With the Instructional League starting Wednesday night, it's time for a look at another three players representing the Cubs in league action. Jordan Nwogu was the Cubs’ third-round 2020 draft choice, with Cam Balego and Cory Abbott both selected in previous years.
Both of Nwogu's parents are on staff at the University of Michigan. As his first semester came to an end in Ann Arbor, his baseball coach told him he might not make the squad as a freshman, and he might get redshirted. He spent most of his "at home" time in-between semesters in the batting cage, showing coach Erik Bakich enough to put him on the 35 player roster.
"He's the most improved player I've coached from start to finish," said Bakich.
Nwogu is a workout warrior, and his occasional Twitter videos are amusing.
Cam Balego is a 30th-rounder (2017) from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. In his draft year, his OPS was 1.210. In 113 games for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2019, his OPS was a completely tolerable .753. Considered a catcher, primarily, he singled and had an RBI in the Instructional League opener.
Cory Abbott is just about textbook on how the Cubs have historically developed starting pitchers. Selected in the second round in 2017 out of Loyola Marymount, Abbott went to Eugene in his fractional draft season for a mere cameo, before a shut-down. He split 2018 between South Bend and Myrtle Beach, with 94 hits in 115 innings, and 131 strikeouts, as well. He was solid in 26 Tennessee starts in Double-A in 2019, and was ticketed for Triple-A Des Moines in 2020 before 2020 happened.
Abbott is one of the very few prospects assigned to the alternate training site and Instructional Ball. Look for Abbott to be added to the 40-man roster before the November deadline. I expect Abbott to be penciled in as the seventh or eighth starting option heading into camp. When pitchers reach MLB, all the discussions of them from "before" go rather quickly out the window. If they can record 16 or 17 outs as young pitchers, they're fine. If not, they get returned. Abbott fits in that general range.
Hopefully, the updates are a regular occurrence this month. Anyone valuing Cubs prospect news owes a huge debt of gratitude to Arizona Phil.