Underrated Cubs Prospects, Wesneski’s Season, Brewers Add Anderson, and Other Cubs Bullets

Finally, a new ‘The Last of Us’ tonight. I guess that means the pilot REALLY hooked me if I’ve been desperately awaiting the second episode for, oh, say, almost exactly seven days.

  • Because of the timing, I didn’t have a chance to talk about the Brewers signing Marlins cast-off Brian Anderson, the 29-year-old 3B/OF who was quietly outstanding from 2018-20 (.266/.350/.436/115 wRC+, annualized WAR around 3). Since then, he’s had shoulder issues and the production has plummeted (.233/.321/.359/93 wRC+), though his batted ball metrics last year weren’t actually all that bad. Seems like a pretty good buy-low opportunity for the Brewers.
  • If Anderson is the primary third baseman to open the season for the Brewers, you would expect that Luis Urias will be the primary second baseman, with Abraham Toro and Brice Turang moving around/sprinkling in as necessary? It’s a strong group of versatile infielders, including Willy Adames at shortstop, and Rowdy Tellez/Keston Hiura at first. If any of the young outfielders break out, and/or if Christian Yelich bounces back, the Brewers could wind up with a slightly-above-average offense, which has kinda been their bugaboo for a few years.
  • When Greg Zumach asked folks to name an underrated Cubs prospect, you knew it was going to be an avalanche of answers, because the Cubs have soooo many “could be A Guy” prospects. My answer whenever I see that question is Daniel Palencia, because I think people still don’t quite appreciate just how good the stuff is (thanks in large part – I suspect – to him being 22 in High-A, but this is a guy who had barely thrown any pro innings before last season because of the timing of his signing with the A’s and the pandemic). There is front-of-the-rotation upside potential there, and although the Cubs do finally have a few of those guys, I feel like Palencia gets the least attention.
  • Among the answers that stood out to me was a response from Prospects Live writer Joe Doyle, who explained why it was James Triantos:
  • Triantos’ star has definitely fallen from where it was after his post-draft explosion in the Complex League in 2021, but I tend to agree that it’s pretty unfair. Playing full-season ball in his first full season out of high school (he still isn’t 20 yet!), and playing in one of the best pitchers’ parks in minor league baseball, Triantos still posted an above-average slash line, and showed just enough power (especially for that park) that the 16.1% K rate is impressive (rather than concerning about him solely being a slappy-high-contact guy). All that said, if you read the scouting reports, you get the sense that a lot of the reason Triantos fell off in their eyes this year is because of the defense, not so much the bat. There are questions about whether he can play a capable third or second base, and if he can’t, that would put so much pressure on the bat. In any case, I suspect we’re going to see him rake at South Bend this year and get right back on folks’ radars.
  • Seriously, there are just endless reasonable answers to Greg’s question. Who is yours?
  • Bonus from Brendan Miller, who rightly points out that, even if he’s not underrated by Cubs fans, Hayden Wesneski is certainly underrated nationally:
  • I think we see that happen a lot with prospects: if they aren’t seen as “top 100 types,” and then they reach the big leagues and have success/show data/whatever, there seems to be a reluctance to use the big league showing to re-evaluate a prospect who is about to graduate anyway. I think probably, for me, I would still want to see a little more from Wesneski than 33.0 big league innings if I didn’t already think he was on the cusp of top-100 status, so I suppose I understand the rankings. That said, I’m not sure national folks realize this is a guy with mid-rotation upside as soon as this season. That’s really good!
  • The range of outcomes for Wesneski this year, specifically, are pretty darn wide. I can envision scenarios where injuries force him into 25+ big league starts this year. I can envision a scenario where he’s just too dang good that the Cubs cannot justify NOT giving him 25+ big league starts. But I think what’s most likely is that he will open the year at Iowa, staying stretched out (but having his innings managed), and then inevitably, openings will pop up throughout the year for him to make starts. He will probably be cemented in the rotation by the second half, and I would put the over/under on big league starts this year at something like 17.5.
  • It is forever the underdiscussed part of bunting. Even in situations where it is a good idea to bunt, you can’t assume you’ll ACTUALLY put the ball in play, much less accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish:
  • Also, if you love bunting for hits, I have some bad news: with the loss of extreme shifting, you won’t see nearly as many of those surprise bunts toward an unmanned third base for a hit. A small sacrifice.
  • (Then again, what if the new rules about the bases and pick-off limits reinvigorate the value of speed guys, and, in turn, bring out more bunting for hits that way?)
  • Heads up – Fanatics is doing a one-day Flash Sale, and tons of Cubs gear is on sale right now:
  • If you’re in the strength and conditioning world and want an in with the Cubs:
  • https://twitter.com/strengthBK37/status/1616951858517671941

  • Played only two partial seasons with the Cubs, but raaaaaaked when he did: .310/.374/.515/130 wRC+:
  • Random baseball-Simpsons fun:
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    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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