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TRACK RECORD:While he was never a thumper during his three seasons at Stanford, Hoerner stood out for his ability to make consistent quality contact. He never had a strikeout rate higher than 12.5 per- cent in any season. He also showed aptitude with wood bats by hitting better than .300 in both the Northwoods and Cape Cod leagues. Combine those skills with his leadership qualities up the middle, and it was an easy call for the Cubs to draft Hoerner 24th overall and sign him for $2,724,000. His pro career started with a bang when he hit the first pitch he saw in the Rookie-level Arizona League for a triple. He moved quickly through the AZL and short-season Eugene before arriving at the low Class A South Bend. His regular season stopped there when he strained a ligament in his left elbow. He recovered in time for an assignment to the Arizona Fall League, where he pro- duced an .867 OPS over 21 games.
SCOUTING REPORT: In an era where big strikeout totals are common, Hoerner’s knack for putting the bat on the ball stands out, but that contact did not come with a significant skew toward one side of the field. He sprayed line drives from gap to gap, though most of his power was to his pull side. As suggested by his contact skills, Hoerner also showed an excellent approach with two strikes and did not give away at-bats. Those skills give him a chance to be a plus hitter with below-average power. Defensively, he’s not going to wow evaluators with highlight reel plays or extraordinary range, but he’s not going to make many foolish mistakes, either. The Cubs compare him with the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong, who doesn’t jump off the page at shortstop but has managed to stick there because of his instincts. Hoerner has the arm strength to stick at shortstop but needs to become more consistent with his mechanics. Specifically, the Cubs want him to work through the ball more often when he throws and use his momentum to keep the ball true to his target. The Cubs see a scenario where Hoerner’s athleticism would allow him to move around the diamond, like Ian Happ.
THE FUTURE: Though Hoerner’s time in South Bend was short, his college pedigree and successful stint in the AFL will likely allow the Cubs to move him to high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2019. He will continue to try to solidify a permanent role at shortstop while further proving his hit tool against more experienced pitchers.
TRACK RECORD: The Cubs liked Amaya’s combination of advanced defensive skills and hitting ability and signed him for $1 million out of Panama in 2015. They skipped him over the Rookie-level Arizona League straight to short-season Eugene in 2017. He broke out during the first half of 2018 at low Class A South Bend, but his production tailed off in the second half because of his jump in workload.
SCOUTING REPORT: Before wearing down in the Midwest League, Amaya used a loose, compact swing to spray line drives from gap to gap. He showed the typical weaknesses expected from a 19-year-old getting his first test at full-season ball, including a need to better recognize spin. He hit fastballs well, and showed home run power mainly to his pull side. Evaluators expect above-average power in the future. He’s a calm receiver and with strong hands that help him steal strikes for his pitchers. He does especially well bringing low pitches back into the bottom part of the zone. He’s got above-average arm strength but needs to clean up his footwork.
THE FUTURE: Amaya will begin 2019 with high Class A Myrtle Beach.
TRACK RECORD: Marquez’s $600,000 bonus was the biggest for any lefthander in the 2015 international class. He earned that bonus by showing a present low-90s fastball along with projection to spare. He followed a strong pro debut in the Dominican Summer League with a rocky turn in the Rookie-level Arizona League before breaking out at short-season Eugene in 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Marquez stands out immediately for his power fastball from the left side. The pitch sits in the mid-90s, touches 98 mph and shows riding life through the zone. He backs it up with a pair of offspeed pitches that need refinement but project as above-average or better. His mid-80s slider snaps out of the zone at its best, but he needs to find more consistent spin. Marquez’s changeup, thrown around 86-91 mph, shows hard lateral movement like a two-seam fastball away from righthanded hitters. He needs to get stronger to maintain his velocity and repeat his delivery, which would help improve his fringy command.
THE FUTURE: Marquez finished 2018 at low Class A South Bend and should return there to begin 2019. He has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.
TRACK RECORD: Roederer vaulted up draft boards in 2018 after getting stronger and retooling his swing to add more power. He lost part of his season at Hart High with a separated right shoulder and a pulled hamstring. He performed well in the Rookie- level Arizona League and ranked No. 7 on the circuit’s prospect list.
SCOUTING REPORT: Roederer had always been an interesting prospect, but the enhanced power sealed the deal. Before the draft, scouts saw enough sock in his bat to project a ceiling of 20-25 home runs. Scouts saw a short, compact swing with plenty of bat speed and hands skilled enough to find the barrel often to project a plus hit tool with above-average power. Roederer has the instincts to play center field, but his fringe-average speed might push him to a corner. His arm is fringe-average, but he releases the ball quickly and his throws are accurate. Scouts on both the amateur and pro side saw hints of the same type of skill set that made Andrew Benintendi a star for the Red Sox.
THE FUTURE:After an excellent summer in Arizona, Roederer is likely to begin 2019 at low Class A South Bend.
TRACK RECORD: Davis was a two sport star in high school and earned defensive player of the year honors for his work on the basketball court. He came to baseball relatively late, which, along with his enviable frame, gives him a large amount of projection. Despite struggles with a hamstring injury, Davis translated enough of his raw talents into skills over the course of his senior year to warrant a second-round pick and a $1.1 million bonus.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Cubs eased Davis into pro ball with the expectation that his talent would gradually show itself. He has a bit of a grooved swing that might prevent him from hitting for a high average, but he has enough loft to combine with his natural strength to produce at least above-average power. Scouts who saw him in the Rookie-level Arizona League believe his speed—which grades out as at least plus—average arm and instincts should help him stay in center field. He has to catch up with other players his age, but his raw tools give him a chance to become an impact player.
THE FUTURE: Davis will begin the 2019 season back in extended spring training before heading to either the AZL or the short-season Northwest League.
TRACK RECORD: Alzolay was a fairly anonymous addition when the Cubs signed him as a 17-year-old, but he burst up the prospect rankings with a strong 2017 season split between high Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee. He achieved those results with a fastball that had jumped a grade—from the low to mid-90s—thanks to a commitment to the Cubs’ throwing program and better incorporation of his lower half. He appeared on the cusp of the big leagues in 2018 before a lat injury halted his season.
SCOUTING REPORT: Before the injury, Alzolay was continuing to build on the progress he made in 2017. He continued to show a mid-90s fastball and an average curveball in the low 80s and, to the Cubs’ delight, had begun to show more feel for his changeup, which had ranked as a below-average pitch entering the season. He was still as aggressive on the mound as ever, and had ramped up his efforts to learn English and keep himself in peak physical shape. To accomplish the latter goal, he had taken to hiking Camelback Mountain on days off.
THE FUTURE: Alzolay will head back to Triple-A Iowa with a goal of making his major league debut in 2019. He has the upside of a mid-rotation starter.
TRACK RECORD: Richan’s draft year started strong when he tossed eight innings of one-run ball against Michigan in an early-season tournament. He faded down the stretch a bit, but the Cubs were undeterred and popped him with their pick in the supplemental second round. Because he was so advanced, the Cubs moved Richan immediately to short-season Eugene, where he was part of the Emeralds’ improbable run to the Northwest League title.
SCOUTING REPORT: Richan’s arsenal is by no means flashy, but he pounds the zone with four pitches for strikes. He starts his arsenal with a low-90s fastball that touched up to 94 mph as an amateur and couples the pitch with a potentially plus slider that he can throw for called strikes or bury for chases. He also throws a changeup and curveball that each project to be average or a tick above. Scouts who saw him at San Diego also noted a late-breaking two-seamer. Richan gets a little bit of a boost from deception caused by hiding the ball in the back of his delivery.
THE FUTURE: Richan profiles as a classic innings-eater toward the back of a rotation. He has the pedigree to jump directly to high Class A Myrtle Beach if the Cubs decided that’s the best place for his development.
TRACK RECORD: Abbott’s stock rose during his junior year at Loyola Marymount after watching a video of Noah Syndergaard explaining how he throws his slider. He copied those instructions and saw his own slider take off as a result. He threw a perfect game on March 25, and shot all the way to the second round. He got his feet wet at short-season Eugene in 2017 before earning the organization’s pitcher of the year honors in 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Abbott starts his mix with a low- 90s fastball with heavy sink that he commands to all sectors of the zone. He pairs the pitch with a short, late-breaking slider in the mid-80s that he uses to get the bulk of his swings and misses. The pitch grades as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. His changeup, which he throws in the 83-85 mph range, shows flashes of a plus offering as well. He also throws a below-average curveball that’s more of a get-me-over pitch at this point. He throws all four pitches for strikes and fills up the zone with aplomb. His 2.50 ERA was the best in the organization and his 131 strikeouts were second behind Matt Swarmer.
THE FUTURE: Abbott should head to Double-A Tennessee in 2019 and has the upside of a No. 4 starter.
TRACK RECORD: The Cubs signed four pitchers to seven-figure bonuses in the 2014 draft. That haul included Steele, whose combination of athleticism and a low-90s fastball from the left side convinced the Cubs to sign him for $1 million, the highest bonus awarded in the fifth round that year. He had turned in a Carolina League all-star season at high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2017 before requiring Tommy John surgery that kept him out until early-July 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Steele returned from surgery in 11 months and looked as strong as ever. With Myrtle Beach he showed a fastball that sat in the low 90s and touched 95 mph with sink and finish. He backed it up with a sharp slider in the mid-80s as well as a downer curveball that flashed plus in the 76-80 mph range. He was just beginning to regain the feel for his changeup. He repeats his delivery thanks to plus athleticism and also boasts excellent arm speed.
THE FUTURE: After building innings in the Arizona Fall League, Steele appears headed for Double-A Tennessee to begin 2019. He has the upside of a No. 4 starter. Steele was added to the 40-man roster in December to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
TRACK RECORD: The Cubs skipped Ademan and fellow 2015 signee Miguel Amaya over the Rookie-level Arizona League and instead sent both to short-season Eugene in 2017. The Cubs moved Ademan aggressively again in 2018, jumping him to high Class A Myrtle Beach after just 29 games in the Midwest League to close the previous season.
SCOUTING REPORT: Ademan opened 2018 as the Carolina League’s second-youngest player, and it showed. He still boasts a smooth, sound swing, but desperately needs to get more oomph behind the ball. His gap power is exclusively to the pull side, though his singles were spread evenly around the outfield. He’s unlikely to have better than gap power, but the strength gains need to come before he reaches even that mark. The Cubs see Ademan as a potential above-average defender at shortstop with an average arm that needs to be refined. They have worked with Ademan to keep his upper and lower body in sync to improve his throws.
THE FUTURE: The Cubs preached process over results with Ademan and hope that a down 2018 will provide a chance for a big rebound in 2019, when he likely returns to Myrtle Beach.
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