By Todd Johnson
Today is Eloy’s birthday. He turns 20…Think about that for few minutes.
Back to the Weekly…
Fall League Rankings
Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline published his Top 20 Prospects in the Arizona Fall League this week. Naturally, the Cubs did well. Eloy Jimenez came in at number 3 and Ian Happ was at 8. There was nothing for James Farris or Stephen Perakslis, who were both outstanding. Gleyber Torres was ranked number 1. When I first read that, it hurt a little. Then I remembered we won the World Series. So, I was pretty good with it.
Next Up Series Debuts Wednesday
Beginning on Wednesday the 30th, the “Next Up” series will begin. Simply put, it will be a series of weekly prospect profiles and their development. The focus will be on what the prospect needs to do in 2017. In past series, the focus was on the history of the prospect. This year, the series will focus on what the prospect needs to do to advance their development. The first prospect up will be Wladimir Galindo.
First Prospect List Arrives
‘Tis the Season for Prospect Lists and yesterday John Sickels released his evaluation of the Cubs. Atop the rankings was none other than Eloy Jimenez. Dylan Cease came in second. Surprisingly, Sickels had Trevor Clifton at 3 and Happ at 4. Other surprises in his top twenty included Wladimir Galindo at 14, Ryan Kellogg at 15, and Erling Moreno at 17. One interesting side note was that Sickels emphasized that Duane Underwood could be in the bullpen, which has been mentioned on Cubs Central a time or two.
Spencer Patton left the Cubs to play in Japan leaving the 40 man roster at 37 as the recently acquired David Rollins was placed on waivers to get to AAA. He didn’t make it. Rollins was claimed by Texas. Meanwhile, rumors continue to fly about the Cubs’ search for young controllable pitchers. With the trade of Taijuan Walker to Arizona, that took him out of the running. However, there are other teams who could help including Tampa Bay and/or Oakland. Names include Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray. It is still early in the offseason.
My hot “taek” is that the Cubs should go for a “Prospect for Prospect” deal. The Cubs could slide Mike Montgomery in the 5 spot for a year and acquire a young prospect on the cusp of making it to the majors. That name that comes to mind first is Brent Honeywell of the Rays. He pitched at AA Montgomery last year and was outstanding. His out pitch is a devastating screwball. It is as wicked of a pitch as you will see.
David Paulino of the Astros is another possibility. At 6’7” and 255 pounds, he throws 98 and was outstanding in AAA last year. He did get called up in September. He could fit right in with all the other power arms in the pen for a year.
I think the Cubs will acquire multiple arms over the next year as Arrieta’s and Lackey’s expire at the end of 2017. In fact, don’t be surprised to see 4 or 5 come aboard and the Cubs will see who sticks.
Draft Profile #2
Mark Vientos – SS – American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla.
6’4” and 190 Pounds; R/R; Committed the University of Miami
Remember when the Cubs had “all the shortstops.” Last week in the “Draft Profile,” SS Ricardo de la Torre was examined. This week, another SS the Cubs might possibly get in the low to mid-20s is Mark Vientos. The tall, rangy shortstop is a year younger than most HS seniors. Most recently, Baseball America ranked him as the number 14 high school prospect in the nation. I hope he can fall to the Cubs. He has a lot of power potential. He is also far from being filled out at 190 pounds. Whether he sticks at short or goes to a corner outfield spot is not a concern, his bat has some serious “oomph” in it.
Here is a nice video collection below. You can see he gets easily jammed and becomes “Mr. Pop-Up.” However, you can also see how easily he squares a ball up with excellent lift. He has good plant feet on defense and is said to have a very good arm.
Strengths: Good frame, Versatile, Will Only Be 17 on Draft Day, power potential, very athletic, strength, physically projectable
Areas of Concern: Approach, gets jammed easily, long levers in swing generate power but allow for weakness to be exploited
What Other Say
*Fan Graphs said he has a “broad base of precocious skills that led one scout to mention Manny Machado.”
*Fueled by Sports claims that “Vientos is one of the better high school prospects in the 2017 MLB Draft, with his five-tool potential and a projectable frame. He has a nice looking swing and has [the] potential to hit for both average and power. He also has a plus potential glove with an already plus arm.”
I can see the Cubs taking him and just letting that bat progress. It is special. When drafted, he will be quite the power prospect and could easily be one of the Cubs’ Top 5 to 7 prospects when he debuts.
Next Up Series: Wladimir Galindo
Punching My Hall of Fame Ballot… If I Had One
Position Breakdown Series: 1B Prospects Have Nothing but Time.
The Weekly and Draft Profile #3