Off season baseball can often have a tumultuous impact on the even the most casual of baseball fans, and OF Dave Sappelt is giving Cubs’ fans something to cheer about.
Sappelt, who was acquired from the Reds in 2011 has shown nothing but promise almost through the entirety of this young career.
The 25 year old Sappelt is currently a member of Los Bravos de Margarita (I’ll have 2 please) of the Venezuelan Winter League and is finding much success at the plate this off season. Sappelt has posted at least one hit and and AVG of .538 in his last 10 games; not to mention a .769 SLG, 2 HR and 7 RBI in his last 39 AB.
While these are very impressive numbers from the young lad but I’m weary to invest a whole lot in to them just yet. Yes, Sappelt is certainly doing well for himself in the VWL, but considering his past track record? I’m tempted to believe that his metrics are being inflated by non-big league pitching.
Sappelt is not without his flaws. The righty has a bit of a strike out problem (15% K/AB in VWL) which needs to be addressed. Sappelt has been known to have a bit of an “unconventional” swing with issues opening up his shoulders too early in his swing mechanics which often leads to a flat handed level swing and cannot fight off pitches that are low and away. This is synonymous with lack of power but improvements have been made. This is all based off video from last year and I have yet to see his current swing which is so effective in the VWL, so I may end up eating my words next time I watch him play.
You may remember seeing Sappelt in September of 2012 playing for the Cubs with moderate success. He posted a .275/.351/.449 triple slash in 78 PA which is relatively healthy. This is indicative that he’s overcoming his swing follies from previous seasons and is likely on the road to becoming an effective hitter at the plate. Sappelt will need to learn how to keep the bat around belt level and take his swing through balls in order to generate a little more pop so that he can be effective as a starter in the MLB.
This isn’t to say that Sappelt is a bad hitter overall. Keep in mind, he’s only 5’9″ and 195lbs which puts him in the same relative size realm as Tony Campana and doesn’t exactly make his a physical monster like Jorge Soler for example. But what Sappelt lacks in size and power, he makes up for in speed. He may have only posted 1 stolen bag for Los Bravos this winter league season, but his savvy defensive skills allow him to use his speed effectively in the outfield.
Can we expect to see Sappelt as a starter for the Cubs anytime soon? Not in the immediate near future at least, but I wouldn’t rule him out of getting a call up around mid season to act as a bench player in order to gain exposure to the MLB. Sappelt has overcome his physical shortcomings (pardon the pun) to be a relatively steady prospect within the Cubs’ system. If he can alter his mechanics to address his power needs and make the switch to hitting for AVG, he could be an effective leadoff hitter very soon.
His prowess in the VWL is all very promising for a character who had so many question marks before. I’m confident that Sappelt is now ready to take the next step in his development and be an MLB ready starter in the next 2 years.