As part of the new rules for the 2020 Major League season, each of the 30 organizations will maintain a 60-man player pool for the duration of the campaign. Some members of the player pool will feature on the active Major League roster while others will work out at an
As part of the new rules for the 2020 Major League season, each of the 30 organizations will maintain a 60-man player pool for the duration of the campaign. Some members of the player pool will feature on the active Major League roster while others will work out at an alternate training site in the hopes of staying fresh for a potential callup or getting in much-needed development time.
The MiLB.com staff is rounding up the notable prospects in each organization’s 60-man player pool and analyzing what the new system will mean for their 2020 seasons.
Part of the future of the still quite young Cubs will be at Wrigley Field with the 60-man player pool opening the way for several prospects to gain valuable experience. While top prospect Nico Hoerner made his big league debut last season, others like second-ranked Brailyn Marquez could take the leap from Class A Advanced to the Majors.
With 10 spots still open, here’s a look at the prospects who made the cut so far for the Cubs’ expanded roster.
Nico Hoerner, IF: Slated to be Javier Baez’s middle infield partner, Hoerner appeared in 20 games on the North Side last September and made them count, hitting .282 with three homers, a triple, a double and 17 RBIs. Versatile (he saw time at second base, shortstop and in center field), the 23-year-old’s defense is one of his top assets as he committed two errors in 71 chances. If he keeps producing, his stay in the Windy City will be permanent.
Brailyn Marquez, LHP: The 6-foot-4 southpaw was solid at both Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach last season, compiling a 3.13 ERA over 103 2/3 innings with 128 strikeouts and a .228 opponents' batting average. He was lights-out after making the jump to the Carolina League, going 4-1 in five starts with a 1.71 ERA and 26 K’s in 26 1/3 frames. Marquez regularly reaches triple digits on the radar gun and his form has improved over the last three seasons. While he's seen as an eventual front-of-the-rotation starter, he'll open camp in South Bend and, if he sees time in the Majors, could be used as an electric arm out of the bullpen.
Brennen Davis, OF: Only 20, Davis is a 6-foot-4 outfielder with a combination of raw power and speed that he should be able to develop over the next few seasons. At South Bend in 2019, the Cubs' No. 3 prospect hit .305/.381/.525 with eight homers, three triples, nine doubles, four stolen bases, 33 runs scored and 18 RBIs in 50 games. Projected by some to be 30/30 type in the bigs, Davis has the potential to become a top outfielder but still has a lot of work to do in just his third year as a pro.
Miguel Amaya, C: The fourth-ranked prospect spent all of 2019 at Myrtle Beach, hitting .235/.351/.402 with 24 doubles, 11 dingers, 57 RBIs and 50 runs scored. His 6-foot-2, 230-pound body gives him a sturdy and big frame behind the plate, allowing just 34 passed balls over 778 2/3 innings last season. A product still in the works, Amaya will join Marquez in South Bend. With Willson Contreras and three others ahead of him, it is unlikely he will see any action in the bigs this season.
Adbert Alzolay, RHP: A hard-throwing righty, Alzolay made four appearances -- including a pair of starts -- in The Show last season. He notched his first Major League win with four innings of one-hit relief against the Mets on June 20 and ended up posting a 7.30 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 1/3 frames. In 16 Minor League starts, all but one with Triple-A Iowa, the 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic struck out 94 over 69 1/3 innings while recording a 4.80 ERA. The action on the ball is there, but his command often isn’t. That's something the Cubs will work on with him as he participates in camp in South Bend.
Christopher Morel, IF: The only other ranked prospect among the Cubs' player pool, Morel is coming off his first full Minor League season. The just turned 21-year-old batted .284/.320/.467 with six homers among 28 extra-base hits in 73 games in the Midwest League in 2019. After seeing time at shortstop and third base his first two years in the pros, the native of the Dominican Republic was used exclusively at the hot corner last season with South Bend. As a non-roster invitee at Spring Training, Morel appeared in four Cactus League games and went 1-for-5 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Juan Gamez, RHP: The Cubs signed the 26-year-old out of the Mexican League after he spent his first three seasons in the Twins organization. In 46 relief appearances with Monterrey last year, he went 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA.
Dakota Mekkes, RHP: Mekkes was a Southern League All-Star in 2018, when he put up a 0.81 ERA and eight saves in 16 relief appearances to earn a promotion to Triple-A Iowa. Last year was a tale of two seasons for the 6-foot-7 righty. Before the Pacific Coast League All-Star break, he was 3-0 with four saves and a 2.81 ERA in 27 games; after a week-long stint on the injured list, he went 1-2 with one save and a 9.87 ERA in 16 second-half appearances.
Michael Rucker, RHP: The 2016 11th-round pick is back with the Cubs after the Orioles claimed him off waivers last December. After two seasons mainly as a starter, Rucker made all but one of his 36 appearances out of the bullpen last year and put up a 4.18 ERA while striking out 93 batters over 79 2/3 frames for Double-A Tennessee and Iowa.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.