The month of May highlighted the success of several young Cubs prospects, many of whom could become staple names in the farm system. In particular, these six guys below caught my attention.
1. Javier Assad – The athletic righty from Tijuana had a 23-inning scoreless streak to begin the month in A-ball. Assad, now 20 years old, finished May with an impressive 2.05 ERA because he consistently induced whiffs. Batters had trouble against his low-to-mid 90’s mph fastball, which suggests Assad could be successful as soon as he is inevitably called up to Double-A.
2. Andy Weber – I loved him last year at Eugene after he signed out of Virginia as the Cubs fifth-round pick. Weber shows an calm demeanor and doesn’t seem phased during high-leverage situations. He reminds me of Jared Young, another Cubs prospect, because of the swing plane. Unlike Young, Weber is a much more patient hitter and should take his share of walks. Even more encouraging is that Weber has been playing shortstop because the Cubs believe he has the footwork and arm for the position. Although he could gain 10-15 more pounds, I don’t think the extra weight would move him off the position.
3. Ethan Roberts – The young reliever from Sparta, Tennessee is really starting to get the hang of this closing thing at the minor league level. With a fastball in the low 90’s and a curve in the upper 70’s, he is able to keep hitters off balance. Most of his outings are two-inning inning affairs, which allows him to work on his arsenal more than your average closer.
4. Brennen Davis – Every time I watch this kid play, I fall more in love with his athleticism and potential. What I love most is his hitting approach; you can really tell that he sees pitches well just by how he takes them with balance. I also love his ability to both pull the ball and go oppo with noticeable authority. I need to see him play against more advanced competition before I can get a grip on his projections, but there’s potential for him to be the Cubs’ top prospect in the next few years.
5. Faustino Carrera – I was disappointed to see that Carrera was only throwing 86 mph, since that isn’t going to overwhelm batters unless Kyle Hendricks is the pitcher throwing. But Carrera actually resembles Hendricks with the way he locates fastballs exactly where the catcher sets up. Then he follows with a changeup and curveball combo in the mid-to-upper 70’s that just devastates hitters in the Midwest League. No wonder opponents batted .190 against the 20-year-old in May.
6. Chris Morel – Morel is among the top raw power hitters in the Cubs’ system. Whether it be to the pull-side or opposite field, he peppers pitches with authority. And when he’s not blasting balls over the fence, he showcases an electric arm at third base. On the other hand, his willingness to swing out of his shoes comes with an obvious issue against secondary pitches, like whiffing too often at curves. Still, there’s no denying that the 19-year-old oozes talent. Like Davis, Morel came up to South Bend as a result of an injury and has taken that opportunity to flash his talents on a daily basis.
I can’t wait to follow up on this after the Eugene Emeralds begin their season, the Arizona Rookie League starts, and the Cubs finish their draft. I’m sure next month’s prospect stock watch will be filled with a lot of new names.