Aramis Ademan is back! Or at least it looks like he might be back.
After struggling to even keep his average above .200, last season, the shortstop has put together a pretty good month to open his second tour of duty with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Heading into Friday’s action, he’s hitting .275 with an 18% walk rate that has driven a really high .420 OBP. For someone who looked overwhelmed in 2018, these numbers are extremely encouraging.
Originally signed as an international free agent in 2015, Ademan made his debut in 2016 in the Mesa Rookie League. That’s pretty good for 17-year-old kid. At the age of 18, Ademan really started coming into his own in July at Eugene. After a rough June in which he hit only .224, Ademan turned on the burners in July to hit .320 with a .391 on base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage.
That explosion resulted in a promotion to South Bend for the month of August and would influence the Cubs’ decision on his future next spring. I also influenced evaluators, many of whom ranked Ademan as the Cubs’ top prospect for a while in 2017.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 29, 2017
Ademan struggled against more advanced pitching in the Midwest league, hitting .244 with a .296 on-base percentage in just 29 games. And though his skills at the plate and in the field were still apparent, his assignment to Myrtle Beach at the start of the 2018 season raised a lot of eyebrows. It was one of the most progressive aggressive promotions the Cubs had made in the Theo Epstein era.
The average age in the Carolina League is 23-24, so the 19-year-old Ademan looked overmatched on a daily basis. It was not a good season and at times it was hard to watch. The only real improvement was in his walk rate, which improved to 8.4% from an anemic 3% the year before. As you might imagine, Ademan slipped on almost every prospect list.
Not all hope was lost, however, as his approach hinted at the latent potential first on display when the precocious teen showed up in Eugene. MLB Pipeline was measured, but had the following to say about Ademan’s abilities heading into this season:
Though he batted just .207/.291/.273 in 2018, Ademan still displayed an efficient left-handed swing and an advanced approach. He recognizes pitches well and uses the entire field, though his rough season demonstrated his need to add strength. He won’t ever be a slugger but needs more muscle in order to reach his potential as an above-average hitter with some occasional pull power.
Now 20 years old, Ademan looks to have added some weight and strength this year. In addition, he seem more at peace at the plate. Most of that is just the natural maturation process and comfort from being in a familiar setting, but maybe becoming a father has changed his mindset as well.
With that increased walk rate and a little extra pop — he already has a homer and two triples — everything is trending in the right direction for Ademan. Granted, it’s only been a month, but every indication is that this growth is sustainable. He is still very young for where he is playing and there’s certainly more room for improvement, but it’s clear that Nico Hoerner isn’t the only shortstop to watch.