirely clear how the CBA is going to handle this. It’s possible the next period (after this coming January) could revert to a July opening, at which time I think Cruz might be eligible to sign? But it’s possible it won’t be until the following January (2023) when Cruz could sign. And at that point, it’s possible the international draft would be in place, so the expectations for signing Cruz would go poof. I don’t necessarily have a problem with an international draft overall, but it sure would suck if the Cubs were in line to get the top prospect in the class, and then it was stripped away.)
⇒ Cubs utility prospect Christopher Morel getting some pub:
“Lo amas o lo odias”
— Águilas Cibaeñas (@aguilascibaenas) December 7, 2021
⇒ I will read anything on Owen Caissie right now:
Prospect Profile – Owen Caissie Has Plenty To Do for 2022 https://t.co/Dsf0Hns0gT
— North Side Bound (@NSideBound) December 7, 2021
⇒ Still no official word on outfield prospect Yohendrick Pinango’s injury, but I’ve seen others suggest it was a hand injury rather than an elbow injury. Indeed, in the post-surgery picture, his hand is very wrapped up (while the whole arm is immobilized), so maybe? In any case, the actual point here is not the speculation, it is only to say that we’re still waiting on official word.
⇒ Cubs first rounder Jordan Wicks was on the Bain Campaign podcast this week:
We were lucky on this week’s Bain Campaign to have Jordan Wicks (@jordan_wicks99) join us. Some great predraft stories, lots of talk about the mentality needed behind a great changeup, and some really helpful advice to young athletes about goal-setting.https://t.co/YjLrqjIIW5
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) December 6, 2021