Tyler Schlaffer – Picture courtesy of Stephanie Lynn @SRL590

The winter is always a good time to take stock of what’s going on in the organization. It’s also good time to take questions from you. A while back, I received about 40 questions on Twitter and email and I really liked the following question.

Carlos Archila@carchila1 : Which Cubs MiLB player has the makings of a breakout in 2022? 1 pitcher and 1 position player? Like DJ Herz did.

That’s a great question Carlos! I really like how you broke it down by pitcher and hitter.

I’m going to break it down even further, especially at the pitcher position.

We could be on the brink of something special in the spring when Tyler Schlaffer takes the bump at either Myrtle Beach or South Bend depending upon the improvements he makes this winter. Schlaffer ended last season at Myrtle Beach and flashed a low to mid 90s fastball that sometimes creeped into the upper 90s. He also showed a developing slider and a changeup that looked to be plus pitches as well.

In his short stint, he appeared in 9 games for Myrtle Beach and in August he put up a 2.95 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 18.1 innings that month. That’s a pretty impressive month. Whether Schlaffer starts there next year or not is still to be determined.

When it comes to rookie leagues, the guy I really like to break out next year is left-handed pitcher Carlos Garcia. The soon to be 20-year-old signed as an international free agent out of Cuba last year and already flashes a fastball in the mid 90s to go along with a nice curve. He did really well in the DSL throwing 43 innings and striking out 47 with a 1.67 ERA. Opponents only hit .164 against him. I don’t think he’s good enough to skip all the way to to Myrtle Beach to begin the year, but he could be there at some point, especially if he dominates an extended spring training. So keep an eye out for him.

When it comes to a breakout hitter, those usually happen at the lower levels. We saw plenty of young guys in Arizona really pop and shine in July, August, and September. But if you’re wanting one guy who’s going to shoot up a prospect rankings, that’s a little bit tricky. If I had to pick one player I really like to breakout it would be outfielder Anderson Suriel. In the Dominican Summer League last summer, he improved month to month hitting .295 for the year. I also like BJ Murray a little bit, the Cubs 15th round pick out of Florida Atlantic who finished strong in Arizona. We could also see Miguel Fabrizio pop after his excellent performance in Arizona and he could build on that in Myrtle Beach.  

We could also see some bounce-back seasons at the plate for Ethan Hearn and Ronnier Quintero who did not fare as well as hoped heading into the year.

Unlike the pitchers, who I am much more confident about breaking out, the hitters are a lot more iffy for me. We are still going to see somebody do it, it’s just a question of who and when.