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Fastball: 80. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Curveball: 45. Control: 45. TRACK RECORD: The Cubs signed Marquez out of the Dominican Republic for $600,000 in 2015, the largest signing bonus given to any lefthanded pitcher in that year’s international class. He sat in the low 90s with a projectable body when he signed and has since filled out to become one of baseball’s hardest-throwing lefthanders. Marquez began touching 98 mph as a starter in the short-season Northwest League in 2018, then in 2019 began sitting in the upper 90s and touched 102 mph as he conquered both Class A levels. The Cubs sent him to their alternate training site in 2020, where he held his own facing more experienced hitters. He received his first callup on the final day of the regular season, but it did not go well with three walks, two wild pitches and five earned runs allowed in two-thirds of an inning against the White Sox. SCOUTING REPORT: Marquez generates some of the easiest velocity of any pitching prospect. His fastball sits 97-98 mph and frequently touches triple digits with startlingly little effort. He holds his velocity through his starts and has steadily become more durable every season. Marquez can dominate with his fastball alone and often does, but he is still working to improve his fastball command. He has long limbs and a thick midsection, so the Cubs have had to work with him to remain athletic in his delivery and get his upper and lower body synced up. Marquez throws his fastball for strikes when he’s on time in his delivery, but when he isn’t, it sails to his arm side or gets pulled into the righthanded batter’s box. Marquez previously threw a mid-80s slider as his breaking ball, but he began working on pitch design at the Cubs’ alternate site and separated out a slider and curveball. His slider now sits in the upper 80s with added power and tunnels well off of his fastball. His mid-80s, slurvy curveball is a change-of-pace option he can land for strikes. Marquez rounds out his arsenal with a hard 89-91 mph changeup that is getting more swings and misses every year. He sells his changeup with his arm speed and has gradually improved his command to make it a more consistent weapon. Marquez goes right after hitters and isn’t afraid to challenge them, but he still has spurts of wildness. He is continuing to work on landing his secondary pitches in the strike zone and maintaining consistent fastball command. THE FUTURE: Marquez features explosive, top-of-the-rotation stuff from the left side. Whether he continues to improve his control will determine whether he reaches that ceiling or ends up in the bullpen, where he would have closer potential.
Hitting: 50. Power: 60. Running: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Davis starred in both baseball and basketball in high school and signed with the Cubs for $1.1 million after they drafted him 62nd overall in 2018. He had a standout first full season at low Class A South Bend, but was limited to 50 games after he was hit by a pitch and fractured his right index finger. He returned healthy in 2020 and spent the year holding his own against older pitchers at the Cubs’ alternate training site. SCOUTING REPORT: Davis is a long, lean athlete dripping with physical projection. His long levers and growing strength give him plus raw power to his pull side and allow him to drive the ball hard up the middle and the opposite way. Davis crushes breaking balls, but he has had to work hard to get on time against plus velocity and is still progressing. He’s a fast learner who makes quick adjustments and controls the strike zone. Davis is a plus runner underway in the outfield and has a plus arm, but he projects to slow down as he fills out. He may begin his career in center field before eventually moving to right. THE FUTURE: Davis has all the tools to become an everyday outfielder for the Cubs. He should see the upper minors during the 2021 season.
Hitting: 50. Power: 55. Running: 30. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Amaya starred for Panama in international tournaments as an amateur and signed with the Cubs for $1 million in 2015. He quickly stood out and represented the Cubs in both the 2018 and 2019 Futures Games, then impressed manager David Ross with his physicality and work ethic during major league spring training in 2020. Amaya spent the summer at the Cubs’ alternate training site gaining experience working with older pitchers. SCOUTING REPORT: Amaya is a big, physical backstop who looks the part of a major league catcher. He matured greatly at the alternate site camp and improved his focus, motivation and investment on defense, helping his receiving and pitch framing improve to average. He has a quick exchange and a plus arm that shuts down running games. Amaya is a patient hitter who controls the strike zone and swings at the right pitches. He has the strength to hit 20 or more home runs, but he frequently hits the ball on the ground and is still learning to elevate. THE FUTURE: Cubs officials were pleased with Amaya’s improved work ethic behind the plate at the alternate site camp. That development has him in line to be the Cubs’ catcher of the future.
Hitting: 50. Power: 45. Running: 55. Fielding: 60. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Howard led Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West to the Little League World Series championship game in 2014 and emerged as the top prep shortstop in the 2020 draft class after a standout career at Mount Carmel High, 15 miles south of Wrigley Field. Howard didn’t get to play his senior year before the coronavirus pandemic canceled his high school season, but the Cubs had seen enough of the hometown product to draft him 16th overall and sign him for $3.745 million to forgo an Oklahoma commitment. SCOUTING REPORT: Howard is a gifted defensive shortstop who is mature beyond his years. He makes both flashy plays and routine ones with his reliable hands and a plus, accurate arm. He has a solid internal clock and moves fluidly across the diamond, showing impressive body control for his age and elite athleticism. Howard makes contact in the strike zone against fastballs and recognizes spin, but he needs to refine his approach and add strength to impact the ball. Optimistic evaluators project .260 with 15-18 home runs as Howard’s modest offensive ceiling. His elite work ethic gives him a chance for more. THE FUTURE: Howard’s defense gives him a strong foundation. How his offense develops will determine if he becomes the Cubs’ shortstop of the future.
Fastball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 55. Curveball: 50. Control: 45. TRACK RECORD: Alzolay signed with the Cubs for just $10,000 when he was 17. He soared to Double-A in a breakout 2017 season, but injuries to his lat and biceps limited him the next two years. He still made his major league debut in 2019 and returned to the majors in 2020, where he posted a 2.96 ERA in six appearances. SCOUTING REPORT: Alzolay added a two-seam fastball and slider to his repertoire in 2020, giving him five distinct pitches. His fastballs both range from 93-97 mph, with his riding four-seamer more effective than his fading two-seamer, and his mid-80s slider has become a dominant swing-and-miss pitch. He has both a vertical, late-breaking version of his slider and a sharp, horizontal one when he moves to more of a cutter grip. His changeup is an above-average pitch that runs away from lefties and his snapping, low-80s curveball is a solid offering that gets a lot of called strikes. Alzolay pounds the strike zone when he has a good pace, but his control and deception suffer when he rushes through his delivery. THE FUTURE: Alzolay’s expanded pitch mix has solidified his future as part of the Cubs’ rotation. He should take his place there in 2021.
Fastball: 60. Changeup: 60. Curveball: 50. Control: 55. TRACK RECORD: Franklin is the nephew of 12-year major league pitcher Ryan Franklin and came from the same Oklahoma high school that produced Brad Penny and Archie Bradley. The Cubs liked his size and pedigree and drafted him in the sixth round in 2018 despite the fact he missed most of his senior year with a broken foot. Franklin signed for an above-slot $540,000 bonus and saw his stuff jump as he climbed to low Class A South Bend the following summer. SCOUTING REPORT: Franklin checks all the boxes for a young pitcher with a projectable 6-foot-4 frame, an athletic delivery and three pitches he can throw for strikes. He pounds the strike zone with a 92-95 mph fastball and shows advanced feel for an 80-84 changeup. His biggest development has been his curveball, now a big breaker at 75-77 mph with increased depth that gets batters swinging and missing over the top. Franklin’s frame and athleticism provide optimism he will add velocity and develop above-average control in time. He’s thrown just 50.2 professional innings and needs to show he can maintain his stuff and command over an expanded workload. THE FUTURE: The Cubs believe Franklin has the upside of a mid-rotation starter. He’s on track for full-season ball in 2021.
Fastball: 70. Slider: 55. Changeup: 40. Control: 45. TRACK RECORD: Jensen began as a reliever at Fresno State before transitioning to the rotation as a sophomore. He blossomed as a junior, winning Mountain West Conference pitcher of the year honors, and the Cubs drafted him 27th overall and signed him for $2 million. Jensen pitched a 2.25 ERA in his pro debut at short-season Eugene, but also struggled with his control with 14 walks and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings. SCOUTING REPORT: Jensen is a tremendous athlete with loads of raw arm strength. His fastball is a plus-plus offering that ticked up to 95-100 mph based on data the Cubs received during the shutdown, and it plays up further with plus armside life. Jensen’s mid-80s slider continues to get sharper the more he throws it and projects to be an above-average pitch. Jensen rarely threw a changeup in college and is still in the early stages of developing one. He is relatively new to starting, so his control and feel to pitch are still developing. Some Cubs officials believe Jensen is athletic enough to become an average strike-thrower, but others are less bullish. THE FUTURE: Jensen’s changeup and control will be key to watch in his first full season in 2021. If they stall, his fastball and slider combination will play in high-leverage relief.
Hitting: 45. Power: 60. Running: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 70. TRACK RECORD: The Cubs signed Morel for $800,000 as part of their stellar 2015 international signing class that included Brailyn Marquez, Miguel Amaya and current Tigers third baseman Isaac Paredes. Morel struggled initially after signing but broke out at low Class A South Bend in 2019 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. The Cubs brought him to their alternate training site in 2020. SCOUTING REPORT: Morel has some of the loudest tools in the Cubs’ system. He has massive, plus-plus raw power, is a plus runner and has a cannon for a right arm. Morel’s issue is he often plays too fast. He’s an aggressive, free swinger who chases fastballs up and breaking balls down and away and rushes plays in the infield, resulting in too many throwing errors. He reeled in his approach to stay up the middle at the alternate site and improved greatly over the course of camp, giving the Cubs hope he will hit enough to get to his power. He’s an average defender at third base who can also stand at shortstop and second base. The Cubs plan to experiment with him in center field to expand his versatility. THE FUTURE: Morel made great strides at the alternate site in 2020. He’ll see if they hold in 2021.
Hitting: 55. Power: 50. Running: 45. Fielding: 50. Arm: 45. TRACK RECORD: Strumpf preceded Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, as the shortstop at national power JSerra High in Southern California. Strumpf went on to a decorated three-year career at UCLA, capped by winning Most Outstanding Player of the Los Angeles Regional his junior year. The Cubs drafted him in the second round, No. 64 overall, and signed him for just over $1.05 million. He reached low Class A for six games in his pro debut. SCOUTING REPORT: Strumpf is a consistent, mature hitter with a patient approach and knack for putting the barrel on the ball. He works counts, takes his walks and lines the ball hard to the gaps when he gets a pitch to hit. Strumpf is mostly a contact hitter, but he has sneaky power the Cubs believe will translate into more home runs as he takes a more aggressive approach. Strumpf makes all the routine plays at second base and has shown better arm strength in pro ball than he did in college, allowing him to play the left side of the infield as needed. Strumpf has dealt with foot, back and wrist injuries in the last three years, so health is a concern. THE FUTURE: Strumpf has a chance to develop into a steady, everyday second baseman who hits for average and possibly power. He’ll move to full-season ball in 2021.
Fastball: 55. Changeup: 50. Curveball: 60. Control: 50. TRACK RECORD: Thompson had Tommy John surgery his freshman year at Louisville and struggled to throw strikes when he returned, leaving him with a career 5.82 ERA despite solid stuff. The Cubs drafted him in the 11th round and gave him an above-slot $200,000 bonus because they believed they could fix his control. Thompson rewarded that faith in his first full season at low Class A South Bend, going 8-6, 3.06 in 21 starts and, most importantly, walking fewer than three batters per nine innings. SCOUTING REPORT: Thompson has a prototypical starter’s build and three pitches he can throw for strikes. He attacks the zone with a high-spin fastball that ranges from 90-96 mph and complements it with a high-spin, mid-80s curveball that shows flashes of being a putaway pitch. Thompson found a changeup grip that worked for him in his first instructional league, settling on a “Vulcan” grip, and the result was a sinking change that gets swings and misses in the strike zone. Thompson’s command and control have improved the further he’s moved away from Tommy John surgery, in part because he’s throwing with more conviction and confidence. THE FUTURE: Both the Cubs and opposing evaluators believe Thompson is a solid future starter.
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