By Todd Johnson
Most prospect lists have between three and five Cub prospects in their top 100 lists. While Eloy and Ian Happ are the only usual picks, others filtering in the lists include Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, Trevor Clifton, and Albert Almora. It just depends on the list.
This got me thinking what other Cubs could make it onto lists later this year. It is more than just looking at current rankings. It includes evaluating pure talent, performance, and projection.
I think 2017 begins with Jose Albertos bursting onto the scene. We might have to wait until June to see it, or it could happen at South Bend. Fangraphs describes why Albertos is so special:
Albertos was sitting 90-94 mph in extended spring training before his fastball ticked up in the summer. He was 93-98 in his only AZL outing, throwing strikes where he wanted to at 95, and still bumping 96-plus in his fourth inning of work.
Another ascending prospect, Oscar de la Cruz, is a big, big man. He has such a dominating presence at close to 6’6″ on the mound. He can throw in the mid-90s and has a plus curve. He is still working on his change. If he can begin 2017 healthy, he could easily break onto most lists. MLB Pipeline placed him in their second 100. So, he’s close.
Depending on who you ask, evaluations very greatly on our next prospect at the plate. However, Eddy Martinez is very talented in the field. He has a great arm and, with Donnie Dewees now in Kansas City, Martinez could slide over to center this spring. I think his arm plays better in right. I think his bat will be better this after missing basically two seasons getting out of Cuba.
Wladimir Galindo and Erling Moreno are two members of the Cubs vaunted 2013 IFA class. Both missed the better part of two seasons and both were excellent in Eugene in 2016. Moreno throws in the low to mid-90s and has a devastating 12-6 curve. His WHIP was 0.70 last year. Galindo hit 9 HRs in a little over 60 games. He could hit 20+ this year at South Bend. That would put him in an elite status.
The Cubs 2016 third round pick, Thomas Hatch, did not pitch after putting in 131 IP at Oklahoma State in 2016 after missing all of 2015. It appears we will see his four-pitch mix at South Bend. And that four-pitch mix will likely overpower Midwest League hitters.
Sometimes prospects stumble, and for Duane Underwood, let’s just hope 2016 was a stumble after two years of pesky minor injuries. I am hoping he can return to form and shoot back onto most lists with a rebound season. It’s all about commanding his pitches down in the zone.
The Cubs have two first round picks and more than likely those picks will be on some top 100 lists at the end of the season, especially if they get a prep bat.
In the end, I think you have to give the best odds to de la Cruz and Albertos. With Trevor Clifton and Dylan Cease a little bit ahead on most lists, I truly think this is the year where Cubs pitchers begin to break out in a big way.