Jared Banner picture courtesy of Ministry of Supply

Jared Banner, the Cubs new Director of Player Development, took to the airwaves on 670 the Score’s Inside the Clubhouse with Bruce Levine and David Haugh this morning to talk about some prospects. After detailing his career and how it tied in with the Red Sox and the Mets, Banner began talking about prospects that were not on the 40-man roster.

Banner said that this week’s “mini camp is an exciting time for all of us. It’s great to get the guys in camp under the sunshine and back on the field again.” He described it as a preseason to the preseason where players have individual plan goals to attack over the next couple of weeks with a lot of one-on-one coaching.

Topic number one on the agenda was Pete Crow-Armstrong (PCA) who was in the Mets’ system as the same time as Banner. Banner described PCA as being “full go” and said the following, “I don’t like major proclamations, but he’s one of the best CFs I’ve ever seen.“ In the context of the interview, that was from a defensive standpoint and then he dropped a Mookie Betts comp when it came to that side of the ball.

The interview was not all about Pete. Banner also mentioned that Cristian Hernandez has a great projectable body and that he can hit the ball hard and a long way. Throughout the 20 minute segment, when pressed about where a prospect could start or end up this year, Banner always deflected the questions and refused to put timetables on any player or assignments as to where they should begin the year as there is a lot of baseball left to get in before spring training is done.

When pressed about Jordan Wicks, Banner said, “The player tends to tell us what they are ready for based on their performance. He will dictate his timeline.” Aside from that, Banner was really impressed with the maturity and make up of Wicks.

As for Ed Howard, Banner said that Ed was out in Mesa all winter working out and trying to improve for the 2022 season. Banner complimented Howard‘s work ethic as well as his make up and mental attitude.

The closest Banner came to projecting a player in the interview was when he talked about Caleb Kilian after describing his great fall campaign. He praised Kilian’s ability to change speeds, locate, and how much of a physical specimen he is. At the end of that segment he said that Kilian, “Has every chance to help out if needed.” Whether that means this summer or not is a story for another day. I don’t think he meant immediately or anytime soon as Kilian does not have that many innings above Class-A. 

As for Brennan Davis, Banner described him as having a “ton of potential“ and that the Cubs see him as a major part of their future. When questioned about Brailyn Marquez, Banner had to stop the segment for a second because he could not talk about any player on the 40-man roster. 

However, the interview started back up and James Triantos got a lot of love and Banner described the 19-year-old as having one of the best right-handed swings in this organization. He said that Triantos is using technology, the coaching staff, and nutrition to make himself the best player he can be.

When pressed about Adan Sanchez, Banner deferred to the reports he’s gotten from Luis Eljaua, the Cubs Director of International Scouting. Banner said that he had not seen Sanchez in person yet and hopes that he can get to see him when he gets to the complex. As for when that’ll be, no one knows if Sanchez will be coming north to play in Mesa this summer or debuting in the Dominican. That was pretty much left very open-ended.

It was exciting to hear a new voice talk about Cubs prospects as we’ve had Jason McLeod and Matt Dorey give their evaluations for the past 10 years just before Spring Training begins. Banner should provide some fresh eyes for analysis, player development, and adjustments in the future.