Draft Looms, Pinango Plaudit, Caissie’s Big Night, Devers Deals, Canario, Made, Hernández, More

Four days. Just four days until the first and second rounds of the MLB Draft arrive on Sunday evening.

The Cubs’ brain trust is no doubt hunkered down at this point, not only solidifying their own picks as best they can, but feeling out what’s going to happen ahead of them, and feeling out how they might adjust in the moment if various unlikely-but-plausible scenarios play out. It’s so hard to predict, and you have to be ready for so many possible paths, especially given the interrelationship between picks and the bonus pool.

Cubs VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz met with the media to talk about where things stand:

Elsewhere in the Cubs prospect world …

  • Baseball America’s latest Hot Sheet includes outfield prospect Yohendrick Pinango, who had himself a week, hitting .482 and slugging .741. Just wrecking the ball. And check out the writeup:

Pinango continues to solidify himself as the best pure hitter in the Cubs system. The 20-year-old Venezuelan recorded multiple hits in five of his six games last week, including a pair of three-hit games and a 2-for-4 night with a double and a home run. The week extended his hitting streak to eight games and gave him 85 hits on the season, most on a talented South Bend team by a wide margin.

  • “The best pure hitter in the Cubs system.” We could probably do a dance about what is meant by “pure hitter,” but I think what we can’t play around with is that (1) the Cubs have a lot of quality hitters in the farm system these days, and (2) anything that puts Pinango in the mix as among the best is extremely high praise for the bat.
  • Coming into the year, we already knew that Pinango was an incredibly talented bat-to-ball, alley-to-alley hitter. He’d been the type that hit more line drives than most, but also a lot of groundballs. He didn’t strikeout much, but he also didn’t walk much because he was so aggressive in attacking. It’s no surprise, then, that there were questions about whether he’d ever develop enough power to really justify the corner outfield spot he was likely to occupy. He could hit the ball really hard – no one questioned that – but could he translate it into elevated in-game power? Well, so far, the guy is hitting .282/.319/.468 at High-A, and that .186 ISO is DOUBLE what he was showing last year at A/A+. It has come with an uptick in the strikeout rate, yes, but we’re talking a very modest 16.7%. You can see he still doesn’t take walks, but if the power is developing, that becomes less of an issue (both because you don’t need as many walks to be productive, AND because more walks may come organically as pitchers start to fear you in the zone a little more).
  • Maybe most encouraging of all, there could still be a lot of development ahead. Although Pinango doesn’t necessarily have the kind of frame where you’d project a ton more power, you’re talking about a guy who JUST turned 20 and he’s doing this at High-A. So many of the skills and the strength could improve over the next few years. Would I argue that Pinango is a top 100 prospect type? No. But should he be right there in the conversation about how suddenly loaded the Cubs’ outfield prospect crew has become? Absolutely.
  • Speaking of South Bend outfield prospects who just turned 20, Owen Caissie just had himself a huge game, with two singles, two walks, and a homer:
  • Caissie’s season slash line is plenty good (.276/.354/.428/119 wRC+), but then you remember that his April was one of the deepest, roughest adjustments ever … and you see that since then, he’s hit .313/.395/.493/147 wRC+ … as a mostly 19-year-old in High-A.
  • Hey, let’s enjoy the in-crowd version of Caissie’s dinger, and make sure you turn your sound on:
  • Cubs pitching prospect Luis Devers carved up Low-A, and the Cubs are pretty clearly managing his innings as part of the adjustment to High-A, as he’s pitched just 3.0-inning and 2.2-inning relief appearances so far. I kinda like the approach. Let him settle in, get exposure to more advanced hitters, but also keep the workload manageable as he develops. The 22-year-old righty, whose ERA is down to 2.37 on the year between Low-A and High-A, is going to rocket up Cubs prospect lists this summer:

Alexander Canario went deep for Double-A Tennessee, as his adjustment there continues to show very strong progress:

  • Even if the Cubs clear out multiple big league outfielders at the deadline and then move up multiple outfielders at Iowa, I’m not sure we’d see Canario get the bump. He’s only 22, and he started the season at High-A, so there’s really not anything wrong with letting him finish most of the season at Double-A. Then again, he’s already on the 40-man roster, and he’s been hot at Double-A for two months now. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I think it’s not inconceivable that he gets a taste of Triple-A at the end of the year to give him some things to work on in the offseason.
  • Speaking of guys who may get a taste of a higher level before the year is up, Kevin Made continues to show off his newfound power:
  • Made, 19, has done everything you’d want him to do in his repeat of Low-A, in particular the strikeouts coming down and the power going way up. Over the last month, the plus-glove shortstop is hitting .275/.379/.538/150 wRC+ with a mere 15.8% K rate.
  • Given how scorching hot Luis Verdugo has been at High-A South Bend, it’s not impossible to imagine him at some point getting the bump to Double-A Tennessee, and Made taking his spot at South Bend. If the Cubs really wanted to challenge Cristian Hernández, that’d open up a spot for him in Myrtle Beach, too.
  • Speaking of Hernández, the 18-year-old struggled in his first 10 days in the Arizona Complex League, and since then has hit .298/.349/.421/107 wRC+ with a 19.0% K rate.
  • Bryan went deep on Jordan Wicks’ excellent outing if you missed it:

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