With the first full week of Spring Training games complete, several Chicago Cubs prospects are showing what they can do. Will it be enough to make the 25-man roster?
Spring Training action is in full swing, and the Chicago Cubs have yet to perform up to their potential. At least, not yet. But after a longer-than-normal season, manager Joe Maddon is taking an “ease into it” approach for many of the regular players on the 25-man roster. Kyle Hendricks made his first appearance of the Spring on Saturday, as did Pedro Strop.
With many of the starters getting fewer reps, prospects in the organization have the opportunity to show what they can do. Their time to audition for the front office and coaches is brief, but several are making the most of the chance. If they continue to perform, their name may be called upon when the season starts; however, it is more likely they are called up later in the season.
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To say that the Chicago Cubs have players that can produce offensively is obvious. But the progress several prospects made between last year and now is impressive. Especially in terms of the catchers. We know that the Major League roster will include Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero, supported by Kyle Schwarber. Should something happen, the team will be in good hands.
Taylor Davis is showing that he can hit. This Spring, he has doubled his hits in less than half his at-bats in 2016. In eight games Davis has notched four hits, two runs scored, two runs batted in and an on-base percen tage of .500. It should come as no surprise, however, since he bit above .300 several seasons in the minors. Fellow catcher Victor Caratini is also proving his abilities at the plate. After finally making it to Double -A Tennessee in 2016, Caratini hit for a .291/.375/.405 split, with six home runs and 47 knocked in. This spring he is batting .455 including three doubles.
Other prospects are also seeing plenty of chances to hit. Eloy Jimenez is 5-17 so far, with a home run, three knocked in, and a .316 on-base percentage. Jaime Candelario is batting .286 but leads the Cubs two triples and four runs scored.
Taking the mound
With 39 pitchers attending camp, it is easy to see why none have pitched more than four innings. Even so, a few of them stand out. Dylan Floro allowed only a hit, a walk, and struck out one in his three innings of work. Newly signed minor leaguer Seth Frankoff is having his best Spring performance yet. With the Oakland Athletics in 2016, Frankoff gave up six runs on five hits including two homers in three innings of work in the Spring. This year? In two games, adding up to four innings of work, Frankoff allowed three hits, four walks, and no runs. He also struck out three.
After seven years in the Pittsburg Pirates organization, Jhondaniel Medina is getting his first Spring training action of his career. So far, so good. In four innings, he has allowed one hit, no runs, walked two and struck out two. While he will start the season in the minors, it is good to see early success for the new Cub.
Will they make it?
The question remains can any of these players make the 25-man roster when camp breaks. In all likelihood, no. The 40-man roster, absolutely. Both Candelario and Caratini are listed on the 40-man roster; however, there is an outside chance that Candelario travels with the Chicago Cubs on opening day. His versatility to play third and first will help provide days off for Anthony Rizzo. Should he continue to hit, and Tommy La Stella (who only has two at-bats this Spring) struggle, the young prospect could be activated.
But, his rookie status is still intact, and he is not eligible for arbitration until 2020. The team controls Candelario until 2023. Calling him up before April 15 may cause an issue like we witnessed with Kris Bryant in 2015. I will not be shocked if he played in the Majors more this year, but not to start.
There is still plenty of Spring left, and many questions to answer. So far, players like Caratini and Floro are making the decisions hard for management. It is a good problem to have.