My favorite time of the minor league season is when the new draft picks begin to play. The first looks usually come when the new guys get to short-season Eugene, and this year is no different. When the first of 13 draft picks arrived in the Northwest League on July 5, second round pick Chase Strumpf was among them. In fact, he was the only draft pick in the lineup that first day.
Strumpf appeared in four games over the weekend, and I was able to get my first live looks at who he is as a hitter. While there are just so many things to break down about a player’s overall approach and swing mechanics, the one thing that stood out most is that Strumpf has some serious bat speed.
Height – 6‘1“
Weight – 191 pounds
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Age – Turned 21 in March
ETA – 2021
The Cubs took Strumpf with their second round pick in the draft out of UCLA, where he played a mix of second base and shortstop. He really broke out after his sophomore year, hitting .363 with 12 home runs and a .475 on-base percentage. Strumpf was selected to be a part of USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer but did not play due to an injury and has played two summers in the wood-bat Northwoods League.
“It’s Strumpf’s hit tool that stands out,” MLB Pipeline said about their 41st ranked prospect heading into the draft. “He can flat out rake with excellent strike zone discipline, showing the ability to barrel up the baseball consistently. While he doesn’t have huge raw power, there’s some definite thump from the right side of the plate and he can punish mistakes. While he was a shortstop in high school, he doesn’t have the arm or speed to play there, but he should be a reliable defender at second base.”
At the beginning of the college season, Strumpf was rated one of the top prospects in the country and was thought of as a possible first round pick. He slipped a little bit this year due to a poor start, but rebounded later in the year to hit .289/.431/.469 (.900 OPS). Of course, he’s probably best known to the baseball world in general for the home run he hit right after he was drafted by the Cubs.
The Cubs drafted Chase Strumpf while he was on deck. He followed up with this pic.twitter.com/odCGLnTAG0
— Teddy Cahill (@tedcahill) June 4, 2019
Strumpf began his pro career with a little stretch in Mesa during which he basically walked all the time and didn’t get to swing the bat all that much. Seeing tape of him from UCLA reminds you somewhat of Nico Hoerner; they are close to the same size, play the same position(s), and both seem to have good bat-to-ball skills.
As such, I was excited to see what Strumpf could do with a bat in his hands. It’s still too early to say for certain, but I’m convinced he could be the best second round pick the Cubs had made in the Theo Epstein era. Take a look at his hand speed through the zone on this double on Sunday night.
Chase Strumpf is finding his groove. pic.twitter.com/b6spXAadq5
— Eldrad (@thats_so_cub) July 8, 2019
Now check out his home run from Monday night.
I'm just here for the Chase Strumpf highlights. pic.twitter.com/1T9a5T0OQc
— Eldrad (@thats_so_cub) July 9, 2019
The Cubs don’t have too many guys with that kind of ability to get the barrel from the cocked-and-loaded position to the follow-through as quickly as Strumpf.
Over his first five games, Strumpf has slashed .333./440/.619 with one homer, four RBI, and five runs scored. He struck out seven times, but four of those came in one game. It’s a small sample size, no doubt, but it’s still a sneak peek into the what he can do.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Strumpf join the South Bend Cubs by next Wednesday in Appleton, Wisconsin, or maybe in Beloit for the following series. He is advanced enough kind of fly through the Northwest League, though he’s not quite on par with Hoerner. That said, Strumpf is going to be a very good baseball player and the Cubs may have gotten first-round talent in the second round.
He’s not going to spend his entire summer In Eugene, you can quote me on that. How long he will remain in South Bend is another story.