It’s Opening Day for the Arizona Fall League, but there are a bunch of other Chicago Cubs prospect notes to get to before the Mesa Solar Sox AFL season kicks off at 8:35pm CT tonight …
- The Cubs just wrapped a prospect camp at Wrigley Field, which gave a number of the organization’s top prospects a little exposure to the city, to the facilities at Wrigley Field, to the big league coaching staff, and to the big league players. Even if that’s all it was – hey, this is generally what it’s like up here – seems like a pretty great idea to give these prospects a taste so that, when they do actually arrive, they’re already one life adjustment step ahead. The prospects who attended were pitchers Ben Brown, Ryan Jensen, DJ Herz, Jordan Wicks, Ben Leeper, and Daniel Palencia, and position players Brennen Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, Matt Mervis, Chase Strumpf, Darius Hill, Yonathan Perlaza, and Yohendrick Pinango.
- “The goal is for this to be a precursor for their first call-up to Wrigley,” said Jared Banner, the vice president of player development for the Cubs, per The Athletic. “We want to give them a chance to meet the coaching staff, meet the support staff that they’ll grow to lean on once they get up to the big leagues here. Get used to their surroundings, get out on the field, see what the mound feels like, see what the batter’s box feels like, things of that nature. And then probably the most important reason is just to set them up for a productive offseason by going over specifically where they are now, where they want to go, and how we’re going to get them there.”
- Yeah. There’s that part, too: This is what it’s like up here, and wouldn’t you like to be up here soon? So get after it this offseason. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that it was the final home weekend of the season, with extra special moments for Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, and the players as a whole. I’m sure these young guys are extra eager to be a part of it.
- We already knew that catching prospect Miguel Amaya was going to miss the Arizona Fall League, where he had otherwise been expected to catch for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last fall. But now we know some more about the foot injury that took him out: a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot. That … is a bad one. As Patrick Mooney puts it, “The hope is that Amaya will be fully cleared and ready to compete next year in spring training.” Yup. Spring Training is the *hoped* timeline for an injury that occurred in early September. All you can, in turn, hope is that he can have a full-ish minor league season in 2023 and make up for so much missed development time. Amaya is only 23, but it’s pretty tough to miss all this time and stay on track.
- A trio of Iowa outfielders who had incredible seasons:
- That Mervis RBI number was also tops in all of MiLB. And here’s something from the MLB Pipeline crew on Mervis in an Inbox:
How serious should we be taking [Matt] Mervis? Seems like he’s ranking WAY low compared to his performance. Can you give some insight into why? — @VictorFiction
An undrafted free agent out of Duke in 2020 who likely would have fit in rounds 6-10 if the Draft hadn’t been shortened to five rounds amid the pandemic, Cubs first-base prospect Matt Mervis slashed just .208/.310/.367 while spending most of his pro debut in Single-A at age 23 in ’21. He rebounded in a big way this year, slashing .309/.379/.605 while rising from High-A to Triple-A and leading the Minors in extra-base hits (78), total bases (310) and RBIs (119).
I ranked Mervis 21st on our Cubs Top 30 when we revamped our lists in early August, at which point he had homered three times in his first three weeks in Triple-A. He went deep 12 times in his final 31 games at that level to rank third in the Minors with 36 homers in 137 games.
As terrific as Mervis’ performance was, and as legitimate as his left-handed power is, his age (24) and position mean that he comes with some caveats. He improved his swing decisions this year, did a better job of handling southpaws and put himself in position to compete for Chicago’s first-base job in 2023. He’s not a Top 100 guy, but if we re-ranked the Cubs list today, he’d move up to around No. 14 on one of the deeper Top 30s in the game.
- Moving Matt Mervis into the top 15 in the Cubs’ system is a serious move, and further underscores the depth and strength right now in the system. Well, obviously it’s also a huge compliment to Mervis.
- Fun note on a prospect who came to instructs from the Dominican Summer League:
- Cubs fourth round two-way player Nazier Mule, who can reportedly touch triple-digits with his fastball, is participating with the position players at instructs: