Today’s installment is a bit different, at least in the choice of photo. There weren’t any photos available to me of Jeimer Candelario with his number showing, and I want all these countdown posts to have the number on them, so you get one of a Candelario jersey.
The reason for this is that I wanted to write a bit about Candelario and his chances of making the Cubs, either this year or ever. In my opinion, those chances are pretty small. Here’s why.
Candelario played just briefly in the big leagues in 2016 (five games, 1-for-11), so that tells us almost nothing. He put up decent, but not great, numbers combined between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa: .283/.376./464, with 39 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 70 walks. If he’s going to develop in the big leagues, it will be as a power guy: he stole no bases in two attempts.
Candelario is 23 and plays only third base and first base. Thus he is blocked in Chicago for a long, long time.
I mention that because I want to make a comparison here between him and another recent Cubs prospect who wore No. 7 in the big leagues, Arismendy Alcantara.
Though Mendy didn’t make it with the Cubs and is now on his third team (he was claimed on waivers by the Reds over the winter), he hit much better at Triple-A at the same age as Candy. In 2014, before he was called up and spent the rest of the year with the Cubs, Alcantara hit .307/.353/.537 with 25 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs in 89 games. He also stole 21 bases. As you know, Alcantara can play shortstop, second base and the outfield. He was a top-100 prospect before 2014.
If Candelario had some positional flexibility he might be worth keeping, but it doesn’t appear that he does.
All this is to say that I think Candelario has been overrated by some. Could he play third base regularly in the major leagues? Probably, but not for the Cubs. What I’d like to see happen is for him to have a good spring training — and with the World Baseball Classic extending spring this year, he’s likely to get a lot of playing time — and for the Cubs to trade him. He might not bring much on his own, but perhaps dealt in tandem with someone else, perhaps he could bring some big-league bullpen help, or some starting pitching prospects, or maybe a young major-league starter that another team has given up on.
It will be worth watching his performance in spring training to see if he can get other teams interested in him.