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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: 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.
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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Lange was stellar in college, amassing a 30-9, 2.91 mark over three seasons at Louisiana State and reaching the College World Series finals in 2017. He was eased slowly into pro ball at short-season Eugene before getting his first full workload in 2018. Scouting Report: The biggest problem with Lange's season was that his fastball was down a notch from his college days, instead settling in at 89-92 mph. Moreover, the pitch wasn't thrown with much movement or life. Some scouts went as far as describing the pitch as a batting practice fastball. He backed the pitch up with a changeup that showed sink and fade and projected as plus, and a power curveball with bite and depth. The curve was inconsistent at times, and projects as average. He throws from a hurried, funky delivery that includes a head whack and can hamper his control and command. Evaluators suggest slowing down and making an effort to separate his hands over the rubber might better serve him. The Future: Lange will move to Double-A Tennessee in 2019, and has a ceiling of a back-end starter.
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.
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: In the last draft before the pool era, Maples got $2.5 million to sign with the Cubs even though he was the 429th overall pick. Injuries marred the early stages of his career, but Maples was healthy for all of 2017 and rocketed through three levels of the minor leagues before reaching Chicago. Scouting Report: Maples is among the most slider-heavy pitchers. When he was in the big leagues, he threw the pitch 69 percent of the time, nearly three times more often than he threw his four-seam fastball. That's particularly notable, considering his fastball sits in the upper 90s and touched 100 in 2018. He mixes in a curveball, but doesn't throw a changeup. Now he needs to figure out command because even with two pitches that grade as 70 or better on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, Maples was still hit hard in the big leagues. Maples near bottom-of-the-scale control is his biggest hurdle. He simply doesn't throw enough strikes--he failed to throw strikes on 60 percent of his pitches in any month last season. The Future: Maples will get a long look in spring training and should compete for a spot in Chicago's bullpen on Opening Day. If not, it's back to Triple-A Iowa for more seasoning.
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: 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: Since signing for $85,000, De La Cruz has shown plenty of potential but has had his progress waylaid over the years by injuries and an 80-game suspension to begin 2018 after testing positive for a masking agent. His suspension occurred toward midseason, and he'll be eligible to get back on the mound early in 2019. Scouting Report: Those who saw De La Cruz in 2018 still came away impressed with his stuff. Evaluators saw a fastball that sat in the low 90s but could reach as high as 96 when he needed a whiff. His changeup was inconsistent but flashed plus at times. Less impressive was the curveball, which needed tightening and showed a visible hump out of De La Cruz's hand. Scouts outside the organization also noted that his arm slot on the curveball was different than on his fastball or changeup, and the Cubs acknowledged that he was working to find a consistent slot for all his pitches. All of this, of course, was before his suspension, making his 2019 season a bit of a wild card. The Future: Once he returns, De La Cruz could return to Double-A for more seasoning or move to Triple-A Iowa to speed up his development a bit.
Track Record: Hatch missed a season at Oklahoma State with a strained ulnar collateral ligament. A platelet-rich plasma injection helped him get back on the mound without surgery, however, and he went 9-3, 2.14 in his junior season to help lead the Cowboys to the College World Series. He got on the mound as a pro for the first time in 2017, to mixed results, and was inconsistent again in 2018. Scouting Report: Hatch has a solid three-pitch mix, but nothing that would qualify as a knockout. He sinks his low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate and can run the pitch up to 95 at times. He pairs it with a low-80s slider that he can manipulate for called strikes or sharpen for chases. The pitch projects as a 55 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He also throws an 80-82 mph changeup that is below-average now and projects to be a tick better with repetition. The Future: After a year in Double-A, Hatch is likely to move to Triple-A Iowa in 2019. He has the ceiling of a No. 5 starter or a long reliever.
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: Young played for three colleges in three years, starting at Division II Minot State before moving to Connors State (Okla.) JC and then to Old Dominion for his draft season. He hit well at all three stops, leading the Cubs to take a flyer on him with the hope that he would develop in the same way many of their hitters have over the years. Scouting Report: Young was the best pure hitter on his high Class A Myrtle Beach team, and his numbers followed accordingly. He finished fourth in the organization in home runs (16), second in RBIs (76) and first in batting average among players at full-season affiliates (.300). He produces above-average raw power from his lefthanded stroke, though most of his home runs came to the pull side. He's an average runner and a competent defender at first base with enough athleticism to make some believe he could hack it in the outfield. The Future: After a full season at Myrtle Beach, Young should get his first taste of the upper levels at Double-A Tennessee. He's got a tough profile and will have to hit his way to the big leagues.
Track Record: Until this past draft, Wilson was the Cubs' highest drafted prep player since Albert Almora in 2012. His time at low Class A South Bend was cut short in 2017 because of a fractured fibula, and he was limited to 64 games at high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2018 because of wrist and hamstring injuries. He made up some of that time with six weeks in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: Wilson struggled at the plate in both the regular season and the AFL partly due to issues with pitch recognition and partly because of the way he sets up at the plate. He sets his hands low in his stance, then struggles to get them separated from his body. He's got gap power and above-average speed that gets to plus underway. The speed helps him in center field, where some scouts give him a chance at being a double-plus defender. His throwing arm has improved from 2017 and now ranks as average. The Future: Wilson will play all of the 2019 season at 22 years old, so a return to high Class A with a chance at Double-A later in the season wouldn't be the worst thing for his development.
Track Record: Pereda was an unheralded signing in 2013, but has slowly started to open eyes in the system. He was given his biggest workload in 2018--122 games in the regular season plus eight more in the Arizona Fall League--and performed respectably from open to close. Scouting Report: Pereda showed a strong approach to the strike zone in 2018, as shown by a lack of strikeouts and a respectable 10.3 percent walk rate which was identical to the figure he produced in 2017. He shows almost no power now, but could add a little punch with necessary strength gain. Even with a smallish frame, Pereda caught 83 games throughout the course of the season. He's got a strong arm and caught 38 percent of potential basestealers, though he could stand to clean up his throwing mechanics a bit to streamline his momentum toward second base. He's a bottom-of-the-scale runner. The Future: Pereda will move to Double-A Tennessee in 2019 and has a ceiling as a backup catcher with a bit of offensive upside.
Track Record: Herron turned down the Yankees when the club drafted him as a sophomore and instead went to the Cape Cod League, where he showed the compact, pure hitting stroke that served him so well as a collegian. He struggled a bit in his junor season, but the Cubs still believed enough in the bat and their own player-development program to take him with the 98th overall pick. Scouting Report: At his best, Herron produces a smooth swing from the right side that is geared toward line drives. He got a little homer-happy in his final season at Duke, utilizing a path that was noticeably more uphill than what he'd shown previously. When the season was over, though, his numbers were roughly in line with what he'd produced over the first two years. He's a plus runner, which helps him play center field capably. He has a below-average arm, however, and would be limited to left field. The Future: Herron finished his first pro year at low Class A South Bend, and has enough of a college pedigree that he could move to high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2019.
Track Record: After an up-and-down season at Double-A Tennessee in 2017, Clifton mastered the level in 2018 and then put forth a 3.89 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. If he'd pitched enough innings, the figure would have put him in a tie for sixth place in the league. Scouting Report: Scouts who saw Clifton this year noted four pitches that were average at best, starting with a fastball in the low 90s that touched 94. The pitch had two-seam movement at the end of the velo band. His best offspeed pitch was an average slider thrown in the low 80s, and he backed it up with a changeup in the high 70s that he was unafraid to throw in right-on-right matchups. He has a curveball as well, but scouts noted its visibly different slot from his other pitches. The Future: Clifton is likely to return to Triple-A Iowa. His ceiling is in the back of a rotation, but as a pitcher who has been unprotected and unpicked in back-to-back Rule 5 drafts, there is still a ways to go to get to that ceiling.
Track Record: Thompson and system-mate Trevor Clifton combined to help USA Baseball's 16U team win a gold medal in 2011 and repeated the feat two years later with the 18U squad. After four years with Auburn (including a Tommy John surgery), Thompson was drafted and made quick work of the competition in the short-season Northwest League. Scouting Report: Thompson doesn't have a knockout pitch, so he relies on pitchability to get his outs. His fastball sits at around 91 mph and touches 93, but it doesn't have a whole lot of movement. That's especially true if he misses up with the pitch, though it does have some carry through the zone. Scouts pegged both breaking balls as potential above-average pitches because of his ability to spin them, though he needs to be more consistent with their release points. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch. The Future: Thompson made it to Double-A in his first full season as a pro and has the ceiling of a back-end starter.
Track Record: Leal was signed by the Diamondbacks in 2011, then shipped to the Cubs for outfielder Tony Campana. He missed the 2017 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but boosted his stock with a strong year at high Class A Myrtle Beach and an encore performance in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: Leal typically operates with a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph with a bit of tail, but he really makes his money with a plus changeup. The pitch comes in at 82-84 mph, is thrown with the same conviction as his fastball and shows excellent tumble away from lefthanders. He's got a feel for spinning his curveball as well, though it doesn't quite show the snap needed to be a true out pitch. All of his offerings are boosted a touch by a superb delivery and arm action. The Future: Leal should get his first taste of the upper levels in 2019 and has a ceiling as a back-end starter or swingman.