Tracking the Cubs Dominican Summer League games is an incredibly Tim thing to do. (That can be emphasized with scorn or enthusiasm. I appreciate both emotions, though they are on entirely different ends of the traditional acceptability section.) My dad likes to watch CNBC for his morning media fix. Some people prefer MLB.tv, The View, or schedule their open mornings around “All My Children.” (Or they did in the eighties, anyway.) Jobs and duties also require time. For me, though? Give me more affiliated baseball games. Here is a look at a number of my favorite DSL prospects in the Cubs pipeline.
Last month, numerous fans of a few different MLB sides lauded similar trades their teams had made. “We traded something we had no use for, and received a minor-league player in return.” After all, their favorites weren’t allowed to spend over $300,000 on any international free agent. Which comes awfully close to stating that no player earning under $300,001 as a signing bonus can possibly be worth his salt.
That’s a bit like a baseball person saying “The Atlantic Sun Conference has no talent,” having watched none of their games in a few years. It may well be that adding a minor league piece is better than signing six 17-year-olds for $50,000 per. However, to assume that no under-priced taken is any good is mislaid.
The two Cubs DSL affiliates are gorged with underpriced talent. When a player has a good day when I’m in Twitter mode (@tim815, if interested) during summer mornings, I’m about introducing you to the talent. An old-school dismissive about Dominican talent is: “They won’t likely reach the majors.” (Kicks at dirt.)
The reality seems to be, tracking the Dominican is a mindset. It’s a mindset few bother with. It isn’t about spouting off 20/80 numbers. Or quoting accurate velocity readings. (Nobody unattached knows.) It’s much more old school.
For instance, Fabian Pertuz started he season quite well. The box scores told me so. If the numbers are there, the player is likely doing well. The numbers are available. However, since more baseball people would rather watch MLB.tv than the boxes from Boca Chica, I defer knowledge on what I don’t know.
However, as a Cubs DSL player starts posting good numbers, I want to know his age. Where he’s from. Lefty or righty? All that kind of pertinent stuff. Whether he “reaches MLB” is less pertinent than before. It’s tremendous if he does. However, if “all he does” is bring back a Brandon Kintzler type of reliever in trade, he was likely worth his signing bonus. Especially if under the scant $300,000 limit.
Before I hit my list, the data here is very sparse. Very. However, any player that “reaches the states” has a chance to impress. Perhaps it plays. Likely, only to a certain level. However, as a first- or second-year player in the DSL is doing well, he becomes a 3-in-100 shot at the very least. Multiply that by enough talent, and the premise of “can’t get value there” disappears really quickly.
Numbers are what they are. Some numbers might look initially ugly. Remember, though. these youngsters are playing pro ball at the age of high school kids. With the first assumption that kids will “develop on their timeline, not ours,” innings pitched for a 17-year-old might be more important than the initial results.
The applicable time markers are these:
August call-ups for DSL talent to get an immediate look against U.S. opposition.
October call-up for Instructional ball. Added training. Team-building exercises. No games against other teams.
March call-up for spring training. These are for players with a shot at full-season assignment in 2019.
April call-up for extended spring training. Daily workouts, and periodic games against other teams. These opportunities should help regardless the 2019 opposition.
Signed for the $300,000 limit, his first season has been as hoped for. He missed time with injury, and had a bit of a slump apart from that. He has an .842 OPS, and has six triples. He should be in Mesa sooner than later. Perhaps this month.
A league All-Star, Marchan’s numbers have yo-yoed some down the stretch. A second-year player, his OPS has jumped from .484 to .779 as a second-year guy. He belongs in Mesa by spring training in March.
A catcher, his first-year OPS is .771. That should have the Venezuelan in Mesa by March, if not sooner.
Cruz was very meh as a first-year guy. This year, his OPS is .844 and has 48 stolen bases. He left a game early recently, likely with an injury. Healthy again, he should get a look in the Arizona League when the DSL season concludes.
The 6-1 first year arm has an ERA of 0.70. His WHIP is 0.701. If he’s that much better than the league, that young, he belongs in the states by Instructs in October. I fell in love with another lefty’s numbers like this two years ago. Maybe you’ve heard of Brailyn Marquez. He’s Top Ten in many Cubs pipelines.
As noted, some names will be about innings pitched more than raw numbers. The 6-1 Rodriguez has over 52 innings banked. That sould get him an invite in March, if not sooner. The financial reality is, keeping a player in the DSL (while running two teams) costs very little. Maybe Rodriguez figures it out. Perhaps not. He seems to have a durable arm, though.
A first-year guy, that means more than his age sometimes. (He’s 19.) Hernandez’ hits, innings, and strikeouts are similar. He limits walks. He belongs in the DSL another season, but ought to pitch some in Extended Spring Training games in 2019 for experience/exposure.
Martinez has been the biggest surprise on the offensive end so far. He’s a switch-hitter with an OPS of .836, with 26 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. He should be in Mesa by November, and possibly by September. A Venezuelan shortstop. I think I’ve heard those linked before.
Probably belongs in Mesa, but wouldn’t get regular at-bats there. As the DSL season ends, bats and arms can both get promoted, so others can do the same in other levels. He sports a .755 OPS as a 17-year old. “Muy bueno.”
Off to a flashy start, Morfa missed over a month due to injuries. He still should be stateside rather soon. Perhaps for instructs, but definitely for spring training. He might repeat the level, if that’s his best way to get at-bats in 2019. That doesn’t change that he has upside.
Miranda was signed a bit before the last cycle ended, in June. He only has a .751 OPS, but he had a late start.
Why am I featuring a pitcher who has walked 29 in 39 innings of his first pro season? Because he’s gotten in 39 innings in his first pro season. Also, the 39 strikeouts. Lopez should get a look in Extended Spring Training. He’s that 14-1 horse in the fifth race that has a jockey you like to wager on.
Copy and paste the premise on Lopez above, except he’s two years younger.
He’s old for the level, and is in his second organization, having been released by the Royals. My hunch here is he is treated as a closer in 2019 with one of the Cubs sides, and aggressively run up the ladder if possible. Perhaps he becomes the next Jhon Romero, who brought Kintzler as a return.
The danger with an article like this is that some of you might think the other players in the DSL pool are basically rubbish. They aren’t. They haven’t figured the league out well enough yet. Perhaps it happens. Perhaps not. Cruz and Marchan from above “needed a season” to figure the speed of the level. Time is the player’s friend, early on.
This season and next, games in the Dominican League will progress. Usually, the results are posted (by the official scorer) after the half inning concludes. Games start at 9:30 Central time, six days per week (Sundays are off days). You’re permitted to ignore them over a lack of proximity to MLB. I’ll track them, because they’re Cubs. As I track the other affiliates, as well, and for the same reason.