South Bend Cubs Preview: Elite Pitching Highlights Exciting Group of Prospects
South Bend has only made the postseason once so far in four years as part of the Cubs organization, but that total should double in 2018. Highlighted by a dangerous starting rotation, manager Jimmy Gonzalez will oversee a more mature team that is a mix of college position players and elite young starting pitching to go along with some of the Cubs top international prospects.
The Dynamic Duo
Jose Albertos has a lot of life and movement on all his pitches. Arguably the top prospect in the organization, the Cubs kept a close eye on Albertos last season as he moved past forearm troubles that cut his 2016 debut season short. His battery mate, catcher Miguel Amaya, has an amazing arm already and his bat developed in stages throughout last summer. Here’s the kicker: Both will just be 19 this summer.
Millions of Dollars of Arms
Between Cory Abbott, Brendon Little, and Bailey Clark, the Cubs have thrown down some cash on their core of young pitchers. Those could be joined by Alex Lange and Keegan Thompson for a while, but their talent may see them moving on quickly. I would expect Little to be in South Bend most of the year because he needs to work on developing his command. Abbott could join Lange and Thompson in Myrtle Beach quickly. As for Clark, his degree is complete and he is healthy and throwing in the mid 90’s in spring training. If he can command his fastball, it could be a special summer for him.
The Mexican Connection
Jesus Camargo and Javier Assad are two pitchers who shined last summer in Eugene. Camargo has a wicked change and Assad has a very lively fastball that can reach the mid 90’s with some good run down in the zone.
2017 College Guys
I really like third baseman Austin Filiere to take his hitting to another level in 2018. He has a great eye at the plate and some power to go along with it. Outfielder Brandon Hughes is a fantastic athlete, but I am not sure what kind of player he is going to be. Is he going to use his speed or is he going to try to develop his natural strength?
Gustavo Polanco can hit a fastball naturally to right center. The problem for him comes with curveballs and changeups. If he can improve his pitch recognition skills, he could be a dangerous hitter. Second baseman Jhonny Bethencourt has a natural ability to spray the ball all over the field, though he really needs to improve his defense very quickly.
First to Be Promoted
Considering how good the pitching is going to be, one of the 2017 drafted pitchers should be the first to head southeast. Lange, Thompson, or Abbott make the most sense.
I would love to say it’s going to be Nelson Velazquez, Fernando Kelli, or Jonathan Sierra. Anyone of those three outfielders would be great. However, it is most likely going to be an arm to replace one of the aforementioned players. My guess is Jesus Tejada, who pitched in the Dominican for the past two years, or 18-year-old flamethrower Danis Correa, who can throw in the mid-to-upper 90’s. He got in a little time in Mesa last August and totaled 40.1 innings on the year with a 3.32 ERA. He struck out 23 but walked 17, so there’s room to grow.
A lot of these players will be participated in full-season pro ball for the first time, so there are bound to be some growing pains and a little inconsistency. There’ll also be plenty of fireworks at Four Winds Field, so I’d advise you to get to South Bend early this season in order to catch some of these top prospects before they’re gone.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans