DJ Herz – Picture by Todd Johnson
2022 should be an exciting year in the Cubs’ system. They have a lot of young prospects who should be coming of age before our eyes. For example, lefties Jordan Wicks, DJ Herz, and Drew Gray could reshape how we look at pitching in the system next summer.
When I first sat down to plan out this post, I thought it would just be a routine thing. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go with some more bold predictions and storylines to follow, maybe throw in a few numbers, and even talk about the unknown a little bit.
1. The Brennen Davis Over/Under to get to Chicago
In trying to figure out when Brennen Davis is going to make it to Chicago, I thought I would put a date on it. That’s a little bit tricky. If he gets off to a good start at Triple-A. I wonder how long the Cubs are going to let him stay there. As a result, I am going to shoot for an early call up of Davis. I am going to go with June 10. That gives him a couple months to get in some good looks against some more advanced pitching. By then, the major league club will also have a much more clear future.
2. The 20 Dinger Club
It’s a rare thing for a Cubs prospect to hit 20 home runs in a minor-league season. It’s been done a few times, but it’s extremely hard to get it done. This year, I’m going to roll with Nelson Velazquez who did it last year. And, I am also going to add Owen Caissie to that mix. That’s gonna be extremely difficult considering Myrtle Beach is not exactly a hitter’s park. However, I don’t expect Caissie to be there all year. When South Bend comes to Beloit at the end of June and first part of July, I expect to see my fellow redhead in the road grays in the Quad Cities and Peoria.
3. A pitcher at #7even
When the MLB Draft takes place some point this summer, the Cubs will have the seventh selection in the first round. They are going to have a pretty good chance to select an ace of the future and they also could take a pretty good bat. It might be better for them to go all in on a big arm like Dylan Lesko at number seven considering he might be the first arm off the board. The Cubs may not have this chance again to get a #1 starter for a while unless they completely tank again this year.
4. Slow and Steady
There are several starting pitchers who are going to return this year after missing all of 2021 and the pandemic. That’s two years without throwing in a competitive game. Don’t expect these guys to come back and get stretched out in a month. I will be surprised if they let Kohl Franklin or Riley Thompson go beyond 40 pitches the first month. That might only be two innings, but the Cubs are not going to rush them back. Jack Patterson might actually just come out of the bullpen this year as he’s pretty close to Chicago.
5. Crazy Outfield Depth
Even though Brennen Davis is going to be in Chicago this summer, The outfield position is still the deepest in the system even without him. It’s going to be exciting to see Nwogu, Christian Franklin, Owen Caissie, Alexander Canario, Yohendrick Pinango, and Pete Crow-Armstrong do it up in Class A this year. It doesn’t matter if it’s Myrtle Beach or South Bend, both teams are going to be stacked in the grass.
6. Ed Howard‘s Revenge
This year we’re gonna see more of what the youngster can do. Now that the lad‘s first year is over, and he had some success in the last six weeks of the year, that should carry over into 2022. Whether he is at South Bend or Myrtle Beach, I don’t care. I really don’t. All I want to do is see the bat play. I want to see the approach play. I want him to lay off of pitches rather than try to hit everything.
7. Mr. Roederer
In watching Cole play for just a week in Beloit last spring, he looked like he picked up where he left off in 2019 as he had a very judicious eye at the plate. Unfortunately, he had an elbow/forearm injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss most of the year. I expect him to be back and ready to go to start the season and I expect him to show up in South Bend and hit on day one. I’m not too concerned about the power profile just yet as it’s going to take time coming back from major surgery, but I expect him to be in the lineup as a designated hitter every other day or maybe two out of three days.
8. The Second Half
While the first half of the season is going to be exciting as all of these young kids move up to class A, seeing where they go in the second half could be equally as exciting as I will probably get to see many of them in Beloit, Peoria, Appleton, and the Quad cities. I’m actually quite pumped about getting to see James Triantos in July and August if all goes well.
9. The Deadline Looms
When the end of July rolls around this year, the Cubs are going to be either trading some of their minor league assets to acquire major league talent or vice versa. That’s where they could be adding a few more guys. We’re not going to see the fire sale we saw last year, but we will see some movement. The question is how much the Cubs are either willing to go all-in to get into the playoffs or to basically strip down the rest of the team. For me, this is way off in the distance and probably won’t even need to be broached again until the middle of June.
10. Top 100 List Over/Under at 3.5
When the summer prospect lists come out, Brennen Davis might not be on them because he’s likely to be in Chicago. That means the Cubs will see some new faces on a top 100 list if the system does what it’s supposed to do this year. Cristian Hernandez and Brailyn Marquez are the most likely options and we could also see James Triantos on one as well along with Owen Caissie. My money is also on Kevin Alcantara, Drew Gray, and Reggie Preciado. We might even see Kohl Franklin, who knows. But the point is the Cubs have a lot of guys who could be top 100 prospects but they have to go out and produce this year to make that happen. I’m going to take the under on this for the summer and then the over for the winter. It’s going to be fun to watch it happen!
Considering the wealth of outfield talent and the relative dearth at first base below AA, when is it no longer to soon to convert Caissie to first base?
There’s probably not a rush at this point as he is pretty far away From Chicago. The closer he gets the more likely that is an option. So, they are going to convert him, Tennessee might be the best place to do so. Again, it could happen this year.