Luis Vazquez – Picture by Lauren Watson
A year ago, the shortstops were the top position group in the organization. A lot of things have changed over the last year as the Cubs have gone out and acquired several other positions at the trade deadline and in the draft. In addition, a couple of players have moved off the position and some more may do so in the coming year.
Let’s take a look at who the Cubs’ top shortstops are this year.
1. Cristian Hernandez – The youngster’s only going to be 18 years old and it’s unclear at this point what his career path is going to be in 2022. He could get an aggressive promotion from the Dominican to Myrtle Beach. He could go to extended spring training and then Myrtle Beach. Or he could take the normal route and go to extended spring training and then head to Mesa. Wherever the Cubs assign him, confidence is going to be the key for the organization. They need to feel confident that he can keep his head above water wherever he ends up and that he has a chance to dominate. Right now, Hernandez is one of two Cub players on BA’s top 100 list and he’s yet to debut stateside. He’s going to have a lot of hype surrounding him, but he seems to be handling it OK. Even though he was in the DSL last year for mainly Covid reasons, he did just fine at 17 years old. If I had to guess which way the Cubs are going to roll with him in 2022, I would probably go with extended spring training and then Myrtle Beach. That would be conservative and aggressive at the same time and put him High-A next year at 19-years-old, which is not uncommon for phenoms.
2. Kevin Made – After dealing with some minor injuries in the first half of the year, Made finally get some regular playing time last summer in Myrtle Beach as he debuted as a Cub. That was a pretty aggressive assignment and Made more than held his own at the plate. He still needs to be a little more selective at the plate and he also probably needs to improve on that 5% walk rate. That’s pretty low. For him to be 19 and at South Bend is going to be a treat this summer. I probably won’t get to see him until late April in the Quad Cities. And when I do, you can rest assured there’ll be plenty of Kevin Made pictures.
3. Ed Howard – How much Howard continues to play at shortstop is still a mystery. But he’s going to play shortstop, it’s a question of how much. He’s going to be splitting time with Made and Howard really needs to step it up at the plate. He finished last year strong and hopefully that carries over into 2022. He should be more than accustomed to the weather the first month which might be an advantage to him now and getting off to a hot start or at least a decent start so he’s not pressing.
4. Luis Vazquez – I love this kid! He has all the tools he needs to be a major league shortstop, he just needs to stay healthy and gain experience against advanced competition. He will be 22 next year and he’s just really coming into his own. Vazquez got off to a hot start last year in South Bend before a hand/wrist injury occurred sliding into second. That set him back about 2 1/2 months before he returned in August and was just vicious at the plate and then he earned a trip to AA to end the year. That’s where he’s going to pick up in 2022. I am more excited to see what he can do in 2022 than all but three prospects in the system. Ironically, they all happen to be on this list.
5. Andy Weber – After his scintillating turn in the Arizona Fall League, Weber heads into 2022 with a chance to make it to Chicago at some point. He should be at Iowa and if the Cubs were prudent, they’d have Weber playing all over the place to prepare for a utility role at the major league level. Defensively, he’s pretty much ready. The only thing he really needs to work on is to get a lot of experience seeing advanced pitching. He didn’t get in a lot of games last year due to some minor nagging injuries.
We will also see a couple of debuts next summer. Depending on where Hernandez plays, Pedro Ramirez could play shortstop in Mesa if Cristian Hernandez is in Myrtle Beach. We will also see the Cubs sign Alexis Hernandez, the brother of Cristian, on January 15. More than likely Alexis will be in the Dominican next summer along with fellow signee Jefferson Rojas. Will also see what the Cubs have in Christian Olivo, the Cubs 17th round pick last summer out of high school in Puerto Rico. He should be in Mesa as well. The wildcard for next summer is Miguel Pabon who wound up at South Bend to end 2022.
As you can see, there is no shortage of depth. It’s just a matter of will these guys all take a step up in their development in 2022.
Other Position Rankings