The underlying premise of this post is simple. You’re going to have to suspend reality for a while, and pretend that Cubs prospects are being viewed as stocks. This article is going to be like a portfolio where we take a look at a few stocks you may want to invest in over the course of the next few months. It’s a fun way to look at the system to see just exactly who is trending upwards, and, sometimes, who is not.
The Blue Chip Stocks
For Owen Caissie, there’s not much time left to invest. He has been dominating at Double-A Tennessee since the All-Star break, which is also when the Southern League stopped using pre-tacked balls. From July 1 through August 13, he hit .347 with a wRC+ pf 189 and he hit 8 HRs and drove in 28. There’s not much time left to invest in Owen as he is not that far from the majors. He does not have a 40-man spot, but he doesn’t need to right now either.
Brandon Birdsell – Since June 1, he’s been baffling hitters in the Midwest league with a 0.90 ERA. He was the Starting Pitcher of the month in July at North Side Bound. And he got promoted to Tennessee. There is the old adage of, “Call me when he gets to Tennessee“ to see what talent level a prospect truly has. Well, Birdsell is at Tennessee and we’re going to see quickly with the 2022 draft pick can do playing against elite competition. So if you want in on the ground floor, now would be a good time to get in on Birdsell as the price would probably not be that high to do so.
The cost to get in on Cade Horton is going to be high. I would not be surprised to see him getting into the top 20 prospect sections this winter by a lot of publications. The rate in which he is moving through the system this year tells me that is not going to be in the system long next year. Instead, he will be in Chicago. That means you only have a little bit of time left to put money on him, but it’s going to come at a cost. Odds are that if he’s dominating at Iowa in April and May next year, he’s gonna be in Chicago in June. What role he has in Chicago remains to be seen. The Cubs still have to build up that arm strength as he’s probably only going to get 80+ innings in 2023 after only throwing 53 last year in college.
The High-Risk, High-Reward
This category usually involves a lot of players at the lower levels of the system. They are usually in rookie leagues in either the Dominican or Arizona. Because of that, their cost is going to be low in terms of investment. But they could pay off in a big way in three or four years. Still, there are absolutely no guarantees here. Let’s take a look at a couple guys to possibly invest in.
Derniche Valdez – He got off to a rough start this year the Dominican before getting back on track. And for the month of July, he got off to a hot start, was injured and missed a little over two weeks. Then, as soon as he came back, he picked up right where he left off, which was hitting dingers. In August, rain has caused a lot of problems to the schedule so his playing time has been uneven. What he has shown so far is the ability to get extra base hits. That includes home runs as well as doubles and triples. The strikeout rate is very high as it is in the DSL at 39%. I would expect him to pop a little bit on prospect lists this winter, but not too high. If you invest in him, you’re getting in a little bit ahead of time as he’s probably not going to break out until the second half of 2024.
Ramon Eriandys is a young shortstops the Cubs signed out of Cuba just before the ’23 DSL season began. What he has shown is a penchant for is getting on base at an extremely high clip in the Dominican. He can hit for average, and he’s not afraid to take a walk. His walk rate is 14.6 percent which leads to one of the highest wRC+ in the Dominican at 112.
The Three Outfielders
For Cole, Roederer, Parker Chavers, and Christian Franklin, 2023 has been a pretty good year. The three outfielders have bounced back in a big way this year as they overcame injuries and personal issues to thrive as prospects this summer. If you buy that their games are real and long-term sustainable, then, by all means, buy in. For Roederer, he’s probably going to be in Iowa next year while Chavers will start the year at South Bend and Franklin will probably go to Tennessee. The only issue with these three is that they might be blocked from getting to the majors as the Cubs already have Happ and Suzuki signed for the next three years, and then there is the case of Mike Tauchman who the Cubs have control over for a few years as well. Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario, and Kevin Alcantara are also blocking their way. Then again, if they can produce at a high-level, it forces the Cubs’ hand to do something. We shall see if they do that. For you to invest, it may be a high-risk. Whether those three will get a shot at Chicago is unclear. But they will play.
The Early Buy In
Zyhir Hope and Alfonsin Rosario were taken by the Cubs in the 2023 Draft. Both are toolsy and extremely athletic and very young. Hope will be 18 when 2024 begins and Rosario 19. Based on two weeks in the ACL, you better get in now before the price becomes too high!
In almost exactly 4 months, the Cubs will sign shortstop Fernando Cruz at the beginning of the 2024 international free agent signing period. Cruz is going to sign for close to $4 million and will be considered one of the top prospects in all of the Dominican Summer League next year, if the Cubs deem that is where he should be assigned. It’s highly unlikely that he comes to Mesa to begin his career. If he does, you better push all the chips into the middle of the table to make that bet. His cousin, Starlin Castro, might be a familiar name to some of you, But Cruz is his own player with his own skill set who should be the one of the most exciting signs the Cubs of made in the past 12 years.
I still feel like I only got to about half the guys I wanted to get to today. The next time I do a portfolio, it will take place probably in late September or early October, just after the season is officially over. At that point, players are going to be heading to fall instructs, the AFL, or their off-season programs as well as winter ball in the Caribbean or Austraila and we’ll see who makes the biggest leaps come next spring. And that is always exciting!