Cubs System Position-by-Position: Power Bats at Hot Corner
There has been a lot of player movement at third base and I am not quite sure what is going on with the position in the Cubs system. While versatility may be of value to the Cubs brass, it is wreaking havoc on my rankings. However, there are definitely four prospects who see most of their time at third base. All four also happen to be some of the most prolific home run hitters in the system.
Last year’s rankings had Matt Rose at number five, Jason Vosler at four, David Bote at three, and Wladimir Galindo ranked second to Jeimer Candelario. Rose is now with the White Sox organization and Candelario should be playing almost every day at third for the Detroit Tigers in 2018.
As a result, there’s a new number one.
1. Wladimir Galindo being at the top was an easy decision on my part. His potential to hit for power and average far outpaces anyone else on this list. What makes the ranking more emphatic is that he only played 44 games last year due to injuries. He had an impact in that limited playing time, hitting .290 and showing some power while driving the ball to the opposite field with ease. That’s something no one else on this list can do.
2. Jason Vosler came out of nowhere to crank 21 home runs at AA Tennessee in 2017. He had hit only 15 total home runs in his minor league career before last year, so the power display was quite a pleasant surprise. However, his batting average took a major tumble as he hit only .211 in the second half. Vosler did see a lot of action at first base in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a mere .210 average but walked 12 times in 23 games for an OBP of .323. It will be interesting to see how he does at Iowa in 2018. Will the power return or was it an aberration?
3. Jesse Hodges was proof that a hitter’s development often coincides with an increase in power. Such was the case last year at Myrtle Beach, where his daily approach and maturity helped him become one of the best hitters in the Carolina League. He had always been known as somewhat of a free swinger who wanted to get the big home run. The big flies were still there, but came as a result of working counts with a solid approach at the plate. His K-rate shrank down to 20.8 percent and his walk rate improved to 8.9 percent. Look for that to continue at Tennessee. I am pretty excited to see what he can do at AA in 2018.
4. Austin Filiere displayed maturity at the plate despite the lack of professional experience. Though his average was in the .260’s, the 2017 draft pick had an on-base percentage at or near .400 all summer long. He also cranked out six home runs in 49 games, a pretty good number when playing at the normally stingy PK Park in Eugene. I would love to see him continue to build on the foundation he established in 2017. Who knows, maybe we could see the Cubs’ first 20-home run hitter at South Bend next year. He has that potential. With friendlier hitting environs, he could ascend to No. 2 on this list quickly.
Because there is really no exclusivity to this position anymore, there’s really no use in naming any more options. For instance, Ian Rice saw action at third in the Arizona Fall League and Andruw Monasterio moved there to make room at short for Aramis Ademan. Jhonny Bethancourt also saw a lot of action at third but struggled defensively there. David Bote and Chesny Young can man the corner but are better suited to second base.
It will also be interesting to see who plays the position in the Dominican in early June and then later this summer in Mesa and Eugene.