Welcome to today’s issue of the minor-league mailbag! It’s going to be an exciting one as I have three questions about the shortstop position in the system. Originally, I just wanted to talk about the questions all at the same time as there is some overlap. But I decided to break it into two parts as there is a clear delineation in the queries
Itsacon@thats_so_cub – Which shortstops move off the position more or less permanently next year to 2B or other spots?
Strangely enough, this process has already begun. We saw Kevin Made get some time at third base to begin his Cubs career last year. But as the season wore on, he kept playing more and more shortstop. He basically displaced Ed Howard who moved over to second base for 21 games. I would expect to see more of that latter lineup this year at South Bend. We will know a lot more at the end of April than we do today.
As for the other levels, Luis Vazquez is going to play shortstop wherever he is. The same is not true for Andy Weber. If Weber and Vazquez end up at the same place, we’re going to see Weber move over to second. Weber’s MLB role is probably more of a utility bench guy than it is as an everyday shortstop. Then again, you never know how a guy is going to do at Triple-A until he gets there. If Weber tears it up at the plate, we may have to rethink that alignment/viewpoint.
Last year, Cristian Hernandez debuted in the Dominican Summer League and played 47 games. They were all at shortstop or DH. He did not move off the position at all. That’s what gives me a clue that he’s not going to change where he plays in the near or distant future. For me, I’m still a little unclear as to whether he is going to begin the year at Myrtle Beach at age 18, or will he be an extended spring training and then head to Myrtle Beach, or will he just go to extended spring training and then the Arizona league for a while? At some point he’s going to be in Myrtle Beach, the question is what month will he arrive?
As for Pedro Ramirez, he should be sliding over to second if he has not already. The breakout star in the Dominican last year probably profiles more for a second baseman than he does for shortstop. But with Hernandez being the golden child, Ramirez doesn’t really stand much of a chance at shortstop. However, I’ll be interested to see him hit this year in Arizona. If Hernandez makes his way to Myrtle Beach before rookie league begins, then that changes everything for Ramirez. He could end up at short all year
For the next two questions, they are pretty similar as they both talk about trading shortstops.
Rrodri19@Rrodri192 – Will the Cubs be trading one of their SS in the future when they are contending again?
Cory Iwaszewski@CDub1519 – In the last rebuild the Cubs had way too many shortstops (sarcasm) in Castro, Russell, and Baez. Gleyber Torres, the prized prospect, was dealt for that final piece to help the Cubs in October (I know, Chapman isn’t popular, but without that left arm the Cubs don’t win in 16). Out of the top 10 prospects, who do you think is the most likely to be dealt in a year or two to help push the Cubs back into 1st, and October.
To answer both questions at once, the shortstop position is not the most tradeable position in the organization anymore. Most of the shortstops in the organization can go somewhere else on the diamond. An outfielder doesn’t have that same luxury. If an outfielder can handle first base that helps. But for the most part, it’s outfield or bust. And considering the Cubs can only play three of them in the grass and probably one at DH, they seem to be a little overflowing with outfielders after last summer’s trade deadline prospect bonanza.
I would not be surprised to see them throw in a shortstop in any deal, but it’s more likely to be an outfielder.
Lead Photo of Luis Vazquez by Lauren Watson