This post originally looked a lot like the previous installment on second base in terms of personnel listed. There was a Nico Hoerner discussion, a blurb on Zack Short, and some Pedro Martinez love. So instead of being redundant, I scrapped the near replica and will roll with a look at five shortstops other than those three obvious choices
Remember when the Cubs had too many shortstops? No one’s making that complaint now, but shortstop is again the deepest everyday position group in the system in terms of quality talent. From Triple-A down to the Dominican Summer League, the Cubs have several guys who could be dudes. Outside of Hoerner, however, most are nowhere near fully formed prospects. They all have a lot to work to do in the coming years.
Most likely to succeed
Last year was Andy Weber‘s first of playing shortstop full time, so the lanky fifth round pick out of Virginia in 2018 had to learn on the job for South Bend. April was a little rough in the field and at the plate, but Weber came around to earn an All-Star nod in the Midwest League. He then went out and hit .287 with a .353 OBP in the second half. He should be at Myrtle Beach for 2020, where he’d ideally turn some of his system-leading 47 doubles into more home runs.
What I love about Weber is that he never seems to be out of his element. As the Beastie Boys might say, he’s always as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. The 22-year-old keeps himself in check and is one of the most clutch players I have seen as a prospect, as evidenced by his two-run oppo homer in the Midwest League championship.
The one caveat here, and with any shortstop prospect who might debut in the next few years, is the future of Javy Báez in Chicago. If Javy signs an extension, it pretty much sews up the MLB spot for as long as his contract runs. Weber played mostly second and third in college, though, so it is not out of the question for him to play somewhere else. He looks like a guy who can make all the right plays and developing more power from the left side of the plate will only endear him further to Cubs management.
Don’t you forget about me
Aramis Ademan is still in the system, I just wanted to make sure you knew that. He’ll be all of 21 when 2020 rolls around and he’s going to try to recover from a disastrous second half at Myrtle Beach in which he hit only .172 with a .546 OPS. I doubt he ends up back at Myrtle Beach for a third straight summer, but he’ll likely be on a short leash at Double-A Tennessee. The hope is that the new hitting development team can get Ademan back on track to an earlier trajectory that had him as the top-ranked prospect in the system.
The defensive wizard
Last year, 19-year-old Luis Vazquez played for four of the five major affiliates. He filled in during the first half at Iowa and Tennessee, holding his own at the plate and showing her was more than capable in the field. The defensive wizard then warmed up at Eugene and displayed a more mature bat, getting some time in at South Bend as a fill-in for a little bit before returning to Eugene.
I’m excited to see him grind it out for 140 games this year at shortstop in the Midwest League. He’ll be 20 years old and all his talents should be on display as he gets more consistent reps. It’ll be all about further developing his plate presence, as Vasquez is head and shoulders above everybody else in the system in terms of his glovework. If you would rank players on their defensive capabilities, it would be Vazquez, then a huge gap, and then Weber.
All the way in the back
Luis Verdugo, a 2017 international free agent, spent almost two full summers in rookie ball before the bat clicked. He then took off and was named the Cubs organization’s Player of the Month for August of 2019 as he tore it up with 23 RBI while hitting .395 in Mesa. The 19-year-old should be at Eugene to start next season, but he might be one of those kids that plays his way to South Bend by early May, if not sooner. He’s very good defensively, it’s all about the bat moving forward.
Who are you?
According to FanGraphs, the Cubs signed two of the top 10 international free agents last summer, including 16-year-old shortstop Kevin Made. He should debut in Mesa this summer if he is as good as everybody thinks, but he’s so young that it’s hard to know yet what kind of player he’ll be. Made is lanky, a little bit rangy, and full of potential.
Our third base post is in the pipeline as well, so keep an eye out for that in the coming days.