Cubs Prospect Notes: Murray, Franklin, Horton, Sanchez, Casey, Alcántara, More
I am getting so itchy for the minor league season. I mean, the big league season, too, obviously. But I love me some Cubs prospects …
- I also lovvvve hearing from Cubs farm director Jared Banner about who HE sees as an underrated prospect in the Cubs’ system. He offered up two names: infielder B.J. Murray and righty Kohl Franklin. From Marquee:
“[Murray] controls the strike zone really well,” Banner told Cole Wright and Jim Deshaies on Marquee Sports Network. “That’s what hitting’s all about — it’s knowing when to swing the bat and when not to. He does a great job of that. It tends to be predictive of future success. So I’m really excited about his season coming up.” …
“Missed a couple seasons due to COVID and injuries but is back now,” Banner said of Franklin. “Had some ups and downs this past year but now that he’s fully healthy and has a season of pitching under his belt, I think it might be time that he can really take off.”
- Murray, who got a little time in the AFL straight from High-A, was the Cubs’ 15th rounder in 2021, and raked his way out of Low-A after just 39 games. He took about 10 days to adjust to the promotion, but look at what he did the rest of the way at High-A: .306 .408 .452/144 wRC+. You’ll want to see more power going forward from the switch-hitter in order to keep pitchers and defenses honest, but like Banner said, Murray knows the strike zone. He’s now 23, so you would tentatively expect him to get the bump to Double-A to open the season, though he has only 93 total pro games under his belt so far. It would be a pretty aggressive promotion schedule (and would say a lot about his potential big league future).
- Franklin, an over-slot high school signing in the 2018 draft, really had some bad luck with the timing of injuries and the pandemic. We just haven’t had much of a chance to see him work, and this past season, when he finally got in a full year, it seemed like he wasn’t ready yet to command his new-found monster stuff. I love that Banner picked him among the pitchers as underrated, because that means the Cubs still see that big-time upside. Franklin has the stuff, the velo, and the body that you look for in a front-of-the-rotation arm, but we’ll need to see him translate it to some results this year (while holding the stuff and mechanics deeper into outings), probably at Double-A Tennessee. Because of the raw ingredients and the makeup, he’s the kind of guy you could see exploding this year and then national folks are like, “Wha? how did this guy put up a 6.88 ERA in High-A last season?”
- Cade Horton getting in some bullpen work out in Arizona:
- Now, then, I don’t want to do TOO much (if any) extrapolating from bullpen pairings at Spring Training, because it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But Ethan Hearn, who is one of the Cubs’ best working-with-pitchers catchers is most likely slated to open the year at High-A South Bend. Any chance we see that as Horton’s initial pro assignment, too?
- On the one hand, a college first round starter opening professionally at High-A is not all that crazy anymore. On the other hand, Horton BARELY pitched in college because of the pandemic and the timing of his Tommy John surgery. It would therefore also not be crazy for him to start out in extended Spring Training, and then open his pro career at Low-A Myrtle Beach. Then again, the dude was obviously dominating by the time the College World Series rolled around, so there’s no reason to assume he couldn’t be ready for High-A right away. That’d be my guess as we sit here today.
- Jim Callis has been big on Horton since the run-up to the draft, so it’s not a huge surprise – though a very welcome nod – that he picked Horton as his biggest pick to jump onto the top 100 soon after the season starts:
- The Cubs would have a lot of guys in the 101 to 150 range if Keith Law ranked that far, so he said in a Q&A.
- Fun thread of clips on catching prospect Adan Sanchez, whom we were talking up in the last set of notes (there are many more clips in the thread on Twitter):
- Good to see both of these guys back to doing their thing:
- Casey, the Cubs’ 9th rounder in 2018, was dommmmminating at High-A in 2021 when he went down with the elbow injury. Because of the long recovery, though, he is now almost 27 and hasn’t pitched yet at Double-A. It’ll be interesting to see what the plan is for him this year – if he’s got the same stuff he had pre-injury, you wonder if the Cubs will move him to the bullpen to try to accelerate him to the big leagues.
- I love this guy’s attitude and energy, and I also love that he’s focused this offseason on putting on good weight:
- If you missed it, the Cubs have the 11th best farm system, according to Kiley McDaniel.
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