One thing that I am sure you will notice about this year‘s breakdown series is that there’s a good deal of overlap between the positions. For example, PJ Higgins has been mentioned in both the catcher and first base posts. That’s to be expected as players develop and are moved around the diamond either for their own good or that of the team, but you’re really going to see a lot of repetition in these middle infield posts.
The whole gist of this year’s offseason series has been to look at players who will probably be ready to help the Cubs over the course of the next two years. That’s when most of the core position players’ contracts are up, which means the team is going to have some decisions to make.
Most Likely to Succeed
Even though he finished the 2019 season playing mostly shortstop in Chicago, Nico Hoerner gets the nod here. With Addison Russell officially gone, Hoerner could slide in right beside Javy Báez to play second base on opening day in 2020. He could eventually fill that pesky leadoff role, but he’s not quite ready for that at this point.
Most Likely to Succeed after Hoerner
I don’t know if Hoerner’s going to stay at second forever and Javy getting an extension done kind of makes this category moot. Still, Chase Strumpf is going to tantalize us all with his bat in 2020. The Cubs liked Strumpf enough to take him in the second round of 2019 draft and he flashed hard at both Eugene and South Bend as seen below in exhibit A.
Chase Strumpf first pitch swinging exit velo of 100 pic.twitter.com/3l0T0PNGi9
— Todd ⚾️? (@CubsCentral08) August 18, 2019
When he came to UCLA, Strumpf was primarily a shortstop who moved over to second base. I don’t know if his footwork is good enough or if his arm is strong enough for third base, but his bat might be. Strumpf could start 2020 out at Myrtle Beach with a good spring and could do two levels next year if all goes well. If Growing Cubs podcaster Jimmy Nelligan had his way, Strumpf would end the year with a cup of coffee at Iowa.
Most Likely to Help in 2020
Both Robel Garcia and Zack Short are ready when the time comes, one with the bat and the other with his glove. Trent Giambrone could also be used in a pinch, as the Cubs have no shortage of second baseman.
Down the Road a Few Years
Pedro Martinez should be one of the most interesting players to watch in 2020. He tore up the Arizona Rookie League and then did the same at Eugene. A switch hitter, he’s shown in his two-year career that he can put the bat on the ball from both sides. He played all over the infield last year in Mesa and Eugene and will be all of 19 next summer when he should be one of the most exciting bats in South Bend.
Stay tuned as we continue to look at each position group throughout the winter.