It wasn’t that long ago that the Cubs seemingly had all the shortstop prospects. Those days are gone. Once Gleyber Torres was traded, the shortstop position in the Cubs’ system lost its luster. That’s not to say the Cubs don’t have players playing shortstop, they do. It’s just that the high-end talent is in the lowest reaches of the system.
There’s no point bemoaning the fact that this position is getting pretty thin when it comes to prospects heading towards the majors. With Addison Russell and Javy Baez basically putting a brick wall up for the next five years, the Cubs can really take their time in developing shortstops.
Here is a look at the top five prospects who figure to a big part of that development.
5. Andruw Monasterio — After a Jekyll and Hyde season in 2016, Monasterio is looking to even things out. He hit over .350 in his first month at Eugene and was eventually promoted to South Bend. Over the last month of the year, however, he hit under .200. At Eugene, he was Mr. Excitement; at South Bend, he was Mr. Mistake. Ideally, Monasterio would remain in South Bend to work on fixing his approach at the plate, his footwork in the field, and his general over-aggressiveness. At some point the game has to slow down for him because right now he’s making small mistakes that turn into big ones. He’s an excellent athlete who hustles but makes poor choices in game action. This could be anything from laying off pitches to throwing to the wrong base. I think a lot of that will settle out with more experience.
4. Delvin Zinn — This young man has the unique distinction of being drafted in back-to-back years by the Cubs. He did not sign in 2015, choosing instead to attend Mississippi State. After a semester as a Bulldog, Zinn transferred to a junior college and the Cubs selected him again in 2016. He might eventually move over to second base, but we are going to put him at short for now. Zinn struggled a bit at rookie ball at Mesa after a late start, but showed that he could make adjustments. His last couple weeks were pretty good and he was one of the most improved players at fall instructs. A great athlete who needs to refine some aspects of his game, Zinn should be in Eugene in 2017. I expect to see him play multiple positions, maybe even centerfield.
3. Zack Short — As of this moment, Short is the most advanced shortstop in the system. He can field and has an excellent arm. He may have only hit .240-something last year, but he also had a .400 on-base percentage and has the potential for some power. I really enjoyed watching him play every day in Eugene and I’m hoping he’s added a few pounds of muscle this winter. Short doesn’t try to do too much but he still manages to do a lot. He should begin 2017 at South Bend, where the fans there are going to love his attitude and personality.
2. Isaac Paredes — I almost put this guy number one. Only 17 last fall, I got to see him play a little bit at South Bend. He looked like a veteran, displaying a great hit tool both in Mesa last summer and for a few games in South Bend. He’s got a big body and he’s only just now really learning how to use it. My guess is that 2017 will see him start at Eugene and then work his way back to South Bend. If that sounds a little odd, it’s because I believe Paredes just filled in for South Bend at the end of the year because Eugene didn’t want to take anything away from their championship run. If he plays to his capability, expect a relatively quick promotion.
1. Aramis Ademan — Also 17, this youngster made his debut in the Dominican Summer League and displayed a good approach at the plate. His batting average wasn’t the greatest but he showed that he can make good solid contact with the potential for some power later. But Ademan’s greatest strength is his defense. He has soft hands, quick feet, and a very nice arm. He should be in Mesa to begin the 2017 season.
Overall, this lot of shortstops is extremely young. Zack Short is the old man at 21, while you have two 19-year-olds and two more 17-year-olds. It’s going to take some time for them to grow and mature, but time is a commodity the Cubs have in spades.
There are other shortstops in the system like Carlos Penalver and Bryant Flete, both of whom have done the job defensively but lack certain offensive skills. Although I guess Flete did hit .285 in a 34-game stint at Myrtle Beach last August. Andrew Ely is another shortstop playing out of position who did well in 2016 at South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
It will be interesting to watch how the organization grows and develops what is now the weakest position in the system. In two or three years, shortstop could actually get back to being the strongest position.
Ararmis Ademan and Delvin Zinn cards were made from pics by John Arguello
Zack Short photo courtesy of the Eugene Emeralds