The big league season opens in just ten days, but, for the first time I can remember, the minor league season will actually open up first. The Iowa Cubs begin their season just eight days from today with a noon tilt in Buffalo on April 5. Some Cubs prospect notes for you to enjoy …
⇒ A whole lot from Jim Callis’s visit to Cubs minor league camp, so this is worth checking out:
▪️ Teenagers lead restocked farm
▪️ Camp standout: Franklin
▪️ Potential breakout: Ramirez
▪️ Something to prove: Howard pic.twitter.com/RJQPGVuBnZ
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 25, 2022
⇒ There are bits on so many prospects in there worth checking out, but since we don’t hear much about Pedro Ramirez – last year’s DSL breakout performer – I want to share that section:
As if Chicago weren’t already loaded with young middle infielders, it has another headed to the United States this summer in Ramirez. Signed for $75,000 out of Venezuela in January 2021, he batted .359/.417/.503 with 18 extra-base hits and nine steals in his 50-game debut in the DSL, topping the league with 70 hits and 98 total bases.
“Pedro is a switch-hitter with feel to hit from both sides and he can really play defense,” [Cubs farm director Jared] Banner said. “When you put up numbers like that, you’ve got to put yourself on the radar. Second base is probably his best fit. He’s an above-average runner, more hit over power right now, but he should come into more power as he gets older.”
⇒ Ramirez was on the smaller side, even for a teenager in the DSL, and I’m not sure how much projectability he has (I think he would’ve already been on more radars if the belief was he had more physicality to grow into). So, if he’s really going to put himself on the prospect radar this year, he’s going to have to hit a whole lot in the Arizona Complex League, while confirming that he can at least play quality defense at second base. Last year was definitely a great sign, though, for a 17-year-old prospect – a year that netted Ramirez organizational honors as the DSL position prospect of the year. (Header image of Ramirez from friend of the program, Rich Biesterfeld.)
The @Cubs international man of mystery Pedro Ramirez! (It was hard to find a photo of him to verify his identity.) Pedro made a strong impression this summer in the DSL at only 17 years of age as a middle infielder. pic.twitter.com/bVordciIXG
— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22) October 15, 2021
⇒ James Triantos got the Q&A treatment from Callis:
After reclassifying into the 2021 Draft, winning a HS state championship and being taken by the @Cubs in the second round, James Triantos raked in his pro debut.@jimcallisMLB spoke with Triantos: https://t.co/QKMVjTBHCV pic.twitter.com/jbnGx7tkwb
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 25, 2022
⇒ This is one of those “makes you smile” exchanges:
Callis: As you’re well aware, the Cubs have a lot of really interesting young hitters. You were in an ACL lineup with Kevin Alcantara, Owen Caissie, Reginald Preciado, a lot of guys who can hit and hit the ball hard. How much fun was it being around guys like that and just watching various guys rake on any given day?
Triantos: It was very different. I hadn’t really seen people on a consistent basis crush balls like that. Owen Caissie spent a lot of time with me when I first got here. Just showed me around, talked to me about hitting, what it’s like to be a professional, stuff like that. It was really nice and I needed that.
⇒ Triantos also, it turns out, got some great advice his senior year in high school from none other than Kyle Schwarber. From Marquee:
“I’ve gotten everything from [Schwarber],” Triantos told Marquee Sports Network’s Lance Brozdowski from the Cubs minor league camp earlier this month in Arizona. “He made me think about it. I went in thinking that there was something wrong with my swing. I was like, ‘do you see anything mechanically wrong with my swing?’ And he was like, ‘your swing is good. You have no problems with your swing. It’s your approach.’
“And he talked to me about when I get in the box or off the tee or in front toss/BP, I want to make sure that I get my A swing off every single time. And getting in the box, I want to look to get a pitch that I can get my A swing off on. That type of stuff has really helped me because the more I focused on getting my best swing off, the more pitches that I could really get my best swing off on. The more I expanded it, the better I hit.”
⇒ That’s definitely an interesting/important way of thinking about your swing: it’s not always about adjusting your swing to be able to handle more pitches. Sometimes it’s about focusing more directly on the pitches where you CAN ALREADY get off your best swing. In Triantos’ case, it sounds like there were more pitches on which he could do that than he thought.
⇒ Rick Sutcliffe with the high praise for Jordan Wicks:
— Rick Sutcliffe (@Sut_40) March 18, 2022
⇒ Some side views on Cubs prospect swings:
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) March 26, 2022
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) March 27, 2022
⇒ Yes, the sound at the end when Triantos gets frozen by a bender:
⇒ Perfect description because wow:
Daniel Palencia arm speed. pic.twitter.com/6PBDgez8E2
— Brad (@ballskwok) March 26, 2022
⇒ Given that right there, I can see why it would be pretty hard to project Palencia, who just turned 22 and has pitched only at Low-A, as a starting pitcher long-term. It just seems difficult to believe he could sustain that arm action over 5+ innings for 30 starts per year. It’s truly impressive, and it is very easy to see why hitters struggle with him. Just not sure it’ll hold up as a starter. We’ll see a lot more this year, as Palencia might be in the South Bend rotation out of the gate.
⇒ Some PCA visuals from Bryan:
Pete Crow-Armstrong has come up a few times in conversations about guys that have jumped out in camp this year. More advanced than his age suggests, and checking boxes off the developmental to-do list quicker than expected. Here’s some of what I’ve seen from him in my week here. pic.twitter.com/MssDzOcAmV
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) March 26, 2022
⇒ There is no expectation that Miguel Amaya will be able to make any starts at catcher this year, but there is hope that he could perhaps DH in the second half of the minor league season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, Amaya officially heads out from big league camp today to start work on the minor league side:
The Cubs optioned catcher Miguel Amaya to Double-A Tennessee. It’s not yet clear when Amaya, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, will resume baseball activities.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 28, 2022
⇒ Bryan has been at the Cubs backfields, so if you want more eyes-on Cubs prospect reporting, enjoy it.