Second Base Depth
The Cubs were once known for their shortstop prospects but the most depth may now be at second, led by former first-round pick Ian Happ.
Happ started 2016 in Myrtle Beach (.296/.410/.475, 7 HR, 69 games) and it didn’t take long to hit his way out of town and onto the Tennessee roster. Happ got off to a red-hot start in AA but cooled down the final two months of the season, finishing with eight homers and a slash line of . 262/.318/.415. Happ participated in the Arizona Fall League and smacked two homers in the title game to help Mesa to the championship, finishing the AFL hitting .236/.375/.403 in 19 games. Cubs may start Happ back in AA but it won’t take long before he’s in Des Moines, and possibly Wrigley Field in 2017.
All Chesny Young does is get hits. After running away with the Carolina League batting title in 2015 (.321), Young finished second in the Southern League with a .303 mark and led all Cubs minor leaguers with 149 hits. Second base isn’t the only position he can play as he saw time at first, short, third and the outfield for the Smokies. The 24-year-old has taken his hitting prowess to the Dominican Winter League and is batting .362 (17-for-47) for Escogido in 13 games. Young’s ability to play multiple position, coupled with his ability to make consistent contact, make him a valuable asset in the Cubs system.
Stephen Bruno won the Northwest League batting title (.361) after getting drafted by the Cubs in the 7th round in 2012 but the 26-year-old has battled injures the past three seasons and has had problems staying on the field. Bruno appeared in 22 games for the Smokies, hitting .263/.338/.333 but missed most of the year with a back injury.
After Happ left Myrtle Beach, the Pelicans used a trio of second basemen—David Bote (31 games), Bryant Flete (27 games) and Andrew Ely (21 games). Bote, a five-year minor league veteran, had his best year (.337/.410/.518, 41 RBI, 72 games) and capped it off with a Mills Cup MVP as Myrtle Beach won another Carolina League title. Flete started the year in South Bend (.228/.290/.342, 81 games) and didn’t make an error in Myrtle Beach. Flete hit .285/.395/.415 in 34 games and went 6-for-28 in the playoffs. We’ll talk about Ely as a shortstop, where he played a majority of his games.
Carlos Sepulveda put himself on the Cubs prospect watch list with his 2016 season in South Bend. Signed in 2014 out of Mexico, Sepulveda made the jump to the Midwest League in his second pro season, batting .310/.366/.373 in 80 games while playing a steady second base (78 starts). The left-handed hitting Sepulveda was at the top of South Bend lineup most of the year and scored 55 runs, fifth on the team. The 20-year-old missed over a month with two stints on the DL.
Vimael Machin played 31 games in South Bend (.243/.339/.301) and also spent time in Iowa (14 games) and Eugene (4 G). The Cubs 10th round pick in 2015 out of VCU should begin the year in Myrtle Beach.
Yeiler Peguero skipped the Arizona Rookie League and was one of the keys to Eugene’s Northwest League title. The MVP of the Dominican Summer League All-Star game last year, the 19-year-old batted .260/.326/.336 in 68 games and was 6-for-21 with a homer and five RBI in the playoffs. Peguero participated in fall instructs and should be in South Bend for the start of ’17.
Trent Giambrone, the Cubs 25th round pick last June out of Delta State, was the 2016 Rawlings College Defensive Player of the Year and spent his first pro season in Eugene. In 51 games, 28 starts at second, Giambrone hit .292/.404/.433 with 4 HR and 22 RBI.
Edgar Rondon led Mesa with 31 games at second, batting .247/.358/.292 in his first season stateside. Rondon was signed in March of 2015 and batted .322/.437/.466 in his first season in the DSL (52 games).
Luis Diaz wasn’t one of the big 2015 international signees ($350,000) but the Dominican Republic native separated himself as one of the better infield prospects in the class. Diaz, 17, hit .251/.335/314 with 23 stolen bases in 64 games for Cubs 2. The 17-year-old participated in fall instructs and should return to Mesa for the Arizona Rookie League in 2017.
Yonathan Perlaza made 26 starts at second, 13 at third and 21 at short, and was signed as part of 2015 class out of Venezuela for $1 million . The switch-hitting 18-year-old batted .256/.311/.386 in 60 games with three homers and 18 RBI. He displayed some of that power at fall instructs, reaching the finals of the home run derby.
Winter League Report
Chesny Young (.362) went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in Escogido’s 4-1 win over Toros in the Dominican Winter League. No other Cubs prospects saw action in a light schedule on Sunday.