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Chase Strumpf and developmental consistency

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How is the Cubs’ second-round pick doing this year, and what does it mean for organizational development?

Chase Strumpf playing for UCLA
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Chase Strumpf , the Cubs’ second-round draft choice in the 2019 process, is an offense-first second baseman from UCLA. He recently hit his first full-season ball homer for South Bend in his second game at the level. If someone were assessing the Cubs talent pipeline, Strumpf would likely be near the bottom of the top dozen. If the organization’s pool is getting to where it should be, Strumpf should be allowed to develop without worry (for Strumpf, fans, or executives) on the way through the levels of development.

Baseball fans tend to be polar regarding baseball prospects. Quite a few very astute fans are virtually oblivious of the pipeline. A game broadcast may or may not note a few names from the prospect pool. The same applies from newspaper coverage. Fans seeking prospect coverage often gravitate toward blogs, which are more prone to noting a swath of upcoming minor league talent.

Much blog commentary of prospects leans toward estimated times of arrival. For the Cubs, usually, a prospect worth having is worth hurrying through the system. And, if he’s doing well, and the rush isn’t extreme enough, the comments will follow, nudging promotions as possible. Quick promotions can be a sign of a bicycle with a few spokes missing.

It’s true that a prospect can provide value through a MLB call-up, or a trade that adds to the parent club. It’s equally true that most players in a pipeline at any time won’t provide a discernible value in either fashion. A fully functioning system should be able to prioritize improvement without him needing to be hurry players toward MLB, particularly first year guys. Advancement to Double-A, at least, ought to be based on effectiveness, not problems at the top level.

Strumpf, or almost any prospect, ought to be able to be observed from a sheerly relaxed point-of-view. “How did Strumpf do tonight?” “Well enough. A hit, and RBI, a walk, and no errors.” “Cool.” The need, or perceived need, to rush is a bad sign. If the coaches and scouts are doing their jobs, Strumpf reaching Wrigley by late 2022 should be very acceptable. If he’s better than that, all the better. However, the production should be the driver, not need at the MLB level.

Prospects will develop on their pace, regardless. The teams that allow that natural progression to take place are well-served. When a player at a level shows better than that level, he should move up. Replace him with someone from a lower level, or off that team’s bench. The Cubs aren’t regularly there, yet. Hopefully, they will be, soon. Strumpf is doing fine for a second-round draft pick. The less worry, the better. The goal with a pipeline ought to be letting the development decide promotions, as often as possible; not the need for production.