Lots to get into on the Chicago Cubs prospecting front this afternoon …
- Big news at the top: Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya is getting close to heading out for his regular assignment. Amaya, 23, has been recovering from Tommy John surgery, and although he isn’t playing catcher yet, he can DH. And since he just needs some at bats as quickly as possible, I love this news:
- Amaya, who is already on the 40-man roster, could put himself in a position to be an up-down back-up-back-up catcher next year for the big league team if (1) the arm gets healthy enough by next season to be trustworthy, and (2) the Cubs see up-downing him as good for development, rather than a hinderance. I don’t think there’s a realistic chance that Amaya gets himself into a place this year where he could make the big league Opening Day roster, so he’s going to be at Triple-A for some of 2023 no matter what. We’ll see if he first reaches that level later this year.
- In tandem with its midseason top 100 update, Baseball America also updated its team top 30s. You can see the new Cubs top 30 prospect list here, where SS Kevin Made leaps into the top ten, C Moises Ballesteros and 1B Matt Mervis make their debuts at 17 and 18, respectively, and OF Darius Hill gets considerable love at 21. The system is so deep at this point that Ed Howard, recovering from season-ending hip surgery, has fallen all the way to number 30. Lots more to check out.
- Here’s the updated note on Mervis, by the way: “A two-way player at Duke, Mervis has blossomed with his focus solely on being a position player. He is one of the best offensive prospects in the Cubs’ system with plus raw power he gets to in games and a physical frame that should allow him to continue impacting the ball. Mervis is limited strictly to first base defensively, but he has the bat to profile there.”
- I cannot tell you how much I love what Kohl Franklin has been doing lately:
- Franklin, 22, was a prospect who exploded out of the draft and immediately looked like a steal in the 6th round in 2018. The Cubs proceeded very cautiously with his innings from there, and then the pandemic in 2020 and injuries in 2021 meant that he came into this season having thrown just 50.2 professional innings TOTAL. The work in the fall and the spring was getting extremely hyped, and a lot of us thought he might just explode this season even after not pitching the last two years. That was obviously, in hindsight, a silly thing to expect.
- But it’s hard not to notice just how good Franklin has been lately. He’s got a 1.89 ERA over his last five starts, the strikeout rate has been climbing back up, and the starts have gotten progressively longer. The wildness is still there and needs work (12.7% BB rate even during this good stretch), but you wonder if he is starting to put some things together after the early season lumps to get his feet back under him. The range of possible perceptions on Franklin come September is enormous: it’s possible this is a blip and he struggles the rest of the way, at which point it’s questionable what is next for him; it’s also possible this is the start of clear progress and he finishes the season one of the best few pitching prospects in the system. And, of course, anything in between.
- One more for Franklin, who worked so hard the last two years to even be in this position:
- Every day it seems more and more likely that Kevin Made will get the bump to High-A soon-ish, maybe after some of the draft signings arrive:
- And speaking of guys who are hitting a lot of homers lately, Jake Slaughter and Alexander Canario for Tennessee:
- At South Bend, where the Cubs just can’t stop winning, big nights from Pete Crow-Armstrong, Yohendrick Pinango, Owen Caissie, and Luis Verdugo, all of whom are just freaking raking lately.
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