Cubs Prospect Notes: Palencia, Maldonado, Velazquez, Thompson, Kilian, Made, Franklin

Mondays are now a league-wide off-day for the minors, which is a bit of a bummer for the nerds among us, but probably a good thing for the players. While they rest, we can discuss the weekend …

⇒ One of the hardest throwers in the system went this weekend, and Daniel Palencia did not disappoint:

⇒ With a max effort delivery like that, I’m not sure Palencia will be able to ever have plus command, but with elite stuff (and the ability to hold it deep into his outings), you’re looking at a floor of a multi-inning big league reliever (maybe a very good one). That’s saying a lot about a guy who just turned 22 at High-A and doesn’t even 50 pro innings to his name. Palencia was a pure scouting play for the Cubs in the Andrew Chafin trade, and even after the recent Greg Deichmann DFA (he was the other half of the return), it’s looking like the Cubs made a good bet to land this caliber of arm.

⇒ Speaking of Deichmann, while you’re default thinking in those situations is that the team hopes a guy clears waivers and can be outrighted to the minors, I’m wondering if the Cubs wouldn’t prefer to trade Deichmann for a modest return. With Alfonso Rivas returning to Iowa, with Jared Young raking, and with guys like Nelson Maldonado and Nelson Velazquez still at Double-A, the I-Cubs might soon be crunched for meaningful at bats for the guys the organization wants to develop most.

⇒ A bonus note on Maldonado, who is simply too good for Double-A: his numbers have already been so strong this year in a small sample that Steamer’s projection system has him as an above-average BIG LEAGUE bat if he were to be promoted for the rest of the season. Obviously we don’t know if it would actually play out that way, but it’s a compliment from the data, if nothing else. The challenge you hear with Maldonado, 25, is that it’s not clear if the glove plays much of anywhere, and it’s always hard to get a bat-only guy up onto the big league roster if he isn’t EXTREME raking. You’d want to see that from him at Iowa before you get any real thoughts longer-term, and the Cubs will soon have to figure out a way to get him those ABs. You need to know if he can keep it up against established, veteran pitchers of the kind he’d see at Triple-A.

⇒ Nelson Velazquez has an arm:

⇒ Back to the hardest throwers in the system (pitching edition), Riley Thompson is another, and he also went this weekend:

⇒ Thompson, 25, was something of a breakout prospect for the Cubs in 2019 when the stuff really popped at Low-A. But then the pandemic happened, wiping away 2020. Then a shoulder injury wiped away 2021. But here he is, back for 2022, looking as good as ever, and I think it’s pretty telling that the Cubs sent him right to Double-A to open the season. It’s only six innings, but he currently has a 61.9% K rate with no walks. Lol.

⇒ Carrying on with some of the best Cubs pitching prospects, Caleb Kilian went on Friday:

⇒ Kohl Franklin also got his second start this weekend, but unfortunately he triggered the single-inning pitch limit before he got out of the first:

⇒ Like Thompson, Franklin missed the pandemic season and then all of 2021 with various issues. The stuff and velo are huge, so there’s plenty of room for time and patience on using this year for development. Also like Thompson, don’t be surprised if Franklin winds up on the 40-man after the season, almost regardless of the statistical results this year.

⇒ Kevin Made was slowed by a minor injury in Spring Training, but the 19-year-old shortstop prospect was activated this weekend, and headed to Myrtle Beach to join that very crowded infield picture. I think you’ll probably see him getting most of the starts at shortstop while he’s there, with James Triantos and Reggie Preciado spending more time mixing and matching between short, third, and second.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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