As Nate Greabe pointed out in last week’s minor league update, the South Bend Cubs have an interesting young bat in 2013 IFA signing Wladimir Galindo who could be lucrative to other teams if the Chicago Cubs pursue a top-flight starting pitcher before the trade deadline in a deal structured similarly to last year’s acquisition of Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees.
Galindo, just 20 years old, is off to a solid, though injury-filled start to his 2017 season in South Bend. Despite missing 25 games as of last weekend, Galindo is in the team’s top four in doubles, home runs, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He’s currently in his second stint on the disabled list, this time with a leg injury after he missed two weeks with a shoulder ailment in early May. But when he’s healthy, he has drawn some eyebrow-raising comparisons from his manager, Jimmy Gonzalez.
“I see more like size and the power capability that he has, like a[n Albert] Pujols-type power guy, built similar, they’re both big guys,” Gonzalez said. “We were just in Bowling Green [May 24th] and he hit a ball to right field where, me coaching third base, I see the ball off the bat and I know it’s a home run immediately. I’m just hoping it stays fair. So he has that kind of power, he’s hit home runs to left, right, he has a lot of power.”
The combination of a strong, athletic frame and plus power potential resembles a fellow Maracay, Venezuela native, Miguel Cabrera. When Cabrera debuted as a 20-year-old with the Marlins in 2003, he was only listed at 6’2″ 180 pounds.
Galindo, who won’t turn 21 until the off-season, is already listed at 210. He says Cabrera and Jose Altuve, both fellow Maracay natives, are players he studies closely.
“Miguel went through the same things I’m going through right now,” Galindo said through a translator, “so it’s a good example for me. I’m watching videos of their swings just to be similar to them or better. But since I was a kid, I’ve been following them.”
Gonzalez says he believes Galindo’s power is one of the first things observers will notice about him. “He’ll take some easy swings and the ball’s just jumping off. So that’s one of those things where he needs to recognize that he doesn’t have to do too much, just stay within himself and know that his power is there and swing easy.”
Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen says Galindo could be an everyday player in the big leagues eventually because of his power, placing him as the Cubs’ 31st best prospect before the season: “Gallindo has plus raw power right now but is a big, stiff, upper-body power hitter without any bat control and he can’t play third base. He’s also had injury issues. The power is intriguing, though.”
Gonzalez says Galindo has improved some defensively, but with the parent club blocked on both corner infield spots for the foreseeable future, Galindo may be more likely used as a trade chip than as a future Cub.
“Any guy at this level can be a guy that gets traded for a high arm or whatever position it may be, so I don’t think they should worry about it, they just go out there and perform and play and do the things that they know how to do.” Gonzalez said.
He said he had conversations with Gleyber Torres, the centerpiece of the Chapman deal who played under Gonzalez with the South Bend Cubs in 2015, about potentially being included in deadline deals. “There were a lot of scouts here watching and it was obvious they were watching him,” Gonzalez remembered. “I don’t know if at this age [players] are thinking about that.”
Galindo says he’s not.
“I work hard everyday. I’m not paying attention to that, but if something happens and I get traded, I will always work hard no matter what, and be ready to go everyday.”
If he does end up staying in the Cubs system, Gonzalez will be happy to continue to teach.
“He’s a young player that’s learning that as he goes, game by game and I’m happy with the adjustments that he’s made from day one and it’s fun to watch him play.”