A little over a year ago, the Cubs had the best shortstop depth in baseball with Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Gleyber Torres. Castro and Torres were both sent to the Yankees in separate deals, Russell celebrated a World Series at short, and Baez has moved to second, or whatever position manager Joe Maddon writes down on the lineup card.
Venezuelan native Carlos Penalver is the “veteran” minor leaguer at short. After impressive defensive stops at Kane County (Low A) and Myrtle Beach (High A), Penalver took a step back in the field for Tennessee in 2016, committing a career-high 31 errors and didn’t take away as many hits as he had the previous two years. The 22-year-old batted .211/.265/.268 in 117 games with 33 RBI and 36 runs scored. Penalver’s path to the majors is with his glove but after last year’s fielding woes, needs to turn it around in 2017.
Andrew Ely started the season as a second baseman in South Bend but ended the year as the starting shortstop for the Carolina League champs. Playing second, third and short in South Bend, Ely batted .295/.368/.398 in 44 games and was promoted to Myrtle Beach in mid-May. He moved over from short after Gleyber Torres was traded but staked his claim to short during the post-season. The Cubs 32nd round pick in 2014 out of Washington started all seven playoff games at short and hit .308/.321/.385 with two doubles and three RBI to help lead Myrtle Beach to the title. He ended his High A stint with a slash line of .237/.317/.284 in 60 games with a homer and 16 RBI.
Earning NWL Player of the Week honors to open the season in Eugene, Andruw Monasterio only made 17 starts before heading to South Bend in early July. The Venezuelan hit .324/.355/.437 with a homer and 12 RBI for the Ems. The 19-year-old didn’t have the same success in the Midwest League, batting .216/.270/.256 with 11 RBI and 25 runs scored in 48 games. He was solid in the field, getting charged with seven errors over 397.1 innings (.965 fielding percentage). Monasterio went on the disabled list in early September and didn’t return to the South Bend lineup for the playoffs.
Selected in the 17th round out of Sacred Heart last June, Zack Short played 14 games in Mesa (.318/.500/.386) before heading to Eugene where he made 37 starts at short for the NWL champions. The 21-year-old slashed .236/.401/.323 with a homer, 23 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and drew more walks (33) than strikeouts (24). He was charged with 10 errors (.941 fielding percentage) in 340 innings.
Isaac Paredes started his first pro season in the Arizona Rookie League and saw it end in the Midwest League playoffs. After hitting .305/.359/.443 with a team-high 26 RBI for Mesa, the Mexico native was promoted to South Bend for the final three games of the regular season and the post-season. Parades was named to the AZL post-season all-star team and made 43 starts at short for Mesa, committing 10 errors in 363.2 innings (.949 fielding percentage). He was signed as part of the Cubs 2015 IFA class.
Signed for a reported $2 million as part of the 2015 IFA class, Aramis Ademan got off to a slow start and was only batting .183 over the first 17 pro games for Cubs 2 in the Dominican Summer League and wasn’t much better in the field, committing eight errors. While he cut down on his fielding miscues, the Dominican Republic native also picked it up at the plate and hit .305/.431/.356 over the final 18 games. Playing 59 games, the left-handed hitting shortstop batted .254/.366/.316 with 17 stolen base and tied for team lead with 37 runs. He drew 34 walks while striking out 28 times. The 18-year-old participated in fall instructs and will be headed stateside this spring.
While Ademan was drawing all the attention for Cubs 2, slick-fielding Rafael Narea made 50 starts at short for the other DSL team. He posted a .944 fielding percentage (14 errors) over 427.2 innings and the 18-year-old Venezuelan native hit .263/.402/.306 with 36 runs scored and 27 stolen bases over 63 games in his second pro season.
Cubs will need to add some minor league depth at Iowa and it will be a battle this spring to see who gets the starting nod at South Bend with Monasterio, Paredes, and Short in the mix.
Winter League Recap
SS Carlos Penalver (.368) went 1-for-4 with a RBI in Aragua’s 5-1 win over Zulia in Venezuela. LF Bryant Flete, Zulia, (.240) was 0-for-4...... Chesny Young (.317) went 1-for-3 with walk in the second game of Escogido’s double-header with Gigantes in the Dominican Republic......RH Miguel Mejia, Caguas, earned his 10th hold with a 1-2-3 eighth inning in the 3-1 win over Santurce in Puerto Rico.