Offseason Cubs Prospect Profile: Shortstop Zack Short Can Go a Long Way
When I first saw Zack Short play in 2016 for the Eugene Emeralds, I came away impressed with his overall game. He could hit for power, he could make all the throws at shortstop, and he had a somewhat decent approach at the plate. His projection got even better last year as he made a few changes.
Short’s approach at the plate improved at low-A South Bend as he led the Midwest League in walks in the first half. He also continued his power stroke by clubbing six home runs prior to the break. He was named a Midwest League All-Star while playing a mixture of second (12 games), third (23 games), and shortstop (61 games) and was promoted to advanced-A Myrtle Beach in late June.
In the second half at Myrtle Beach, Short hit for a better average and continued to display power. When looking back at the 2017 season, the most impressive thing to me was that he continued to hit well in the second half despite playing in a noted pitcher’s league. Short put up a .372 OBP and hit an additional six home runs in a ballpark where longballs go to die.
Whether he can build upon those accomplishments remains to be seen, but he’s certainly done enough to establish confidence in his abilities.
Shortly after he was drafted I wrote, “A bit undersized at 5’ 11″ and 175, he only hit .241 as a senior (at Sacred Heart)…There is some developing power. When he was a freshman, he was 5’ 9″ and 155 pounds. So, there’s some projection left. Well thought of in scouting circles.”
Even then, the burgeoning power was evident and it appeared on the surface that the Cubs were going to get an ascending player who still had some room to grow physically. And that is exactly what they got. Short is one of many prospects who will be moving up a level in 2018 from Myrtle Beach to AA Tennessee.
5-10, 175 pounds
17th round pick in 2016
Sacred Heart University
What I would like to see at Tennessee is for Short to continue to get on base at a high rate and to continue to show power. He doesn’t necessarily have to hit 20 homers, but he does have to show the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. His defense needs some work, as he was somewhat error-prone in stretches last year.
When digging deeper into his statistics, Short has some interesting splits. His line-drive rate increased 10 percent at Myrtle Beach, as did his batting average of balls in play, which went from .273 in South Bend to .307 at Myrtle Beach. I think there’s a direct correlation between the increased percentage of line drives and the BABIP, since his fly-ball rate fell from 57 to 43 percent and his grounder rate stayed the same at 30 percent
If Short can put together a pretty good season of getting on base and being in power mode, his value skyrockets. He might not be the most physically gifted athlete on the field but he does execute and he has always come across to me as a baseball rat who lives, breathes, and eats the game.
Short told his local paper about his daily grind:
“You work on everything every day. You are here doing early work every day. You have to stay with your routine every day and get better in all aspects of the game because somebody else is at your back chomping behind you to take your position.”
He strikes me as a guy who just knows how to play the game, and I think that is the highest compliment I pay a prospect.
If there’s one thing the Cubs have shown that they covet in a prospect it is the ability to control the strike zone. Short has done that at four levels in just 639 at bats. That’s it. His career as a Cub has only been 6 1/2 months long. If he does what he needs to and keeps grinding and getting on base, he’s got the ability to keep moving up the ladder.