Every year there are players who break out and have seasons that catch the eye of the average fan. Then there are other prospects whose progress is very incremental. You look up and all of a sudden they are hitting .300 or their ERA is suddenly under three. The Cubs have several prospects this year who fit this description. Their slow growth this year could mean a breakout year for them in 2016.
Here are 10 prospects to keep an eye on for 2016.
1. Rashad Crawford OF – I like Rashad a lot. He can play all three outfield positions, he bats left-handed, and he is not yet filled out physically. As a result, I think there’s some power in his 6’3” frame that the Cubs might want to try and tap the next few years. He’s not going to hit a lot of homeruns but he could have a lot of doubles and triples with his speed.
2. Ryan McNeil RP– The 6’3” righty missed the better part of two years. He has really hit his stride this year. He did not allow an earned run the entire month of July. Is ERA has plummeted from 5+ at the end of May down to 2.53. He missed most of 2012 and all 2013. His fastball is finally back above 90 and tops at 92. This is much improved from the 88-90 he threw at the beginning of the year. If all goes well, next year he could be back at 95 where he was before the surgery.
3. Brad Markey SP – Along with Ryan Williams, have been the surprise pitchers of the year in the Cubs organization. Markey has an ERA under 1 at Myrtle Beach and went seven innings and struck out ten on Sunday afternoon. In his only month as a starter, the right-hander out of Virginia Tech has a 1.15 ERA in his last 39 innings between South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
4. David Garner RP – Except for one outing Garner has been outstanding the past three months. He is throwing in the mid-90s. His move through South Bend is complete and is now garnering rave reviews at Myrtle Beach where he has not allowed an earned run. In fact, he is striking out over 1 batter per inning.
5. Josh Conway RP – Having been a starter most of his career, transitioning to being a reliever had its downs at the beginning of the year for Josh. Since the beginning of June, Josh has put it all together. His ERA is under one in July and under two since June 1. He is back to throwing 93 which he was before missing two years due to surgery.
6. Michael Wagner SP – To be honest, I never saw this coming. Wagner was pressed into service is a starter at South Bend due to suspensions and injuries. Since he began starting, he hasn’t stopped. His ERA as a starter is a very respectable 3.15. Wagner has been outstanding controlling the bottom part of the zone.
7. James Norwood SP – When you can throw 95, you can throw 95. Saturday night James Norwood made his starting debut at South Bend and he did not disappoint. In four innings he allowed one run, struck out five, and was topping out at 96 miles an hour (allegedly 1 mph fast on the gun). The Cubs don’t have a starter in low A that throws 95. The rest of the starts in August should be very interesting to watch.
8. Tommy Thorpe SP – As a reliever, Tommy Thorpe struggled mightily with an ERA approaching 5+ for South Bend. Since his conversion to starting, Thorpe has been outstanding with a 2.16 ERA in five starts in July.
9. Yeiler Peguero SS– This little shortstop will probably make his stateside debut in instructs this winter. Likely he will be in Arizona Rookie League next spring. The 5’7” Dominican Rookie League shortstop was recently named MVP of the Dominican Summer League All-Star game. He’s just 17 now and turns 18 in September.
10. Daniel Lockhart 2B- This much we know: He can really field. I think he is the best infield defender in the entire organization, hands down. He can go to his left, right, back, and in equally on any ground or fly ball. In addition, he has a very solid arm. However, he has yet to hit for average. We have seen glimpses and stretches, but he has not been able to sustain a streak for very long. Hopefully, next year will be his year. With his glove, no one is asking him to hit a ton; .260-280 would be great for him with his glove.
Yonathon Sierra OF – IFA, big frame, should hit and hit for power
James Farris RP – got off to a very rough start at Myrtle Beach, he’s been a stud in July. He has not allowed a run in his last 5 outings.
Gioskar Amaya C – A lot of transitions in learning to catch this year. He should come out swinging in 16
Dave Berg RP – drafted a month ago, at High A now, a 1.93 combined ERA – skipped South Bend
Yonathan Perlaza 2B and Aramis Ademan SS – at only 17, they could be in Arizona if their game is as advanced as we think it is.
2015 Drafted Pitchers – Effross, Kellogg, Twomey, Morrison, Hudson, Miller, and Bloomquist could all blossom as starters in 2016. The question is where do you put them all with Sands, Steele, and De La Cruz. #GoodProblemToHave