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BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 80. Slider: 60/ Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: When the Cubs gave Marquez $600,000 in 2015, they did so with the idea that his fastball, which sat in the low 90s, had the potential to give hitters nightmares. They were right. Marquez hinted at his potential in an excellent 2018 season that ended with the No. 3 spot among the Northwest League’s Top 20 prospects and a pair of strong starts at low Class A South Bend. He showed up even stronger in 2019, which ended in his first appearance on BA’s Top 100 list. Scouting Report: Marquez’s signature is his fastball, which sits in the upper 90s and regularly reaches triple-digits. The pitch’s peak was 102 mph, which it reached 24 times in 2019. Marquez pairs the fastball with a spike slider in the low 80s and, at its best, tunnels with his fastball and features short, late snap. He also throws a changeup in the 89-91 mph range that he can use to get swings and misses. The pitch needs more consistency to reach its projection as an average major league offering. Marquez’s stuff on its own makes him a tantalizing prospect, but the dedication to improving his body and delivery, which in turn improved the command of his arsenal, speaks to his makeup. The Cubs point to a two-year process Marquez went through to get his arms and legs to sync up during his delivery as one of the main drivers of his improved ability to throw quality strikes. They also worked to get his arm stroke back to the longer, smoother version he showed as an amateur instead of the shorter, choppier one it had morphed into in the early portion of his pro career. Once those elements were in place, he needed to learn how to sequence. Instead of using his velocity to blow fastballs by hitters, he needed to have the intuition and confidence to throw his offspeed pitches in appropriate counts. That process was part of the reason the Cubs kept Marquez at low Class A South Bend until Aug. 6. When he did get to the next level, he dominated. His first start at Myrtle Beach was a gem of five hitless frames, and he finished his season with 26 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. Overall, Marquez finished his season averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, an improvement over his 9.7 figure from a year prior. Even with his raised profile, there are still plenty of ways Marquez can continue to improve. Maintaining command will be a continual process, especially given his size and long levers. He needs to continue to refine his changeup, especially considering that it is thrown with similar velocity as his breaking ball. When he did get out of sync, he tended to drift a bit to his armside. The Future: For an organization that has struggled mightily to develop its own pitching, Marquez represents hope. If he can maintain his delivery and bring his offspeed pitches forward, he could fit as a franchise starter at the front of a rotation. If not, his elite velocity from the left side could lead him into a closer’s role. Either role would be an outcome befitting the organization’s No. 1 prospect.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 50. Run: 55. Fielding: 50. Arm: 50. Track Record: During his career at Stanford and his summers in the Northwoods and Cape Cod leagues, Hoerner exhibited all the traits of a professional hitter. The Cubs were confident enough in Hoerner’s hitting track record that they drafted him 24th overall in 2018, then watched as he made it to low Class A after just 10 games. An elbow strain ended his regular season, but Hoerner sidelined him until the Arizona Fall League, where he shined. Hoerner spent his first full year at Double-A. He missed the bulk of the regular season with a broken hand, but once again shined later in the season, this time as a September callup. Scouting Report: Hoerner entered pro ball as an accomplished hitter, but he still had polish to add. The Cubs focused early in the season on adjusting Hoerner’s stance and approach to allow him to work the ball to the left-center field gap more often. The adjustments also allowed Hoerner to pull breaking balls in the air with more regularity. Those changes quickly took hold and made Hoerner into a more complete hitter and allowed him to put his best swing on more pitches. Defensively, he still has a chance to play shortstop, but he’s more likely to slide over to second base as his career moves along—especially considering Javier Baez has shortstop well in hand. He’s an average runner but his instincts amplify his pure speed. The Future: Hoerner fared well in his big league debut and could compete for a return engagement out of spring training. Whenever Hoerner makes it to Chicago for good, he should settle in as an offensive-minded infielder.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 60. Run: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: Davis came to the Cubs a bit raw in terms of his baseball skills after splitting his high school career between the diamond and the basketball court. The athleticism that allowed him to excel on the hardwood also provided Davis with considerable baseball upside. The Cubs spent a second-round pick on him and used a $1.1 million bonus to sign him away from a commitment to Miami. Scouting Report: Davis was originally slated to start in extended spring training before moving to short-season for the summer. He outplayed expectations, however, and forced the Cubs to push him to low Class A South Bend. Davis performed well in the Midwest League, but his season was disjointed because of a pair of pitches that hit him in nearly the same spot on his right index finger. The second pitch broke the finger and ended his season. Before the injury, the Cubs moved Davis off the plate a bit to allow his long levers a better chance to get extended and create torque against more pitches. He took to the changes quickly, and the result was an excellent first exposure to pitchers outside Rookie-level ball. The Cubs expect Davis to add considerably more strength to his lithe frame, which should add more power. Given that 20 of his 54 hits in 2019 went for extra bases, those projections appear to have already started to take hold. His long strides and plus speed help him in the outfield, where his above-average arm strength plays up because of its accuracy. The Future: After a tantalizing glimpse of his tools becoming skills in 2019, Davis should get a chance to build on that success in 2020. He could develop into a center fielder who provides value on both sides of the ball.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 55. Run: 20. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: The Cubs thought enough of Amaya’s combination of defensive and offensive skills to give him a $1 million signing bonus out of Panama. He’s moved a level per year since signing, with full seasons at low Class A South Bend and high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Amaya has represented the Cubs at the Futures Game in each of the past two seasons as well. Scouting Report: Slowly but surely, Amaya is developing into the player the Cubs envisioned. He spent 2019 adjusting his approach to hit the ball in the air more often. The concept is a tough sell at Myrtle Beach, where flyballs don’t get rewarded as often as at other parks. Amaya’s 11 home runs fell one short of the career high he set in 2018, but he did so in 73 fewer at-bats. Notably, Amaya opened the season as the youngest position player in the Carolina League. He can get overaggressive and get himself out early in counts, which is another area he’ll work to improve. Amaya has work to do behind the plate, where he’s still a bit of crude receiver. He has the arm strength to produce pop times of just more than 2.0 seconds and caught 35 percent of attempted basestealers. The Future: After a full year at high Class A plus time in the Arizona Fall League, Amaya should move to Double-A Tennessee in 2020. He projects as a solid but not spectacular everyday catcher.
BA Grade: 50: Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 55. Run: 40. Fielding: 45. Arm: 45. Track Record: Strumpf put together a stellar career at California’s prestigious JSerra HS, where he was teammates with 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis. His five home runs led the 2013 15U National Team, which had a roster with 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak, 2019 No. 3 overall pick Andrew Vaughn and 2017 first-rounder Nick Pratto. After high school, Strumpf put together three excellent seasons at UCLA, including an outstanding sophomore season in which he hit .363/.475/.633 with 12 home runs. His numbers were down a bit in 2019, but the Cubs were convicted enough by his bat to draft him in the second round. He ranked No. 6 among the short-season Northwest League’s Top 20 prospects. Scouting Report: After scoring big in 2018 with Nico Hoerner, a bat-first middle infielder from the Pacific-12 Conference, the Cubs went back to that well again in 2019.In Strumpf, Cubs scouts saw a polished hitter with a solid approach and a grinder’s mentality both at the plate and in the field. He’s shown mostly doubles power as a pro, but the Cubs believe a few tweaks can help him start putting more balls over the fence. Specifically, they want him to back off the plate a little bit more and use his long arms to generate the torque his frame and strength will allow. They’d also like to see him be a little more aggressive later in counts, especially on pitches he can impact. Strumpf is a serviceable second baseman with strong hands and feet who can make routine plays but is not likely to wow anyone his glove. He has fringe-average arm strength. The Future: Given his pedigree, Strumpf should move to high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2020. He projects as a bat-first middle infielder.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 50. Run: 55. Fielding: 50. Arm: 45. Track Record: Improved strength and power in his draft season led Roederer to make quick moves up draft boards. Even after he separated his shoulder and pulled his hamstring, the Cubs were sold enough to draft him Roederer in the second supplemental round and sign him for $1.2 million. He put together a solid pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he ranked as the league’s No. 7 prospect. Scouting Report: Roederer’s value is tied mostly to his bat, which showed in 2019 that it will need a bit more polish. Specifically, Roederer tried too hard to pull the ball with power rather than shooting line drives to all fields. In turn, his numbers suffered. Still, evaluators both inside and outside the system see the potential for a solid hitter. He has a quick, direct swing and a still head which should allow him to make plenty of solid contact if he can adjust his approach. Pitchers in the MWL learned to set up Roederer with high fastballs followed by offspeed pitches low in the zone. Now it’s on him to adjust. He’s a solid defender whose above-average speed and fringe-average should fit well in left field. The Future: Roederer projects as a solid regular in the outfield. He should see high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2020 but might start back in the Midwest League.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Slider: 55. Changeup: 40. Control: 40. Track Record: Jensen moved from the bullpen at Fresno State into the rotation in the middle of his sophomore year and saw mixed results. His stuff was plenty strong to thrive, but his scattershot command and control often counteracted his powerful pitch mix. Still, the Cubs were intrigued by Jensen’s raw tools and what they could become when paired with pro coaching. They were so strongly convinced, in fact, that they used their first-round pick on Jensen and signed him to a $2 million bonus. He made six starts in the short-season Northwest League before shutting it down after throwing a career-high 100 innings at Fresno State. Scouting Report: Jensen’s intrigue comes from his two-seam and four-seam fastballs. While plenty of pitchers have both of them in their repertoire, Jensen throws both pitches at the same velocity while keeping them as two distinct pitches. Both pitches average 96 mph, but the four-seamer features carrying life through the zone while the two-seamer shows power sink and armside run. He backs up the fastballs with a mid-80s slider with power break. His changeup is a distant fourth pitch and was seldom needed in college. The key will be honing Jensen’s mechanics to make them more repeatable and helping him control the length of the movement on his pitches. He showed fatigue toward the end of the season, but area scout Gabe Zappin and West Coast crosschecker Shane Farrell noted that Jensen held his stuff throughout his outings despite a smaller than normal frame from a power pitcher. The Future: After an offseason to recover, Jensen will likely move to one of the Cubs’ Class A levels to begin 2020. His upside is as a high-end power arm in the rotation but could be a power reliever as well and use his fastballs and slider to wipe out hitters.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 40. Power: 60. Run: 30. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: After plumbing the college ranks in the first five rounds, the Cubs made Hearn—a sturdily built catcher from Alabama—their first prep pick in 2019. He was a preseason first-team All-American entering the year, and then hit .482 with 11 doubles and 11 home runs in his draft year. He was the first high school catcher selected. The Cubs signed him for $950,000, the highest bonus for a sixth-rounder in the past two drafts and assigned him to the Rookie-level Arizona League. Scouting Report: Hearn looks like a player built to mash, and that’s exactly what he does. He pairs a quick bat with strong hands, legs and forearms to generate above-average raw power from the left side. He has a power-over-hit profile and lived up to that rep by striking out at a 36.7-percent clip in his pro debut. The Cubs are working with Hearn to build more lift into his swing and prioritize hitting the ball deeper in the strike zone. Beyond his offensive skills, Hearn has the tools necessary to stay behind the plate. Baseball America ranked him as the second-best defensive catcher available in the high school ranks, and the Cubs see short-area quickness combined with plus arm strength that has allowed him to flash 1.9-second pop times. The Future: Hearn projects as a catcher with a blend of offensive and defensive gifts. He should begin his first full season as a pro in extended spring training before moving to short-season Eugene.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 50. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: Thompson transitioned into the starting rotation in the middle of his sophomore year at Louisville after being used exclusively as a reliever in 2017 both in college and in a five-game stint in the Cape Cod League. He was a draft-eligible sophomore, and the Cubs selected him in the 11th round. He had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and was a 37th-round pick of the Reds out of high school and a 27th-round pick of the Yankees as a redshirt freshman. He had a successful first half-season as a pro with short-season Eugene, which included a run to the Northwest League Championship Series. Scouting Report: As a starter, Thompson has begun showing the makings of a true four-pitch mix. He starts with a fastball that averages 93 mph and touches around 96 mph while spinning at an above-average rate of 2,300 rpms. He pairs the fastball with a downer curveball that spins at better than 3,000 rpms and is thrown in the mid-80s. He’s made great strides with his changeup, which the Cubs rebuilt during their instructional league in January 2019. After running through a variety of grips, Thompson and the Cubs settled on a split-fingered, “Vulcan” grip. The new version of the pitch tunnels well off of his fastball and is easiest for him to command. He’s also shown the makings of a potentially average slider. Thompson finished his season in style with five perfect innings with 10 strikeouts in the decisive third game of South Bend’s Midwest League Championship Series win over Clinton. The Future: Thompson threw a career-high 94 innings in 2019 and will need to continue being built up to handle a starter’s workload. The next step is high Class A Myrtle Beach.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 50. Curveball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 40. Control: 45. Track Record: Abbott’s draft stock took off after he watched a video of Mets ace Noah Syndergaard throwing his slider and began replicating the pitch. He threw a perfect game in his draft year at Loyola Marymount, then was selected by the Cubs in the second round. He mastered both Class A levels in his first full season as a pro, then rung up 166 strikeouts at Double-A in 2019. That figure ranked 11th in the minor leagues and tops among Cubs farmhands. Scouting Report: Abbott starts his arsenal with a fastball in the 89-93 mph range that can touch a few ticks higher when needed. The pitch is commanded well and has the characteristics to get swings and misses up in the zone. He backs it up with a hard curveball with 12-to-6 break that he uses to tunnel off of his fastball. He still uses the slider, which has the potential to be an above-average pitch with cutterish break, as a way to give hitters a look at something that breaks from east to west. His changeup is present but is a clear fourth pitch that needs further polish before it can project even as average. He’s made considerable improvements to his body, especially his lower half, and the Cubs are fans of the cerebral, competitive mentality he brings to the mound. The Future: After finding success in the Southern League, Abbott will move to the hitter’s Hades of the Pacific Coast League in 2020. He has the upside of a back-end starter.
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