Legends On Deck

LOD’s Top 2018 Prospects: Chicago Cubs – Outfielders

During the 2017-2018 offseason, we here at LOD are putting together a different kind of prospect list than you’re used to seeing. As opposed to typical prospect rankings, we are going position by position within each organization to give you the names to look out for in the upcoming season. Keep checking back to see if your favorite player makes our 2018 Top Prospect Team. You can view previous team previews by Clicking Here.

Today’s LOD prospect list takes us to the Chicago Cubs outfield. With the graduations of Ian Happ and Albert Almora, plus the trade of Eloy Jimenez, the system is much thinner than in years past. However, there are still some notable players on the Cubs farm that will be worth watching roam the outfield in 2018. Here are just a few of them.

Outfield – Nelson Velazquez – 2017 Team: AZL Cubs (Rookie)

2017 Statistics: .236/.333/.536, .870 OPS, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SB

Velazquez was taken by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of his native Puerto Rico. Highly touted for his athleticism, he is a little raw,  but has the potential to be a solid four tool guy. Offensively, his power should eventually grade out above average thanks in part to a quick compact swing. He also has above average foot speed and arm strength. He is athletic enough to play center, but will profile better in right as he moves up the ranks.

Velazquez played 32 games in the Arizona League over the course of the 2017 campaign where he logged 110 at bats. 15 of his 26 hits went for extra bases, eight of which were homers. The 6’0 190 pound slugger just turned 19 at the end of December, so he has plenty of time to shore up his skills and reach the potential many scouts see. He will likely start 2018 in extended spring before another run in rookie ball.

Outfield – Mark Zagunis – 2017 Team: Chicago (MLB), Iowa (Triple-A)

2017 Minor League Statistics: .267/.404/.455, .859 OPS, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB
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Zagunis is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Velazquez as the 24 year old actually made his big league debut in 2017. A 2014 third round draft pick by the Cubs from Virginia Tech, Zagunis spent 97 games in Triple-A before appearing in seven games in the show. During his 2017 stint in Iowa, Zagunis posted a career high in homers and RBI while not letting his OBP drop under .400.

He has an uncanny ability to get on base as he posted an OBP under .400  just once in his four year minor league career, even then it was .384. His ability to lace line drive base hits is easily his best tool. While the Cubs outfield is a little crowded at the moment, he could find himself earning a bench job in the near future.

Outfield – D.J. Wilson – 2017 Team: South Bend (Single-A), AZL Cubs (Rookie)

2017 Minor League Statistics: .236/.318/.453, .771 OPS, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 16 SB

Wilson is a 5’8 175 pound lefty that was selected by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of his Ohio high school. Like Velazquez, many scouts are high on his sheer athleticism. He is a plus base runner and his speed carries over well in the field.

He spent his first two years in Rookie ball or short season before the Cubs sent him to the Midwest League to start the 2017 campaign. During his 88 games with South Bend, Wilson showed an impressive combo of power and speed by racking up nine home runs and eight triples. His glove and base running are already above average, so if the bat continues to trend up, he could make some noise in the upper levels of the minors soon.  

That wraps up the Cubs system, check back later in the week when we present LOD’s Top Prospects in the Washington Nationals system.

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