By Todd Johnson
It used to seem as if the Cubs had all the shortstop prospects a few years ago. Those days are gone. Once Gleyber Torres was traded, the shortstop position in the Cubs’ system lost its luster. It’s not as if the Cubs don’t have players playing shortstop, they do. It’s just that the high-end talent is at the lowest part of the system.
There’s no point bemoaning the fact that this position is getting pretty thin when it comes to prospects heading towards the majors. But, with Addison Russell and Javy Baez basically putting a brick wall in front of the position for the next five years, the Cubs can really take their time and develop shortstops. And, like the other positions in the infield, the Cubs are pretty well set in Chicago for a while.
5. Andruw Monasterio last year had a Jekyll and Hyde season. His first month at Eugene he hit over .350 and was promoted to South Bend. Over the last month of the year, he hit under .200. At Eugene, he was Mr. Excitement; at South Bend, he was Mr. Mistake. Ideally, he should stay in South Bend. That way, he can work on fixing his approach at the plate, his footwork in the field, and his over aggressiveness to the game. I think at some point the game has to slow down for him because right now he’s making small mistakes that turn into big ones. He’s far from washed up. He’s an excellent athlete who hustles but makes poor choices in game action. This could be from laying off pitches to throwing to the wrong base. I think a lot of it is just game experience.
4. Delvin Zinn – I don’t know if he will stick at shortstop, but for today, we are going to put him there. He might actually move over to second base. Zinn has the unique distinction of being drafted in back to back years by the Cubs. He did not sign in 2015. He originally was to attend Mississippi State, and did for a semester, before transferring to a junior college. The Cubs selected him again in 2016 and he fortunately signed. He did get off to a late start and struggled a bit at rookie ball at Mesa. However, he showed that he could make adjustments. His last couple weeks were pretty good and, at fall instructs, he was one of the most improved players in the fall. He is a great athlete who needs to refine some aspects of his game. He should be in Eugene in 2017. I expect to see him play multiple positions, maybe even including a shot in center field.
3. Zack Short – Right now, he is the most advanced shortstop in the system. He can field and he has an excellent arm. He may have only hit .240 something last year, but he also had a .400 on-base percentage and has the potential for some power. Hopefully, over this winter, he’s added a few pounds of muscle, but I really enjoyed watching him play every day at Eugene. He gets to a lot of balls and he makes excellent plays. He doesn’t try to do too much but he does do a lot. He should begin 2017 at South Bend. The fans there are going to love his attitude, his makeup, and his personality.
2. Isaac Paredes – I almost put Isaac number one. At just 17 last fall, I got to see him play a little bit at South Bend. He didn’t look 17, he looked like a veteran. He has a great hit tool with what he showed in Mesa last summer and for a few games in South Bend. I think in 2017 he will be at Eugene and then work his way back to South Bend. I think he just filled in there at the end of the year because Eugene didn’t want to take anything away from their championship run. He’s got a big body and he’s not sure how to use it yet. For hitting. I think it will be fun to watch him this summer at Eugene and if he does really well there, he could be in South Bend very quickly.
1. Aramis Ademan is also 17. The youngster made his debut in the Dominican Summer League and displayed a good approach at the plate. His batting average wasn’t the greatest but he showed that he can make good solid contact with the potential for some power later. But Ademan’s greatest strength is his defense. He has soft hands, quick feet, and a very nice arm. He should be in Mesa to begin the 2017 season.
I think you can best describe this lot of shortstops as extremely young. Zack Short is the old man at 21 while you have two 19-year-olds and two 17-year-olds. They are going to take some time to grow and mature.
There are other shortstops in the system like Carlos Penalver and Bryant Flete , who have done the job defensively but lack certain offensive skills; Although, Flete did hit .285 in a 34 games stint at Myrtle Beach last August. Andrew Ely is another shortstop playing out of position who also did well in 2016 at South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
What is now the weakest position in the system will be interesting to watch how they advance develop over the next year. In two or three years, this could be the strongest position.
*The Ademan and Zinn cards were made from pics by John Arguello
* Zack Short photo courtesy of the Eugene Emeralds