I feel pretty confident in saying that the Cubs are loaded at second base. From AAA Iowa all the way down to rookie ball in Mesa, it seems every single prospect at that position is outstanding in some aspect of his game. Second base is arguably the Cubs’ strongest position, but it’s also the one they have the least need for the next few years.
With some combination of either Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist firmly in place for the next few years, the only hope any of the players below has is by converting to the outfield or coming up as a utility player. Luckily for the Cubs, their top second base prospect could fill both of those roles by the end of 2017
6. Jonathan Perlaza – I don’t really know if he belongs at second, but we’re gonna put him there now for the sake of argument. A 2015 international signee, Perlaza debuted last year in the Dominican Summer League. Just a 17-year-old kid, his production was up and down. I think he will see time at second and third this year, but position really isn’t that relevant yet because he was basically signed because of his hit tool. I am looking to forward to seeing what he can do in extended spring training and at Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League this summer.
5. Yeiler Peguero – One of the most exciting players in the system to watch, Peguero can be good he can also be frustrating. At just 18, he hit .260 in the Northwest League playing both middle infield spots. His monthly batting average splits in 2016 were .306/230/.274 and I expect to see vast improvement this year in South Bend. 140 games can really speed up the development of a prospect, especially a young one like Peguero.
4. Trent Giambrone – The 2016 draft pick came into the system with a reputation for strong defense. By the end of his first professional campaign, that reputation had changed immensely. As part of the Eugene Emeralds’ championship team, Giambrone showed out as a multi-position player and power hitter and might’ve been the team’s MVP in August. He played third, second, and first base and hit 3 home runs for the month. His average and OBP improved every month at Eugene. Giambrone should be in South Bend to start the 2017 season and I think fans there are going to enjoy watching his all-around game.
3. Carlos Sepulveda – I really enjoyed watching Sepulveda play almost every day at South Bend in 2016. He’s not the flashiest fielder, but he is an amazing hitter, one of the best pure hitters in the system. He’s able to work counts and even started to show some gap-to-gap power for doubles last season. He’s not going to be a home run hitter, but he will beat the cover off the baseball over the course of the season. At 18 years old, Sepulveda held his own in South Bend and I expect more of the same from him this year at Myrtle Beach.
2. Chesny Young – I expect this Young man to be a major leaguer within the next year to 18 months. He has done everything the Cubs have asked of him the past two years and playing in the Pacific Coast League in 2017 will only enhance his prospect profile. Young has played every position in the infield and has even logged a few games in left field. The only thing missing from his resume at this point is power, though I don’t think he needs it with his plate discipline and bat control.
1. Ian Happ – I don’t quite know what to make of Happ and I actually get very frustrated at times. There are days when he goes 3-for-5 with a home run and others when he goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. I don’t quite understand how he can hit .600 for a three-week stretch and then hit .230 for a month. But while his batting average fluctuates greatly, he’s always taking his walks. When you watch Happ hit, it’s easy to fall in love with the swing. His hands through the zone are a work of art when he bats from the left-hand side, but I sometimes wonder if his swing is too mechanical. I don’t know if the Cubs can make him a more flexible hitter or if he’s just gonna snap out of his inconsistencies.
There are other second basemen in the system not listed here, which only adds more intrigue to this position. If I had to pick one player to watch this year, it would be Giambrone. He just has a habit of doing the right things at the plate and in the field. And I would not be surprised to see the Cubs trade one of these six in the next year since there is some serious redundancy.