By Todd Johnson
Let’s be clear about one thing, Mark Zagunis is one of my favorite Cubs prospects. His 2016 season is proof why. To begin the year, he was assigned to AA Tennessee. He displayed excellent pitch recognition skills and an approach that is major-league ready. He went on to have his best season in Tennessee (.308/.406/.453) along with a couple months at AAA Iowa (.274/.360/.486). I thought that at the beginning of August that he was hitting so well, and driving the ball into the gaps, that he would make an appearance in September in Chicago. However, an injury to an ankle sidelined him for the rest of August. Now that 2017 is here, I am excited to see what happens this year.
Amazing on-base percentage
Areas of Concern
Next Up in 2017
He will be at AAA Iowa to begin the year and could be the first outfield prospect called up to Chicago.
What I would like to see
I see Mark Zagunis as an elite hitting prospect. He may not have as much power as some people want him to, but I don’t think that he really has to, either. I see him more as a leadoff hitter in the major leagues or a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the order.
He has shown the ability time and time again to get on base throughout his career. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be able to do that at the major league level. Sure, there will be sometimes he gets caught watching the paint dry, but even the best hitters have them happen occasionally. I see him hitting ninth for the Cubs occasionally this summer and fall. Imagine the runs he could score with Kyle Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo behind him and all he has to do is get a walk, which is his natural proclivity.
He’s never going to be at 30 home run guy, but he doesn’t need to be to be successful. It is extremely rare to find someone with a natural eye like Zagunis.
MLB.com’s Prospect list has close to the same analysis. They say:
While he’s an on-base machine, Zagunis doesn’t do anything else better than average and likely is more of a fourth outfielder than a regular. He has played some center field as a pro but fits better on the corners with his average speed, range and arm strength.
I don’t agree with that entire statement. If he gets on base with an OBP of .400, he’s playing every day somewhere.