Trent Giambrone is hitting almost .458 and leads all of spring training with 12 runs batted in. The 26-year-old utility player has shown an impressive ability to put the bat on the ball in a variety of situations as has put himself in the conversation as a possible utility bat for later in the year, if not as the 26th man out of camp. Considering Giambrone can play all four infield spots and the corner outfield positions as well, he might be the type of Swiss Army knife guy the Cubs could use in a pinch this summer.
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Giambrone is one of a few prospects putting up strong individual performances over the first two weeks of camp, with PJ Higgins standing out as another multi-positional talent. But those two are relatively known commodities due to their time in the system. How about some of the lesser-known players putting themselves on the map?
Alfonso Rivas, a sweet-swinging first baseman acquired from the A’s in exchange for Tony Kemp, has shown off the ability to use the whole field this spring. He will likely be at Double-A to start 2020 and will be someone to watch this spring and summer. The real key for Rivas is whether he can adjust his swing to generate more power. I am not one to throw comps out there, but he reminds me a lot of Mark Grace at the plate. He was recently ranked as the Cubs’ No. 27 prospect on MLB Pipeline.
“He can catch up to quality fastballs, even up in the zone, but he’s a rare first baseman whose power grades as his worst tool,” Pipeline’s Jim Callis noted in his evaluation. “The Cubs believe they can unlock more pop if they can help him alter his swing path and drive more balls in the air.”
Outfielder Ian Miller has shown that he has major league speed, swiping a spring-high eight bases through Sunday. That’s always been his calling card, whether it’s bunting for hits or tracking down balls in the outfield. Miller has opened a lot of eyes with regular playing time and might make David Ross think twice about how he constructs the bottom of the roster.
Of all the pitching prospects we’ve seen, none has been better than Oscar De La Cruz. The big right-hander is heading into his first full season as a reliever and it looks to be agreeing with him. He has good life on his fastball and his breaking ball is also drawing rave reviews, putting him right in the mix for when the Cubs eventually need bullpen help at some point this summer.
Scott Effross, Evan Altman’s favorite reclamation project, looks to be putting himself in the same conversation as a future reliever. He has yet to allow a run in four appearances with the big club, one of which came in relief of Jon Lester during their rookie manager’s first pitching change. F Ross, indeed.
Undersized lefty Wyatt Short could be another option as he seems to be getting better and gaining more confidence with every outing as he. Short has move one level a year after being drafted in 2016 out of Mississippi, but all he has ever done is close. He’s had a solid run in the Cubs’ minor league system and, while he still needs a lot of seasoning at Triple-A, he’s now being noticed for an ability to throw strikes and keep hitters off balance.
With just two more weeks until Opening Day, most of the aforementioned players will head back to minor league camp as the regular players start getting more and more reps. Their experiences this spring will only help to give them confidence heading into the minor league seasons, which doesn’t begin its season until April 10.