Chicago Cubs: Three better options than Daniel Descalso
2. Zack Short – Shortstop
Zack Short has already been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, but he arguably has the best on-base skill of any player in the entire Cubs’ minor league system. In 2019, he got on base at a .363 clip, and in 2017, he walked 94 times. In 2018, Short added another 82 walks. Short adds a little speed, stealing 18 bases in 2017. Short has some power to his game as well, cranking 13 home runs in 2017 and 17 more in 2018.
The Cubs are desperately looking for a backup shortstop to Javier Baez, and Short’s primary position is shortstop. He can also play second and third base. Short is ahead of Higgins based on the on-base skill, the shortstop ability, and the power he possesses.
One area that could use improvement for Short is the hit tool, with a career minor batting average of just .241, but with potential 20 home run power and a potential .400 OBP that may not make much of a difference.
Before spring training was canceled, Short appeared in 15 games with the Cubs, making 28 plate appearances. His slash line of .190/.393/.333 shows Short’s profile in a short sample size. He has also cranked one home run with seven walks and nine strikeouts.
One thing that might put Short over the edge is his ability to play shortstop since nobody else on the Cubs roster can play it regularly. David Bote gave it a shot last year for a few games, and then Hoerner filled in all September after Baez got hurt and missed the rest of the season.
For context, Short played 361 2/3 innings at shortstop last season between three levels, mainly at Iowa, and in 2018 he played over 1,000 innings at short in Double-A. What a lifesaver it would be to have a guy who can spell Baez every now and again instead of letting Javy play every single game and burn himself out near the end of the season.
Second base is an open competition, and Short has played second a little bit every year, so the path for him to the majors is there, but the question of whether he will be able to hit enough will always be there until he proves it. Not just the hit tool, but will he be able to make enough contact to put up consistent numbers in the Big Leagues?
Short is in a similar situation as Higgins that he may have to wait until there is an open spot or an injury because the infield is full currently with Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Bote, Jason Kipnis, and Hoerner already ahead of him on the depth chart, but Short is still a better option than Descalso.