Cubs Prospect Notes: Franklin, Palencia, Devers, Strumpf, Vazquez, Triantos, Amaya, Davis, More

Social Navigation

Cubs Prospect Notes: Franklin, Palencia, Devers, Strumpf, Vazquez, Triantos, Amaya, Davis, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs’ farm system gets back underway today after the Monday off-day, so I thought it work a look around at some prospect bits …

  • I thought getting this insight on the pitcher development process from Assistant GM Craig Breslow, who is also the VP of pitching for the org, was really fascinating:

“I think the emergence of the slider (for Franklin) certainly helps,” Breslow said. “I think understanding his repertoire and usage recommendations helped quite a bit. He’s got really strong secondaries and recognizing that he can almost pitch off his changeup at times, use the breaking ball more often, he’s now got the slider and the curveball. Just because he throws 94 to 98 doesn’t mean that he needs to be a guy who’s 70 to 80 percent fastballs. The idea here, especially as you get into the upper levels, is to pitch in a way that mimics how you attack major league hitters. And the goal in the major league is to get hitters out, not to throw 70 percent fastballs.”

  • Given Franklin’s sudden dominance at High-A this year – after mediocre results there last year, despite great raw stuff – and his subsequent promotion to Double-A, it does make you wonder if he was simple leaning on the fastball too much last year. So, by focusing more on deploying the secondaries, he not only set himself up better for long-term big league development, but he also wound up getting better minor league results. That dichotomy doesn’t always play out in that direction, but it sure is nice when it does.
  • Among the newsy bits from Sharma, some confirmation of what we could already tell was happening Daniel Palencia is being converted to a reliever right now out in Arizona. And 2022 pitcher of the year Luis Devers is expected to start pitching in games this week in extended spring training after being slowed by a shoulder strain.
  • You will recall that this was figuring to be a pivotal year for Devers after his 2022 breakout: his combination of excellent command and a killer changeup meant that he could dominate lower-level minor league hitters. But it was a mix that, without a little more zip on the fastball and a really good third pitch, did not necessarily project all that well up the ladder to the big leagues (kinda like the opposite of Franklin). The outstanding results in 2022 give you something to dream on, but the just-turned-23-year-old will still need to take some developmental steps this year to stay on the long-term starting radar. Great to hear that he’ll be back soon.
  • Some were surprised when infielder Chase Strumpf, who had a non-roster invite to big league spring training, was sent back to Double-A Tennessee in April to repeat the level. The former second round pick had played a full season there in 2022, posting a strong .234/.379/.461/125 wRC+ slash line, with 21 homers over his 116 games. The decision, though, made some sense in the context of the crowding that was to arrive at Triple-A Iowa after spring training (we saw it in terms of how loaded that roster became), and the fact that Strumpf still had that concerning 33.3% strikeout rate at Double-A. I think it was fair to seek improvements at Double-A before the now-25-year-old would get the bump.
  • So far, Strumpf has made good on that request, hitting .221/.382.469/139 wRC+, with increases in his walk rate and his ISO, and a decrease in his strikeout rate (pretty sure the .290 BABIP reflects some bad luck given the quality of his contact). The strikeout rate remains above 30%, however it’s just 23.9% after the first few weeks (which is when reports indicate that the Southern League either stopped using, or reduced usage of, the pre-tacked baseball). Strumpf is a tweener in a lot of ways, but there is big league bench potential there with his walk rate and his power, if he can just get the strikeout rate into a manageable range without sacrificing too much power.

“I think Luis Vazquez stands out,” said Jared Banner, the Cubs’ vice president of player development ….

“Our hitting department did a lot of work with him this offseason to change some mechanics in his swing,” Banner said. “And he had a really good Spring Training and it’s transitioned into the season pretty well, too. And you couple that with his impressive defense at shortstop and it’s been a really great start for him.”

Banner noted that the Cubs’ hitting group worked with Vazquez on lowering his hands and shortening up his path to the ball. Combined with better swing decisions, the adjustments have paid off to date.

  • Vazquez, the Cubs’ 14th rounder back in 2017 and now 23, is hitting .280/.328/.480/119 wRC+ at Double-A, coupled with solid peripherals and his strong defense at short. Like Strumpf, Vazquez is repeating Double-A, but has really turned it on as the year has gone along: after five ugly games to start the season, Vazquez has gone .314/.371/.552/151 wRC+ with a .238 ISO and a 21.4% K rate. That’s some extremely compelling stuff …
  • James Triantos went deep again this weekend, this time the other way:
  • I really can’t overstate how exciting it would be for Triantos to tap into legit power this year (and hitting one 400+ the day before and now an oppo shot sure suggests the potential is there). Silly, but fun, and also accurate fact: They say a minor league hitter is doing something truly special when he has more extra-base hits than strikeouts. James Triantos has FIVE TIMES AS MANY extra-base hits as strikeouts right now. (Don’t you dare look up the sample size. Just enjoy and move on.)
  • Kyle Hendricks again worked with Miguel Amaya behind the plate in his likely final start at Iowa, and his praise for Amaya’s work was over the top. I really think he might be a special catcher, in addition to his offensive potential.
  • Bryan is not wrong here:
  • No one can deny that the contact quality has to improve. There’s no productivity for Davis right now, even without the strikeouts. But taking away the strikeouts was the first step, and there has been clear progress. Now it’s about continuing to improve the swing decisions, and targeting driveable pitches.

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.