This past minor league season was one of the strangest I’ve ever seen. Some of that came from being only five months long, but it was more due to the rash of injuries the Cubs had up and down the organization. Everywhere you looked, somebody was moving around the diamond or to a different level to fill at another position. We even saw Chase Strumpf, last year’s top second baseman, entrenched at third base in Tennessee.
At this point, it’s still unclear where many prospects are going to play when 2022 Opening Day rolls around. Second base is particularly tough to project, in large part because of the overabundance of shortstops in the system who may need to slide one way or the other on the infield. That’s why we’re kicking off our annual position outlook with the keystone.
Triantos could change 2B outlook
James Triantos is more than likely going to play some second base next summer in Myrtle Beach, it’s just a question of how much. After a stunning debut that saw him hit six homers with a 143 wRC+ and .426 wOBA in just Arizona Complex League 25 games, his position is still in flux.
Triantos only played seven times at second in that stretch, so not a lot, but those numbers could increase dramatically if the Cubs roll with Reginald Preciado more at shortstop. Continuing to put up that kind of power on the right side of the infield could really amp up Triantos’s value to the organization.
— John Antonoff (@baseballinfocus) September 3, 2021
The Ed Howard timeshare
Kevin Made and Ed Howard flip-flopped shortstop duties for most of the second half at Myrtle Beach. When Made was at short, Howard was at second. When Howard was at short, Made slid over to third. They should both be at High-A South Bend to start next year, but we obviously don’t know how that timeshare will work at a new level.
The No. 1 pick from 2020 looks like a natural at short and it may be a matter of letting his bat determine where he plays the most. This is one of those good problems to have.
Ed Howard is pretty smooth at second too. He makes everything look so easy when it’s not pic.twitter.com/8YhTiYHC99
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) August 8, 2021
The Cubs are probably going to ride 18-year-old Cristian Hernandez at shortstop as much as they can in 2022. That means Pedro Ramirez, who hit over .370 with a 155 wRC+ in the Dominican Summer League, could be the guy to take up the second base mantle. I’m still a little cautious about Ramirez because we’ve seen guys tear it up in the Dominican and then fall flat when they get to the States. Still, the young switch-hitter is one to keep an eye on for next season.
The Elephant in the room
As of right now, Strumpf’s path to Chicago would be better at third base. He displayed a little more of that power we’ve been hoping for in the second half of the year as he hit .339 with a .435 OBP to go along with three home runs before COVID wiped out half the team at Tennessee. But what if Strumpf moves back to second base once he makes it to Iowa? That move isn’t likely, but it is an option depending on the needs of the big club.
Speaking of which, the Cubs acquired their presumed second baseman of the next few years when they got Nick Madrigal from the White Sox. Then there’s all the talk about them kicking the tires on the shortstop market, though it’s doubtful they’ll really make a big splash. Part of the fun of watching these young players develop individually is seeing how their deployment signals the motivations of the greater organization.
To that end, second base is going to be a blast next season.