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Chicago Cubs: Billy McKinney a hidden gem?

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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.

Where to play Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara is the hot topic as of right now – but there is another battle that could be coming a lot sooner than expected.

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.

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