3 Chicago Cubs prospects who are swinging a hot bat right now
The development of the Chicago Cubs prospect ranks over the next year or so is going to be critical as the team looks to rebuild smoothly and efficiently. With the 2021 minor league season winding down to its final weeks, it is hoped that at least a sizable chunk of the team’s top prospects can finish on strong notes.
Some will go on to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League come mid-October, while others could play winter ball somewhere. Solid production has come from a number of top prospects, but here are three guys who have really swung the stick well lately.
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Ed Howard, the 19-year old shortstop prospect had struggled for much of 2021, as he was playing his first competitive baseball since before the pandemic. Lately he has come around and hitting the ball with more authority. In his last 14 games in Single-A Myrtle Beach (through September 1), he is hitting .362/.426/.574 with two home runs, four doubles, and an OPS of 1.000. Howard hit safely in 13 of those 14 games. He has been spraying the ball all over the field and is fairly even with his distribution of balls being pulled, hit to center and the opposite way.
While a small sample size and a ways to go for the local kid, Howard ending his season on a good note would feel significant. If he has his groove back and starts strong next year, then he can make bigger strides towards the majors over the next few years. He is still one of the more important prospects in the Cubs system.
At just 17 years old, Cristian Hernandez, the team’s number three prospect (per MLB.com) is already making an impression. In his last 10 games (through September 2) in Rookie ball, he is hitting .333/.429/.667 with two home runs, four doubles, a triple and five walks. On the year he is hitting .279/.389/.452 in 31 games. Even if it is just the ACL, this is exciting to see from a kid who is not even 18 yet.
The kid has a really high ceiling and prior to his professional debut in 2021, he was already on MLB Pipeline’s list of top 100 prospects in baseball. Scouts said the kid from the Dominican Republic draw physical comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado. The more he plays and the more he hits, the higher he will rise in the prospect rankings over the next few seasons.
Yet another Chicago Cubs infield prospect on the rise
Do not sleep on Kevin Made. At 18 years old, Kevin Made is ranked as the team’s 11th prospect by FanGraphs and 17th by MLB.com. Another shortstop in the system, he was signed in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic for $1.5 million. In his first professional season, Made has made the most of his time in Myrtle Beach. Over the last week he has 11 hits in seven games, and is hitting .326/.340/.432 with 31 hits and 10 multi-hit games since August 1st.
Made is more of a linedrive hitter than a power guy, and does not walk a lot, but can really spray the ball around the diamond. Scouting reports on MLB.com do say however that if he can build more strength he can have the potential to drive the ball out more, so far we are mainly just seeing the line drives. Scouting reports also mention he is “rivaling Ed Howard” as being one of, if not the best defenders at the shortstop position.
Cubs fans need all the good news they can get from the farm system during this time. Every prospect doing well matters, especially when many of these guys did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic.