In the interest of keeping your prospect portfolio adequately diversified, we like to update this stock watch every now and again with new names from across the Cubs’ development spectrum. Past issues have included obvious names like Brennen Davis, Riley Thompson, and Chris Morel, but we brought you information on Ethan Roberts as early as May of 2019. Earlier this spring, you got a preview of Cristian Hernandez, even though the Cubs now won’t sign him now until January 2021.
This summer presents quite a challenge for prospect-hounds, since the Cubs drafted just five players and signed only 11 more as undrafted free agents. We’re still pressing onward, though, tracking progress through social media videos and various other reports to keep you abreast of the situation in the minors.
The Sure Thing
As a 6-foot-2 shortstop with the combination of talent and work ethic, Ed Howard IV is a pretty safe investment right now. Those two traits should turn him into a major league ball player in a few years, but how fast he gets to Chicago is still up in the air as he will not see any game action until 2021. In addition to being the top defensive shortstop in the draft this year, he has a very quiet swing without a lot of moving parts. Consider him a blue-chip type of stock.
— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) August 8, 2019
The Short Timer
After getting the nod to join the 60-man player pool, second round draft pick Burl Carraway is now very close to Chicago. The lefty reliever out of Dallas Baptist may not get there this year, but his skillset and usage is such that the Cubs don’t need to do much in terms of development.
The Big Payoff
Out of all five draft picks this year, Jordan Nwogu is the most uncertain because the Cubs have to do some work with his swing. Working in the Michigan product’s favor is his tremendous athleticism and prodigious power just based on his natural strength. He’s a bit of a riskier investment that could pay off big, and I mean really big.
The Long Game
While Howard and Carraway come across as pretty safe investments, you’ve go to get the later draft picks to find the guys with huge upside. After struggling for years to develop pitchers with a very conservative philosophy, Koen Moreno and Luke Little enter a system that will be vastly different from the one their predecessors came through.
It may take a couple years for the Cubs to see what they have in these two, though we should start to see glimpses next year in South Bend.
Recent free agent signee Angel Gonzalez could be part of your portfolio as well. The high school pitcher out of Puerto Rico signed a contract for 2021 rather than attend Northwest Florida College. According to Perfect Game, Gonzalez’s fastball numbers rose from 85-87 in 2018 to 90-94 last fall, numbers that could rise further if he adds to his 6-foot-1, 168 pound frame.
Three Arms to Watch
Pitchers DJ Herz, Benjamin Rodriguez, and Manuel Espinoza were all slated to be at Eugene this summer. All three are either 18 or 19 years old and they’ve been showing off what they can do online. Rodriguez and Herz have been seen getting their fastballs into the mid-to-upper 90s while Espinoza has had me drooling since last summer when he had an ERA of just 2.49 in rookie league.
A few clips from my Live BP pic.twitter.com/bQAOkCt7xA
— Dj® (@DavidjohnHerz) June 18, 2020
Really Long Shots
While the Cubs took mostly relievers in in the UDFA period, two bats really stood out. One is Scott McKeon from Coastal Carolina and the other is Matt Mervis from Duke. Both seniors have shown the ability to put the bat on the ball at a consistent clip, along with the potential for power. Both will get the chance to show what they can do next year, most likely at South Bend or Myrtle Beach.
Chants go BACK-TO-BACK BOMBS to get the scoring started this afternoon. Makenzie Pate gets his first career HR in a @CoastalBaseball uni, while Scott McKeon smacks his first of the szn. CCU up 13-0 over Maryland headed to the bottom of the 5th. My work here is done ✌️ pic.twitter.com/OPPUKeGPPT
— WRAL Kacy Hintz (@WRALKacyHintz) February 28, 2020
You can even add OF/DH Jacob Wetzel to this mix. He hasn’t played above the junior college level yet, but he’s done nothing but rake the last two years and is one to keep an eye on down the road.
Unfortunately, Carraway is the only one of these guys we’ve even got a chance to see in action at any point over the next several months. Until then, the glimpses they provide on social media are going to have to suffice.