Here at Cubs Central, a new Top 21 List could appear very shortly depending on how many more at bats Albert Almora and Willson Contreras get at the big league level to technically not call them prospects. Once Contreras and Almora get 150 plate appearances, then the two will lose their prospect status. It won’t be long as Willson is at 93. The list could also change with a trade in the next couple of weeks.
On Baseball Prospectus’ Top 50 List, which broke last week, Eloy Jimenez rated in at #28 ahead of Gleyber Torres and Ian Happ. MLB Pipeline will release their new Top 30 Cubs prospects within the next two weeks. Although only three Cubs made BP’s list and Baseball America’s Top 100, there are more Cubs coming. Here are some thoughts about prospects that are doing extremely well in the second half of the 2016 season.
Moving on up the Lists
Eddy Martinez – Since June 1, there is no hotter hitter in the Cubs organization than Eddy. He has become much more selective on what type of pitches he swings at and what type of pitches he lets go. The power still could improve but his six-week progression has taken his batting average from 200 to 270. At the rate he’s going he’ll be at 290 by the end of July. Just in the first full week of July, he hit 556.
Victor Caratini – As a hitter this year, he has been pretty productive and impressive. The switch-hitting catcher got off to a poor start in April and rebounded nicely in May and June, hitting over .300 for both months. My only concern about him is that he really has not hit for power yet. I think that may come next year in AAA or in the majors. Switch hitting catchers don’t grow on trees. I think his value is pretty high, or as high as it is going to get without home runs.
Billy McKinney – He’s not going to skyrocket off the list, but he has been pretty productive, much more than I thought he would be coming off a broken kneecap. I did not expect to see him until actually right now in the season. After hitting .206 in April, McKinney put together months of .287, .288, and currently in July, he is hitting over .320. Like Caratini, McKinney could hit for more power as well.
Ian Happ – The second-year second baseman made a smooth transition from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee in late June. He’s hitting .393 at Tennessee with two home runs and 11 RBIs in just 15 games. I think Happ is one of those players who gets better at each level because the competition is better. The pitchers are around the plate and not as wild as they are at lower levels.
Eloy Jimenez – He just continues to impress the living daylights out of me. I don’t think I’ve seen a hitter in the Cubs system the past five years with better pitch recognition skills than Eloy. He can always tell what the pitch is, but sometimes he just can’t hit it, even though he wants to. There have been times that I think that he is the best player in the system this year. I’ve often wondered if I should put him at number one if he continues the development track he is on.
Making a Case for Getting on a List
Carlos Sepulveda – After missing most of April and about half of May, Sepulveda has been raining down hits in torrents. In June, the 19-year-old hit .330 in 23 games. In July, he’s amped it up to .349. While he will not be a home run hitter, he can string together some doubles and triples. What I like most is that the left-handed hitting second baseman kills left-handed pitching with a .383 average.
Ian Rice – When drafted most people thought he was just going to be an organizational catcher. When you hit nine home runs in two months at South Bend, that changes a lot of people’s opinions about your value in the system. In addition to power, he has an excellent eye at the plate. For the year he is hitting .297 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs and a .411 on-base percentage. I think the challenge with him going forward is just how much is he going to catch, play first base, or be the designated hitter for the rest of this year.
Preston Morrison – I don’t have enough accolades for Morrison for this year. His ERA for the year is 2.44, but since June 1 it is 0.68. He’s struck out 73 batters in 81 innings and currently is on a 28 inning scoreless streak. And I get to see him pitch tonight. I cannot wait! Hopefully, the rain misses Clinton, Iowa.
Andruw Monasterio – This kid is real and this kid is raw! He can swing the bat, but he also chases after pitches. He can make any ground ball an adventure for the defender with his speed. Then he can easily get thrown out at second base trying to steal. He can make the routine ball look hard and the hard hit grounder in the hole look easy on defense. It’s going to take some time for him to gel and smooth out his imperfections, which are also his assets.
There are some other players we will profile next week who might sneak onto a list at the end of this year. The reason they are not included today is because of the small sample size of games they’ve played in the Cubs organization and at the level at which they have played them.