With less than ten days to go before the trade deadline and no August 31st waiver deadline this season, there are going to be a flurry of moves across Major League Baseball in the coming days. The Cubs, who have already added Martin Maldonado, are surely going to make at least one more trade and should probably make two before the July 31st deadline.
As much as we love to speculate over the types of players the Cubs may be adding to the team, it takes two to make a deal. The Cubs are going to need to ship out some prospects to improve their chances of winning the division, but the caliber of prospects they’re willing to part with remains unclear.
In part one of the On Tap Sports Network trade deadline preview series, we take a look at five high-profile prospects that Cubs fans (hopefully) don’t have to worry about losing this trade season.
1. Nico Hoerner, 2B
The Cubs 2018 first-round draft pick has made quite an impact since he entered the organization, despite dealing with multiple injuries along the way. It’s fair to wonder where Nico would be playing right now had he not been sidelined for two months earlier this year after being hit with a pitch on the wrist, but he’s healthy again and has picked up right where he left off in AA.
Hoerner is a top-60 or so prospect in baseball with potential to rise even higher in the rankings over the next year or so. While he could headline a package for a really quality player, trading away a prospect with a high-contact, high on-base profile at the plate who’ll be ready for the big leagues at some point during the 2020 season seems counterproductive. He does so many things well that this current Cubs roster lacks, so he has too much value to the organization to be traded at this point.
2. Adbert Alzolay, SP
The Cubs got a taste of just how productive Alzolay can be when he made his major league debut last month.
In his first two major league games, the hard-throwing right-hander allowed just two runs on two hits with nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings. With a lively fastball, hammer curveball and deceptive changeup, it’s easy to envision him dominating opponents at Wrigley for years to come.
Unfortunately, he’s also been dealing with injuries quite a bit the last two seasons, and he just went on the IL with bicep soreness down in AAA. He wasn’t likely to be moved in the first place, but now we can rest assured he’ll be staying put as there’s no chance an injured pitcher would bring back the type of haul Theo and Jed would be looking to get in return for a talent like Alzolay.
3. Brailyn Marquez, SP
If there’s a pitching prospect with a better league-wide reputation in the Cubs system than Alzolay, it’s Brailyn Marquez. The 20-year-old lefty isn’t nearly MLB ready as he’s yet to throw a pitch above A-ball, but left-handers that throw 100 MPH don’t grow on trees.
The Cubs have been rightfully criticized for not taking enough risks on young pitching, whether it be in the draft or in international free agency. The biggest risk this regime took in their first six years was drafting Dylan Cease, who’s now starting games on 35th and Shields.
Marquez is the type of high-ceiling pitching prospect the Cubs have sorely lacked over the years. He’s striking out over 11 batters an inning this season at South Bend and showing the ability to command his raw stuff. It would be hard to justify trading away a pitcher with such raw talent.
4. Brennen Davis, CF
I could probably copy everything I just said about Marquez and paste it here for Davis. The 19-year-old centerfielder was one of the Cubs three second-round picks in 2018, the first high-school position player the Cubs have invested that much into in a long time.
The 6’4″ speedster packs a punch of raw athleticism and tools that the Cubs system has lacked since they traded away Gleyber Torres. Davis has not yet proved to be the type of prospect Torres was at this point, far from it, but he was ranked third (ahead of both Alzolay and Marquez) on the recently released Baseball America top 30 Cubs prospect list. At A-ball this year, he’s shown patience (8.7 BB%), the ability to hit for average (.296), and power (.484 SLG). With his trajectory pointing up, it would be hard to imagine Theo shipping him off somewhere else so early in his pro career.
5. Tyson Miller, SP
There are certainly more than four prospects in the system with higher grades than the 23-year-old Miller, probably at least ten names once you figure in the 2019 draft class, but Miller’s proximity to the major leagues would make losing him hard to swallow.
The 2016 fourth-round pick had a fairly quiet rise through the single-A ranks, but he took off in a major way at AA this season. In 15 starts, he posted a 2.56 ERA with a minuscule 1.84 BB/9 and a WHIP under 1.00 over 88 innings.
He’s been promoted to AAA and has been hit hard in two of his three outings, but there’s a month left to get his feet wet at that level before starting the 2020 season in Iowa. With Alzolay’s health issues, tonight’s major league starter, Alec Mills, out of options at season’s end, Mike Montgomery now gone, and Cole Hamels‘ future in question, Miller might be needed at the MLB level sooner than previously thought. It’s for that reason I believe he’ll be staying put with the Cubs.
Featured Photo: Zachary Lucy/Four Seam Images