Cubs Prospect Notes: Amaya, Jensen, Brown, Horton, Ferris, Rujano, Franklin, Other Franklin, Murray, PCA, More
With the big league Cubs in a rain delay, I thought maybe I could briefly share some minor league notes I’ve been wanting to get out …
- Miguel Amaya is back to the minor leagues, but now is at Triple-A Iowa, having been promoted by way of that cup of coffee in the big leagues. While there, he made believers of everyone he encountered.
- “That would be wonderful (if Amaya was the starting catcher for the next great Cubs team),” Jed Hoyer said, per The Athletic. “I’m reluctant to overstate it just because he got hurt a couple times, but I think a healthy version of him is going to play in the major leagues for a long time.” If health is the only caveat, then the Cubs have a whole lot of faith in what Amaya can be.
- The Cubs this week finally converted Ryan Jensen to relief. It has felt like it was coming for a couple years, now though I don’t blame the Cubs for holding at as long as possible on a guy who has shown the potential to have five plus pitches. In relief, though, he can really focus on fastball command and one breaking pitch. Then again, from the look of the strikeouts, he might still be using all of his pitches, even in relief:
- Ultimately, the Cubs do now have a whole lot of quality starting pitching prospects at the upper levels, so it makes sense to be a little quicker to pull the trigger on moving guys like Jensen (and Luke Little) into multi-inning relief roles, which could see their move toward the big leagues accelerated.
- Speaking of those starting prospects, if you missed Ben Brown’s ridiculous second start with Iowa:
- Brown showed up on this list BEFORE that start:
- Cade Horton’s High-A debut was a mixed bag, as Bryan noted this week. Although he struck out four over his 3.2 innings of work, he also walked three and gave up three homers. It was a good reminder of what happens as you climb the ladder in the minors: not only do the hitters you’re facing get better at forcing you in the strike zone (instead of helping you by swinging at bad pitches), they also do a lot more damage if you’re careless in the zone (instead of swinging through good, but poorly located, pitches). You are reminded that Horton, 21, barely pitched at all in college thanks to the pandemic and Tommy John surgery. He also didn’t solely focus on baseball until college, and didn’t solely focus on pitching until he was a pro. This is a guy who is much more like a high school draft pick than a college one, so a period of adjustment at High-A in his first season would be VERY expected.
- Speaking of high school draft picks, Jackson Ferris made his second successful start with the Low-A Pelicans, even if not as dominant as the first. And now he’s not the only 2022 high school draft pick pitching at Myrtle Beach, as over-slot 13th rounder Luis Rujano is now there, too. It’s pretty incredible that the Cubs have TWO high school pitching picks pitching in full-season ball in May of their first pro season.
- Kohl Franklin’s debut at Double-A Tennessee didn’t go well, either: 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K. A starter’s repertoire, fastball, and body, Franklin will continue starting for probably the rest of the year – I don’t see him as a guy the Cubs are going to be quick to convert to relief. That said, as he’s Rule 5 eligible after this season, and because he does have such explosive stuff, the Cubs are likely to need to know where his big league future stands by the end of this year. They’ll need to know if he should go on the 40-man roster, or if the Cubs can risk losing him in the Rule 5.
- B.J. Murray remains on absolute fire. His latest is another homer … and then another one, each coming from a different side of the plate:
- Murray, 23, is now up to .243/.392/.485/144 wRC+ at Double-A Tennessee through 130 plate appearances, all with sterling peripherals. Recall that he was a guy the Cubs sent to the Arizona Fall League last year, even though he wasn’t Rule 5 eligible (isn’t until after next season). He’s a guy.
- It’s been a really tough start to his pro career for 2021 4th rounder Christian Franklin, who missed all of last year. The Cubs were really high on him pre-injury, and hopefully he’s getting his footing this year. After his first two hitless games at High-A, Franklin is hitting .275 .370 .400/125 wRC+ with South Bend, albeit with a 34.8% K rate (a known concern with him). He hit a grand slam last night and showed off the power, going oppo:
- Read up on Jordan Wicks, who has been cruising lately at Double-A:
- I can’t keep up with the volume of titanic home runs Jake Slaughter is hitting right now. It’s impossible to ignore what he’s doing:
- Ho-hum, up to .302/.378/.635/147 wRC+ at Iowa for Slaughter.
- Ah, so you thought you would pitch Pete Crow-Armstrong down and in. Let me show you where you screwed up:
- I swear I’m going to lose it when we find out this guy’s name has been penciled into an extended Spring Training or Arizona Complex League lineup:
- I know that Canario’s injuries were severe, and could have a last impact on him physically. I know that the time off could create a long period of adjustment. But he was just such an incredible talent that I can’t wait to see him get back on the field. He could surprise us all.
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Tennessee Smokies Get a Game-Tying B.J. Murray Blast in the 9th, and a Pete Crow-Armstrong Walk-Off Single in the 10th