Let’s be clear about one thing right off the jump: Mark Zagunis is one of my favorite Cubs prospects. Assigned to AA Tennessee to begin the 2016 season, he displayed excellent pitch recognition skills and a major league-ready approach. The young outfielder went on to have his best minor league season between AA (.308/.406/.453) and a couple months at AAA Iowa (.274/.360/.486).
He was hitting so well at the beginning of August, driving the ball into the gaps, that I thought for a while he would make a September appearance in Chicago. However, an ankle injury sidelined him and eliminated any shot at a cup of coffee. Now that 2017 is here, I am excited to see what Zagunis has in store.
6-0, 205 lbs.
Amazing on-base percentage
Areas of Concern
Next Up in 2017
Zagunis will be at AAA Iowa to begin the year and could be the first outfield prospect called up to Chicago.
What I would like to see
I see Zagunis as an elite hitting prospect. He may not have as much power as some would like, but I don’t think that he really has to display a ton of pop. I see him more as a leadoff hitter in the majors, or a kind of second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the order.
He has shown the ability time and time again to get on base in the minors and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be able to do that at the major league level as well. Sure, there will be some times he gets caught watching the paint dry, but even the best hitters have that happen occasionally. I see Zagunis coming up and maybe hitting ninth for the Cubs occasionally this summer and fall.
Imagine the runs he could score with Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo behind him. All he really has to do is get a walk, which is his natural proclivity. It is extremely rare to find someone with a natural eye like this kid. He’s never going to be a 30 home run guy, but that’s not what he needs to do to be successful.
MLB.com’s prospect list has similar analysis, though they’re a little more skeptical.
While he’s an on-base machine, Zagunis doesn’t do anything else better than average and likely is more of a fourth outfielder than a regular. He has played some center field as a pro but fits better on the corners with his average speed, range and arm strength.
I don’t agree with that entire statement. If Zagunis can get on base at a .400+ clip, he’s playing every day somewhere.