The Chicago Cubs have so many good prospects and so few positions to play them in. It is actually a good problem to have – but one that can come back to haunt you if you make the wrong decision. That decision is going to have to be made on a few different players and positions with the Cubs here in the very near future.
Center field which was once a hard position to fill for the Cubs – now seems to hold a couple of options for the future. Albert Almora was drafted with the Cubs first pick in the 2012 MLB and was immediately thought of being the future lead-off and center fielder for the Cubs.
Then the Cubs made a trade and acquired Billy McKinney. Now I’ll be honest – I thought McKinney was sort of add-in to the Samardzija for Russell trade but after reading up on him – he seems to be quite the catch for the Cubs.
Right now, it’s hard to say. Both have their strengths and weaknesses – which you expect from very young players. McKinney’s bat is very good. With his swing and a hand-eye coordination that caught scouts attention – he show’s signs of a mature major league hitter already.
MLB.com reporter Johnathan Mayo via sbnation.com had this breakdown about McKinney:
"“There are few, if any, high school bats better than McKinney’s. With a balanced approach and a smooth swing from the left side, he projects to be a plus hitter with above-average power.”"
The offense sounds like it’s there but while scouts rave about those aspects of his game – the same isn’t said about his glove. Baseball Prospectus rates his defensive tools has about average to below average.
What helps him is his hustle and all-out effort on every play. That is something that will win him over with the Cubs’ fan base immediately.
"“Would be best suited for left field, but can handle center; would be slightly over-matched in RF but it wouldn’t be a huge liability. Good athlete with average speed, but gets good reads off the bat and tracks the baseball well; can handle center field for now but will need to move to a corner as he ages; presently has plus range for a right fielder.” arm and glove report via Baseball Prospectus"
Even with Almora with the Cubs – I’m sure there will be a place for both of these young prospects. If Almora can stay healthy and continue to grow – I’m sure the club will want to at least give him a shot at the spot in center.
His glove has said to be of the caliber of a Gold Glove winner. His issue’s have been his health and the same problem that a lot of the young players have – a free swing that strikes out too often.
It sounds like maybe McKinney might have the slight edge right now – but maybe he’d be best suited for left. If that happens – it will also mean Kris Bryant will be a third baseman and not a corner outfielder.
Who will be the odd man out? Again, this is a good problem.
Before that issue comes to life – all the star’s need to align – those star’s being McKinney, Soler, Almora, and Baez. I think they will. As for McKinney – he sounds like the perfect player the Cubs need to have in their line-up batting second – good power, great contact, and a solid approach.
The type of player that sets the table for the big sluggers behind him. That is a recipe for success.