I hadn’t planned on doing a Cubs Prospect Notes today, but there was just so much goodness in the farm system that I had to at least put them somewhere!
Gotta kick things off with the walk-off win in Myrtle Beach:
That game featured a fantastic catch by Ezequiel Pagan (he of the three-foot home run):
And homers by James Triantos and Kevin Made:
Triantos might be coming out of his slump, having hit .294/.351/.500/136 wRC+ over his last 10 days. Been a challenging year for him, I suspect, but he’s still managed an above-average overall line at 19 in his first full-season experience, despite playing in a really tough park for hitters. A strong finish will easily keep him in that top five-to-ten conversation in the system.
Also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that, after the first two weeks, Triantos has hit .301/.368/.416/123 wRC+ with a 17.2% K rate and 7.6% BB rate. Pretty hard to feel anything but good about a 19-year-old prospect doing that in his first full season.
As for Made, the 19-year-old shortstop’s season numbers are great enough as is (.268/.364/.452/128 wRC+), but get these since June 4: .250/.364/.528/142 wRC+. What really stands out about that last month? He’s walking 15.9% of the time, striking out just 18.2% of the time, and the ISO is freaking .278! Really think about that. Kevin Made, a 19-year-old plus defensive shortstop prospect whose big knock was that he was a free-swinging contact-only guy, is currently in a month-long stretch where he is destroying the ball and taking tons of walks. I don’t know who he is right now, but I love it!
Let me put a finer point on it: if Made keeps showing THIS over the last two and a half months of the season, he should absolutely be considered a top 100 prospect. Zero question about it.
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I’m thinking it was a good idea to let Pete Crow-Armstrong rest the bone bruise in his hand. Since returning from the injury, he’s hit .385/.393/.654 at High-A South Bend (14.3% K rate, lol), including last night’s four-hit effort:
The Cubs don’t need to push PCA to Double-A Tennessee by the end of the year – he only just turned 20 and has played a TOTAL of 59 games as a professional – but it’s fun to think about what happens if he just keeps raking for the next couple months.
I’m imagining a situation where the Cubs feel like each of PCA, Owen Caissie, Jordan Nwogu, AND Yohendrick Pinango all need a challenge at Double-A, but that outfield group – like the one at Iowa – is also full of guys you’re wanting to get regular playing time. I won’t be silly and say the Cubs have “too many outfield prospects” or anything close to that, but I will say it’s been a REALLY long time since I even had to think for a second about how the outfield playing time would be apportioned at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. The Cubs have not had a ton of legit outfield prospects for quite a while.
Speaking of that group, by the way: Jordan Nwogu hasn’t played in a couple weeks, but isn’t on the Injured List at South Bend. Not sure exactly what’s up there – either I missed something, or it’s not been made public – but over his last month of playing time, he’s been crushing it. Eager to see him back out there.
UPDATE: From Todd at Northside Bound, who told me, “Regarding Nwogu – he tweaked something in his hammy in the Quad Cities and they sat him down for 10 days. He started stretching this week when I got to Beloit and they have been slowly increasing his workload. Yesterday, he threw for the first time and he said he might take BP today or tomorrow. He did some light running yesterday and looked fine.” Love to hear it! Todd said that Nwogu has also been working on some arm-strengthening exercises, which you can imagine could help his ability to play in the outfield outside of left field.
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Sometimes I just laugh when I see Cristian Hernández’s swing. He’s 18 and it already looks like one of the smoothest, most on-plane, best-weight-transfer swings you might see anywhere in the minors:
None of that is to say Hernández doesn’t still have plenty to work on at the plate over the next several years, of course. Pitch recognition and swing decisions are almost certainly going to need polishing, as well as how and when to optimize for power. The body, too, will continue to develop and fill out. But, at a minimum, this amateur swing detective says there’s almost nothing to change with that swing. And he’s 18! After that homer, Hernández is hitting .306/.371/.403/115 wRC+ in his first taste of stateside ball, and you’d like to see that 30.0% strikeout rate keep trending down. The power can come later, since it’s very easy to project with him.
It’s Hernández’s teammate and fellow 2021 IFA signing Moises Ballesteros who leads the team offensively right now, though. The 18-year-old catching prospect hit another couple homers last night, pushing his season line to .322/.403/.661/175 wRC+, which is 9th best among ACL regulars so far this year, and his .339 ISO is third highest. I won’t call it a lock that he’ll get a taste of Low-A Myrtle Beach before the year is up, but it’s definitely possible.
Gonna slide in a note on outfield prospect Cristian More, both because he’s hitting really well in Arizona – .326/.415/.522/154 wRC+ – and also because then the “More” in my headline up there isn’t just the word, it is also yet another prospect’s last name. More, 20, figures to get the bump to Myrtle Beach sometime this year. He hadn’t made it to stateside ball until this year, when his power seems to have taken a big step forward – I wonder if there was some physical development. More was a significant IFA signing in the 2019 class out of Cuba ($400,000), so he definitely merits being on your prospect radar – not just a headline joke!
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Jake Slaughter just keeps doing it:
At some point the Cubs are going to have to see if Slaughter can do it at Iowa, too. I say that without any presumption, and mean it sincerely: Slaughter is already 25 and he’s Rule 5 eligible. If he is somehow this atypical and enormous breakout guy, then the Cubs need to have as much information as possible by the time November rolls around.
Among players who’ve logged at least 100 plate appearances in the Southern League this year, Slaughter’s 193 wRC+ is number one. But you know who is number two? A similarly-storied Levi Jordan, whom the Cubs bumped to Iowa after a scorching May so they could start this same analysis – unfortunately Jordan is not hitting (.227/.284/.330/65 wRC+ in 95 PAs at Triple-A Iowa). You just want to make sure you’re getting information about these older guys. Yes, development matters, too, but that won’t help you much if you wind up poached in the Rule 5 of a guy who actually did break out in a real and sustainable way. Right now, you just need the information.
And since we’re ending in Tennessee, I have to finish with Matt Mervis: