Last year’s outfield breakdown prominently featured two big names to watch in the Cubs system for 2019. Both Brennan Davis and Cole Roederer had interesting seasons, with the latter making South Bend’s squad out of spring training while the former was held back.
Fast forward three months and Davis has vaulted to near the top of every Cubs prospect list. Roederer, on the other hand, flashed his talents from time to time and hit a team-leading nine home runs at South Bend but struggled to hit against a shift every night. He displayed improved patience over the course of the season, including a .429 on base percentage in the playoffs as he helped lead South Bend to their first title as a Cub affiliate.
Unfortunately, neither of these two prospects will be ready to help the big league club this year. As such, the Cubs will have to get help elsewhere while these two continue to develop the next two years. Since the theme of this year’s organizational breakdown is examining prospects who are close to helping the Cubs in Chicago, we’ll have to dig a little deeper to find some more outfielders.
If help is needed in 2020
Mark Zagunis will likely get the first call in case of emergency. Donnie Dewees, Vance Vizcaino, and Ian Miller are also in the discussion, but there’s nobody you would want to pencil in as an everyday guy to fill in for long stretches in 2020 Zagunis might be able to shoulder the load for a while if he can carry over his on-base skills.
Most likely to succeed
In between finger injuries suffered on bunt attempts in 2019, Davis showed that he’s the most exciting Cubs prospect to come along since Eloy Jimenez. The 6-foot-5 athlete displayed the ability to play all three outfield positions with ease while flashing a potent bat that has some power. Davis put up a 160 wRC+ I’m just 50 games at South Bend and looks to be headed to Myrtle Beach to start 2020 at the age of 20.
Brennen Davis punishes baseballs. pic.twitter.com/xEQtU9b2II
— Itsacon (@thats_so_cub) July 6, 2019
Davis transformed his body last winter by adding 10-15 pounds of muscle and might do the same this winter. He is still pretty lean and has a basketball build, but could easily carry a little more bulk without losing his athleticism.
Davis is still a year away at the earliest and would have to have an unbelievably dominant this year at Myrtle Beach and then at Tennessee to even be in consideration for a spot in Chicago in 2021. That’s not out of the question, so he might be a guy who could earn his way to Chicago at some point the summer after next at the ripe age of 21.
Out of all the prospects profiled so far this offseason, Davis and Miguel Amaya are most likely to be part of the new core in 2022.
Other guys to follow next season
Nelson Velasquez had a decent year in 2019 when healthy, putting up a 120 wRC+ despite hitting only four home runs. He was mentioned in an earlier piece here at CI as a guy who could benefit from the hitting lab.
Roederer is not that far behind Davis in terms of talent, only in production. If he has a good spring training, he should be at Myrtle Beach to start 2020, also at the age of 20.
Here is why everyone is so high on Cole Roederer. It is such a beautiful swing. pic.twitter.com/Q3eYmuGUx4
— TheBullpen🐾 (@RealCubsAnalyst) August 2, 2019
Edmond Americaan should be at South Bend to start the 2020 season coming off a strong short-season campaign at Eugene. The Cubs adjusted his swing to generate some more power and it paid immediate dividends for him in August with a slash line .304/.377/.510 (.887 OPS).
I’ve always been unsure of where to put Nelson Maldonado because he is really a man without a position. He’s probably the most mature bat the Cubs have after Zagunis and the fact that he drove in 46 runs in 57 games is a bit eye-catching after being drafted out of Florida last summer. He should be playing right alongside Davis, Roederer, and Velazquez at Myrtle Beach.
Maldonado could move faster than Davis and Roederer because of his approach and age, the question is where he is going to play. He saw some time at first, but was mostly a DH in college.
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