It is Wednesday my dudes! That means it’s time to put on my MAGA hat and pump out another minor league preview. If you have someone special in your life, good luck getting them that perfect gift for tomorrow. I suggest getting them a bottle of wine or two (or three). If you don’t have someone special in your life, get the wine anyway and just drink it yourself. That’s what I do. Meanwhile the Cubs minor league preview is my loving gift to you. They aren’t nearly the powerhouse system that they were in the past. Apparently St. Valentine was beaten with clubs and then beheaded. The last few blurbs of this preview might be a similar experience. Enjoy!
1. Nico Hoerner, 2B/SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Hoerner was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. I think he has the potential to be a nice table setter with enough pop to get to 12-15 homers at peak. He has a plus hit tool and better than average speed. In his pro debut, Hoerner struck out in only 7% of his plate appearances, compared to a 15% walk rate. He should move quickly, with High-A and Double-A due up next.
2. Aramis Ademan, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
I like Ademan, but I’m not seeing much power potential, and for a guy with a plus bat his 2018 campaign was a struggle. He hit .207 in 450 plate appearances in High-A and struck out at a 21% clip. He just turned 20 this fall, so I wouldn’t do anything crazy yet, just a down year that hopefully he can bounce back from and move on to Double-A.
3. Brennen Davis, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
Davis has double-plus speed and fits the mold of the center field leadoff hitter prototype. Roederer (below) is a more balanced player, but Davis could make a big impact in steals. He has good on-base skills too (.431 in a very small sample of 70 plate appearances), which – if he can keep it going – should help his stolen base totals.
4. Cole Roederer, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
Roederer was a second round selection of the Cubs in this past year’s draft. He has above-average tools across the board and hit .275 with five homers and 13 steals in his first taste of pro ball. He also walked in 11% of his appearances, which is a good sign. At the same age and position as Davis, it will be interesting to track the pair’s development at center.
5. Miguel Amaya, C | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021
Amaya will likely rank in the top spot on traditional lists, but catchers can be a tricky (and long term) investment for fantasy porpoises. Amaya has a decent bat, but has limited power and is known more for his glove than his offensive goods. He did pop 12 homers in 2018, but I fear that that is approaching his power ceiling. He has good on-base skills for folks in deep OBP leagues though.
6. Brailyn Marquez, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
Marquez has a plus heater and an above-average curve, plus he’s still got room to grow and develop pitches at just 20 years old. That screams upside and in 2018, Marquez struck out 59 batters in 55 innings. It’s not an ace profile, but a solid 3/4 with some strikeout potential. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and can touch 99 at times. I’d invest in this one if you can get him cheap.
7. Zack Short, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Full disclosure…this list takes a sharp downhill turn from here out. To ease your pain, I’ve included this link to play in a separate tab. It’s a chill choon and an appropriate title. You might want to smoke something or take something (anything) before reading on. Short had a good 2018 run – hitting 17 homers and walking at a 16% clip in 524 Double-A appearances. He also struck out 26% of the time for a .227 batting average. He’s likely a future utility player rather than an everyday option.
8. Justin Steele, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Steele is still making his way back from Tommy John surgery. He threw 46 innings in 2018, striking out 53 batters and posting a 2.31 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. He probably needs almost another full season in the minors to build up innings, but a taste of Chicago later this year isn’t out of the question. What does Chicago taste like? Pizza? Wind? There’s some upside here if you’re bold and can buy low.
9. Adbert Alzolay, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Alzolay, like Marquez, has a plus fastball and curve combo. He went down with a lat injury though, which limited his season to just over 39 innings pitched. I’m probably dinging him too much for the injury and lost time, but I get scared off pretty easily by anything other than TJS with pitchers. If you’re a braver person than I (and you most definitely are) this could be a good time to buy the stock.
10. Trent Giambrone, 2B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2019
I should come up with a name for the guy I take a completely unfounded shot on with the tenth slot in these previews. That’s Giambrone for the Cubs. He’s got utility written all over him (in Sharpie!), but he could run into some offensive stats. In 2018, Giambrone hit .251 with 17 homers and 26 steals. When Giambrone wins NL ROY, I want you to look back on this blog post with warm nostalgia.