The Cubs will be getting younger soon – but these three guys won’t play in 2021.
Change is coming for the Chicago Cubs. We’ll soon start seeing younger guys and fresh faces at the Friendly Confines. I decided to take a look at three guys who could play a role in the future – but who I believe won’t make their presence felt next season.
Who are they? A pitcher, a catcher and a utilityman. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
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Cubs taking a chance on a Max Schrock, a former Cardinals talent
First off, we start with Max Schrock. He’s a lefty bat who has good contact but low power. As soon as he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, his defense became non-existent and his strikeout rate jumped. But Chicago believes it has something in him. Schrock has two minor league options left. And if they ‘burn them up’? They can release him from the 40-man roster, no harm-no foul.
But still, he’s had a promising career. At Midland in 2017 (Oakland Athletics), he posted a slash of .321/.379/.422 (.801 OPS) with seven home runs and 46 knocked in. He also posted a wRC+ of 128. When he came to the Cards? It all came down on him – literally.
He had a significant uptick in his strikeout percentage (7.9 to 16.2) from 2018 to 2019. In 2020, it was all bad – he whiffed in more than one-third of his at-bats (in an admittedly small 11-game sample size). Hopefully, a regular ramp-up and a full 162-game season will allow the Cubs coaching staff to really focus on the bat-to-ball element of his game.
For the Cubs, pitching is everything – as we already know.
You might not believe this. But no Major League ballplayer has come from the Yucatan – ever. Manuel Rodriguez hopes to change that. At 24 years old, Rodriguez has had some issues with injuries. After his age 19 season, the Cubs signed to a minor league deal. And five years later, they are protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft.
He pitched 47 innings at Myrtle Beach in 2019. He allowed an ERA of 3.45 with a 3.3 BB/9 mark, down from an 8.0 clip and 1.277 WHIP at South Bend. At Los Mochis in ’17-’18, he had a WHIP of 0.947–but that was the Mexican League, so we’re talking apples to oranges, to a degree.
He has a fastball and a hard curveball. The fastball averages 95+ MPH, with a top speed of 99 mph. Teams value velocity – and Rodriguez has it. Look at Burl Callaway. There’s a reason the Cubs are so high on that kid. Rodriguez is cut from the same cloth. After years of Chicago lacking impact velocity, guys like Rodriguez could change everything.
When will we see Miguel Amaya suiting up for the Cubs?
And we finish with the Cubs’ Miguel Amaya. And boy, he’s something special. He may not look like it, but he’s shaping up to be an excellent all-around catcher. Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini seem to be locked in for 2021 – that is, if they don’t get traded. Regardless, Amaya still needs some seasoning.
Amaya debuted in the Dominican Summer League, posting a slash line of .245/.344/.317/.662. Then, in 2019, he increased his walk rate from 10.4 to 13.2 and decreased his strikeout rate from 19.0 to 16.8. Remember, they didn’t have a MiLB schedule this year.
In 99 games in 2019, he tallied 11 home runs and 57 RBI in Eugene. Amaya turned in a wOBA of .354 and a wRC+ of 122, the highest in his short career in the minors. That bodes well for the future.
He’s one of the best in the business with pitch framing and blocking. If the designated hitter becomes permanent in the next CBA? The Cubs (assuming they still control both Caratini and Contreras) could go with the three-catcher look long-term.