Corner Outfield Depth
Mark Zagunis has quietly gone about this business since the Cubs drafted the former catcher in the third-round out of Virginia Tech in 2014. A mid-season and post-season all-star for Myrtle Beach in 2015, where he hit .271/.406/.412 with 24 doubles, eight homers and 54 RBI. He made 100 starts in the outfield, 80 in right. Last season, Zagunis only played in 51 games, 40 starts in left, in AA (.302/.408/.453) before earning a promotion to Iowa in early June. In 50 games in Des Moines, Zagunis smacked six homers and slashed .274/.360/.486 before a broken bone in his foot ended his season a month early. Zagunis sports a career .401 on-base percentage due in part to a good eye at the plate and ability to make consistent contact.
Bijan Rademacher was the Cubs 13th round pick in 2012 and has worked his way up the Cubs system, reaching AAA for the final 22 games of 2016. Rademacher can play both corner outfield spots and has a plus arm while he’s an average fielder. After hitting .261/.379/.370 in 113 games in AA in 2015, the 25-year-old batted .313/.395/.484 (all career-highs) over his first 86 games at Tennessee to start last season.
Charcer Burks earned the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2016 for his defensive play in Myrtle Beach but the 21-year-old showed some good signs at the plate. Burks hit a career-high 11 homers and sported a .356 on-base percentage to go along with 23 stolen bases in 124 games. The Cubs ninth-round pick in 2013 will get a chance to showcase his talents in Tennessee next summer.
Jeffrey Baez couldn’t duplicate the success he had in the second half of 2015 in South Bend. The 23-year-old hit .348/.369/.536 with eight homers over his final 53 games in South Bend and slashed .241/.324/.363 with eight homers and 38 stolen bases for Myrtle beach in 2016. Baez has a strong arm and can handle right field. He should be in Tennessee to start 2017.
Eloy Jimenez is one of the Cubs top prospects and is shooting up the national rankings after earning Midwest League MVP, Prospect of the Year and Cubs Minor League Player of the Year honors after his season in South Bend. The 19-year-old hit .329/.369/.532 with 14 homers and 81 RBI in his third professional season. Signed as part of the Cubs 2013 IFA class, Jimenez displayed good base running instincts, has a plus arm for left field and a keen ability to track fly balls. He also showed the ability to take the ball the other way and cut down on his swing when behind in the count.
Keep en eye on Eddy Martinez in 2017. The 21-year-old Cuban hit .254/.331/.380 in 126 games in his first pro season after signing with the Cubs for a $3 million bonus. Martinez showed good power with 10 homers and a plus arm in right field, throwing out two runners at home in the same inning. He was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for July after hitting .362/.446/.564 in 27 games with 22 RBI. Martinez should start in right field for Myrtle Beach and could reach AA by the end of the season.
Kevonte Mitchell was drafted in the 13th round out of high school in 2014 and may have turned the corner last year in Eugene, hitting .243/.318/.378 in 62 games. Mitchell hit five homers and swiped 15 bases. One of the better athletes in the organization, the 21-year-old will need to continue to show improvement in South Bend. He’s a solid defender and has a plus arm for left field.
Robert Garcia was signed by the Cubs back in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic and the 23-year-old earned Northwest League All-Star honors this year at Eugene. Garcia led Mesa with a .341 average in 2015 and batted .283/.345/.418 in 49 games with two homers and 19 runs scored. He spent his first two seasons in the DSL. Garcia went 3-for-18 in the playoffs for Eugene.
Signed as part of the IFA 2015 class, Kwang-Min Kwon only appeared in nine games for Mesa in his first pro season. The South Korean received a $1.2 million bonus and the 6-foot-2 left-handed bat was 8-for-30 for Mesa with three walks and 10 strikeouts. The 19-year-old will likely be back in Mesa next year and will have to hit his way to Eugene.
The Cubs gave Jonathan Sierra a $2.5 million bonus and the 18-year-old hit .264/.384/.341 in 64 games with 37 BB and 48 K. Standing 6-foot-3 and swinging from the left side, Sierra drew comps to Darryl Strawberry during July 2 showcase series but didn’t homer in his debut season. Sierra participated in fall instructs and should be in Mesa for his first season stateside.
Abraham Rodriguez received a $250,000 bonus as part of the IFA 2015 class and the left-handed hitting Panamanian was impressive in his first pro season. Rodriguez had an 11-game hitting streak early in the year and followed that up a 15-game hit streak. The 17-year-old led the Cubs with 78 total bases and 33 RBI while stealing 12 bases. He finished with a slash line of .255/.289/.355 and earned an invite to fall instructs.
Venezuelan Winter League
2B Carlos Penalver (.280) was 0-for-3 in Aragua’s 2-0 loss to Caracas in the second game of a DH....2B Bryant Flete was 1-for-2 with a walk and a RBI in Zulia’s 9-4 loss to Lara in the second game of a DH.
Dominican Winter League
3B Chesny Young (.314) was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in Escogido’s 3-2 win over Licey on Dec. 20. Young played third in the ninth inning of Escogido’s 2-1 loss to Toros on Dec. 19. Young didn’t bat.