This is the last Young Cubs update of the year. Let’s not get overly sentimental or sappy here; there’s an exciting MLB playoff chase to watch and these kids will (mostly) be here when we reconvene in April.
Let’s get to it:
|Gleyber Torres||Hi-A Myrtle Beach||.287/.346/.376, 3 HR, 24 2B, 5 3B|
|Ian Happ||Low-A South Bend||.259/.356/.466, 30 XBH in 67 G|
|Billy McKinney||Double-A Tennessee||.300/.371/.454, 7 HR, 31 2B, 44-60 BB-SO|
|Albert Almora||Double-A Tennessee||.272/.327/.400, 36 XBH, 32-47 BB-SO|
|Pierce Johnson||Double-A Tennessee||95 IP, 2.08 ERA, 72-32 SO-BB, 1.14 WHIP|
|Dan Vogelbach||Double-A Tennessee||.279/.415/.434, 7 HR, 63-62 BB-SO|
|Carson Sands||Short Season Eugene||57.1 IP, 3.92 ERA, 41-21 SO-BB, 1.45 WHIP|
|Duane Underwood||Hi-A Myrtle Beach||78 IP, 2.41 ERA, 54-24 SO-BB, 1.01 WHIP|
|Jen-Ho Tseng||Hi-A Myrtle Beach||119 IP, 3.55 ERA, 87-30 SO-BB, 1.22 WHIP|
|Carl Edwards Jr.||MLB||MLB|
|Eloy Jimenez||Short Season Eugene||.284/.328/.418, 7 HR, 15-43 BB-SO|
|Dylan Cease||AZL Cubs||24 IP, 2.63 ERA, 25-16 SO-BB, 1.17 WHIP|
|Arismendy Alcantara||Triple-A Iowa Cubs||.231/.285/.399, 20 2B, 10 3B, 12 HR, 125 SO|
|Christian Villanueva||Triple-A Iowa Cubs||.257/.314/.438, 20 HR|
Gleyber Torres – We’ve been waiting around for some full-season Torres action and he didn’t disappoint. Torres has a natural ability to hit and the raw hit tool is plus. Like most young guys Torres will have to tamper down his approach some and do a better job of not trying to hit spin that his bat can’t reach. There’s some strength coming, and with it there will be more extra-base hits, but those will likely be wall-banger doubles rather than over-the-fence power. Torres doesn’t figure to be a long-term shortstop—I think it’s 60-40 between third base and short right now—but even at the hot corner the bat will play well. I didn’t see a star with Torres, but I did see a mature, productive major-league starter.
Billy McKinney – I’ve written about him plenty because he’s been highly impressive. His feel for the barrel is tough to find, and while there is a hole in his swing, he has the ability to cover it well enough to be a productive starter. McKinney isn’t long for center and his offensive profile takes a definite ding in left, but he has the skills to contribute.
Dylan Cease – We’re going to likely talk about Cease a lot as the offseason gets rolling and instructs get underway. I’ve heard reports that Cease is hitting 100 and sitting in the upper 90s. He has very little idea of where it’s going at present and the secondaries require some work, but he has a high-upside skillset that will be coming into focus as we get closer to Opening Day 2016.
Duane Underwood – He didn’t crack 100 innings pitched, but there are plenty of positives to take from Underwood’s season. He possesses elite-level arm speed and a fastball/curve combo that can be plus. Underwood’s change developed as well, which gives him a chance to become a no. 3.
Eloy Jimenez – Yes, there are concerns about his swing mechanics, but the contact he produces is just fun. Jimenez will have a long developmental path to the majors, but considering his physical profile and swing plane, he can be a very fun prospect down the line.
Wait and See
Ian Happ – Happ showed flashes of power and maintained solid on-base skills all year. He wasn’t really challenged all that much and we’ll have to wait for a higher level test to see what Happ can do against better arms. There’s some potential here, but in my viewing it was more of the 60 hit, 40 over-the-fence power variety.
Albert Almora – It was far too early to bury him, but there were warning signs all over Almora’s offensive profile in the first half. He turned it on in the second half and assuaged some fears, but the plus projections on his hit tool seem like a distant memory at this point. He can still be a productive major leaguer thanks to his defensive profile, but the hit tool looks more average than plus.
Christian Villanueva – The power came back and he made better contact in 2015. That’s a nice bonus to go along with plus defense. Villanueva’s story has yet to be finished, but his profile looks to be that of a 45 hit, 55 power, plus defender at third. That plays.
Pierce Johnson – I just want to see him have a healthy season once. Just one time.
Arismendy Alcantará – He underutilized his broad base of skills this year thanks to an unwillingness to adjust his approach. Alcantará’s chances of contributing at the major-league level hinge on his ability to make those adjustments. He ended the year with a good number of extra-base hits, but overall his production this year was unsatisfying.
Dan Vogelbach – I predicted a return to power-hitting form after escaping Florida, but Vogelbach didn’t comply. He teased at hitting .400 for a brief stint before slumping and landing on the DL. Vogelbach didn’t clarify much this season, which will put the Cubs in a tough spot come Rule-5 time.
Carl Edwards Jr. – He’s in the majors now, but Edwards could have been up so much sooner if he had just harnessed his command. A starting role doesn’t figure to be in the cards for Edwards, but he has a shot at being a high-leverage reliever if he can just find consistent command.
Willson Contreras – Contreras will be making a strong push for the top five on the Cubs prospect list. He’s athletic, has a fine defensive skillset, plays with moxie, and he learned how to hit.
D.J. Wilson – Tooled-up, plus defenders at premium positions will always get love from me. Wilson has deceptive power as well.
|Eugene Emeralds||Short-Season A Ball||21-17, 2 GB|
|South Bend Cubs||Low-A||36-34, 9 GB|
|Myrtle Beach Pelicans||Hi-A||40-29, 5.5 GB|
|Tennessee Smokies||Double-A||37-33, 6 GB|
|Iowa Cubs||Triple-A||80-64, 6 GB|
What to Watch For
Instructs. That’s about it really; we’re going to enter the dead period between now and February where prospect news goes into hibernation save for the trades that may or may not happen this year. The Cubs big-league club has some decisions to make concerning adding some pitching depth. I don’t expect them to be major players for the high-priced pitching that will be out there this year, so look for some 3s and 4s to make their way to Wrigley.
Ok, now let’s get a little sentimental here. That’s it for the minor-league coverage and it’s been a blast for me personally. I learned a lot this year, thanks to some mentors in the industry. I’d like to thank Tucker Blair for taking me under his wing, CJ Wittmann for showing me the ropes, Jeff Moore for letting me bounce ideas off him and teaching me more about prospecting, [REDACTED] for getting me started early this year with report writing and generally being a tremendous mentor, [REDACTED] for bringing me along and always answering my questions, Sahadev for being an understanding boss, and everyone reading this and for reading me.
Until next year.