By Todd Johnson
It was a busy week at the Winter Meetings for the Cubs. Gone are Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler and in are Jon Jay and Wade Davis on one-year deals. In addition, the Cubs selected pitcher Caleb Smith and infielder Ryan Cornelius in the Rule V Draft while losing Armando Rivero and Daniel Lockhart. I thought that it was a pretty good week as the Cubs held on to top prospects.
Now that the week is over and it’s time for the minor-league weekly report, we now get to ask the most important question of the week:
How does this affect Eloy?
It really doesn’t.
It’s pretty clear that Eloy’s either going to play either left field or right field in the majors. So, losing and signing a CF has no effect. Losing Jorge, on the other hand, could open up a spot a bit sooner than expected.
What is not certain at this point is Eloy’s estimated time of arrival. At just 19, he had a monster season in the Midwest League at South Bend. He did make it to Myrtle Beach for the playoffs in a small sample size. He also wound up playing in the Arizona Fall League with mixed results.
However, for 2017, I don’t know how much he is going to improve hitting into the wind at Myrtle Beach. Part of me thinks he should go to AA Tennessee. That’s an extremely aggressive move. On the other hand, how much of a challenge is Myrtle Beach going to be for him? Will it be just another pinball machine type of season.? Ultimately, you want Eloy to dominate wherever he goes. But then again, you also want him to be challenged.
The issue for him, as it is with every other Cubs position prospect, is that there is no place for him to play until, at the earliest, 2019.
The Cubs’ roster in its current state has all the young position players signed through 2021. Ben Zobrist is signed through 2019 Jason Heyward has an opt-out clause in his contract after 2018. Unless Heyward gets his bat figured out, I don’t think he’s going anywhere until 2021.
Sometimes I find it odd that Eloy’s fate really is tied into someone else’s contract. But here’s the strange thing, when Zobrist leaves after 2019, Eloy would turn 23 that November. That’s still pretty young. He could spend the end of 2019 (at 22) in a utility role learning to be a major leaguer. There are still a lot of ifs and buts, too many in fact.
Then again, there is no one like Eloy in the Cubs system anymore. Ultimately, that may push his ETA more than anything
Draft Profile #4
Currently, the Cubs have moved up to the 28th pick in the draft after two free agent signings this week. They also gained a compensation pick with Dexter Fowler signing with the Cardinals. That pick would be somewhere around 40-43, depending on where certain free agents sign in the next few months.
This Week’s Profile
Mitchell Stone – LHP – Deer Creek High School, Edmond, OK.
6’10” 245 – Committed to Oklahoma State
Last summer, the Cubs continued a trend in the Theo Era of drafting very tall pitchers. Mitchell Stone fits in that class. A lefty to boot, the young HS senior uses a very controlled delivery to throw in the low 90s. He is not like current Cubs prospect Bryan Hudson, rather he has a bit more of a power arm. Like Hudson, Stone is very athletic and has a sweeping breaking ball. I have seen projections of him going as high as the first round and as low as the fourth round.
92/93 mph fastball
71-78 mph slider
Variety of Pitches
Keeps Hitters off-balance
Areas of Concern:
Long Term health
Effort in Torso
What Others Say
Eric Logenhagen – Fangraphs
His fastball sits 87-90 with the kind of downhill plane that requires a runaway truck ramp every few miles. Stone’s back and torso are heavily involved in his delivery and there’s some effort to it, but I’m comfortable projecting him as a starter and think he’ll throw an acceptable number of strikes […] His sweeping 71-78 mph curveball shows good shape and depth and was more reliably average as my viewings over the past several weeks went along. He has some changeup feel and, while his arm acceleration isn’t special, I don’t think projecting an average change is irresponsible.
Mike Lemaire – Baseball America
92 mph with his fastball and showing feel for his breaking ball while proving he has the athleticism to repeat his delivery […] he was able to throw multiple pitches for strikes and keep the opposing hitters off-balance.
I think there is a lot that he can improve on with pro instruction. He does throw relatively smoothly for a 91-92 mph fastball, but I think he could ramp up a couple more mph based on his size by ironing out some kinks.
The Cubs have shown a penchant for taking tall pitchers the past couple of years. Stone fits that bill. Whether it is the first round or compensatory round, I think he is someone worth watching this spring.
Position Breakdown Series: Shortstop Is Pretty Thin
Next Up Series: Trevor Clifton
The Weekly and Draft Profile #5