Christian Franklin – Pic by Stephanie Lynn

When selecting a comeback player of the year, most people tend to gravitate towards pitchers, as they are an easy mark. But that’s not always the case. The Cubs had several prospects who were position players who struggled with injuries last year, and are returning to the fold this spring and already have been getting in lots of playing time out in Arizona. Combined with said pitchers, it makes for an interesting mix to choose from. Does one go with Scott Kobos? Or, is Burl Carraway your pick to click? Could it be Derek Casey or Reggie Preciado? What about Ronnier Quintero? There are a lot of names to choose from.

Last year’s predictions

Last year’s winner – Matt Mervis

Greg Zumach

Great names are going to dot this list. Cone could make a case for Brennen Davis as well, but I still think he spends a decent enough chunk of time in the majors not to fit this category. I considered two players strongly, Drew Gray and Riley Thompson. The reports on Gray were amazing last spring before he was hurt and required Tommy John surgery. Not to create any undue hype, but someone floated that Gray could be the Cubs answer to Giants prospect, Kyle Harrison. Wow.

Perhaps it’ll be a bit odd here then – I believe Gray will be on an innings cap – but I’m going with Riley Thompson who spent all offseason at Cressey Sports Performance and is built up enough to already handle five inning stints. Thompson refined his slider, which has a bullet/gyro spin (doesn’t move horizontally and just drops) and added a sinker. Thompson is already a player who featured wicked stuff, but if he’s coming out of the chute combining an improved arsenal and mechanics, I’m ready to see what he can do in 2023.

Todd Johnson

For me, this is Christian Franklin all the way. I have no doubt that he’s going to be a star by the end of the summer. He missed all of last year with an injury. Expect him to come back strong this year as he shows a mix of power and speed at the plate and the ability to play all three positions in the outfield.

Greg Huss

This is always the toughest question/category to address. Essentially, we are predicting an outcome based on *very* little intel, which I guess is the nature of the beast with prospect coverage. I’m a believer in Ed Howard. It’ll be a lot to ask of him to come out the gates hot considering how serious his hip injury from a year ago was. I’m not sure we’ll see him on the Opening Day roster in South Bend but he will likely play a large chunk of the year there. My scouting eye was telling me that he looked better and more comfortable out there to begin 2022 and I think that carries over to this year.

Richard Colaizzi

Hope isn’t a strategy. But I have 2 names here that I hope win this one. Caleb Kilian and Brailyn Marquez.  Different reasons for each guy, but imagine if they both get things worked out and the impact it would have on the organizational outlook for their pitching prospect depth. Kilian has shown the ability, but took steps back last year in the control department and if that gets corrected, he has MLB rotation guy in his future.  Marquez is the mystery man.  Does anyone really know where his head will be as the season progresses?  How soon will he be ready to pitch in a game again?