Carlos Penalver, shortstop, 6-0, 170
Signed as an international free agent for a $550,000 bonus.
Likely 2014 landing spot: Low-A Kane County
When Cubs prospects are in Boise, I'm extremely limited as to the information I can pull. Often, their games are running opposite my work, and my real job comes first. Hence, and especially with them not being on MiLBTV last year, I'd often get to listen to about five outs from a game. While I could make stuff up, that isn't my game.
Carlos Penalver (pronounced PEN-ALL-VARE) is likely the best defensive shortstop in the pipeline, probably stealing that from Marco Hernandez. His offense is a work in progress, though he will accept a walk. As with numerous others, unless his offense jumps a notch, he's trade bait at best in the system. He figures to start in Kane County next year.
What makes Penalver interesting, aside from his glove, is how little is behind him at short. For years, the Cubs have been a team with solid middle infield play in the system. Before Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, there were Starlin Castro, Hak-Ju Lee, and Junior Lake. Sprinkle in a little Ryan Flaherty, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Harrison, the pipeline has been much better than usual for awhile. That said, along with Penalver and Hernandez, the fall-off seems rather noticeable now.
Especially if Gleyber Torres isn't as hoped.
Loading up on pitching the last few years has limited the ability to re-load up the middle, to an extent. As the draft will approach, it won't be that Penalver and Torres will decide if Trea Turner should be the call at 1.4. However, in case of a near dead-heat at the fourth spot, system strength could swing the pick one way or another. Plenty of things can go wrong with pitchers. If Turner has a strong, healthy season for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, a middling two months from SS in the lower minors might make drafting the safe-ish lead-off man type Turner the selection.
Either way, look for Penalver to get most of the starts at short in Kane County.
At least, until the top pick gets signed.