The Arizona Fall League concluded on Thursday, November 15, and its brief six-week run offered a good look at several of the nine players the Cubs had participating. Cubs Insider has discussed the performances of Nico Hoerner (here and here) and Erick Leal (here), but the most under-reported story of the short season league is that of Trent Giambrone.
One reason the versatile infielder didn’t get a lot of press this fall is that he was basically on the taxi squad, playing twice a week. He saw action in just 12 games but he made every game count and has probably launched himself into the upper echelons of several prospect lists. Giambrone displayed a quick stroke and showed that he could spray the ball all over the field with power, as shown by his .890 OPS.
We’ve been on Giambrone for a while here at CI, at least as far back as July 2017 when he was at Myrtle Beach. Back then, he was focused on just being himself and getting used to skipping a level after bypassing low-A South Bend. It wasn’t a banner campaign as he struggled with consistency en route to 12 homers and a wRC+ of 83. However, Giambrone used it as a learning experience and a tool to get better.
“After having my first full season under my belt, it was realizing what the grind is like and how you have to go and prepare every day,” he told MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum. “Most importantly, learning who I am as a player, on and off the field…I feel like that’s the biggest step I’ve taken this fall.”
Sure enough, the righty-batting Giambone put up more consistent splits while upping his home run total to 17 and posting a .333 OBP at Double-A Tennessee. The numbers weren’t exactly leaping off the page, but they were markedly better than he’d put up the previous season and came against better pitching, to boot.
The most attractive aspect of his profile is that he can play all four infield positions and he was even playing the outfield this fall. He is going to be in the much more hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2019, playing in environs up and down the Rocky Mountains where the ball flies out quickly. We could see even more power from him this coming season, and that kind of confidence can only help.
Though he’s not close to being on par with players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, Giambrone’s career arc has been pretty steep to this point. The 2016 draftee is pushing his way up the ladder quickly and he should be adding himself to the list of guys who could play infield in Chicago if needed in 2019.
Spring training should offer another showcase for him as he will likely get several at-bats in major league camp because of his performance at Tennessee and the AFL. And if he’s able to do in Iowa what he’s done at his last two stops, it may not be long before more casual fans have to start learning how to pronounce his name (it rhymes with “jabroni,” by the way).