Cubs System Position-by-Position, Pt 3: Lots of Options at 2B
Second base is unsettled for the Cubs at the major league level, at least through April. Ideally, Javy Baez would be there making plays and just plain being Javy. But because of a certain suspension, Javy has temporarily moved over to shortstop.
Ben Zobrist and David Bote could be the perfect platoon for a month or so. Bote is defensively superior and showed flashes of big offensive potential last season, but he struggled once the book got out on him. A platoon would allow Zobrist time to rest and for Bote to adjust back to the league after pitchers reacted to his torrid debut last summer.
Depending on what happens with the suspended player, the Cubs could be looking for a replacement this winter on the free-agent market.
As for the minors…
Last year’s rankings showed a lot of depth in the system at second base. It was a pretty successful year for second ranked-David Bote and third-ranked Jared Young slid over to first and was the Cub’s MiLB Player of the Year. Chesny Young’s up-and-down year had more up than down and Trent Giambrone just took off. Even the honorable mentions (Jhonny Bethencourt, Christian Donahue, and Delvin Zinn) sparkled in some fashion.
The results were so great for No. 1 pick Carlos Sepulveda, wo did not play at all last year, while No. 3 ranked Austin Upshaw mysteriously struggled at Myrtle Beach and South Bend. Still, the depth at the position is still very strong for 2019.
5. Christian Donahue, Delvin Zinn, and Jhonny Bethencourt
These players are not entirely similar but they are all energetic bat-first guys who could improve on defense. There should be a little separation between them in 2019, as they all will be at high A and AA to start the year. You can add in Yonathan Perlaza to this mix as well. The 2015 international free agent was finally healthy all year in Mesa and Eugene. He will be just 20 years old next season and should be at South Bend after hitting .317 at Mesa.
4. Chesny Young
Now 26, Young still has the ability to roll out of bed and slice a single to right. He just has not been a consistent hitter a Triple-A. He can hit .325 one month and .183 the next. That’s been the story for him the last two years.
3. Carlos Sepulveda
Sepulveda broke out in 2016 at South Bend, hitting .310 with a .366 OBP at just 19 years old. He tried playing injured to start 2017 and it did not go well as he missed nearly four months of action. Surgery in the offseason took away all of 2018 before he showed up in winter ball last month in Mexico. He’s still young and will be 22 for all of 2019, but the question is whether he will be healthy enough to play.
2. Andy Weber
The 2018 fifth round pick is a guy I really like. He looks like a Jared Young clone at 6-foot-1 and a lean 190 pounds. Weber could be in for a position change because he’s played all four infield spots, but let’s slate him here for the purposes of this list. What’s most impressive about Weber is his calm demeanor. Regardless of the situation, he never seems to be anxious or nervous. His .291/.363 splits bode well for him skipping South Bend and heading to Myrtle Beach to start the year. He only hit two home runs in 36 games, though, so the power is something he’ll need to show more of.
1. Trent Giambrone
The power potential has always been there for the 2016 draft pick. After skipping South Bend to start 2017, Giambrone had an up-and-down first full year in 2017. He was dynamite in 2018, cranking out 17 homers at Double-A Tennessee and he followed that performance up with an outstanding turn in the AFL. Giambrone has to be chomping at the bit to swing the bat in the PCL, a noted hitter’s league. I would not be surprised to see him hit 20 home runs next summer.
What if Nico Hoerner shifts over to second base from shortstop, something FanGraphs and others believe could happen? What if he starts 2019 at Double-A Tennessee? What if he bangs the ball around the park and heads to Triple-A quickly?
Hoerner’s performance could change this list around and could even have an impact in Chicago. You should be able to find him at or near the top of most Cubs prospects lists — and maybe even in some top 100 overall lists — in the coming weeks.