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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 percent 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 produced 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: After a strong showing in 15U tournaments for Panama, t 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, where he ranked as the league's No. 16 prospect. He broke out during the first half of 2018 at low Class A South Bend, when he hit .288/.365/.500 with nine home runs and earned a spot in the annual Futures Game. but his production tailed off in the second half because of his jump in workload. His 116 games played in 2018 matched his totals from the previous two seasons combined. 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, though not exclusively. Evaluators expect above-average power in the future, though that forecast could change as his pitch recognition improves. 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, though he still threw out 34 percent of runners in the Midwest League. The Future: After a career-high workload, Amaya will begin 2019 with high Class A Myrtle Beach, where he'll try to prove that his first half in 2018 wasn't a fluke.
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 to pry him from a commitment to Miami. 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, where he'll be tested by advanced pitching.
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: 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. He ranked No. 3 on the Northwest League's Top 20 prospect list. 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 to keep it from becoming loose and looking like a bad curveball. Marquez's changeup, thrown around 86-91 mph, shows hard lateral movement like a two-seam fastball away from righthanded hitters. He also showed a strong idea of how to set hitters up and continue to throw his best stuff with men on base. He needs to get stronger to maintain his velocity through the later innings 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 was listed on BA's High School All-America third team, and The Cubs used a $1.2 million bonus to pry him away from a commitment to UCLA. 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, where he'll be tested by the jump in pitching and the bitter cold of the early-season Midwest League.
A three-year starter at UCLA, Strumpf hit .363 as a sophomore in 2018 and was invited to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but he was unable to participate due to injury. He entered this spring considered arguably the top draft prospect in Southern California and hit .284/.422/.461 through the end of the regular season in a solid but unspectacular campaign. The 6-foot-1 second baseman has a quiet setup at the plate and has consistently shown excellent bat-to-ball skills, with an impressive ability to backspin the ball the opposite way to right-center field. He has also displayed a strong knowledge of the strike zone, recording nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (106) the last two years. Strumpf is an offensive-minded infielder who can make the routine plays at second base but struggles to make the difficult ones. He has below-average range and arm strength that flashes average but is usually fringy. His offensive tools are strong enough for evaluators to project him as an everyday second baseman even with his defensive shortcomings.
Jensen started his career in the bullpen for Fresno State before transitioning to a starter’s role in 2018 with mixed results. His 2019 season has been much better, as Jensen became the Bulldogs’ Friday starter and helped lead the team to a Mountain West Conference championship with a 3.09 ERA over his first 84.1 innings. While Jensen stands at just 6 feet, 180 pounds, he has big-time stuff with a fastball that’s been as high as 98 mph. The pitch has plenty of life in the form of arm-side run and natural sink, and he pairs it with an impressive slider that scouts say flashes plus at times. He has also shown a changeup that has solid arm-side movement, but he’s primarily pitched off of his fastball/slider combination. Despite Jensen’s intriguing stuff, he hasn’t struck out as many batters as evaluators would expect. His 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings through his first 15 starts in 2019 is a career high, and he struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings during his first two seasons. This likely stems from Jensen’s control, which is scattered at times. Jensen struggles to spot his fastball due to the amount of movement on the pitch, and batters tend to see the ball well as Jensen has some length in the back of his arm stroke and throws from a standard three-quarter slot. Jensen should get a chance to start at the next level thanks to a viable third-pitch changeup, but some scouts believe he’d thrive in a bullpen role, where his fastball and slider could tick up and his fringe-average control wouldn’t be as much of an issue.
The first-team catcher on BA’s Preseason All-American team, Hearn is a 6-foot, 195-pound backstop with a big arm and raw power out of a physical lefthanded swing. He has plenty of muscle in his frame, which helps him defensively, where he has plus arm strength and flashes plus pop times around 1.9 seconds in warmups. While scouts praise his defensive potential, there have been questions raised about his mobility behind the plate and the fact that he’ll need to polish his receiving skills. However, scouts believe his mental toughness and intense work ethic will suit him well as he moves up the ladder and has to incorporate more details into his game from a mechanical standpoint and in regards to leading a pitching staff. Offensively, Hearn is more power over hit at the moment, with above-average raw power but a below-average hit tool. With the chance to be an above-average or even plus defender depending on his development, Hearn’s power gives him the chance to be a solid everyday catcher in the current major league environment. Hearn is a Mississippi State commit, but as the best prep catching prospect in the class—which is the one of the riskiest demographics in the draft—he might not make it to Starkville.
Track Record: After pitching for Venezuela at the 15U World Cup in Japan, Gallardo put himself in contention to be the best prospect available in the 2018 international class. One of the top international arms available, he ranked just behind Cuban righty Osiel Rodriguez as the best pitcher. He struck out six of the seven batters he faced at MLB's international showcase in 2018, then signed with the Cubs in July. Scouting Report: Gallardo earned his ranking thanks to a combination of present stuff, projection and a fluid delivery. His fastball sat between 89-93 mph with carry up in the zone. He paired the pitch with a sharp-breaking 70-75 mph curveball that flashed plus. His body is ready to carry more strength, and his delivery is sound enough to let him command his fastball at a rate that belies his youth. The Future: Gallardo will make his professional debut in 2019 and will be with one of the Cubs' two affiliates in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He has the upside of a mid-rotation starter.
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: Thompson was drafted twice before signing with the Cubs--in the 37th round out of high school by the Reds and again a year later by the Yankees as the rare draft-eligible redshirt freshman. He had Tommy John surgery in 2016, then missed part of his redshirt freshman season with a sore arm. Thompson performed poorly in his final collegiate season, but his pure stuff was too good to pass up. Scouting Report: In the spring, Thompson lit up radar guns with a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and touched triple digits. He paired the pitch with a powerful curveball that he used for strikeouts. At their best, both pitches earned 70 grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He also mixed in a potentially average changeup. Well below-average control hampered him in college, but he calmed down some to walk nine hitters in his first 25 innings. The Cubs believe that smoothing out his delivery to make it more repeatable will help Thompson get the most out of his premium arsenal. The Future: Given that he already shows three pitches, the Cubs will continue to use Thompson as a starter. If that fails, his fastball and curveball--with improved control--could help him move quickly to the big league bullpen in a reliever's role. He should move to low Class A South Bend in 2019.
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 ranked No. 12 on the Northwest League Top 20 during his pro debut, and 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 became sold on Velazquez's talent in May 2017, when he starred at the Excellence Games. He showed off 70-grade speed at that event as well as a strong arm and above-average raw power. His eight home runs tied him for third in the Rookie-level Arizona League in his debut, and his 11 homers in the Northwest League in 2018 tied him for fifth on the college-heavy circuit. Scouting Report: The most troubling part of Velazquez's season was his inability to adjust to the way he was pitched. He didn't budge from a pull-happy approach, choosing instead to sell out for power at Eugene's pitcher-friendly PK Park. The most frustrating part was that Velazquez shows plenty of opposite-field power in batting practice, but hasn't made the adjustments to use it. His lower half has thickened up some, degrading some of the speed that he showed as an amateur. Scouts have gotten run times that range from a tick below-average to plus, helping to make him an average defender in both corners and usable in center field. His plus throwing arm would serve him well in right field. The Future: Velazquez flunked his initial test at low Class A South Bend in 2018, so he'll likely head back to the Midwest League in 2019. He's got a high ceiling, but a long way to go to make it a reality.
Track Record: After playing with the Dominican Republic 15U team and training with Amaurys Nina, who also trained former Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez, Ademan signed with the Cubs for $2 million. 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, when Ademan ranked as the Northwest League's No. 7 prospect. 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 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale 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 and will play the entire season at 20 years old.
Track Record: Short hit just .241/.352/.399 in his final season at Sacred Heart, but the Cubs took a flyer on him in the 17th round. He helped short-season Eugene win a championship in 2016 and saw a power spike in his first full season as a pro. His 13 home runs in 2017 were just two fewer than he'd hit in his three college seasons combined. Scouting Report: Short's power spike continued in 2018, when he set a new career high with 17 homers over a full season at Double-A Tennessee. Evaluators who saw him believed the uptick was because Short was hunting inside fastballs he could pull over the left-field wall. Indeed, all but one of Short's homers was hit to the pull side. Those same evaluators suggested Short could increase his profile a little bit by toning down the all-or-nothing approach and using more of the whole field. They also noted a tendency to chase pitches. In the field, Short is big league ready. He's sure-handed with a quick first step and solid instincts for shortstop, and his double-plus arm will keep him at the position. Short is a below-average runner. The Future: Short will move to Triple-A in 2019 and could make a big league cameo by year's end. If his offensive profile doesn't change, he's at least a solid backup infielder with power.
Track Record: After pitching just four innings as a freshman at North Carolina, Little transferred to the State JC of Florida after wowing evaluators in the Cape Cod League. His draft stock shot up as a result, and the Cubs gave him $2.2 million to turn professional. He struggled at short-season Eugene after being drafted, then spent all of 2018 at low Class A South Bend proving surprisingly hittable for a pitcher with excellent stuff. Scouting Report: Little's biggest appeal still comes from his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and can touch up to 95 when he needs a strikeout. He couples it with a future plus curveball in the mid-70s with 12-to-6 break as well as a changeup that is fringe-average now but could get to average because of the conviction with which it's thrown. The biggest issue now is getting Little to repeat his delivery, which so far has cost him enough control to serve up four walks per nine innings. The Future: After a full year at South Bend, Little should move up to high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2019. He has the ceiling of a back-end starter.
Track Record: Garcia was signed away from the Yucatan Lions just after turning 16 and received a $500,000 bonus. He joins fellow Mexican prospects Jose Albertos and Luis Verdugo among the Cubs' best minor leaguers. He was lauded for his overall game awareness and savvy at a young age. Scouting Report: Garcia opened his professional career by showing an impressive feel to hit for someone his age. He struck out just 18.8 percent of the time and walked at nearly an eight percent clip, impressive numbers for someone his age. He was a much better hitter from the left side, where he put up a .771 OPS over 118 at-bats. Scouts who saw him in the Rookie-level Arizona League felt comfortable projecting Garcia's hit tool all the way to plus. He's not going to produce much power, so the hit tool will have to reach that level to have much offensive value. He's an average runner and has an average throwing arm, which gives him a chance to stick at shortstop. The Future: Garcia won't turn 18 until August 2019, so a return to the Rookie-level Arizona League seems to be in the cards.
Track Record: The Cubs have dipped into Mexico frequently recently, signing lefty Jose Albertos in 2015 and then again in 2017 to nab Verdugo for $1.2 million. Verdugo played on the Mexican national team as a 15-year-old, and performed well as a member of the Mexico City Red Devils against older competition. He ranked No. 17 among the Arizona League's Top 20 prospects. Scouting Report: Despite poor numbers, scouts in the Arizona League loved Verdugo for his athleticism and projection. His swing has a busy load and a bit of hitch with his hands, but he's showed the ability to get the barrel to the baseball when his swing is on time. He shows power in batting practice, and evaluators believe it will start to show up more often in games thanks to his ability to whip the bat through the zone with above-average speed, the natural loft to his swing and the likelihood that he will get stronger. He's a sound defender at shortstop already with a strong internal clock and quick reactions. He's got a plus throwing arm but below-average speed. The Future: Verdugo played all year at 17 years old and will likely return to the AZL for more seasoning in 2019. He has the upside of an everyday regular at shortstop with above-average power.
Track Record: After signing out of Mexico for $1.5 million, Albertos' track record as a pro has been checkered to say the least. He pitched just four innings in his debut season, then put together a standout campaign between the Rookie-level Arizona League and short-season Northwest League in 2017. That year gave the Cubs hope that Albertos would be their first high-end homegrown pitcher in some time. Scouting Report: Albertos' 2018 season was disastrous. He was jumped to low Class A South Bend, where he was hit hard and showed little control. He was then sent back to Eugene, where it didn't get much better. Some scouts saw him operating with a 96-97 mph fastball, while others saw him working hard to throw a low-90s version in the zone. He still shows flashes of an above-average curveball and changeup, but his biggest problem is getting to the best versions of his pitches consistently. Evaluators inside and outside the organization saw a pitcher who needs to find some sort of harmony in his delivery. Whether that involves slowing down, getting downhill more often, finding a consistent landing point, staying balanced or a combination of all four, things need to change to help him throw strikes more often. The Future: The 2018 season weighed on Albertos' confidence. He will need to return to low Class A in 2019. The Cubs still believe in his stuff, but there are miles to go before he comes close to realizing his ceiling.
Track Record: Americaan has long been attractive to pro teams, having been drafted by the Diamondbacks out of high school and then again by the Rangers after his freshman season at Chipola. The Cubs came calling again, this time in the 35th round, and signed him for $208,950. The bonus was the second-highest after the 34th round. Scouting Report: Americaan showed more power in his second season at Chipola, and his home runs jumped from one in 2017 to eight in 2018. He accomplished this by adding more loft to his swing and consciously aiming to hit the ball in the air more often. The new power jumps his profile a bit, from table-setter type of player to possibly a little more. He's a plus runner, which will help him stick in center field, though he needs to sharpen his routes and jumps. He's also got an above-average throwing arm, meaning he could play right field if necessary. The Future: The Cubs have been fairly aggressive sending players to low Class A South Bend in their first full pro seasons, so it seems likely that Americaan could start there in 2019.
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