Cubs Prospect Notes: Gearing Up for a Normal Spring, Franklin, Wicks, Rocker, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Gearing Up for a Normal Spring, Franklin, Wicks, Rocker, More

Chicago Cubs

The big league stuff is really frustrating me right now, I have to admit. I’m as down on it as I’ve been since the start of the lockout, so I’d like to spend the afternoon thinking about the minor leagues …

⇒ Just to triple confirm that there’s no impact on the minor leagues from the lockout, other than for guys on the 40-man roster:

⇒ The Cubs have their prospect mini camp going on right now (it was extra big this year), then their regular prospect mini camp starts on February 21. Then the regular reporting dates for minor leaguers is around March 2, with Spring Training officially starting for them on March 6. Minor league Spring Training games begin March 17. It’ll be the first “normal” Spring Training in three years for these minor leaguers, though obviously it’ll be without some prospects who would’ve eventually been shuffled back over from the big league side (if big league Spring Training isn’t going by then). Which, by the way, is a reminder that the big league players are about to have their third straight abnormal Spring Training. Neat!

⇒ Interesting note on Kumar Rocker, the former Vanderbilt co-ace who was drafted 10th overall by the Mets last year (and who was set to sign a way-over-slot deal), but who did not ultimately sign after a dispute about what his physical exams revealed or did not reveal. The 22-year-old righty is considering pitching in independent ball this year in the lead-up to the draft. Given the weak pitching crop this year at the top of the draft, it’s not inconceivable he could put himself in position to be among the first pitchers selected again this year – though obviously the health questions will remain. With the Cubs picking 7th, this is a situation that definitely bears monitoring. A truly healthy Rocker is a stud.

⇒ I love seeing this guy healthy, and excited about the season ahead:

⇒ The Cubs 6th round pick in 2018, Franklin was a big scouting play that appeared to pay immediate dividends. Franklin almost immediately popped, and impressed everyone who saw him in 2019, his first full pro season. He had to show it over more innings at above A-ball, but the talk was about starting to wonder if he was one of the few in the system with front-of-the-rotation potential. And thennnnn the pandemic happened, and any chance at a competitive season got wiped out in 2020. And thennnnnn the injuries happened last year, and 2021 was wiped out, too. So, as of this moment, I’m not sure anyone has any level of certainty on what 2022 is going to look like for Franklin, now 22. He could be way behind the 8-ball and maybe we don’t see the same flashes of upside anymore. Or he could have used the time away and the rehab to continue developing, and maybe he shows up and shows out at like Double-A or something. Or the wide range of outcomes in between. Just stay healthy, and let’s see.

⇒ Jordan Wicks hype:

⇒ It’s funny how little relative attention Wicks gets in the Cubs’ farm system despite being their most recent FIRST ROUND pick. It speaks to the depth and upside in the system right now, but he should be right there in any of those discussions. I know that some are down on his ceiling (compared to his high floor), but he’s not just a floor guy. That’s a plus fastball paired with a plus-plus changeup, and he’s been working this offseason on the curveball. I think we’re going to find out a lot in his first full pro season about what the ceiling looks like (you hope for at least mid-rotation). If he’s healthy, I suspect that the pitch mix, combined with the fact that the Cubs loved that he fell to them in the first round, is going to have him showing out to open the 2022 season. Just a hunch.

⇒ This is fun:

⇒ As for the Cubs, you know that they had the top farm system back in 2015 – it was described at the time as one of the BEST number one farm systems in recent memory – but they also had the top farm system back in 2002. Remember that group? The top listed prospects at the time: Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Dontrelle Willis, Hee Seop Choi, Ryan Theriot.

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.