Picture of Wladimir Galindo via Boise Hawks

This week’s mailbag is going to be a mix of several different types of questions. It is also the final one of my winter series. It’s been a fun set of questions this winter and I have enjoyed answering your questions, as usual.

Jimmy Nelligan@NelliganJimmy : What kind of season do you envision for Luke Little?

The key to any kind of season with Luke Little is him being healthy and ready to go. He can throw in the mid-to-upper 90s and last year he missed most of the season before getting in some work late in the year in August. He was impressive in his last two outings where he threw three innings. In fact his last outing saw him strikeout six over three frames.

As for 2022, I see him heading to Myrtle Beach and the Cubs slowly stretching him out like they did DJ last year. He’ll start off by throwing 50 to 60 pitches which would be probably three innings for the first month and then four innings in May. When June comes around, he should be without limitations.

His season really boils down to how he can command his pitches in the strike zone. If he doesn’t walk people, it’s going to be a great year and he could move up to South Bend if all goes well. The plan for now is to let him be a starter and work on his pitches. I’m hoping that it’s going to be a good year and that he puts in the work this off-season to get his body ready to last for a 140 game season.

Astronaut Insurance@AstroInsurance : This year saw a record number of players used and therefore minor leaguers who got a chance in Chicago. Who are some of the guys from the recent past, who you wished had a chance but were blocked? Don’t say Jason Vosler.

For the past two summers, I’ve been waiting for Dakota Mekkes to get the call. For whatever reason, the Cubs just don’t think he’s ready after a dominating run through the lower part of the system. We saw him reshape his body last winter to get ready for 2021 and I thought he was going to get the call at some point but did not.

I also wish the Cubs would have given Mark Zagunis more of a chance in Chicago. I always thought he had one of the best hitting profile profiles in the system. However, since being released at the end of 2019, he has not played for anybody in the minors or majors.

The road to the majors is filled with guys who just didn’t make it. Sometimes that last hurdle is the biggest one and that’s just getting an opportunity. Sometimes you do have to be in the right place at the right time.

kelly christensen@kellyc9344 : How about a review of guys that didn’t pan out? Like maybe why it didn’t work out and where they have played since? EJM, Galindo, OdlC come to mind right away.

I love this question because the three players you mentioned or guys who I really liked when they were at South Bend and Myrtle Beach.

Martinez came in the system with a lot of hype in part because it looked like he had a deal to sign with the Giants and wound up with the Cubs. But as a Cub, he really struggled to make the transition to more advanced competition. Martinez was fine in South Bend and in the second half of the year at Myrtle Beach, especially once Eloy, he took off. But once Martinez got to AA, the hitting profile really took a dive as he struggled against guys who could exploit his weaknesses against breaking piteches. I think it was rare for him to actually see a fastball at that level.

When it comes to Oscar de la Cruz, injuries derailed his career as a Cub. He couldn’t stay on the mound for any length of time his last three years in the system despite being placed on the 40-man roster. He has continued his career beyond the Cubs with the Mets but he just can’t stay healthy.

Out of all the three guys listed above, I loved Wladimir Galindo when he was with Eugene and South Bend. But starting in South Bend we saw him struggle to stay on the field and that continued at Myrtle Beach. Then last summer, he signed with the Boise Hawks which is now an independent league team that partners with MLB.  He had .350 average with a .430 OBP and he slugged 20 home runs while driving in 78. He was MVP of the League.

He was finally healthy and I’m hoping he gets signed this winter as a minor league free agent. He is still relatively young and I was hoping the Cubs would sign him once they signed his teammate from this summer in Alejandro Rivero. I am still pulling for Wladimir to get a second chance even if it’s with somebody else. He just turned 25 In November. That’s still fairly young for a player in the minors. I’m hoping the Cubs reconsider and give him that second shot.