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James Triantos' Quality Of Contact Stands Out



A picture emerged as the Cubs continued to track James Triantos and evaluate the 18-year-old shortstop's offensive game.

This is what the best college hitters in the draft look like in high school.

That realization prompted the Cubs to draft Triantos in the second round and go well over slot to sign the North Carolina commit for $2.1 million. He attended Madison High in Vienna, Va.

Triantos was originally eligible to be drafted in 2022 but reclassified to eligible this year. The Cubs counted eight scouts who got eyes on Triantos, who also went through a private workout in Myrtle Beach, S.C., home of the organization's Low-A affiliate.

“A lot’s been said about the hit tool,” Cubs vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said. “The quality of contact, how loud the contact is, just how advanced his awareness of the strike zone is at a young age. It’s at a level where he should dominate.

"But to the extent that he did—where there are so few swings and misses and so much quality contact that he was making—it really stood out.”

The Cubs are keeping an open mind about Triantos’ defensive position, hoping to develop his versatility around the infield and perhaps the outfield and capitalize on his athleticism. This is someone who can dunk a basketball and do Ozzie Smith-style back flips.

Triantos’ rise culminated in a spectacular performance in a Virginia state championship game, where he almost threw a perfect game and hit the go-ahead home run in front of a crowd that included Kantrovitz and longtime Cubs area scout Billy Swoope.

He kept hitting in his pro debut, batting .288/.351/.462 with two homers through 13 games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.

“Everything that was asked of him, he did,” Kantrovitz said. “When you’re taking a high school player, you expect them to dominate against the competition. That’s reasonable if they’re going to be able to compete in a pro setting.

"But James really took that to a different level, and one that we don’t see very often.”

CUBBYHOLE

— Internally, the Cubs are as optimistic about 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Cristian Hernandez as any of the international free agents they’ve signed in recent memory, a group that includes Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez. The Cubs invested $3 million in Hernandez, projecting that he will be able to stick at shortstop and continue to grow into a bigger frame that’s currently listed at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. The Dominican Summer League was only the beginning for a well-rounded player with physical attributes and advanced instincts.

“He’s living up to every expectation so far,” Cubs vice president of international scouting Louie Eljaua said. “Not just on the field, but off the field. He’s very mature. He handles himself very well. He’s got some leadership qualities to him. Hopefully, he’s one of those guys who we’ll be seeing in Chicago sooner than later. But we’re very excited about him and what the future holds.”

— The Cubs had a strong internal debate about last year’s first-round pick and ultimately wound up taking shortstop Ed Howard at No. 16 instead of outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, who dropped to the Mets three spots later.

The Cubs now have both prospects after a huge sell-off at the trade deadline. They acquired Crow-Armstrong in a deal headlined by Javier Baez. The Cubs have an extensive file on Crow-Armstrong, viewing him as a legitimate center fielder who’s accustomed to facing a high level of pitching coming out of the showcase circuit and Harvard-Westlake, the Los Angeles high school that also produced Lucas Giolito, Max Fried and Jack Flaherty. The Cubs anticipate Crow-Armstrong, who had surgery on his right shoulder this season, will be ready for spring training next year.

Kevin Alcantara Billmitchell

2021 Arizona Complex League Top 10 Prospects

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