Chicago Cubs: Which minor league players could make an impact in 2017?
By Erik Mauro
Looking at the Chicago Cubs roster, currently, there are not many holes that need to be filled. Teams can never have too much minor league depth, and the Cubs have that. Which players are major league ready and can have some impact in 2017?
With the roster constructed as it is, we aren’t likely to see many of these players until September, barring injury. But that doesn’t mean that some aren’t ready to go as of now. Will the “next wave” come through Chicago this season? It’s possible, and here are a few of the guys you might see before 2017 is over.
He is the most likely of the candidates. Miguel Montero had a lingering back injury in 2016, and who knows how healed that is. Caratini has been heralded for his leadership skills behind the plate, running the team out there on the field. Caratini’s bat isn’t a weakness either, as he posted a .291/.375/.405 slash line last year at AA Tennessee. Caratini is a switch hitter, that has a good feel for the zone, and has all the intangibles to be a Major League catcher. This may also be an instance of wanting to get Caratini some time at the big league level since Montero is a free agent at season’s end.
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Zagunis fits the profile of a Cubs player to a T. He can play multiple positions, sees the ball well, draws his walks, works the count, etc. Point being, he fits the mold of what the Cubs are looking for in a player. Zagunis was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft. Drafted as a catcher, the Cubs soon had him shift his focus to simply playing outfield, ala Kyle Schwarber. Zagunis has posted a .281/.401/.434 slash line in pro ball. He may be major league ready, it is just a matter of finding a spot for him in a crowded outfield right now.
Drafted as a catcher, the Cubs soon had him shift his focus to simply playing outfield, a la Kyle Schwarber. Zagunis was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft. Drafted as a catcher, the Cubs soon had him shift his focus to simply playing outfield, a la Kyle Schwarber. He has posted a .281/.401/.434 slash line in pro ball. He may be major league ready, it is just a matter of finding a spot for him in a crowded outfield.
Meet Kyle Hendricks, 2.0, like Hendricks, Williams won’t overpower opposing hitters, but he will pound the zone and induce weak contact. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2014 draft, Williams signed with the Cubs, and has posted a 2.29 ERA in 212.1 innings, logged 157 strikeouts, with a .225 opponent BA, and an outstanding WHIP just a tad under one.
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One bugaboo is that Williams has battled some injury issues. The Cubs have talked about going with a 6-man rotation at times this year, and this is one option the Cubs could look at, should Williams stay healthy.