Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Preciado, Stevens, Mena lead Cubs to win in opener of Arizona Complex League
today at 9:54 am
- Reggie Preciado: 1-2, HR (1), R, 2 RBI, 3 BB
- Felix Stevens: 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI
- Ismael Mena: 2-4, 2 RBI, BB
- Owen Caissie: 2-4, BB, SB (1)
- Ezequiel Pagan: 1-5, HR (1), R, RBI
- Malcolm Quintero: 1-4, 2B, 2 R, BB
- Rafael Morel: 1-4, R, BB
- Shendrick Apostel: 1-3, BB
- Porter Hodge: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K
- Johzan Oquendo: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (W, 1-0)
- Alberto Sojo: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
- Dawal Rodriguez: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (S, 1)
It has been a struggle offensively for much of the season up and down the Cubs full season affiliates. Injuries and inconsistent output have plagued the Cubs upper level prospects, while inexperience has slowed the Cubs young talent in Myrtle Beach. The hope is the Cubs Arizona Complex League affiliate in Mesa will be the bright light in the system.
The Cubs possess an exciting group of young talent, led by a trio of prospects acquired in the Yu Darvish deal, as well as recent IFA prizes Rafael Morel, Ronnier Quintero, and perhaps in the future Kevin Made (who is currently on the IL in Myrtle Beach where he had been filling in for an injured Ed Howard).
First, let me reiterate what I said about the prospect the Cubs received in the Yu Darvish trade: they are talented, and the Cubs essentially traded for the equivalent of a top crop of prep age draft talent, and could end up happy with the deal five years from now. The problem with the deal wasn’t the talent, but rather the fact that the Cubs as an organization should not be playing for five years from now. With that said, let’s now examine that talent, because the Cubs may end up with two starting position players out of that deal, and perhaps more.
At the time of the trade infielder Reggie Preciado received most of the press as the key piece, with only a murmur that former Canadian prep star Owen Caissie might be able to join him one day as a top prospect. I was definitely intrigued by the power potential I saw in Caissie’s 6’4″ frame. He’s built like your classic slugging corner outfielder. There just wasn’t much film to go off of, and most of that from a couple of years ago before the Padres selected him in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft.
The lost 2020 Minor League season meant Caissie, along with Preciado and Ismael Mena had yet to make their professional debuts. All we had were encouraging scouting reports from last year’s fall instructionals. Preciado made the biggest impression at the time, and so Preciado was earmarked as the top prize. Since that time Caissie has begun to emerge as an equal or perhaps even as a higher upside prospect (at least offensively). In an updated prospect list for the Cubs, it is likely both Preciado and Caissie land in the top ten of an improving pipeline.
Preciado is a switch hitter, currently playing shortstop, but could one day outgrow the position (he is also 6’4″ although with a leaner frame). He has the potential to be a four or five tool player depending on how much athleticism and speed he maintains as he fills out and where he ends up defensively. My first impression off video from the fall is that he ends up at 3B down the line, but that he should hit enough to profile. But nothing should be ruled out yet. Preciado is a very good athlete and there are still a number of potential outcomes as the 18-year old develops.
It is unlikely Caissie ever develops much defensive value. He is a corner outfielder with enough arm for RF, and decent enough straight line speed, but hasn’t shown great natural instincts. As he fills out his range and athleticism may diminish to the point where LF is the best option. That should not be considered a bad outcome though, because if it is good weight that he adds, it should only increase his offensive ceiling. The Cubs don’t have much in the way of power hitting prospects in their system, but Caissie is at the top of the list. There is the potential for 30+ homers from the left side of the plate, and plenty of walks to go with it.
Toolsy is the best way to describe Ismael Mena at this point. He received the highest signing bonus of the players received from San Diego, but has been the slowest to develop. I probably shouldn’t use slow to describe him though. Mena rates as a 70 runner which puts him in the company of Zach Davis and Edmond Americaan as the fastest players in the Cubs system. He uses that speed to track down balls in CF, and there is the potential for a plus or even plus-plus defender down the line. The only thing that may hold him back there is an average arm. Mena has a long way to go at the plate though according to most reports. Despite a solid 6’3″ frame, Mena doesn’t drive the ball very often, settling for ground balls and line drives (and bubt-for-hit attempts). While Preciado and Caissie could jump a rung or two on their ascent up the ladder, I would expect a more deliberate development from Mena, with the potential to even repeat a level if needed.
Rafael Morel is the younger brother of Christopher, and while he is known to play an exciting brand of baseball like his big bro, he is a different kind of prospect. Shorter and more powerfully built than his brother, there will not be as much defensive versatility out of Rafael (currently 3B/2B although I’ve heard he could project to anywhere in the OF), but there is the potential for a bit more sock in his bat.
A burly catcher with a powerful left-handed stick, the question for Ronnier Quintero will be whether he can stick behind the plate and/or hit enough to profile at 1B/DH. Right now there is a chance for both, but from what I’ve heard the likelihood is he eventually lands at first, so the bat will need to develop fully.
Kevin Made is a top 20, maybe even top 15 prospect in the system. A slick defender at short, with a line drive stroke at the plate, the 18-year old did not look out of place during his short time at Low-A. I’m not sure of his injury status, but if he can return I think it more likely he ends up in Mesa as long as Ed Howard stays healthy at Myrtle Beach.
There are also some under the radar prospects who are looking to make a bigger name for themselves. Felix Stevens was a two-way player signed out of Cuba in March of 2019. The 21-year old converted to the OF full time, where he shows off his impressive arm strength from RF, and is developing impressive power from his 6’4″ frame at the plate. A mid-level IFA signing back in 2017, 20-year old Widimer Joaquin was considered a power before hit third base prospect, but he’s batted at least .290 in each of his two pro seasons. He’s added second base to his defensive profile this year. Shendrick Apostel is a big (6’5″ 245) first baseman who slugged in two DSL seasons for the Pirates before coming to the Cubs in exchange for Duane Underwood, Jr. this spring.
I’ll cover the pitchers soon.
Daily Cubs Minors Recap