Cubs Prospect Notes: The Highest Upside Fastballs, the Plan for Ferris and Mulé, Gray, Amaya, Caissie, Murray, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: The Highest Upside Fastballs, the Plan for Ferris and Mulé, Gray, Amaya, Caissie, Murray, More

Chicago Cubs

With so many transactions happening the last two weeks, the prospect bits have really backed up on me. So there’s a whole lotta Cubs prospect stuff I want to make sure you have a chance to see …

  • From Baseball America on Ryan Jensen’s midseason trip to the Development List, and how it wound up continuing something of a transformation for him. He came back so good that the Cubs had to add him to the 40-man roster after the season, and the hopes for him next year remain extremely high. Of the time on the Development List:

“We worked on some things with his posture,” said Jacobson, who compared notes with Tennessee pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea, High-A South Bend coach Tony Cougoule and minor league pitching development manager George Thanopoulos throughout the summer.

“We worked on some things with his lower half and tried to make sure we don’t lose the essence of what makes him so special and allows him to create such an elite output and how to sustain it.”

Jensen noticed the difference between good reps and bad reps after two weeks at the pitch lab, Jacobson said.

As he became more comfortable with his changes, Jensen pitched more aggressively and began touching 100 mph again. He also added a cutter.

  • I am really excited to see how Jensen looks after an offseason during which to continue the work. He now has a pitch mix that can fit a starter profile; he just has to have the command. The shortened arm stroke could really help, but I don’t want to understate the walk problems: even after the Development List work, the walk rate was 13.7% (23.0% K), which just won’t play as a starter.
  • Speaking of super-high-upside, super-need-command-work starting pitching prospects, is Kohl Franklin also shortening up his arm stroke? Still can see a possible stud here, as Franklin – together with Jensen – has one of the best raw fastballs in the org:
  • Speaking of the best fastballs in the system … Extremely high internal praise for pitching prospect Daniel Palencia, who was outstanding in his first full year in the org:
  • Second rounder Jackson Ferris and fourth rounder Nazier Mulé opened eyes at instructs this fall, and although first rounder Cade Horton’s pro debut is going to get the most attention and hype, I’m pretty excited to see when the two high schooler’s make their debut. Each will be in extended spring training before their first assignment. I tend to think the Cubs will play it conservative and send them to complex ball first, with a slim chance at getting a month or so at Low-A Myrtle Beach before they hit an innings limit. You just don’t see many high school pitchers drafted and then making a full-season debut the next year in the Cubs’ system. (Then again, the Cubs haven’t had THAT many high school pitching prospects drafted with this much pedigree over the last several years.)
  • Always the side question on Mulé, who was a two-way star in high school, per Sahadev Sharma: “As long as he wants to play on the offensive side and it doesn’t impede his pitching development, Mulé will be allowed to do so. But eventually, it’s expected that he’ll make a choice and assuming he goes all in with pitching, he could quickly take off as a prospect. Like most prospects this age, there’s a lot of risk, but the ceiling appears to be solidly high.”
  • Oh man, that got me remembering Drew Gray, who was the Cubs’ third rounder last year, also a high-upside high school arm. He was blowing up this time last year because of how he looked in instructs (he saw only four innings of work in complex ball in his draft year), but unfortunately had to have Tommy John surgery before the season. He will return to the field sometime next season, making something of a more real pro debut. That’s four young, potentially big-time pitching prospects all (kind of) making their pro debuts for the Cubs in 2023.
  • With free agent signings slowing and trade season likely to arrive soon, MLB Pipeline looked at each organization’s “most tradable prospect”:

Cubs: Owen Caissie, OF (No. 10)
Caissie fits the classic right-field profile with his well-above-average raw power and plus arm strength, and he batted .254/.349/.402 with 11 homers as a 19-year-old in High-A. Part of the Yu Darvish trade with the Padres in December 2020, he ranks as the fifth-best outfield prospect in Chicago’s system, behind Top 100 prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara and 37-homer slugger Alexander Canario.

  • I guess the reasoning there is that the Cubs have a lot of outfield prospects, and therefore Caissie can go. Not sure that still tracks after the injuries to Alexander Canario and the renewed questions on Brennen Davis’s back. That said, yes, this outfield group could include some trade pieces within the next couple years.
  • Utility prospect B.J. Murray is not one to sleep on, and he just won himself a home run derby:
  • D.J. Herz’s extreme crossfire delivery is definitely a big part of why he’s so successful – it’s a tough look for a hitter – but it’s also gotta be so hard to sustain over the course of a start, much less over the course of a season:

  • Prospect profile videos on D.J. Herz:

  • On Kevin Alcántara:

  • And on Cristian Hernández:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.