The Cubs might not be putting much money into free agency, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put a little of our own time and effort into some prospects. At the risk of further objectifying them beyond what is inevitably the case even without posts like this, CI has tracked prospects like stocks, handing out tips on hot ones to watch moving forward.
Several of the young players we talked about last year turned out to be good investments. Brennen Davis, Cole Roederer, Chris Morel, and Kohl Franklin were among a group of 19-year-olds that took the system by storm in the middle of last summer. Toward the end of the year, we looked at the massive growth potential Cam Sanders, Riley Thompson, Chase Strumpf, Richard Gallardo, and Michael McAvene in 2020. Now it’s time to look at a few more names who may not be on your radar quite yet.
Catcher Ronnier Quintero, the Cubs’ top international signee in 2019, is getting all kinds of buzz. The first thing you’re going to notice him are his pop times behind the plate, but what really catches your eye is the effortless swing that generates easy power. Ben Badler of Baseball America says Quintero could be a middle-of-the-order bat, though he has yet to face live pitching in a competitive setting in the minors.
If everything clicks for Ronnier Quintero, he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat at the catching position.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 3, 2020
Quintero should be in minor league spring training and will likely remain in extended spring training for a little extra seasoning. From there, he’ll probably end up in the Arizona Rookie League in the middle of June.
Another guy I am high on when it comes to investing in for next year is Chris Clarke, the former USC Trojan reliever who is back to starting. He did very well at Eugene last summer in limited innings (1.96 ERA in 23 IP) and could really break out this season. I love the mid-90’s velocity the 6-foot-7 righty generates and the curve he has is pretty devastating. You could buy low on him right now and he should do very well for South Bend once he acclimates to the cold.
Chris Clarke has a nice curveball. pic.twitter.com/DDas5L2mOz
— Eldrad (@thats_so_cub) July 21, 2019
I mentioned Hunter Bigge in the right handed reliever post a short while ago, in part because he was hitting 98-99 last summer in Eugene. A former two-way star at Harvard, Bigge is now focusing on just pitching and he should take off with a little more experience. Whether he starts or relieves is up in the air right now.
Andy Weber is a name we’ve mentioned a few times over the last 18 months or so. He began his professional career as a second baseman at also played some third base at Eugene before being shifted to shortstop last year at South Bend. Weber has bumped himself up to the top of the system’s shortstop depth chart, but he could slide back to third if he added some weight. Who knows, he might be able to turn his system-leading 36 doubles into some more home runs with some more muscle.
The Cubs took pitcher Josh Burgmann in the fifth round out of the University of Washington last summer and he came along a little slowly at first. His curve was outstanding from the start, but his other stuff needed to catch up. He was much improved by the end of his time in Eugene, posting a 2.61 ERA in August, and should be at South Bend to start 2020. You might want to check him out before investing first, but he should definitely be on your watch list.
Josh Burgmann is on fire with 13 K's, including the side three times. But OSU leads 3-1. B6.
— Washington Baseball (@UW_Baseball) March 31, 2019
Pedro Martinez (no relation to the Pedro Martinez) was the Cubs’ minor league hitter of the month for July and he finished the year at Eugene at the age of 18. A switch hitter, he can play three infield positions and is probably going to be a key player for South Bend.
It’s unsure at this point where shortstop Luis Verdugo is going to go. He drove in 23 runs in August alone to earn the player of the month honors and played excellent defense the whole time. While 2019 was his second go around in Mesa, Verdugo will be just 19 when the season starts.
Among the others I have not mentioned in the past two stock watches to possibly invest for a big payoff is pitcher Yovanny Cruz. If healthy, his upper 90s heat will play. Outfielder Darius Hill is a grinder of the first order who got all the way to South Bend last year after being drafted out of West Virginia.
Clarke would definitely be my number one as he is still only 20 years old and has the stuff to be an impact starter. I also like Weber quite a bit, with Martinez sitting in right behind. This list may not represent the blue chips of the system, but there are names here to keep an eye on if you find yourself investing in the Cubs’ future beyond Chicago.