The Cubs farm system has produced a nice crop of infielders. Theriot, Fontenot, Castro, Barney, and LeMahieu have already reached the majors (if only briefly). Still in the minors they have guys like Flaherty, Watkins, and Lake, not to mention Cerda and LePage who have looked good at times this season. And we haven’t even gotten to the 2011 draft picks yet.
And despite all of that, there is an infielder in the high minors that we probably have not talked about enough. I think he’ll be fighting for a job in spring training next year, and I think he could break camp with a solid role on the Cubs bench. In almost any other farm system, this guy would be making headlines. In the very deep Cubs’ system, he almost gets over looked.
This week’s Line of the Week goes to…
Marwin Gonzalez, SS for the Iowa Cubs.
Not that long ago, he was the shortstop for the Tennessee Smokies. Since he moved up to Iowa, he is hitting .465 with seven extra base hits in just thirteen games. In Tennessee he hit .301 with an OPS of 0.780. Those aren’t bad number for the Southern League.
Gonzalez’s numbers overall have been much stronger this season than what we’ve seen from him in the past. He wasn’t bad from 2008 – 2010, but he wasn’t putting up numbers anywhere near this good. Just when the Cubs look to be committing to improving their team through the farm system, Gonzalez steps up with a career year that puts him in position to reach the majors.
Gonzalez is only 22, so he is young for his league. He is also a switch hitter who can play at second, short and has spent some time in the outfield. He doesn’t show much power, and he is only a moderate threat to steal bases, but he does not strike out much either. If he takes a starting job, I could see Gonzalez fitting in very well as a seventh or eighth hitter for the Cubs, but I think his real value will be off the bench.
I can easily imagine a 2012 Cub roster that has LeMahieu at third and Flaherty in left. That would open up a bench slot for Gonzalez. As a versatile switch hitter, he could be the Cub manager’s pinch hitter of choice in double switch situations. At the very least, he would add some extra versatility to a young roster that will already feature several players who can be mixed and matched into multiple positions.
2011 is going to continue to be a rough year for the Chicago Cubs, but the future is starting to arrive in Iowa. There aren’t a lot of future All-Stars in the Cubs system, but there are a lot of guys like Gonzalez who fit very nicely into regular roles. This is the type of talent that makes the Cub system extremely deep. With the Cubs having the budget to fill in the gaps with free agency, it is the kind of talent that leaves this team in a great position for the future.