Name: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Age: 21 (11/24/1993)
How acquired: —Signed as a free agent on Sept. 29, 2010
Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, HIgh A (62 G, .193/.275/.326, 5 HR, 26 RBI);
Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Low A (63 G, .250/.300/.426, 6 HR, 37 RBI).
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. After his performance in Boise, Candelario began showing up on Cubs top prospect lists and entered 2013 as MLB.com’s 13th ranked North Sider. Candelario had a solid 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, played 121 games at third, and committed 26 errors in 348 chances (.925).
Candelario never got on track in the Florida State League, hitting .213 in April and committing nine errors in his first 24 games. It got worse in May (16-for-90) and when he was demoted to Kane County, was batting .193/.275/.326 in 62 games. Candelario was also a victim of hitting in some tough luck with a BAbip of just .218 at Daytona. Despite the problems at the plate, Candelario was able shake off the rough start and not let it affect his defense, which improved in ’14, including playing the final 40 games in a D-Cubs uniform without an error. After a slow start after being demoted, Candelario was able to regain some of his confidence at the plate as he hit .264 in July, including five homers, and followed that up with a .270 average in 25 games in August. He saved his best for the playoffs, with a slash line of .429/.594/.476 in the Cougars seven straight wins.
Despite the 2014 campaign Candelario still shows enough tools to be a big league player, especially with his ability to take the ball out of the park from either side. The youngster shows great plate discipline, knowledge of the strike zone, and ability to take the ball the other way with power. He’s an average base runner with average speed and has improved his arm strength and accuracy. Candelario will be back in High A Myrtle Beach to start the year and prove he can hit upper level pitching. While he’s been on Cubs prospects list the past three years, he’s still only 21 and won’t turn 22 until November.