Visiting the Farms - NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Ed Howard is one of the best defenders in the Cubs system. This shortstop has the potential tools to become a Gold Glove candidate. His hitting might hinder his rise through the minors, with a .477 OPS through 20 games.


Brailyn Marquez features one of the best fastballs in the minors. Marquez consistently sits at 99mph and is a lefty, showing shades of Aroldis Chapman. His changeup sits in the low 90's with his slider in the low 80's. He's yet to pitch this year, but did post 128K's in 103IP in 2019.




Cory Abbott came into the system off of a perfect game in college. He's able to turn his slider into a slurve or cutter, depending on the velocity. He credits this to learning his grip from Noah Syndergaard. Abbott has been called up this year, pitching 8.1IP striking out 6.


 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Nick Gonzales was the Pirates first round pick in last years draft. He's best known for his insane career at New Mexico State. In 2019, he posted a 1.765 OPS for the season with a .448 batting average. This success has continued on in the minors, posting a .304 batting average and a .960 OPS. Scouts are projecting Gonzales to move through the minors quick.



Oneil Cruz has been the Pirates most intriguing prospect since they traded for him back in 2017. Cruz has the arm strength to be a pitcher and the speed to be a center fielder, all in a 6'7" frame. The amount of raw power that exists with Cruz is staggering. In 2019, Cruz averaged a 92.4mph on his exit velocities which would put him in the top 20 of the majors this year. What's holding him back is figuring out what position he plays. His arm plays anywhere, but his glove slots him more into the outfield.


Travis Swaggerty was drafted as a power/speed center fielder. While his speed is "as advertised", Swaggerty is off to a rocky start this year in AAA. Through 41 at bats, he's posted a .220 batting average. Scouts point to him toying with his swing, which leads to high peaks and low valleys.


 

Milwaukee Brewers

Garrett Mitchell uses his top tier speed to play a major league level outfield. His bat lags behind, but he's off to a scorching start in A+, posting a .500 OBP with three homers and seven stolen bases through 20 games. This lefty hitter can become a solidified major league starter, if he comes close to his offensive potential.




Brice Turang is a line drive hitter that has plus speed. Turang also has great patience at the plate, registering 83 walks in 2019. Combine those three attributes with average shortstop defense, Turang can become a leadoff hitter for the Brew Crew down the line.


Ethan Small won't wow you with his velocity (fastball around 93mph), Small will fill up the zone with a great mix of pitches. Other than the aforementioned fastball, the changeup comes in around the high 70's keeping hitters off balance throughout an at bat.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

Masyn Winn is a legit two way prospect for the Cardinals. Winn possess a mid 90's fastball, but also has the athleticism to play short. What keeps scouts from projecting him as a pitcher, is relatively small frame (5'11"). Given the speed he throws with, they're worried about him breaking down. On the offensive side of the ball, Winn doesn't wow eyes with his bat, although he does show enough major league power. Through 43 games this year, he's got an OPS of .749 with 12 stolen bases.


Nolan Gorman's immense power as a high school senior was more than enough for him to be drafted in the first round back in 2017. The following season, Gorman clobbered 17 homers between rookie ball and A. Fast forward to 2021, Gorman has improved his defense and shown a .862 OPS through 42 games.




Matthew Liberatore joined the Cardinals in the Randy Arozerena trade last year. Liberatore has a mid 90's fastball with a high 70's 12-6 curve. Once this lefty perfects his command (11 walks in 37 innings), Liberatore projects to be a front line starter in the future.



 

Cincinnati Reds

Austin Hendrick has raw power that exists in his swing which has Reds management excited. He's not all about power either, with a great eye for the zone (averaging a walk per game this year). His speed puts him in center field for the time being, but he'll most likely slot into right when he gets into the majors..


Nick Lodolo's fastball is more of a sinker, and at 96mph, could become deadly. Lodolo also throws a curve and changeup, which are also above average. Through 30IP this year, that sinker has come to fruition, striking out 45 batters.


Hunter Greene is wowing people right now. Greene is coming off a game where he threw 104 mph. That's very impressive especially when you consider the Tommy John surgeries he received in 2019. He also added a cutter recently to pair with his deadly fastball and wipe out slider. Barring injuries that have held him back previously, Greene should break in very soon. Through 50IP this year, Greene has struck out 74 batters, while only giving up an opponents batting average of .185.



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