With Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva and Kris Bryant battling at the upper levels for the hot corner, "Candy" continues to improve his skills down in Class A. What isn't there to like about the switch-hitting 20-year-old that combines power and plate discipline.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Age 20 (11/24/1993)
2013 Team: Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking —# 15
How acquired: —Signed as a free agent on Sept. 29, 2010
After getting a $500,000 bonus, Candelario began his Cubs career in the Dominican Summer League and he didn't disappoint, hitting .337/.443/.478 in 72 games with 5 HR and 53 RBI. At age 17 he already showed his plate discipline drawing 50 walks while only striking out 42 times.
He made his U.S. debut in 2012 and after extended spring training, headed to Boise for 71 games in the Northwest League. Candelario hit .281/.345/.396 with 6 HR and 47 RBI but he only walked 26 times/55K. At third base, Candelario made 20 errors and had a .891 fielding percentage.
After his performance in Boise, Candelario began showing up on Cubs top prospect lists and entered 2013 as MLB.com's 13th ranked NorthSider. Candelario had a quiet year at Kane County, hitting .256/.346/.396 with 11 HR and 35 doubles, third in the MWL. For those concerned about his walk rate dropping to 8.4% in Boise, he drew 68 walks (11.9%), 7th best in the league.
Candelario showed some of the power needed for a corner infielder hitting 11 homers, 10 from the left side. The switch-hitter knocked in 57 runs hitting in the middle of the Cougars lineup. He played 121 games at third and committed 26 errors in 348 chances (.925). After participating in fall instructs, Candelario headed to the Dominican Winter League but only got one at-bat for Aguilas in his first season in the DWL.
With third base depth at the upper levels, there's no need to rush Candelario's time table and a full season in the Florida State League will be a true test of his skills at age 20. I wouldn't be surprised if Candelario had a break out year for Daytona, and 20 homers and 90 RBI are not out of the question. His awareness of the strike zone will serve him well in the FSL, and he'll see plenty of good pitches to hit. What's more important for Candelario is continuing his progression on defense. Some scouts have criticized his play at third but I like what I saw. He displayed quick, soft hands and the arm to play the position. Candelario's bat is his best tool as he displayed the ability to hit with power to go along with great plate discipline.