April minors recap

beckdawg

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Since there's basically no one who posts in the prospect thread and I doubt many people follow day to day games like I do in the minors I figure some might be interested in a recap of the previous month of minor league play to get some idea of names worth keeping an eye on. Fangraphs has a nice sortable board for this info by the way here. I'm only going to look at the guys with 50+ PAs unless it's a top prospect in the system just because it's not really worth talking about guys on a super small sample size. I'm also going to split this into 2 posts one for hitting and one for pitching. Here's the hitters.

Iowa
Dixon Machado has been the most interesting hitter in Iowa. He previously was primarily known for his glove at SS but through 88 PAs is hitting .294/.455/.485. His 21.6% walk rate is pretty outrageous but he's also tapped into power he didn't previously have with a .191 ISO. Now this is in the PCL so definitely take some offensive numbers with a big grain of salt as it's a strong hitters favored league but still this was a guy signed on a minor league deal who looks like a potential second tier starter on a bad MLB team.

Donnie Dewees looks like a shrewd pick up. He's hitting .293/.464/.488(19.6%/8.9% bb/k .195 ISO). Cubs don't really look to have a spot for him unless someone gets hurt but he looks really good. Happ hasn't done a ton but is hitting better of late. On the season he's hitting .233/.330/.411. However his last ten games he's hitting .265/.419/.471 with 21% BB rate and 14% K rate. Russell hasn't played many games(6) but looks decent hitting .250/.423/.500. He's got a really good bb/k rate at 19.2%/19.2% and his .250 ISO is something he sorely missed last year. Need more data to truly judge but he looks like he could at the very least contribute as a bench bat right away when he's able to be reinstated. Zack Short gets mentioned here as he's on mlb.com's top 30. He's only played 6 games but has hit decent(.368/.455/.474 4.5%/22.7% .105 ISO). Giambrone also is top 30 and while he started pretty hot he's slowed down a bunch. He's at .241/.284/.554(4.5%/31.8% .313 ISO). Contact definitely needs to improve on him but the ISO is really nice. Vimael Machin is a bit old prospect wise but hitting .316/.435/.421 after his call up for 10 games thus far. 17.4%/17.4% .105 ISO all looks decent. Cubs really have a glut of MI in AAA.

Tenn
Hoerner is obviously the draw here. He's killing it given his age. He's currently on the IL with a bruised wrist but he's hitting .293/.388/.483 with a .190 ISO and 10.4%/11.9% bb/k rates. With that being said he's not been the best hitter on this team. That is Robel Garcia. Garcia is 26 so I mean take that with a grain of salt but dude is raking for a guy the cubs just picked up off the scrap heap. He's hitting .346/.414/.731(.385 ISO 10.3%/20.7% bb/k). He's easily the best high level 3B "prospect" the cubs have. Like Machado he's potentially a name to watch in terms of trade pieces in july.

PJ Higgins is also worth mentioning as an older guy. He's 25 which again is a bit old for AA but he's a C who I believe is decent in terms of framing. And C take longer to develop typically. He's hitting .312/.400/.468(13.3%/14.4% .156 ISO). Connor Meyers is probably the only other bat worth considering atm. If he didn't play CF I probably wouldn't mention him but he's hitting .264/.350/.434(8.1%/33.9% .170 ISO). K rate needs to come down a lot but you can sorta forgive that with guys who actually aren't terrible in CF. Jhonny Pereda is on the top 30 but not hitting all that amazing. He's at .230/.368/.328(17.1%/11.8% .098 ISO). That being said his BABIP is pretty garbage at .235. If that perks up and he finds a bit more power he's looking decent.

MB
Myrtle Beach isn't really hitting well thus far. So, the only two names really worth talking about are two top guys in Amaya and Ademan. Amaya isn't hitting for average at .200/.333/.457 but that's heavily influenced by his .217 BABIP. His 14.3%/23.8% bb/k is ok but the K rate needs to come down some. His .257 ISO is really good though. Ademan appears to have rebound from his aggressive 2018 placement in A+. He's hitting .275/.422/.490(17.2%/23.4% .216 ISO). If his k rate comes down a touch and if Hoerner gets promoted he's likely close to ready for a promotion.

SB
While MB sorta sucks hitting wise, SB looks a lot better. Nelson Velazquez leads the way hitting .338/.361/.450(3.6%/23.8% .113 ISO). His BABIP is unsustainably high hence the .338 BA and his plate discipline numbers need work but this is a real nice step in the right direction for him. D.J. Artis who was a 2018 draft pick in the 7th round looks to be a strong pick thus far. He's hitting .264/.407/.375(15.2%/28.3% .111 ISO). I don't think K's were an issue for him in college and he was a big walk guy. So I suspect that will even out some for him and he's been playing LF but I believe he can play CF decent. SB just has a lot of athletic outfielders. Speaking of which, big time 2015 IFA Jonathan Sierra is hitting .265/.322/.373(5.6%/15.6% .108 ISO). Those numbers don't look super impressive but he's a guy with a bunch of raw power that hasn't found a way to get it into games yet(fangraphs had it at a 70 raw). The reason he excites me is if he does tap into it you could see something similar to Eloy's 2016 A ball because of that 15.6% k rate he's likely to hit for high average. He's also a lefty which is nice. The last big name outfielder in SB is Cole Roederer. He's having a bit of a tough go thus far hitting .229/.296/.314(9.9%/25.9% .086 ISO). I'd need to dig a bit more into the data but I suspect he's just over matched as a 19 year old at A and swinging through pitches. I wouldn't worry too much about that though because it was a fairly similar case for Velazquez last year and they just let him play april/may in south bend and bumped him down to A- after the draft

The SB infield isn't as impressive. Delvin Zinn is the best here but he's largely BABIP inflated hitting .346/.424/.462(8.5%/30.5% .115 ISO). I wouldn't entirely sell him off because the cubs must really have liked him. They drafted him as a high schooler and he went to college then drafted him the following year and he signed. That year he was I think like top 300 in baseball america's assessment but he didn't get much hype else where. Andy Weber is top 30 on mlb.com but not doing a ton(.238/.286/.393 6.6%/25.3% .155 ISO). Christopher Morel is also top 30 and he's kinda meh as well at .245/.275/.367 2.0%/15.7% .122 ISO. I would mention Levi Jordan here but he's 23 and while he has a 144 wRC+ he's pretty old for A.

TL;DR version
I think the best way to look at this is the cubs are pretty thin hitting wise in A+ and AA. I think you could potentially argue AAA as well but they've done some decent work finding fringe prospect guys who are useful. SB as a team looks really strong. There's a lot of talent there. They likely need to add some infield bats overall though as other than Ademan and Hoerner they don't have a ton of interesting guys in the infield and at 1B/3B they don't really have much interesting. I do really like their OF depth though especially at SB and when you add in Davis as an impact type guy there's a lot to like.
 

beckdawg

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For pitchers I'm not sure how much it's worth talking about as even starters only have like 4 starts. So I'm just gonna mention some stuff I find interesting.

Iowa
Clifton has crazy high k/9 but also really high bb/9. He's probably worth monitoring a bit because 12.34 k/9 is pretty freaking legit and he's yet to give up a run. Swarmer has ok k/bb per 9 rates but looks more like a depth arm than anything amazing. Everyone else is pretty meh.

Tenn
Tenn is the SB of pitching. There's a lot of interesting guys here. Cory Abbott has been pretty dominant 8.89/1.59 k/bb per 9 2.86/3.33 ERA/FIP. Hatch save for one game also looks really good at 9.62/2.22 k/bb per 9 and 5.18/4.94 ERA/FIP. If you exclude his 4-16 game he's pitched 20 innings giving up 5 ER, 9 hits 3 walks and has 21 k's. Tyson Miller has had great results with more mediocre supporting numbers 7.58/2.84 k/bb per 9 isn't bad but the k rate in particular is a bit low for his 1.42/2.56 ERA/FIP. Micheal Rucker has been pitching out of Tenn's bullpen and has great k/bb per 9 at 10.80/1.35 but has a crummy ERA/FIP because he's given up too many homers.

MB
MB also looks strong pitching wise. De La Cruz has made 2 really good starts. Were AA not so packed with pitching I imagine he'd be there now. Bryan Hudson looks like he's finally figuring out his command as lanky guy. Could turn into a dependable workhorse with his size and plus he's a lefty. Richan has good results but he's k/9 is a bit low. Assad looks good from a metric stand point but his ERA is a bit inflated. Jesus Camargo looks good.

The one concern here is Lange. He's looked really terrible.

SB
As with MB and Tenn, SB has a lot of pitching depth. Riley Thompson looks fantastic thus far. Cam Sanders has also pitched well but metrics make it look unsustainable. Brailyn Marquez has had dominant k rates but has been pretty wild.

TL;DR version
Cubs have a lot of depth between SB, MB, and Tenn. None of it is likely ace level talent but they are easily going to be able to pull 2-3 MLB starters out of this group of guys there's just that much depth. And that's without even considering Alzolay who hasn't pitched and keegan Thompson who's had one really good start but hasn't made another(ditto for Steele) not to mention Little and Lange who are supposed to be the big winners.
 

CSF77

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Cubs love Miller and Abbott. I expect both promoted. IIRC Abbott has a perfect game in college ball. Ya just Checked. Prompted the Cubs to draft him with the 67th pick.

I believe he is a heavy use cutter guy.
 

CSF77

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I think the main point here is most fans look at what will impact the current team in a winning window.

The prospect thread was hot topic in the build up to 2016.

Soxs are basically the prospect site right now. Their outfield issues are glaring with Roberts raping A+ Pitching.

As far as the Cubs go.

Beck is right. AA is where the pitching is at. Jed has used AAA for injury depth and AA is where most talent cap.

AAA is basically trash right now. Short was really interesting until his injury. Rest are journey men.

As far as AA goes. Abbott is the guy that I would watch right now. I wasn't too impressed at first. Heavy cutter guy really didn't stand out. But this guy is polished and attacks hitters. I don't want to say Arretta 2.0 but I guess I just did that. Basically that is what he could become.

Now I'm a fan of Justin Steel. He is on the DL but he came back under time from TJ. Add to it he was streaming on Twitch while on recovery. Not sure if he is back on. But kinda neat IMO. Regardless he is a big kid and has a presence like Lester on the mound. Another to watch when he returns.

The rest are simmiler quality but those two have the best chance of being rotation pieces in the next gen.

At A+ it is raw still. I wouldn't spend too much time looking there unless ODLC takes off then he might be a subject matter.

Hitting wise Ademan is at the level that his talent is. That is why he is on the radar still. Nico will always be on the radar and Amaya is struggling. He might end up held back if he doesn't spark up.

I really don't see that much change going on this year. And I wouldn't mind the focus here being the draft and international market.
 

Parade_Rain

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Cubs MiLB system is ranked 29th or so in Baseball America? Beck, you;ve done a nice job with these posts. They don't have enough decent position players in their system.
 

CSF77

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Cubs MiLB system is ranked 29th or so in Baseball America? Beck, you;ve done a nice job with these posts. They don't have enough decent position players in their system.
They were focused on adding depth arms. The gears have switched back to bats now.
 

beckdawg

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Cubs MiLB system is ranked 29th or so in Baseball America? Beck, you;ve done a nice job with these posts. They don't have enough decent position players in their system.
Well here's the thing... I don't like talking about systems in that way because it's kind of arbitrary. For example, what are you looking for? Are you looking at depth or are you looking for stars? Typically most prospect sites are looking for stars and that's why the cubs aren't really high on anyone's list. However, I personally prefer systems that are deep. The cubs pitching is SUPER deep but doesn't have many super high ceiling types.

As for the bats, the cubs are really strong up the middle(C, 2B, SS, CF). They are less so at the corners. 3B is a bit of a tire fire at the moment and they don't have many guys with power at SS they could move over. That being said, Bote and Bryant so is it really an issue? They have very little at 1B that interests me. I'm not sure that's a huge issue because I'm of the belief drafting 1B is a waste. I think you just move guys to 1B if they can't handle other positions. That being said Rizzo is almost 30 so they will need some solution soon or later.

In the corner OF they have a lot of decent OF types. My guess is Brennen Davis is probably their current long term plan in CF with Roederer being a far safer back up. Idea there being if Davis doesn't work out his hit tool then Roederer is the guy and if he does you move Roederer to LF though it could be they do view him as a CF and plan to move Davis to RF because he does have a cannon. The main issue as I see it is you're currently banking decently hard on Velazquez and/or Sierra panning out. As I said above Sierra really interests me. He drew Strawberry comps coming out as an IFA as a lanky lefty with power and decent speed(stole 10 bases in 68 games at A-). I think he'll hit for average and scouts say he has a lot of raw power but he's not getting to it yet in games. Velazquez i'm not as sure about. He looks like he may be a high k rate guy with power.

So, they have a few areas of need to fill in the forthcoming drafts but I think they are in a position where they have enough depth to gamble a little which is the main reason I prefer deep systems. The issue with the system in 2012 was they didn't have that kind of depth so it meant taking a lot of safer players just so you could build up the organizational depth you need to sustain the team we see now. If they keep plugging holes at the same rate they have been depth wise and can sprinkle in a few high risk gems things will change a lot. Plus, IFA is one area where the cubs can reasonably compete for high level talent even when good. They have been really good in scouting Mexico which sucked a little last year because MLB stopped Mexican signings. However that has since been remedied for 2019. And when I say really good here's just some names I can think of off the top of my head... Albertos, Reivaj Garcia(#21 on their top 30), Isaac Paredes(mlb #99 overall traded to tigers for wilson), Javier Assad.
 

CSF77

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So Beck is Donnie Dewees real this year? He is 25 and is hitting both sides over .300. .456 OBA also. It feels like a short sample size but factoring in that he is in his prime years it might be something to watch.

They have him at CF now and he did get a PO at 1B so that was my concern with him going in. Arm vs speed.
 

beckdawg

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So Beck is Donnie Dewees real this year? He is 25 and is hitting both sides over .300. .456 OBA also. It feels like a short sample size but factoring in that he is in his prime years it might be something to watch.

They have him at CF now and he did get a PO at 1B so that was my concern with him going in. Arm vs speed.
Well the results are real. His BABIP is .293 so below what you'd typically cite as "average" and his bb/k rates are 17.5%/9.5%. With that being said, I'm wondering how much impact the MLB balls are having. They just started using them this season in AAA and people have been saying for awhile that the MLB ball was juiced.

If you're asking me what I think going forward I'm not sure. I think the k rate is likely to hold up but maybe drop a little. He put up a 12.4% k rate in A at 22 over 410 PAs and a 15.5% over 524 PAs at 23 and 310 PAs at 24 in AA. That walk rate is new however. He's never posted anything above the 8.8% he put up at 23 in AA. Having a walk rate higher than your k rate is a pretty rare profile. It's usually just REALLY great hitters with power who don't strike out much and because of their power get walked. That's really not him. And without knowing how his walk rate goes it's difficult to make a firm prediction.

I think worst case he's La Stella. I'm not sure exactly how he works in the OF. He's probably just a LF with CF range because his arm is apparently pretty crap. Can he basically be akin to what Ian Kinsler was with texas? That's a .272/.350/.461 .188 ISO 9.8%/12.1% bb/k guy. Maybe but probably a bit less power. The biggest thing he has going for him though is that like La Stella he's a lefty bat and that's always going to be useful off the bench.

Honestly, I never discount this front office's ability to find hitters. They originally drafted him and there's not many guys you can name that weren't at least some what useful MLB hitters(ie soler) types. I think it's going to be tough for him to make it with the current team but if we project toward 2020 having him pair with Almora isn't the worst idea in the world though if you're having to accommodate Bryant in the OF more because of Bote and likely Heyward in CF because of his renewed hitting that becomes harder. But I mean if Zobrist is gone and presumably Russell is an easy home grown replacement in 2020 then would we really be too bad off with Dewees over Zagunis?
 

CSF77

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Fair enough.

Ive heard that his arm was crap also. The speed part is nice and the bat is the best it has been.

But honestly unless he has 30+ SB speed I'd pass on the noodle arm myself.

I'm not a fan of Zag either. He is roster waste right now. All they have been doing is pushing Bote to 3B and Bryant to LF. He serves no purpose right now.

That said I don't see any player at AAA worth mentioning to replace him.
 

beckdawg

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I got some follow up stuff for some comments I made. MLB.com within the past week or so put out their top 30 IFA's. I mentioned I think the cubs were looking likely to sign a C and a SS.... so here's more info. Altuve is new to me btw. Made and Quintero i'd heard about else where.

Brayan Altuve | Rank: 30
Hometown: Miranda, Venezuela
Position: CAge: 16 DOB: 1/22/2003Bats: R Throws: RHeight: 5'11" Weight: 160 lb.
WATCH
Scouting grades:
Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50
Altuve reminds some scouts of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
He's lean, muscular and boasts a strong athletic body. He's not a burner on the bases, but he still runs the timed 60-yard run in 6.7-6.8 seconds, which is notable speed for a catcher.
There's some pop to his bat and he has a reputation for hitting line drives to all fields. He has shown good bat speed along with some home run power. Both are expected to increase as he grows and develops more strength. For now, his offensive game is ahead of his defense.
He'll eventually have to harness some of his aggressiveness and athleticism, but what makes him so fun to watch is how well he moves behind the plate. That said, he flashes above-average arm strength, good range and overall adequate defensive actions. Like most catchers his age, he's still working on his receiving skills and calling games. He's going to stay behind the plate despite displaying the type of athleticism and overall abilities that could lead to a position change.
He trains with Andres Mujica and Carlos Azocar in Venezuela. The Cubs are the front-runners to sign the teenage catcher.
Kevin Made | Rank: 11
Hometown: Bani, Venezuela
Position: SSAge: 16 DOB: 9/10/2002Bats: R Throws: RHeight: 6'1" Weight: 160 lb.
WATCH
Scouting grades:
Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55
Made was an intriguing infield prospect when he burst on to the international scene 18 months ago. He's even bigger, better and more interesting now. He's also one of the top shortstops in the class.
The athletic Made has a loose and live body and is also known for his soft hands and proper footwork. He's shown an above-average arm and all of the skills to stay at shortstop after he signs with a team and makes his way through their Minor League system. He has a chance to be an above-average defender when you put all of his skills together.
At the plate, Made uses a slight upstroke swing lots of bat speed to generate flashes of average power. He's been able to hit home runs consistently and has made a habit of getting multiple hits in games. He doesn't strike out often. Made also runs the timed 60-yard run in 6.7 seconds and there is the belief that he will increase his speed as he grows and develops as a player.
The teen projects to be an everyday shortstop with some pop in the Major Leagues if he continues to grow and develop at a normal pace. Made is trained by Jaime Ramos, who a member of MLB's Trainer Partnership Program, in the Dominican Republic. The Cubs are the favorites to sign him.
Ronnier Quintero | Rank: 6
Hometown: Bolivar, Dominican Republic
Position: CAge: 16 DOB: 11/13/2002Bats: L Throws: RHeight: 6'0" Weight: 175 lb.
WATCH
Scouting grades:
Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50
Quintero is the top catcher in the 2019 class and one of the best prospects from Venezuela this year. For starters, he's a left-handed hitter with easy power and lots of upside offensively. He has a polished approach at the plate and has a chance to hit for average. What's more, Quintero has the potential to establish himself as a middle-of-the-lineup type of bat and as one of the best run-producing catchers on the international market in recent years.
In the best-case scenario, he hits 25 home runs a year with a batting average near .280. On the other side of the ball, Quintero is a solid defender with a quick transfer and plus arm potential. His receiving skills are improving, and he already shows leadership skills. He will never be a threat as a runner, but he's smart and won't clog up the bases.
Excluding the run tool, he is expected to be average or plus across the board as he grows and develops. Quintero is from Venezuela, but he has been training in the Dominican Republic with Jaime Ramos, who is part of MLB's Trainer Partnership Program. The Cubs are the favorites to sign the teen catcher.
 
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