Cubs Prospect Notes: Marquez, Gray, Devers, Vazquez, Made, Sanchez, Davis, More
Monday off-days for the big league team are bad enough, but when it’s paired with the fact that all of the minor leagues are off on Mondays? Oof. Pain.
Some Cubs prospect notes to tide us all over …
- Brailyn Marquez (shoulder surgery, lots of time missed) is finally back to throwing in Arizona, according to Arizona Phil and Rich Biesterfeld. It’s just bullpen work for now, but, hey, he’s on the mound! We’ll probably get a better sense of where he is once he faces batters and (maybe) gets into an extended spring training game. Any expectations whatsoever would be a mistake. Just keep hope alive.
- Also throwing off the mound was 2021 third rounder Drew Gray, the lefty who was getting a whole lot of helium that fall, and then unfortunately had to get Tommy John surgery. Biesterfeld says Gray, 19, was touching 93 mph in live batting practice, which sounds fine to me for where he is in the process and given his youth/inexperience. There’s no way to predict what Gray can be going forward, which I say not just because of the surgery, but because he was a scouting play out of high school who has thrown a total of four pro innings (2021 in complex ball).
- One last note on rehabbing pitchers, it’s good to see that Luis Devers – the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year last year – is throwing off the mound again (still not sure what his injury was):
- Devers, whose 23rd birthday is today (happy birthday!), posted a ridiculous 1.91 ERA and 2.90 FIP between Low-A and High-A last year, striking out 26.8% and walking just 5.7%. His performance was about as good as it gets, and it was also nice to see his fastball tick up into that 93 mph range. The question with Devers is how much of his productivity was about him being a polished pitcher who can execute an excellent changeup, which just gives younger hitters fits? But might not necessarily play as well up the ladder? Hopefully he returns with enough time this season for us to find out. I would tentatively expect him to be back at South Bend when he does debut, maybe sometime in late May or early June?
- Plus-glove infield prospect Luis Vazquez exploded with the bat this week:
- Vazquez, 23, is best known for his glovework, but he’s now got his Double-A slash line up to .341/.362/.614/158 wRC+. Before you get too excited, you should know that Vazquez is coming off a year and a half of disastrous results at the plate (though the Cubs kept promoting him, so maybe that’s a good underlying sign). The sample this year is only 47 PAs, and it comes with a BABIP near .500 and a strikeout rate at 34%. I think it’s clear Vazquez has hit the ball really hard in the early going this year, but I don’t know that you can say he’s taken a clear step forward just yet (though he’s hitting the ball in the air a TON more than he ever has). For now, thanks to the glove, you’re still looking at a possible big league utility future. If the bat DID take a step forward, then you might start thinking about whether there is more of a role for him.
- Speaking of glove-first shortstop prospects who might be breaking out with the bat:
- I didn’t think Kevin Made (yet) had the kind of power necessary to send one out with that much loft. But, like Bryan wrote before the season, Made is definitely looking a lot thicker this year, and maybe the 20-year-old is growing into some power. If that comes, he’s quickly going to be considered a clear top ten prospect in the system, if not a top 100 prospect in baseball. When 20-year-old plus-glove shortstops in High-A start hitting .300/.440/.500/175 wRC+ across their first 50 PAs of the season, with sterling peripherals, people start noticing.
- The Cubs have so many prospects with lofty wRC+ right now (two of whom are a catcher and a shortstop, just 19 years old, playing in full-season ball):
- Hello, South Bend Cubs:
- Rich Biesterfeld has a collection of notes over at North Side Bound, which is worth your time. One anecdote I have to share:
Catcher Adan Sanchez spent the 2022 season in the DSL before being called up to the Mesa Complex for Instructs last fall. On Saturday, he drew the assignment to catch World Series pitcher Kyle Hendricks and acquitted himself well. After his day was through, I was able to see in the dugout and Kyle came over to Adan in the dugout and thanked him for being his catcher. The look on Adan’s face was priceless and he didn’t quite know how to respond. It was a great veteran move by Kyle that I suspect Adan will never forget. And if you didn’t know, Adan won’t even turn 18 until the end of next month.
- Lotta folks understandably wondering why Pete Crow-Armstrong hasn’t played in the last several Smokies games. I’m told they said on the broadcast it is because he is dealing with an illness. No reason to worry just yet.
- An ice cold start to the year, but Brennen Davis just put together a really good week in Buffalo for the I-Cubs: .375/.400/.542/143 wRC+ (8.0% K rate). Hopefully he keeps that going – he’s just about the only guy at Iowa who HASN’T started the year off scorching hot!
- In case you missed the latest from the future of Cubs prospecting: