Position Breakdown Series: Relief Depth Is Growing Quickly

By Todd Johnson

With over 50+ guys to pick from, this is always the hardest breakdown to do. Unlike the starting pitching posts, the lefties and righties are all jumbled together. The Cubs have been pretty successful in developing bullpen arms the past three years. Cub fans have seen guys like James Norwood and Dillon Maples figure it out and take off. Dakota Mekkes made it to Iowa in just two years after being drafted. Then, we’ve also seen guys dominate out of the pen at Myrtle Beach and fall flat at Tennessee. You just never know. That’s why ranking relievers is so hard.

Last year, I had Dillon Maples on top followed by Dakota Mekkes, Jake Stinnett, and Corey Black. Mekkes and Maples had good years while Black was injured and Stinnett struggled in Tennessee. John Romero got pegged as a guy to watch and he wound up being traded mid-season to the Nationals.

Even though they are currently starters, I would not be surprised to see Adbert Alzolay and Michael Rucker come out of the pen at some point in Chicago this summer. Alzolay has natural talent with upper 90s stuff while Rucker has a mid 90s fastball, good control, and can throw almost 70% of his pitches for strikes. Both should get plenty of looks in Mesa in Spring Training as starters before transitioning to relievers.

This year, the rankings are going to go a little bit deeper in terms of guys profiled.

Help for Chicago – Maples, Mekkes, and James Norwood definitely are the top of the list with Norwood moving to the front of the line. Norwood has the best combination of stuff and command of the three. I still like Dillon Maples and his arsenal but his future success is more than likely between his ears at this point. Then again, if Maples commands the fastball, you can forget about the space between his ears. As for Mekkes, I am waiting for him to get a shot. That is likely to come in spring training. Considering the Cubs still have needs for the pen with Spring Training less than a month away, these three guys will get opportunities early next year to help Chicago.

Up and Coming – Bailey Clark’s performance in 2018, when healthy, was an impressive leap over 2017. His stuff ticked up due to weight training and he sat 95-96 most days and was hitting 97 at times. I wonder if he is going to work on adding a 4th pitch to go with his deadly slurve thing he has going on. Maybe a cutter would be a nice pitch to jam some lefties.

Brian Glowicki improved greatly in 2018. After struggling in 2017 a bit at Eugene, he was a beast the second half at South Bend and did not allow a run all of August. I like that he can attack down in the zone and he is not afraid to throw inside a lot.

When it comes to the future of Manny Rondon, it is still unclear to me what he is going to do in 2019. At times, I think he could be a good loogy as he was in 2018 at Myrtle Beach. Against lefties, he had a 1.13 ERA and hitters only averaged .160 against him. Then there are times where I think he is going to go back to being a starter like he was in 2016 at Eugene. What made it more confusing for me was that he did both in the Arizona Fall League.

Not Sure What to Expect – Jordan Minch, Wyatt Short, and Tyler Peyton had their moments in the sun in 2018. Peyton and Short did them at Myrtle Beach and Minch was excellent in the second half at Tennessee. Keep an eye on all three in 2019.

Unsure Roles – A lot can happen in an off-season and spring training. For a lot of relievers, things can change greatly from year-to-year and level-to-level and sometimes month-to-month. Sean Barry and Brendan King are two guys who I am curious to see what their roles are going to be in 2018. Barry could skip South Bend while King could start, be a swingman, piggyback, or be a setup guy in Myrtle Beach.

The New Guys

That first full season as a reliever has been an eye opener for recent draft picks. The Cubs drafted several last year in Riley McCauley, Ethan Roberts, Cam Sanders, Jake Reindl, and Josh Sawyer. They all bear watching next year and all have something to build on as relievers. I really like McCauley’s demeanor on the mound, Roberts’ cutter is fantastic, Sanders has a very live loose arm that the ball comes out so easy. But for Reindl and Sawyer, the two pitched in the College World Series and did not pitch again once they signed. Sawyer underwent a procedure in early January while Reindl is not pitching at Winter Instructs either.

The Comeback Kid

Chad Hockin missed 99.33% of 2018 after TJS. He started throwing in October and should be ready to go opening day. Hopefully, he will be back to his college velocity of 95. He was close to getting back last spring and I am really pulling for him to get back because he did have some pretty good movement on his stuff. When I last saw him pitch live in August of 2017 in Beloit, he was starting to get his velocity back. The movement was definitely there, and when he kept it down, he was fine.

Out Of Nowhere
As usual, there will be guys who make one adjustment and take off as relievers. It always happens. Sometimes, they start the year as a reliever, and others move from the rotation and just take off. You just never know.


Position Breakdown Series: LHSP Is Young and Loaded with Talent

By Todd Johnson

This has always been the most volatile position from year to year. And by volatile, I just mean change. A guy could be ranked first one year and off the list the next. The Cubs don’t have a lot of left-handed starters in the system. Over nine minor league teams, there might be 13 or 14 guys who start on a regular basis that are left-handed.

The most interesting trend with this category is that the Cubs did have a lot of young left-handed starters in rookie league ball in 2018. Most of them will be at either South Bend or Eugene to start 2019 and two could be at Myrtle Beach.

A year from now, this list could be topsy-turvy as well. It almost makes me afraid to rank them but I’m going to anyway.

The Top 4
Brailyn Marquez – This kid will be 20 years old to start 2019 and he will be bring his 95-97 mph fastball and wipe out slider with him. He’s always had talent, but the 6’5” lefty began to put things together last year at Eugene. He still needs to be more efficient and use less pitches so that he can go deeper in the game. More than likely, he starts at Myrtle Beach in April.

Justin Steele – I did not expect to see him starting at all in 2018. The fact that he started and dominated was amazing. Add in that he throwing 95 mph was the cherry on top. He has to be thrilled heading into 2019 at AA. I am. In fact, he’s not that far away from Chicago now that he’s on the 40 man roster.

Brendon Little – Do not look at his ERA. After spending close to ten games in a two week stretch last summer, I came away very impressed with Little. When I saw him start in the Quad Cities, his curveball was outstanding as hitters had no chance to square it up that night. He struck out 5 in 5 innings. 2019 will be all about getting his fastball velocity back and commanding said fastball. FYI – He has a great work ethic, too. I wonder what he worked on this winter?

Bryan Hudson – OK. OK. OK. He’s still only 21. It seems like he’s been around forever, but he’s still a pup…so to speak. I thought he had it figured out at Myrtle Beach in July. Over 5 starts he had a 1.27 ERA that month. Then in August, it ballooned to over 7. Once he gets that consistency down, he should begin to take off. We have seen glimpses of the “ground ball machine” from time to time, it just needs to happen most every night.

The New Guys
When I watched Eugene play last year, I came away extremely impressed with Faustino Carrera. The then 19-year-old looked very polished and efficient. He put up a 2.53 ERA in 13 games for the Ems while opponents only hit .198 off him. Didier Vargas, who was also 19 last year, put up the same type of performance in Mesa including a 6.2 IP and 7 K performance in an elimination game in the playoffs to put the Cubs 1 team in the title game.

2018 Draft Picks
Chris Allen and Jack Patterson
got some work in last year. Allen had an innings restriction but did very well with a 0.63 ERA. I cannot wait to watch him pitch. Allen could be one of the top lefties in the system a year from now. Patterson did very well with a 2.83 ERA in 35 IP and was great down the stretch for Eugene and again in the playoffs.

The DSL Squad
Maisel Garcia
got a lot of praise for his improvement from Baseball America’s Ben Badler last year. He struck out 46 in 45.2 IP as a 17-year-old. He is still growing as are many kids in the DSL.

At 18, Luis Rodriquez led the DSL 1 team in ERA with a 0.73. He will be 19 when 2019 begins. Andres Bonalde missed all of 2018 with an injury. He was very good at the end of 2017 and I was looking forward to seeing him in Mesa. He will be 21 when 2019 begins.

Joel Machado was one of the Cubs’ top international free agents they signed last summer. Still growing at 16, he is adding weight, height, and mph to his game. More than likely, he starts out next year in the DSL. He’s a long shot to make it to Mesa.

Position Breakdown Series – RHSP Part 2: Arms Waiting to Break Out

By Todd Johnson

When I originally started writing this series, today’s post was supposed to be from South Bend on down. However, Tennessee and Iowa were so strong, that first article didn’t leave any room for Myrtle Beach. Unlike the last week’s list, which had a clear-cut pecking order, this list does not. I’m unsure of who is going to be where and that might be a good thing for the system. Spring training could be organized chaos as arms move between levels frequently. In the end, though, here are some names that I am going to keep an eye on as right-handed starting pitchers from class A on down.

Because of the log jam at Iowa in Tennessee, Erich Uelmen will more than likely begin 2019 at Myrtle Beach. Uelmen looks to be the odd man out after struggling somewhat after being promoted from South Bend. I still like his off-speed stuff especially his sinker that kept Midwest League hitters off balance.

Riley Thompson is another one of my guys. The big righty out of Louisville sits at 95 and if he develops any kind of secondaries this year, he’s going to do very, very well. He may be the most promising pitcher from last year‘s draft class. He’s not a finished prospect but he could really take off in 2019.

Derek Casey was drafted out of Virginia and got in some work last summer at Eugene. However, he didn’t even throw 10 innings. Still, his experience in the ACC and throwing on a downhill plane makes it hard for hitters to square him up. I have been saying since August that he could skip South Bend and start 2019 at Myrtle Beach.

Erling Moreno – This guy has a ton of talent but he just can’t stay healthy for an extended amount of time. Moreno has pro type stuff. He’s got a plus curve and can sit 93 to 95 with his fastball. The only thing stopping him is him. He should begin 2019 in the Carolina League.

Richard Gallardo -The Cubs top international signing from last summer has been drawing a lot of praise in recent prospect lists. Both Fangraphs and Baseball America have Gallardo debuting in Mesa and not the DSL in 2018. He is going to be one to watch in 2019. Now that Anderson Tavarez is the new Mesa pitching coach, I am a little excited about his prospects.

Yovanny Cruz – I came away extremely impressed with Cruz from just 1 start. After he spent most of the year in Mesa, he got a spot start in Eugene and just baffled guys with a curve, a changeup, and great command. At only 19. I want to see more of him, a lot more.

Paul Richan – He got a lot of work in early in the summer for Eugene and then met his innings limit. He does have a plus curve and a nice change and he commanded his fastball well The problem is I don’t know if his fastball is going to be enough once he gets to Myrtle Beach. His off speed stuff will be fine in South Bend, but after that I don’t know what the future holds for him. That fastball needs to get up around 93 consistently.

Peyton Remy is a guy who attacks the strike zone. He spent most of the summer in Mesa last year and the junior college product looked extremely polished sitting at 91-93. He was amazing for Eugene in long relief in the playoffs and he should be starting at South Bend to begin 2019.

Danis Correa – Two summers ago, he was the talk of the Dominican Summer League as he was pushing the upper 90s. An injury last spring sidelined him for most of 2018 but he was able to rebound and pitch two scoreless outings for Mesa. He will only be 19 and should be at Eugene to start 2019.

Jeremiah Estrada – 2018 was a blank season for the young California kid, but everyone is still anxious to see how his pro career is going to go. I expect to see the 2017 6th round pick to 2019 in Eugene as the Cubs will probably take it slow with him coming off Tommy John surgery.

Blake Whitney is probably the guy everyone is saying, “Who the hell is Blake Whitney?“ Well the 29th round pick out of South Carolina Upstate did very well as a starter last year in Mesa for the Cubs 2 team and should be in competition to start in South Bend. He had an ERA of 2.30 in 31.1 IP with 37 Ks. That bodes well..

Part of me wonders if I’m only halfway through this list. I don’t know how Jaron Madison, the Cubs director of player development, is going to get these guys innings this summer to continue their development. I didn’t even mention names like Javier Assad, Eury Ramos, Jesus Tejada, Jesus Camargo, Jose Albertos, and Kohl Franklin.

The Cubs have a lot of arms in play and some of these guys could start anywhere from Eugene up to Myrtle Beach. It will be interesting to see who is assigned where and for how long. These are good problems to have. I remember 7 winters ago, it was a system devoid of pitching. Now, it’s brimming with it.

Position Breakdown Series – RHSP Part 1: Upper Part of the System is Stacked

By Todd Johnson

As usual, I’m going to split the right-handed starting pitcher system evaluation into two posts. Last year, it was a number ranking thing where I had 12 to 7 in one post and then 6 to 1 in the other. This year, not so much. I decided to split them up into the top two levels of the minor league system and then Myrtle Beach on down. Rankings be damned! This post will look at exactly who the top arms are and who should be throwing at Iowa, Tennessee, and hopefully Chicago in 2019.  

1. It all starts with Adbert Alzolay this year. Even though he missed three months in 2018, he still had a lot of impressive moments at AAA. While technically still a starter, I would not be surprised to see him in Chicago as a reliever at some point this summer.

2. Trevor Clifton looks to be close to being ready for Chicago. His efficiency to get deep into a game is what’s going to keep him a starter in the majors. The same movement that he got on his curveball has now been added to his changeup, and his fastball continues to have good armside run in on a right-handed hitter.

3. Cory Abbott is the best pitcher the Cubs took in the 2017 Draft. He dominated two levels in 2018 at South Bend and Myrtle Beach. It took about 2-3 weeks for him to make adjustments and then it was on. It is not unreasonable to think he could he do the same in 2019.

4. For Duncan Robinson, he has the efficiency that Clifton is looking for. His second half was amazing at Tennessee and that earned him 2 starts for Iowa at the end of the year. The 6‘6“ righty out of Dartmouth has pushed himself to to being a guy the Cubs might consider for a spot start this summer. He did it all in a little over two years. Look for him to take the bump a time or two in Mesa with the big league club this spring.

5. Matt Swarmer’s 2018 is a kind of Hollywood type story. The big gangly kid added some muscle and some miles per hour to his fastball and everything just clicked. Now he’s able to throw 92 to 94 with a vicious curve and a wicked change. I don’t know if he starts in Iowa to begin the year or in Tennessee. Either way, he is not that far away.

6.  Michael Rucker is my guy. I think in the long term he might be a reliever because his stuff plays up a bit out of the pen, but when you throw 70% strikes, that turns a lot of heads.

7. Tyson Miller took off last year at Myrtle Beach and should be at AA to start 2019. If he continues adding onto his rather large 6‘3“ frame like he did last year, his stuff could tick up even more. It was fun to watch an arm who had gotten through the lower part of the system by using his command and control to have some added fire power with the same command and control. I’m excited to see what happens with him in 2019.

Still watching – Keegan Thompson looks like he could be a guy as he dominated high A Myrtle Beach. He was somewhat inconsistent at Tennessee but at times he was good. As well, I hope the Cubs can get Alex Lange on track. He has 2 plus pitches and a pedestrian fastball. If he could get his fastball to have some movement, he could get going upward. Lange can get teed up or he could strike out 10. You never know. Then again, Lange finished very strong in August with a 2.74 ERA for the month with opponents only hitting .160 off him. I’d like some more of that Alex Lange, please.

Sleeper – Thomas Hatch – Whatever happened to him in August, whether it was something he ate or drank or changed, needs to continue next year. He was a freaking beast on the mound with a 2.51 ERA in 5 starts, his best month at AA. I hope he can begin 2019 like he ended 2018.

The de la Cruz Factor 
When Oscar de la Cruz’s suspension ends, it will be intriguing to see if the Cubs stretch him or put him in the pen. His injurious past affected the suspension and putting him in the pen might kill two birds with one stone.

It is going to be a fun year for watching pitching at Iowa and Tennessee.


Position Breakdown Series: Rough 2018 for the OF, but the Future Is Bright

By Todd Johnson

The lack of production by the Cubs’ MiLB outfielders in 2018 was very disappointing. Only a few names stood out but the times will be changing quite a bit in 2019 thanks in part to the 2018 draft and international free agency.

Last year, I had Nelson Velazquez atop the list followed by Mark Zagunis. Then came Charcer Burks, Eddy Martinez, DJ Wilson, Kevonte Mitchell, and Jonathan Sierra. On the surface, they looked to be a very athletic and promising group. Most of those guys probably want to forget 2018. Considering the prospects coming up behind them now, they better have some short memories.

For this year’s rankings, things are going to be a little bit simpler. I’m not going to put any numbers besides the four guys I picked. These four outfield prospects are heads and shoulders above the rest in the system. 

Mark Zagunis – Sometimes, I hoped for a trade just so he can have an opportunity to play in the majors every day. 2018 was an injury filled year for him but he still went out and produced, especially in the second half. He’s a walk machine, he’s got power, and he can play all three spots. What’s not to love.

Nelson Velasquez just oozes talent. In back-to-back years, he was the Cubs’ minor league player the month for August. While he did play at South Bend for a little bit in May last year, it was probably a good thing, even though his production numbers were horrible. It gave him something to work on and to work towards. He was outstanding at Eugene, especially in August as his approach changed drastically in just three months. He will now lay off pitches down out of the zone. I hope he takes his new approach to South Bend and just lets the game come to him.

Second round compensation pick Cole Roederer is everything all the other outfielders were supposed to be the last six years. He’s got five tools and he’s just turned 19. I would hope that he begins next year in extended spring training. And, if he’s ready, he could head to South Bend in May if the Cubs think he can succeed. Otherwise, Eugene would be a nice place for him to go and tear it up. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him go after it.

Brennen Davis is a tall, athletic physical specimen. He put up a 138 wRC+ in just 18 games for Mesa. If he can stay healthy, he is going to be pushing South Bend next season at just 19. Supposedly, his pitch recognition skills are off the charts for someone of his young age. Add in his athleticism and the Cubs may have two special players patrolling the OF for quite a while.

Who Else to Watch For
Outfielder Jose Lopez is someone I’ve never seen play. The Cubs signed him last summer as an international free agent. Considering he was a top 30 IFA Prospect, he should be at Mesa next summer at just 17 years of age. He could be special as he’s a lefty-lefty. Here is what Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com said of his talents:

The ball flies off of Lopez’s bat and he has shown the potential for more power in the future. He’s not as physical as some of the other top prospects, but he makes hard contact to all fields. The belief is that Lopez will be able to generate more power once he signs with a big league team and works on his mechanics in a club’s academy on a daily basis. Lopez has a chance to stay in center field and hit in the middle of the lineup one day.

Lopez is already a plus runner — he’s been clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard run — and evaluators believe the tool will help carry him through the Minor League system.

I also think two other outfielders who were drafted last summer could surprise some people. Edmond Americaan and DJ Artis could do well with their speed and ability to get on base. And, as usual, we are all still waiting for Jonathan Sierra to break out. Hopefully, Fernando Kelli can hit much better at South Bend than he did in Eugene. Once Kelli gets on base, though, he is unlike any other Cub in the system with his speed and can change the flow of any game.

Roberto Caro also looks like he could belong. He will be at AA to see if he is for real after a dominating 2018. And Chris Singleton finished 2018 strong. It will be interesting to see where and how he begins 2019.

Position Breakdown Series: The Rise of the Shortstops

By Todd Johnson

Sometimes I have trouble knowing when to stop doing things. Listing shortstops in the Cubs organization this year is one of them. This trend started about a year ago when last year‘s post had Aramis Ademan leading a group of mostly unproven shortstops, save for Zack Short. It was a pretty exciting year at the position as the Cubs continued adding to their depth through the draft and international free agency.

Last year’s Rankings

  1. Aramis Ademan
  2. Zack Short
  3. Luis Vazquez
  4. Delvin Zinn
  5. Andruw Monasterio

In just one year’s time, the position is totally jumbled from the previous year.

After struggling to hit at Myrtle Beach, Aramis Ademan still is held in high esteem, but his bat just needs a lot of work with handling pitches that start with a letter other than F. Zack Short should be ready to go at AAA Iowa and Luis Vazquez showed at Eugene that he’s a freaking panther out at shortstop, defensively far above anyone else in the system. Delvin Zinn moved around and who knows where he’s going to play in 2019. Meanwhile, Andruw Monasterio is now in the Indians’ system.

As for this year…
Things are really cooking down in the lower part of the system when it comes to shortstops. 2017 international free-agent signing Luis Verdugo struggled at Arizona in July but did much better in August earning praise as one of the top 20 prospects in the Arizona Rookie League from Baseball America. Verdugo comes in at number 6.

I was a little hesitant to put Fabian Pertuz on here. As a 17-year-old shortstop, he had a 149 wRC+ in the Dominican last summer. Those are kind of eye popping numbers. He’s one of my top 10 young guys to watch for 2019.

I love to watch Luis Vasquez play shortstop. He turned 19 in October and the hitting is going to come eventually. He sees the ball well, it’s just gonna be a matter of time before he makes consistent contact. And believe it or not, there’s still room for improvement on defense with his arm. I don’t think I really saw him just let it rip from deep in the hole last year. Everything he did looked very fluid and controlled.

Aramis Ademan slips all the way to number three. He barely hit .200 at Myrtle Beach and looked over matched at the plate. In the field, however, he looked very much in control and flashed some pretty good skills. Right now, I am of the mind that he should begin 2019 back at Myrtle Beach. He will be 20 when 2019 begins and repeating the level, for a while, might be the best thing. 

Last year was an impressive run for Zack Short. He displayed power and the ability to get on base at a high clip (.356)  despite a low batting average (.227). If you’re one of those guys who is focusing on his batting average as a condition of his worthiness, you’ve got to get past that right now. With a wRC+ of 129, he is most definitely above average at his position and could see Chicago in 2019. This kid can hit for power and can draw a walk. He’s an outstanding young player.

Coming in at number one is the worst kept secret this winter. You have to be impressed with Nico Hoerner’s rapid ascension through the system with just 138 at bats. I doubt he will be playing shortstop all the time in 2019. Look for him to move over to 2B early and often in the spring and to get a lot of looks with the big league team in spring training. That’s about as far ahead as I want to look. I can wait to learn to where he is going to begin the season in April.

As for a sleeper, I don’t think anyone needs to look any further than 17-year-old shortstop Pedro Martinez. Yes, you read that right, Pedro Martinez. The 17-year-old switch hitter did very well in Dominican last year and will probably be in Mesa for the 2019 campaign. Jose Huma and Orian Nunez are two other guys keep an eye on and it will be interesting to see just where 2018 draft pick Levi Jordan plays next year and how much he plays at short.

Position Breakdown Series: Third Base Depth Took a Huge Hit in 2018

By Todd Johnson

Third basemen in the Cubs’ system struggled mightily in terms of performance/production in 2018. While Jason Vosler hit an organizational leading 23 HRs with 93 RBI, it was rough elsewhere. Injuries and adjustments looked to be the order of the day.

A year ago, I thought Wladimir Galindo would have a breakout year at Myrtle Beach if he could just stay healthy. He struggled with nagging injuries again. At #2, Jason Vosler surprised everyone again as he hit 20+ HRs for the second straight year. He was traded to the Padres in November. Things did not go well at all for last year’s #3 pick Jesse Hodges at AA. Down at South Bend, Austin Filiere, who was in the #4 slot, was an up and down guy in his first full year in the system. A 140 game grind takes some adjusting.

Now with 2019 in sight, the position looks to be in flux from the recent power hitter stereotype into guys who can get on base. In addition, the Cubs have a lot of versatility in the lower parts of the system. As a result, what we may think of as a traditional 3B also plays some 2B, maybe some 1B, and the occasional OF or SS. Very few players just play 3B anymore.

When it comes to ranking the corner men after the Vosler trade for 2019, it’s a bit of a struggle.

1. In the long run, 2018 draftee Luke Reynolds might be best suited to 1B. But for now, the former Southern Mississippi product is listed at 3B. Reynolds has a lefty hitting profile and approach that could surpass Vosler’s production in the next two years. At Eugene in 2018, he put up a wRC+ of 127. It will be interesting to see just exactly where he begins 2019. It could be South Bend or it might be Myrtle Beach. However, he will be 24 when the 2019 season starts, which gives Myrtle Beach the edge. Once that is settled, it will be interesting to see how much 3B he actually ends up playing.

2. He’s still my guy, but Wladimir Galindo had nagging injuries again in 2018. Luckily, it was not a broken leg, so he was able to gain experience with 403 ABs. He put together a nice run in June when he hit .290 in 26 games with 1 dinger and 11 RBI and an OPS of .753. I’d like to see more months like that because that is who I think he really is. The guy who hit .194 in the second half. I do not know him and I do not want to, either. I like the guy who can go gap-to-gap and occasionally drive the ball over the fence.  

3. Austin Filiere looked like he was going to have a monster year after a terrific April where he hit .310 with a .403 OBP. And then May hit where he played 31 games. That’s a lot of baseball for any MiLB hitter. The effect showed in June where his average plummeted to .207 for the month which also included making a swing adjustment. He rebounded some in the second half to hit .256 in July and .267 in August . I still like Austin as a hitter. As long as he stays within himself, that will be the key going forward. Also, he seemed to thrive when he batted third, he hit over .300 with an OBP of .388. If there is one thing to like about Filiere’s first full year, is that he drew walks at a 10.2% rate, regardless of his average. That’s not bad. I am looking forward to see how he adjusts to that initial season and what changes he worked on this winter.  

4. Fidel Mejia tore it up at the plate in Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. In just 50 games, he hit .324/.389/.410. Not bad for  a kid listed at 5’11” and 160 lbs. He is in play for Eugene for 2019.

The Sleeper: As for Jake Slaughter, he’s grown quite a bit since the Cubs drafted him out of high school two years ago. He went to LSU and the Cubs took him again last summer and signed the 6’3” 200 lb.  3B. He looks to have been working out quite a bit. After a very rough July at Eugene, Slaughter hit .263 with 1 HR and 11 RBI in 22 games in August. He looked much improved. Hopefully, those last 6 weeks in which he hit over .270 can act as a springboard for him in 2019. He will definitely have a lot of competition to find a place to play at South Bend come the spring.