In this most unusual year for all of us, Prospects1500 is keeping the flame of minor league baseball alive by presenting a series of 10 names fans need to know about each team. Today, we look at the Chicago Cubs. The names are presented in alphabetical order.
Yovanny Cruz, RHP
Every team has a pitching prospect that seems to have “great stuff”, but doesn’t always have it under control. On top of that, they have injury issues. For the Cubs, that pitcher is Yovanny Cruz.
Lanky at 6’1″, 190-pounds with room to grow, the 20-year-old has the ability for be a front-line starter. Cruz has a mid-90’s sinking fastball with some filthy movement along with a hard-biting slider and change-up. At Short Season-A Eugene last season, Cruz displayed both the potential and problems.
Cruz fanned 21 in 14.2 innings, but also walked 12, served up 3 home runs, and surrendered 13 earned run on 13 hits. In order to move forward, Cruz has to harness some of that nasty movement and shake the injury bug.
Brennen Davis, OF
When you are a second round pick at 19-years-old with a famous father, some may use that as a reason to take the easy way in your first season as a pro. No so with Brennen Davis.
The son of former NBA star Reggie Theus, Davis knew he needed some serious work on his game after dominating in high school. Working in extended spring training last year, Davis rebuilt his swing. While that delayed his debut, the results were impressive.
In a little more than a third of a season, Davis slashed .305/.381/.525/.907 with 8 HR and 30 RBI. A strikeout rate of 18.6% along with a 8.8% walk rate indicated more work is needed. The Cubs eased Davis in defensively, playing him exclusively in left. However, Davis has the range for center and the arm for right field.
Kohl Franklin, RHP
Over the past few seasons, the Cubs have been trying to play it safe by selecting college level pitchers high in the draft. However, a gamble in the sixth round in 2018 with high school pitcher Kohl Franklin may pay off big.
Since signing, the 20-year old has put in the work on and off the field. Franklin’s fastball now tops out in the 96-97 MPH range. Added to that, scouts feel that Franklin’s change-up can also be a plus pitch. Work on a breaking ball, whether a slider or curve, would be the next hurdle.
This past season, Franklin started 11 games and posted a 2.36 ERA, 1.190 WHIP, and had 52 strikeouts in 42 innings. The Oklahoma native finished the year with Low-A South Bend, so moving up the chain is not out of the question.
Richard Gallardo, RHP
The second rated pitcher of the 2018 international free agent class, the Cubs went all-out to sign Gallardo to a $1,ooo,000 contract. Now, the Cubs seem to be benefiting from that decision.
The 18-year old performed well enough in the Arizona rookie league to earn a trip to Eugene last season. In 13 games, the native of Venezuela had a 3.93 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, and struck out 25 in 34.1 innings. Not bad for a teenager in his first trip stateside.
While he is still physically developing, Gallardo already has a mid-90’s fastball. Add to that a curve and change that some feel can be plus pitches, and you have someone who can project high in the starting rotation. Getting his high movement pitches under control will be the key for Gallardo’s future.
Ed Howard, SS
The Cubs’ first round draft pick in 2020, Chicago-area native Ed Howard give the Cubs more options in a crowded middle infield picture.
The 18-year-old is considered a top-flight defender, with smooth actions around the keystone sack, a strong arm, and the athleticism to make the highlight reel play. At 6’2″. 215-pounds already, Howard has the size and the stroke to provide plenty of pop.
Although Howard may need to work on his swing, many are encouraged by his quick hands and bat speed. Howard is also considered to be a plus base-runner. With Howard among a growing list of major league potential middle infielders, the Cubs may finally feel comfortable dealing from the top of the deck to make overall improvements to the organization.
Brailyn Marquez, LHP
It has taken a while for Marquez to find his game after being a part of the 2015 international free agent signing class. After working his way through the system starting in 2016, the Dominican turned the corner last season. Working his fastball in the upper-90’s, Marquez was able to swings and misses in the strike zone while improving his command of his slider and change-up.
That improvement led to Marquez striking out 102 in 77.1 innings for South Bend, earning a mid-season promotion to Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. Overall, Marquez had a 3.13 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, and 128 strikeouts in 103.2 innings. The biggest concern is that the Cubs front office doesn’t use Marquez as a trade chip for a temporary fix.
Pedro Martinez, INF
Over the past few years, the Cubs farm system has struggled to produce a top-of-the-order type bat. Going forward, Pedro Martinez can part of a solution to that problem.
Signed out of Venezuela in 2017, Martinez has been incredibly consistent at the plate. In the same amount of games over the past two seasons, Martinez produced almost identical results. Martinez now has a lifetime slash line of .310/.393/.422/.815 with 50 stolen bases and 49 runs driven in.
Although a originally a shortstop, Martinez has seen time also at second and third base. While his defense is acceptable at short, there are others in the system better. Martinez may find a home at second base to accommodate his switch-hitting bat.
While Brennen Davis took home Cubs Minor League Player of the Year award last season, Christopher Morel was not far behind him.
After struggling at the plate for the past two seasons, the wiry Dominican seemed to make better contact with South Bend. Morel batted .284/.320/.467/.787 with 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 73 games. But Morel will still have to improve on his 21.6% K-rate.
Settling on a position may have helped the focus at the plate for the 21-year old. But although the Cubs feel his defense at third base could be a plus, Morel may need to move to the outfield to accommodate their plethora of infield prospects.
Jack Patterson, LHP
It may be a bit unfair to call Jack Patterson a “left-handed Kyle Hendricks“, but the similarities are striking.
Unheralded after being drafted in the 32nd round of the 2018 draft from Bryant College, Patterson took the Cubs‘ system by storm in 2019. Coming out of extended spring training, Patterson blew away both the Midwest and Carolina Leagues at South Bend and Myrtle Beach. Ending the season at Double-A Tennessee, the 24-year old went 8-1, with a save in 24 games. In 79.2 innings pitched, Patterson had a 1.69 ERA, 1.004 WHIP, and 80 strikeouts.
An extreme ground ball pitcher, Patterson uses his slider and low-90’s sinking fastball to have opponents beat the ball into the ground. Greater work on his change in order to keep hitters honest may be the only thing keeping Patterson from the majors.
As a franchise, the Cubs have struggled with their speed, athleticism, and contact hitting over the past few seasons. A cure for that could be Yohendrick Pinango.
Now 18-years-old, Pinango show incredible plate awareness as a first time pro last year. In 274 plate appearances, Pinango walked 27 times while striking out only 20. That, to go along with a .358/.427/.442/.869 line with 36 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 62 games.
Currently, there is no information on the Venezuelan’s defense. At 5’11”, 170-pounds, Pinango has good size for his age, with room to grow.