As I have said before, it is hard for a prospect to break out anymore. There is press coverage almost everywhere, in addition to photographers and fans who can take video, no to mention the proliferation of MiLB.tv. But there are still a few guys here and there who are still flying under the radar.
With Mesa and Eugene beginning play, I’ve put together a list of players who I think will grab a few headlines in the second half and propel themselves up several prospect lists.
Miguel Amaya has taken off in prospect circles. Armed with a rifle behind the plate, the 18-year-old threw out three base runners in his first game for Eugene. He has the chance to hit for power, but it will more than likely be to the opposite field as his natural bat path goes that way, just like Gleyber Torres. Skipping the Arizona Rookie League shows the faith the Cubs already have in his talent.
Aramis Ademan is another 18-year-old with all kinds of potential. In his first game for Eugene, the diminutive SS cranked one out of PK Park. Don’t expect that to happen often, as the young Ademan is more known for his prowess on defense. His offense is a bit behind, but at such a tender age, his deft hands put him miles above the other shortstops in the system.
Joe Martarano is quite the presence in the batters box at 6’3” and close to 240 pounds. I saw the former Boise State linebacker for the first time on opening night at Eugene and the thing I took away from that performance was that he does have a really good eye at plate. He might be a little roller-coaster-y this summer as he gets used to playing every day after not playing for two years while participating in college football. Even so, good things will come from his bat.
Delvin Zinn is beginning this year in Mesa after missing most of spring training. He’s a great athlete and it looks like he’s going to play second base. With college draft picks coming, I think he’ll be at Mesa most of the summer.
Bailey Clark is a bearded monster with a 95-98 mph fastball. I love this kid. He is starting out at Eugene and should eventually spend most of his time this summer playing at South Bend.
Brailyn Marquez is a left-handed pitcher who stands 6’6” and is only 18 years old. Last year in the Dominican Summer League he put up an ERA of 1.48 and struck out 48 in 54 IP. I doubt he does that in Mesa, but I am intrigued to see how he does stateside.
Faustino Carrera is a bit small for a future as a starter, but that’s what he is for right now. He put up a 1.06 ERA in the DSL last year and, like Marquez, I wonder if he if he can do that in Mesa with the same success.
Jonathan Sierra looks like Darryl Strawberry, but does not stir the drink like Straw quick yet. Then again, Sierra is only 18 (do you sense a theme here?). He hit .264 in the DSL last year with a .384 OBP, which tells me he has a good eye at the plate. He did not have the greatest spring training, but I am interested to see how he hits in Mesa and whether his power stroke begins to develop. Even if he doens’t quite break out, he’s young enough that it could happen over the next two to three years.
Gustavo Polanco led the Mesa Cubs in hitting at .322 last year. He is already off to great start at Eugene, hitting .458 after 6 games. Although he started off as a catcher, the 20-year-old moved to first base and is also a designated hitter. At 6′0″ and 190 pounds, he is pretty much maxed out physically, but he has a great eye for the ball.
Under the Radar
I am sure there will be other players who put themselves on the map as well. More than likely, most will be players the Cubs recently drafted. Austin Filiere, a third baseman from MIT, and outfielder Chris Carrier from Memphis are two possible power products, along with first baseman Austin Young from Kennesaw State. Second baseman Jared Young and outfielder Brandon Hughes could also do well.
When it comes to pitchers, the Cubs did pick some relievers. Most notable are Casey Ryan from Hawaii, Sean Barry from San Diego, and Brian Glowicki from Minnesota. Because the starting pitchers the Cubs draft have already thrown a full season in college, they usually only pitch short stints (40-50 pitches), if at all. For that reason, they aren’t likely to getting much publicity until next season at the earliest.