Minor League IPA: A Look at Potential Cubs’ Draft Prospects, Complex Leagues Start Monday, Kilian May Get Call on Saturday
The MLB Draft is approaching rather quickly, and with the 2022 All-Star festivities scheduled for the weekend of July 17-19, we are 44 days away from the start of this year’s first round. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at the players who have been linked most to the Cubs.
- 2B Termarr Johnson – He’s a little compact (5-foot-10, 175 lbs) for my tastes but the versatile middle infielder combines easy, plus bat speed with surprising raw power, and might be the top hitter in the entire draft class. He’s quick on his feet defensively and should be able to stay at shortstop despite his size, though the team that drafts him will probably move him to second base. He has a great personality that is often considered “big” and is a natural leader on and off the field.
- 3B Cam Collier – He’s a big, strong, athletic third baseman, and if everything clicks Collier could one day make Cubs fans forget about Kris Bryant. He’s a left-handed hitter with an easy swing but I’d like to see him generate a little more power from his 6-foot-2, 215 lb. frame. I doubt Collier will get past the Pirates, but he’s been linked to the Cubs in several mock drafts.
- 3B/OF Jacob Berry – The switch-hitting third baseman from LSU offers plus power from both sides of the plate, and will probably make his big league debut as an outfielder. A lot of scouts liken Berry to Andrew Vaughan of the White Sox and their offensive profiles are pretty similar. He handles breaking balls pretty well and absolutely hammers mistake fastballs.
- 2B Jace Jung – The younger brother of Rangers’ third baseman Josh Jung has legitimate hit and power tools and is primed to be fast-tracked to the majors just like his brother. The 21-year-old Texas Tech prospect hits from the left side and has no discernible weaknesses. He has pole-to-pole, and light tower power thanks to elite physicality and bat speed. If you wanted to nitpick, he’s probably destined for left field or DH due to a fringy arm, poor speed, and adequate (at best) range. That said the batting profile (60-power, 60-hit) is one of the best in this year’s class if not tops overall.
- RHP Dylan Lesko – For a while, it seemed the Cubs were sitting dead red on the Vanderbilt righty but he’s been derailed by Tommy John surgery. Lesko was 11-0 with an 0.35 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 60 innings during 2021 and is genuinely regarded as the most polished pitcher in this draft. The Cubs could still select him, and the success of players like Walker Buehler provides an example of properly weighing injury risk against potential. Despite the arm trouble, I wouldn’t be upset at all if he is picked by Chicago.
If I Was Mocking the Top 10 Picks…
I don’t know what the odds are for successfully mocking the entire first round, and I’m not going to even try, but I felt like taking a stab at the top 10 picks since the NCAA tournament starts today.
#1 LHP in the 2022 Class, Jackson Ferris was dealing at the HS Showdown. @IMGABaseball | @PGAllAmerican pic.twitter.com/9WCDaKv5Zd
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) March 8, 2022
- Orioles: Berry – This is strictly a financial move, but still a great pick. I like Berry, but he’s slotted to be a mid-first-round pick and should save Baltimore a couple of million bucks.
- Diamondbacks: SS Jackson Holliday – The only certainty in this year’s draft is that Arizona will select Holliday.
- Rangers: OF Druw Jones – When the consensus No. 1 drops into your lap, that’s always a reason for excitement. Just ask the Red Sox, who got Marcelo Mayer with the fourth pick last year.
- Pirates: Collier – I just can’t see Ben Cherington passing on Collier here. Sorry Cubs fans.
- Nationals: Johnson – A future middle infield of Kahlil Watson and Johnson should have Miami fans pretty excited.
- Marlins: OF Elijah Green – The dude looks like a Brennen Davis clone and has a similar athletic pedigree. Davis is the son of former Bulls guard Reggie Theus and Green’s dad Eric was a Pro Bowl tight end for the Steelers.
- Cubs: LHP Jackson Ferris – I’ve been on the Florida HS southpaw since last November and I’ve no reason to jump off that train now. I like the players above a great deal but I really believe Ferris is special, I expect Carter Hawkins to take a pitcher with his first selection, and if you know me I tend to play the contrarian. Though the 18-year-old Mississippi commit is the top lefty arm in the draft, Hawkins will also be able to stash some bonus money for later if he selects Ferris, who is projected to be a No. 20-25 selection.
- Twins: SS Brooks Lee – The switch-hitting infielder will move quickly through Minnesota’s system, has good power and bat-to-ball skills and will become a fixture at third base.
- Royals: OF Jordan Beck – The Royals are notoriously tight-fisted, Beck is a good player who’s a reach at No. 9 overall, and Beck will allow Kansas City to pay up for a pitcher in a later round.
- Rockies: C Kevin Parada – A high school catcher with 60-grade power right now will have Colorado fans drooling on his big-league debut. If he can stick at catcher this pick will be a steal. That’s a big “if” though.
Affiliate News & Notes
- Ethan Hearn was voted Thursday’s Player of the Game for Myrtle Beach. The catcher was 2-4 with an RBI double and triple, a walk, and a run scored.
- Alec Mills is rehabbing at Iowa, and he likes what he’s seen of top pitching prospect Caleb Kilian. The 24-year-old righty could make his major league debut for the Cubs on Saturday.
- Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register tweeted that Kilian is the likely candidate to start one of the two games against the Cardinals on Saturday.
- The lone Top 100 Prospect ticketed for a Complex League play is shortstop Cristian Hernández, whom club officials believe has more upside than any international player the team has signed in at least a decade — a group that includes Willson Contreras, Eloy Jiménez, and Gleyber Torres.
Jordan Nwogu had a bit of a slow start to this season but he’s crushed the ball for South Bend to the tune of .366/.420/1.054 2ith a 181 wRC+ over the last two weeks and he’s apparently a beast in the weight room, too.
Craft Beer of the Day
Even More Jesus by Evil Twin Brewing – If you like your beer as dark as humanly possible, this heavy-charred roast is akin to black gold. You’ll taste chocolate, espresso, and a hint of tobacco (I’m assuming a byproduct of its overly-charred grains), and if you let it warm, cloves and spiced chocolate are the prominent flavors. It’s a 12% ABV, but I had two, and I preferred the second a little more because I drank it at room temperature. The warmer version was definitely a little more earthy and less overpowering, but then again my taste buds were already groomed to the beverage.
Beer Advocate gave the Imperial Stout a “world-class” grade of 95: “A few times in the history of craft beer it has happened that a highly praised beer rises beyond mortal stardom into the higher godly league. Usually, the recipe to make such heavenly drops is a thick fudge-like body, pitch-black color, amazingly overwhelming aromas of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, and muscovado sugar, obviously only made in limited amounts and most crucial of all — it must taste rare!”
I am adding it to my favorites, and happy it is available at my local retailer.
950 Miles to Chicago
Hernández turned 18 in December and showed enough in the DSL to warrant a state-side, full-season debut at Low-A Myrtle Beach though that was not the case. DSL rosters have not been updated yet, though games do start Monday so we should expect to hear more about Hernández, who is ranked No. 85 in the most recent Top 100 Prospect List at Baseball America ($).
It didn’t go out, but this is a damn fine swing from #Cubs stud Cristian Hernandez. pic.twitter.com/aJQA64ZgQ6
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) March 26, 2022
Hernández is a legitimate five-tool prospect who has previously drawn comparisons to Álex Rodríguez. He has a smooth, powerful right-handed swing that generates elite bat speed. The infielder barrels almost everything while displaying exceptional plate discipline, and rounds out his game with above-average speed and good defensive skills. Hernández has the potential to hit .300 with 30+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases at his peak.
Children of the Corn
Cardinals No. 30 prospect Moisés Gómez has hit home runs in consecutive games and now leads all minor league players with 19 total.
This defensive gem by shortstop and Padres’ No. 1 prospect C.J. Abrams is worthy of multiple views.
Royce Lewis and Pedro León are among the fastest prospects in all of baseball. León has been mentioned in trade rumors surrounding Contreras.
- “What Kilian can do is special. I don’t think he knows how good he is yet. I’ve watched [his] bullpens, and I’ve tried to talk to him a little bit more. He’s just so willing to learn, so willing to listen to everybody [and] he’s one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet. So it’s been a blast to watch his success.” – Mills
- “Caleb’s stuff’s trending up; the velocity’s moving up. There [are] just a lot of good things to like about him.” – David Ross
Bastards of the Young by The Replacements (1985) is the quintessential indie song and is credited by many as ground zero for the genre. I’d disagree with that because technically, “Stick to Your Guns/Toast of the Town” (1981) by Mötley Crüe is considered the first independent release to earn major airplay after the formation of the industry’s first major-label consolidations.