Those affiliate assignments are coming. I mean, Iowa opens its season tomorrow, so, uh, there has to be a roster pretty soon! And even with the trickle down from the final big league cuts, I’ve gotta believe the lower level rosters are basically all set at this point. Let’s do this. I’m ready!
Meanwhile, some other prospect notes …
⇒ Alexander Canario, who figures to be back at South Bend to open the season, hit another homer last night in big league spring training, and that swing is just ferociously optimized to hit mistakes to the moon:
— Brad (@ballskwok) April 4, 2022
⇒ Speaking of the game last night, Ed Howard’s glove is certainly ready for a promotion (and much love to Ildemaro Vargas for the very slick, leaping turn):
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 4, 2022
⇒ I say promotion because, per reports, Howard is getting the bump from Low-A Myrtle Beach to High-A South Bend to start the season, despite his deep offensive struggles last year. It’ll be very interesting to see how he responds, but the assignment alone is a strong indication that the Cubs believe his offseason work was really solid, and that last year’s results were at least partly the product of a high school draftee from a cold weather state having to make his pro debut in full season ball a year after losing his senior season to a pandemic. Yeah, it was a really tough assignment. This one feels almost as tough, but the Cubs still believe in their 2020 first round pick.
⇒ Don’t expect to see Brailyn Marquez at an affiliate any time soon:
Cubs VP of player development Jared Banner tells me they're taking things "day-by-day" with Brailyn Marquez.
"Hopefully in time, we'll see him out there again and he'll be performing well."
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) April 2, 2022
⇒ Given the lost couple years and then another bout of COVID before this season, it’s understandable – and good! – that the Cubs and Marquez are going to take it very slow. Extended Spring Training was all but assured when he was delayed, and really, that’s probably fine anyway. I just have no idea how you could know what to expect from him this year, and the upside is still too massive to risk anything by hurrying. If he is in, say, Double-A Tennessee by June, that’d be fine by me. I think even the Cubs don’t know what to expect from him, to be honest.
⇒ We recently talked about the Cubs signing the first pro player out of Bulgaria, Yoanis Aleksandrov – young man looks MASSIVE – and it turns out that he got a very healthy bonus for this time of the year:
Um, that's a lot of money for IFA this late. https://t.co/2jTQOezgeU
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) March 30, 2022
⇒ I’m curious how the Cubs even had nearly $100K left in their bonus pool at this point. Either a pre-arranged deal fell through at the physical stage (certainly possible), or the Cubs had been on Aleksandrov for a while, and knew they needed to hold back some money to have a chance to sign him. The 17-year-old catcher is represented by a major stateside agency, and again, the video of him is really impressive, so the big bonus is not necessarily a surprise. it’s just that you don’t typically see near-six-figure bonuses outside of the opening of the signing period (previously in July, now in January). I already can’t wait to see what he looks like this year.
⇒ Framing skills are already there, though that skill might be passé by the time he could be up in the big leagues:
New Cubs prospect Yoanis Aleksandrov doing some framing drills. pic.twitter.com/wCmVllpxtZ
— Brad (@ballskwok) April 2, 2022
⇒ Here’s hoping Brennen Davis comes out of the gate showing that he’s now just too good for Triple-A:
Cubs prospect Brennen Davis keeps a journal that has hitting notes, inspiring quotes and his goals for the 2022 season. One of them: Reach the big leagues.
“My goal isn’t to be a prospect. It’s to be a big leaguer.”https://t.co/R4NtSeQjRQ
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) April 3, 2022
⇒ Given how he’s exploded before in his offseason development program, it’s definitely possible he will be too good. And it’s not like he didn’t get results last year in his brief 15-game taste of Iowa (.268/.397/.536, 150 wRC+). Still, you want to see the strikeout rate stay in a manageable range, and you want to see him maybe doing some more damage with pitches on the inner third. I’m picking nits because it seems like a bat that you want to see against big league competition sooner rather than later, but at least some patience is warranted: this is a 22-year-old who has played just 50 games at Low-A in 2019 before the pandemic, just 8 games at High-A, 76 games at Double-A, and 15 games at Triple-A in 2021. You’re talking about 149 pro games at Low-A and above over a THREE-year span after his was drafted out of high school (as a two-sport player) in 2018. It’s just so little pro game experience. I tend to think it MIGHT not matter with him, but we’ve seen this before with Cubs prospects. I kinda just want to see how he looks in April and May with Iowa, and reassess from there.