Prospects of the Week for Chicago Cubs Affiliates of the Week 5/15-5/21

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A+ Hitter of the week

3B James Triantos (20 Years Old)

.381/.409/.762 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 1-1 SB

James Triantos is one of the few players that made the list this week that is also on a majority of top prospect lists including ranking 11th on MLB Pipeline’s list. In 2021 Triantos was one of the prospects that had more helium than anyone which led to the Cubs giving him a $2.1 million signing bonus, nearly double the $1,276,400 slot value. 

He missed the beginning of the season, but since making his debut on May 9th all he’s done is hit. He may only have 37 plate appearances so far this season but in that time he’s struck out one time. ONCE.

The Cubs love Nico Hoerner and his ability to put the bat on the ball and create good at-bats in the leadoff spot. Triantos appears to be built in the same mold. Fangraphs grades his fielding at a 40, which to me implies he may be better suited to second base than he is to the hot corner. 

There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of high-caliber infielders that can hit for average and hit for power while not striking out very often and giving you a little something on the basepaths as well. 

A+ Pitcher of the week

RHP Manuel Espinoza (22 Years Old)

1 G, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 9 K

You’ve got to love early-season baseball for stories like this one. Manuel Espinoza is a player the Cubs signed out of Mexico for a $400,000 signing bonus in 2018. Players such as Florencio Serrano (now with the Rangers system) and Luis Verdugo (batting .105/175/.140 in AA Tennessee) each signed for triple that signing bonus. 

Yet here is Espinoza. Pitching in his third game this season and having his longest outing yet while continuing to impress with his ability to limit baserunners and strike guys out. This year Espinoza has thrown exactly 9 IP and that leads to an interesting statistical perspective because if he were to have thrown that as one game rather than three we would be tripping over ourselves to get him to Wrigley.

In those 9 IP, he has only faced 30 total batters. He’s struck out 13 of them, walked one of them, hit one of them, and given up hits to two of them. His ERA is obviously sparkling at a nice, round 0.00, but even when you exclude fielding and look at his FIP he’d be one of the better pitchers in the system this year with a 1.24 FIP.

Obviously, his stats aren’t in one game. They’re in three, so he could be benefiting from hitters not getting to see him multiple times through the order, and all of this could go down the drain with his next start, but there’s also room for even better results. With the pre-tacked baseballs in AA, one could see a world where his K% gets even better when he can improve his spin rate at the next level, even if it is against better competition.