Adan Sanchez – Picture via His Instagram
The rookie leagues are always a bit of a mystery. There’s just not a lot of video out there and you’re never quite sure just exactly what the statistics mean because the level of competition is a bit erratic. There are going to be a lot of fun storylines to follow in 2023 in both the Dominican and Arizona.
1. Adan Sanchez
This guy just basically fell out of bed and went 1-for-3 every day last year. The Cubs top international free agent from this year‘s class was easily the Cubs’ top player in the DSL. I am curious as to how good he is stateside. Can he make mincemeat out of Arizona pitching and will he be in Arizona that long or will he end up at Myrtle Beach at age 18?
The pitchers at both levels struggled in 2022. A lot of them were recently signed guys making their debut and we’ll see if they can make the adjustment this year. As well, we will see if any get the rare in season promotion from the DSL to Mesa or if anyone is good enough to skip rookie league as Alfredo Zarraga did in 2022.
3. Making the Jump
Gabriel Agrazal and Freilyn Silverio had a lot of kind words written about their talents last summer in the rookie league recaps. Along with Kevin Valdez, those three are going to be names that I’m going to be highly interested in watching this year in Arizona. We’ll see how long it takes them to make adjustments to have success or if they have it right off the bat, no pun intended.
4. 2022 Draft Class
The Cubs should have a few guys from the draft class start out 2023 in Arizona but that’ll be mostly on the pitching side. They didn’t really draft a lot of hitters who need to start out in Arizona. I doubt if Chris Paciolla starts out the year in rookie league. I would expect a Nazier Mule to be in Mesa t work as the Cubs really work on refining his talents. I don’t know if he’s going to be there all year, but at least through extended spring training. I’m also curious to what they do with Brendan Noriega, JP Wheat (who just began throwing) and Luis Rujano as well. Morgan McGwire is the one arm who might skip Mesa.
5. The New IFA Class
According to Baseball America, the Cubs are attached to just a 3 top shortstops as of now. Hopefully, we will hear some more details as the January 15 signing date gets closer.
6. The Carryover
Alexis Hernandez get off to probably the worst start to a career I’ve seen in a while. It was over after just a couple of weeks and he tore it up at the plate in July and August in the Dominican. Let’s hope that that performance gives him some confidence heading into his first year stateside.
The most fun thing about any rookie league season is players who stand out with their performance that we’re not seeing as elite prospects but turn themselves into one fairly quickly or at least ones to watch. Those are going to happen in spades this year as they always do. We could see some guys who struggled last year at take a jump this year in development. We saw hints of Oferman Hernandez last year in the DSL. Maybe he can put it all together this year, especially if he comes stateside.
It should be a fun summer in the sun when it gets here.