Alexander Canario – Picture by Todd Johnson

With all the offseason series coming to an end here at North Side Bound, we still have a lot of mailbag questions to get to and we will over the next two weeks before minor league spring training starts.

Let’s start to today with a trio of questions about some specific players.

Alex Patt@chifanpatt2 asks: “How do you think Canario’s abilities translate to the majors? Is there hope he can be a Jorge Soler type?”

Let’s start by getting my bias out there right now – I just love everything about Canario.

From the first time I felt the breeze of his swing in Davenport in the batting cage on August 1 of 2021. A lot has happened in his career including 37 HRs last year and two devastating injuries last winter in the Caribbean.

If healthy, Canario has devastating wrist action with his swing. He can wait on pitches deep in the zone. He can drive the ball to the opposite field just as well as he can turn on a pitch. And he has a very big arm.

But here’s the thing, Canario’s injuries cloud that future. He looks to be over the shoulder injury and only a boot remains on his ankle. With a 40 man spot in tow, it should be easy to give Canario a shot to prove himself. He’s earned that chance. Hopefully it all comes back in 2023 for the 22-year-old.

And, no, he can be much more than Jorge Soler. His defensive capabilities allowed to him to play all 3 OF positions before the injuries.

BBQ Chicken Dave@davegroch wanted to know, “Do you think Ballesteros can stick at C? Otherwise with his build it seems like he is a 1B/DH type which certainly zaps some value.”

This a tricky question for me because it is based in the future. I’d like to think Ballesteros can stick at catcher, but the odds are stacked against him. His weight is a concern as his mobility behind the plate. The arm behind the plate is not, and, most importantly, neither is the bat. Then again, who knows what will happen with him over the course of the next two years. Will he shed some some weight? Will he reshape his body with weights? Or, will he just slim down? Whatever he does, the bat is going to play. And to be quite frank, that is all that matters now. We can worry about where he plays later. Even much later. Hitting at Class A takes precedence this year.

Cory Alan@cdub1519 asked to ponder, “What does Hernandez need to do next summer in MB to put himself back on top of the rankings (in with PCA, Davis etc.) and likely make the Cubs a top 3 farm system?”

This is an answer that is easier said than done. At its core, the answer is just about hitting. If you look at in numerical terms, it is difficult to answer because he is going to a place where flyballs go to die in Myrtle Beach. Hitting about .280 in the Carolina League is a rare feat. However, hitting .265 to .275 with a K rate of 20-22% would be a good range. As well, seeing his BB rate improve throughout the year in his splits from month-to-month would be awesome.

When it comes to power numbers, Hernandez hit just 3 last year. If he hits double digits, that would be good. 15 would put him all world as a shortstop in those environs.

The thing that most people need to remind themselves and to temper their expectations is that Hernandez only got in 157 ABs last year. That, my friends, is not a lot. He will have that many by mid-May in 2023. He should triple that total. That is the experience he needs above all else. Ultimately, the goal will be improve every month and to bust out in 2024 at South Bend where the hitting will be easier. We seem to be a year away.

However, with a simplified swing that has a much shorter bat path, things could look up quickly.

So, to answer your question – when the power plays every day. When his OPS approaches .800, he’s a top 5 guy…again.