They’ve been in Mesa since early March. Its getting hotter by the day and for a bunch of them, its the first trip outside the gates of the Cubs complex. Release the Emeralds.
Cubs are sending three of their top prospects to the Northwest League as 2014 draft picks Carson Sands (4th round) and Justin Steele (5th round) along with 19-year-old Eloy Jimenez, considered one of the top July 2 prospects in 2013, headline the roster. Eugene fans will also get a look at several 2015 draft picks and that bunch may include Ian Happ and Donnie Dewees.
Like it or not, Sands (NorthSiders Report # 26) and Steele (NorthSiders Report # 30) will always be compared to—each other. Taken one round apart and both receiving over $1 million, the two lefties are in a dead heat in their race to the majors.
Sands, who prepped at North Florida Christian High School and was a Team USA member, was the 109th player selected last June and turned pro instead of heading to Florida State. The left-hander commands a fastball in the 91-94 range and throws a curve and change-up. In nine games in the Arizona Rookie League, the 20-year-old had a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings with 20 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP.
Instead of heading to Mississippi State, Steele agreed to a deal with the Cubs and made his pro debut July 14 for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. The left-hander fanned 25 in 18.2 innings (9 games) and finished with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. A fastball in the low 90s, the 20-year-old also commands a good breaking ball.
If the pair follow the same course as other high school arms the Cubs have drafted, they should get around 13 starts and log close to 60 innings as they conclude their first full season of pro ball. Injuries at the upper levels or dominating NWL hitters could prompt a call-up but it would be a first under the current front office.
Some in the baseball industry had Eloy Jimenez as the top-rated July 2 international prospect in 2013 and the Cubs invested $2.8 million in the power-hitting outfielder. Standing 6-foot-4, the 18-year-old made his pro debut last year for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League and played in 42 games in his first pro season (.227/.268/.367, 3 HR, 27 RBI). It will be a good test for the young Dominican as he adjusts to the life of pro baseball.
Infielder Frandy Delarosa, the Cubs top July 2 signee of 2012, is also on the roster after playing the past two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Signed for a reported $700,000 bonus, the 19-year-old was 3-for-39 in his debut season but batted .281/.336/.402 in 61 games in the DSL last year. The switch-hitter swiped 12 bases and spilt time between second and short.
Another player shooting up Cubs prospect lists is outfielder Kevonte Mitchell, the Cubs 13th round pick out of Kennett High School in Missouri. An infielder in high school, Mitchell made the move to center in his debut season in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .294/.374/.371 with 19 stolen base in 20 attempts in 39 games.
After spending his Cubs minor league career as an outfielder and reaching AAA, Jae-Hoon Ha is back in the Northwest League as a pitcher. Other arms on the staff include Adbert Alzolay, Pedro Araujo, Jordan Brink, Oscar De La Cruz, Andin Diaz, Greyfer Eregua, Corbin Hoffner, Dillon Maples, Jose Paulino, Alex Santana, and Sam Wilson.
Ho-young Son, who the Cubs signed last year after the 20-year-old dropped out of college in Korea, played in 25 games in Mesa last season, hitting .254/.321/.310 with 12 stolen bases. He split time between second and short. Other position players sent to Eugene include catchers Erick Castillo and Tyler Alamo; infielders Varonex Cuevas and Adonis Paula, and outfielder Ricardo Marcano.
No minor league roster is more fluid during the season than this one. Twenty-four position players wore Boise uniforms last year and 31 different pitchers took the mound. For more bio information on the Eugene players just click on their name and check out their player page.