By Todd Johnson
I don’t think anyone saw Daniel Spingola coming on so strong to start the 2017 season. The Myrtle Beach outfielder is hitting .323 with a .404 on base percentage. He made Cubs Central’s April All-Star team and he should be on the May All-Star team unless there is a complete meltdown between now and the first of June.
The Cubs first drafted Spingola in 2014 in the 24th round of the MLB draft. At the time, Daniel was coming off a very productive junior season at Georgia Tech. He hit .336 and was an All-ACC selection. Spingola did not sign with the Cubs. Instead, he went back to school to improve his draft stock.
His senior season did not go as well as he only hit .259. The Cubs redrafted Spingola in 2015, with his permission, in the 31st round. He played at three levels in 2015 ending up in low A South Bend.
In 2016, he began the year in South Bend where he hit ..308 in 38 games. He was promoted mid season to Class A Myrtle Beach where he struggled to hit only .243. Some adjustments would have to be made in 2017 if Spingola was going to continue as a Cubs prospect.
Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 180
Draft: Round 31 (2015)
School: Georgia Tech
Hit for average
Left Handed Hitter
Heading into 2017
Daniel is easily the most improved prospect in the System in 2017. The left-handed hitter has been very consistent since the beginning of the season. In April, he hit 308 and is now hitting 339 for the month of May. He’s on base percentage has also been over .400 for most of the year.
What Has Changed
According to Fangraphs, Spingola has been pulling the ball more than usual (Thanks to Scott Kornberg for this tidbit). It also looks as though he is swinging with more lift. As a result, he has been moved into the middle of the Pelican’s order based on his production. He has hit for a little more power, but I don’t know how much more power he has in his retool the swing.
Announcer Scott Kornberg believes that’s Spingola’s swing might be more reminiscent of an earlier time than the swing he developed at Georgia Tech as a leadoff hitter. Whatever Spingola has changed since 2016 has definitely worked. His fly ball to ground ball ratio is still tilted more towards ground balls. However, his fly balls just happen to be finding their way for hits. To date, he has 19 extra-base hits for a .529 slugging percentage. Combined with his on-base percentage, that makes for a nice .933 OPS.
He is also playing with some abandon out in left field. Here are two great catches he has made just in this year.
Spingola just turned 24. Being a little older than most prospects on the team, his time is very short. However, that should not limit his effort. In fact, I think it is intensifying it.
Going forward, Daniel reminds me a lot of Bijan Rademacher. Daniel has been able to adapt and improve at each level just like Bijan had to do. I don’t know if he will have an opportunity to reach Tennessee at some point this year. If he does, I think he’s going to succeed at AA. I would not have said that a year ago after his first 48 games for Myrtle Beach.
There are three reasons why I think he can do just as well at the next level:
1 – He has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do at the plate. He’s not afraid to lay off pitches and take a walk. He also seems to be looking for certain pitches in certain zones that appeal to his swing.
2 – He is willing to make changes to improve his odds of moving further up in the organization.
3 – Desire. You can clearly see how much Spingola likes to play baseball. From how he runs the bases to how he plays in the field and to how he attacks pitches, he is going all out, all the time.
The rest of the summer is going to be filled with more surprises from him. I don’t have a clue as to what those might be, but I’m sure he is going to continue what he started back in April. The arrow is definitely pointing up for him.
*Special Thanks to Scott Kornberg
*Cards made from photos by Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Rikk Carlson.