Koen Moreno – Pic by Stephanie Lynn
I miss staying up late in the summer and watching Cubs prospects play in Eugene. It was always a fun crowd, the atmosphere was really great, and most people were usually asleep on Twitter. There got to be a group of us who became obsessed with everything Eugene, and for good reason. Eugene was usually the first spot for college draft picks to play before they were ready for Low- A. It also provided a much-needed transition between rookie ball and Low-A. That transition for some players was everything.
When Major League Baseball put the new development model for the minor leagues in place in 2021, I was rather upset that there was no Short Season Class A league. 3 seasons later, I’m still upset! However, Major League Baseball is not going back. Yet, the new model is starting to unfold a little bit more.
Here’s What We’re Seeing
The big thing that I am noticing is that there is a lot of doubling up. And by that, I mean that players are spending two years, either in rookie ball or two years in Myrtle Beach, or any affiliate for that matter. There’s no shame in doing that at any of thoese and it’s getting to be quite common as players learn to make the adjustments to the competition. Some guys will play rookie, ball and head up to A ball only to head back down to Arizona or vice versa.
It’s not a rigid system but it is rather fluid and it depends individually on the player.
Where we are seeing doubling up, the most common type of player is one whom the Cubs drafted out of high school or signed as young international free agents. There’s no shame in an 18-year-old kid playing 1.5 to 2 years at Myrtle Beach before getting the bump. That’s probably going to be the norm. What is odd is seeing 19-year-old kids at High-A like we did last year with Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Caissie. That is usually the exception.
One such case is Koen Moreno, who has a very live and athletic arm but is effectively wild at times. The Cubs need to work on maintaining his release point to get his control down.
As for Felix Stevens, he’s a guy who came back strong this year after several bouts on the injured list last year. He’s just raking at the plate. If South Bend had a spot for him, he would be a lot of fun to see step it up a level.
So, as you can see, doubling up really depends on the player on how much each guy specifically doubles up.
Add in the Development List
What also changed since 2021 in the use of a “Development List.” I spoke of the several uses of the list in an article last summer. I like using for a guy to stay with the team and work on something on the side without the pressure of doing it in a game. It’s a bit intense as the player is all about developing that skill or adjustment.
As a minor league fan, this is just the new normal. It is kind of strange to see lots and lots of young kids at Myrtle Beach. And that’s going to be the norm but you’re also going to see them stay there a while too. Not everyone is going to be like PCA or Owen Caissie or Kevin Made and make it to South Bend at the age of 19. But there will be plenty at Myrtle Beach and we will get to see them grow over time.