The Internet has changed how every prospect is covered. There is usually someone, somewhere, with a camera or phone taking pictures or shooting video. It is very hard to go unnoticed, even in spring training, extended spring training, and fall instructs. I follow handfuls of people on Twitter just because they are covering that scene year-round in Mesa. From blog writers, baseball magazine evaluators, and even amateur photographers, I am always finding someone new with a different angle on what’s happening.
This spring, the buzz in minor league camp was that Aramis Ademan and Miguel Amaya might be advanced enough with the bat to skip rookie ball in Mesa and go straight from the Dominican Summer League to short-season Eugene. And that is exactly what happened when rosters were announced in mid-June.
I first learned of Ademan when profiles of him appeared on Baseball America and MLB.com the spring before the Cubs signed him as an international free agent in 2015. He was not the top free agent the Cubs signed that summer, but he was the smallest. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com had this to say about Ademan’s potential at the time:
Ademan has opened eyes with his athletic ability and skills on defense. He’s expected to fill out his frame as he matures and improve all facets of his game once he enters a team’s academy and receives daily instruction.
Some scouts consider Ademan a glove-first infielder who has to get stronger and become more physical as he matures. He has shown the ability to hit in games.
After hitting .256 with a .366 OBP in the DSL in 2016 Ademan arrived in Mesa for fall instructs. In those few weeks, he quickly began to improve his game and develop his bat.
This spring, the bat played in extended spring training. He unofficially hit .270 with a .337 OBP, a lone home run and 8 RBI in 28 games (stats via The Cub Reporter). The fact that he actually homered was something many people did not see coming including yours truly. When Cubs farm director Jaron Madison talked to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper about Ademan, Madison gushed about the young shortstop’s hitting approach:
“It’s a very mature approach on both sides of the ball. He’ll show you that he can be an everyday shortstop. Then he’ll go to the plate and really impact the ball and show you he can really swing the bat. He’s definitely getting stronger. Filling out. He’s still very young, but he’s impressed everyone who has seen him so far.”
Ademan is not done growing and his bat is not done developing.
I have been impressed with what he is doing now in Eugene. After a rough June in which he only hit .224, Ademan is grooving along near .300 this month. The big change occurred when he was moved out of the leadoff spot to the second spot in the batting order. For the year, he has two homers with three triples and a double to go along with eight steals in 24 games.
His defense, which was supposed to be his calling card, has been decent. He has made eight errors, mostly throwing on somewhat routine plays. He does cover a lot of ground on pop-ups and is excellent in taking throws on stolen bases.
Only 18 years old and still looking like a wisp of a young man, you can see how Ademan could be something special if his bat continues to develop. Defensively, he can stick at shortstop. The question moving forward will continue to be, “How much can he hit?”