Edgar Gamargo, catcher/first base
Born February 1, 2002, Guatire, Venezuela.
Cubs International signing
I like the Dominican Summer League. Games are played, involving Cubs prospects, at a time when no other games are being played in the pipeline. Sometimes I oversleep and miss some of the games. I’m annoyed there are only five games a week now, not six. However, I still enjoy checking to see which guys on the Cubs campus are heading in the direction of stateside.
Oftentimes, it’s easy, even from afar, to tell who’s doing well. Reading boxscores won’t tell me exit velocities, but a player below league average age with an OPS above league average is likely due for a promotion.
In Gamargo’s DSL career, he had three at-bats in 2019. With no games in 2020, he jumped to the Arizona Complex League in 2021, getting 26 plate appearances. His OPS was .988. I’m going to take a wild guess, and project out that one of the important things for Gamargo would be to somehow see more live, quality pitching.
As you may or may not know, teams are allowed 190 players in their “north of the DSL campus” this off-season. League rules limit players on rosters. League rules do not limit scouts, computer technicians, or Adjunct Pitching coaches. What I think the Cubs ought to do is hire scads of recently retired pitchers as Adjunct Pitching Coaches. Or Glorified Batting Practice Pitchers. Or even limit the glory associated. Have seven or eight pitchers that show up at the Dominican facility at an appropriate time three days a week, and throw “real” batting practice. None of the 74 and straight from 60 feet. Show the hitters pro level breaking balls. 94 with tailing action. 92 mile per hour bowling ball sinkers. And after the practice, they head home.
In Mesa, do the same. Except upgrade the pitching quality. Still do the normal BP for everyone, but for the players up for a better challenge? Make it available, but not easy. Pay players who are no longer in pro ball for a chance to get hitters out. Pay them enough to make it worth their while. As independent contractors, not affiliated as players with the league, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. This will never happen. MLB owners prioritize money over winning, and would be very unlikely to let hitters face 97 with late life in batting practice. Whatever the level needed, though, Edgar Gamargo would benefit from facing really good pitching. Or, it could be, he won’t ever be good enough to hit full-season pitching. Without Short-Season Ball, the teams that better bridge that vacancy would seem in better shape than those who don’t.