Zeke DeVoss, CF
Age 23 (7/17/1990)
2013 Team: Daytona Cubs, Florida State League (A+)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 37
How acquired:Third round pick in 2011, #98 overall
Prior to Cubs
A shortstop at Astronaut HIgh School in Titusville, FL, DeVoss hit .518 his senior year with 31 runs and 19 stolen bases. He also lettered in basketball and football, and played in the Under Armour All-American game. DeVoss turned down a chance to turn pro after the Red Sox drafted him in the 38th round in 2009, and headed to the University of Miami.
He started 60 games as a freshman and led the team with 24 stolen bases, hitting .251 with nine homers, nine doubles, and three triples. He was the only Hurricane to start all 61 games his sophomore year and led the team, hitting .340 while playing in the outfield and infield. He added 32 stolen bases, walked 57 times while only striking out 30, and scored 59 run. He was also named to the ACC All-Tournament team and the All-Regional tournament team in Gainesville. The Cubs used their third-round pick on DeVoss and signed the speedster for a reported $500,000.
DeVoss made his pro debut in the Arizona Rookie League shortly after signing (5-17 in four games) before heading to Boise for the final 38 games of the season. The Florida native excelled in the Northwest League, hitting .311/.458/.386 with 14 stolen bases and eight doubles. In his first full season at Peoria, DeVoss hit .249 but led the MWL in walks and sported a .382 OBP. He also swiped 35 bases and scored 88 runs. He played 119 games at second and made 28 errors with a .950 fielding percentage. He was named to the Midwest League All-Star Game and also received player of the week honors in August.
After receiving a phone call from Cubs director of player development Brandon Hyde last winter, DeVoss learned he would be headed to centerfield for Daytona. While adjusting to a new position and facing tougher pitchers, DeVoss was still able to have a solid year in High A. He led the Florida State League in walks (80) and hit-by-pitches (23) and despite hitting only .246, finished with a OBP of 393, third best in FSL. He was second in the league with 39 stolen bases and finished third with 71 runs. DeVoss hit leadoff most of the season, setting the table for the likes of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, and Dustin Geiger.
DeVoss should take his on-base act to Tennessee this year and it will be interesting to see if he can duplicate the success he's had at the lower levels. One of the few switch hitters in the system, DeVoss also adds speed on the bases and continues to improve his routes in the centerfield. I had a chance to interview DeVoss and was impressed with his make-up. He understands his role as a leadoff hitter, whether its getting on base or relaying pitches to his teammates after making an out. He's going to need to prove himself at every level with the bat but don't be surprised to see DeVoss playing in Wrigley someday due to his versatility.
Shawon Dunston, Jr., OF
Age: 21 (2/5/1993)
2013 Team Boise Hawks, Northwest League, (SS)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated
How acquired—Drafted in 11th round in 2011, #339 overall.
Prior to Cubs
The son of former Cub shortstop Shawon Dunston, he prepped at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA, hitting .319 with a OBP of .420 in 29 games in the outfield. Dunston played in the Aflac All-American Game and it was at that event he caught the eye of Vanderbilt coaches, who offered him a scholarship before his senior season. The Cubs drafted Dunston in the 11th round and then paid him a reported $1.275 million to turn pro.
Due to his late signing date, Dunston didn't see any game action in 2011 and participated in the fall instructional league as he got his baptism to professional baseball. After experiencing his first spring training, Dunston stayed in Mesa for extended spring training and then headed to Boise making his pro debut June 15. The Northwest League was not kind to the 19-year-old as he went 12-65 in 19 games but did hit his first pro homer. Dunston returned to Mesa and responded with a slash line of .286/.357/.410 with 30 runs and 24 RBI in 39 games. He split his time between center and left (76 chances), committing two errors, both in center, with two assists.
For the second straight year, Dunston headed to Boise to start his season. The left-handed hitting outfielder hit .290/.378/.358 in 49 games and had more walks (28) than strikeouts (25). He also swiped 12 bases in 14 attempts and showed glimpses of power with 10 extra base hits, including a homer. The 20-year-old missed three weeks of the season with a quad injury after colliding with David Bote on a fly ball. After the injury he hit just .215 in 16 games but did steal six bases. Dunston was named to NWL all-star game but was injured and did not play.
Should start the year at Kane County as the Midwest League will be a good test for Dunston as he deals with the rigors of a full season and continues his maturity as a ballplayer. He posses an above average arm, has a good eye at the plate, and shows the ability to make contract consistently. He needs to improve his consistency on defense, especially taking good routes on balls. Dunston is one of the young outfielders in the Cubs system that has the ability to step forward in the next two years and develop into a legitimate big leaguer.