Third Base Depth
It all starts and ends with NL MVP Kris Bryant and the Cubs team control over the next five seasons. Bryant may eventually move to first or the outfield but for now he’s anchored at third.
The Cubs finally said goodbye to Christian Villanueva, who at one time before the Cubs drafted Bryant was the top third base prospect in the organization after a trade with the Rangers that also included Kyle Hendricks. Out of options, the Cubs didn’t tender a contract to the 26-year-old, who became a free agent. Villanueva broke his leg in spring training and missed the entire 2016 season.
Three seasons ago, Jeimer Candelario was headed in the wrong direction going from Daytona back to Kane County after a rough start to the 2014 season. Candelario excelled in 2015 and last year made his big league debut for Chicago, going 1-for-11 in five games in early July. The 23-year-old hit .219/.324/.367 in 56 games in AA to start the year and took off when he reached AAA, batting .333/.417/.542 with nine homers and 54 RBI in 76 games. Candelario is expected to start the year back in Iowa.
Jason Vosler continues to improve as he moves up the organizational ladder. The 23-year-old hit .254/.325/.359 in 93 games in Myrtle Beach before a promotion in August. In 26 games in AA, the Cubs 16th round pick out of Northeastern in 2014 batted .250 with a homer and 12 knocked in. He should be back in Tennessee for the start of 2017.
Jesse Hodges earned a late season promotion to Myrtle Beach after spending 2015 and most of 2016 in South Bend. The native of Canada hit .287/.349/.359 in 61 games in the MWL and batted .186 over the final 29 games in the Carolina League. Hodges should start 2017 back in Myrtle Beach.
The third base prospect to keep an eye on in 2017 is Wladimir Galindo, who spent 2016 in Eugene. After battling a wrist injury in 2015 that limited the Venezuelan native to 19 games, Galindo had a breakout season leading the NWL champion Ems in runs (44), doubles (19), triples (4), home runs (9), RBI (40), total bases (114), walks (33) strikeouts (81), and slugging (.462). In 66 games, the 19-year-old hit .243 with a .337 on-base average and was named the NWL player of the week on Aug. 14. Although he did lead the team with 16 errors at third, Galindo improved his defense and range. He participated in fall instructs and should start 2017 in South Bend.
Rafael Mejia, 19, started 35 games at third for Mesa, tops on the team, batting .203/.226/.313 with two homers and 10 RBI in his second pro season. Signed in 2014 out of the Dominican Republic, Mejia hit four homers and knocked in 30 runs in the DSL with a .756 OPS in 2015. He should be on the hot corner in Eugene next season.
The two Cubs DSL teams had 12 different players spend time at third but Orian Nunez led everyone with 36 games played. Not one of the top 2015 signees, the 17-year-old Dominican hit .278/.344/.394 and also played 23 games at second.
Winter League Recap
3B Chesny Young (.346) was 1-for-5 with a run scored in Escogido’s 4-0 win over Toros in the Dominican Winter League. No other Cubs prospects saw action with another light night of games.