LotW: Going Young


It is not often that I talk about players who are lower in the system than short-season Boise. Players in the Arizona Rookie League or the Dominican Summer League are so young and so raw that it can be tough to look into the stat lines and separate the guys with serious major league potential from the field. I’m breaking from that pattern for this week’s Line of the Week because there is something happening in the Dominican Republic that I just can’t over look.

Meet Jeimer Candelario. I think we will be hearing a lot more of that name in the next few years.

Candelario is a seventeen year old third baseman who is sporting an OPS of .921 over 72 games. With sixteen doubles and five home runs he already shows some promising power that will only increase as he builds more muscle on his 6’1″ frame. His strike out rate is good for a slugger at just 17%, but the remarkable numbers here are his walks.

In 249 ABs he has 42 strike outs. And he has 50 walks. That’s right, the Cubs have a seventeen year old switch hitting third baseman who has 20% more walks than he does strike outs. That kind of selective approach and plate discipline is something that should translate very well to the higher levels of the minors, and I would not be surprised if he gets his crack at the Rookie League or the short-season Northwest League sometime next year.

His OPS of 1.021 with runners in scoring position is nice too.

Candelario’s numbers aren’t completely perfect. His left/right splits make me think he is a much better hitter from the left side of the plate than he is from the right side, and it would not shock me if he stops switch hitting at some point and just focuses on his left handed swing. Since he has a slugging percentage well over .500 against right handers, I think he will be just fine if that is the course his career takes.

Whenever a very young Cub appears from the Dominican Summer League, the natural thing for Cub fans to do is compare him to Starlin Castro. So, how does Candelario’s year in the DSL compare to Castro DSL performance at age seventeen?

I almost hate to answer that question. I really don’t like hyping players who are this young and this low in the minors. But since I asked…

It isn’t close. Candelario blows Castro’s DSL numbers clean out of the ballpark. Castro’s OPS as a seventeen year old in the DSL was .742, almost two hundred points below Candelario’s. Castro had 23 walks to go with 24 strikeouts, which is excellent but not close to Candelario’s numbers. Castro also played in twelve fewer games than what Candelario has so far.

I am not predicting that Candelario will move up as fast as Castro did, or that he will enjoy the same level of success in the majors. I am saying that we should keep a very close eye on this kid’s career. Candelario has more than earned a Line of the Week, and I can’t wait to see what he does higher up in the minors over the next few years.