Four of Top 45 Corner Outfield Prospects are in the Cubs System
As part of its look at the Top 100 prospects in the game, Baseball America ranked the best prospects at each position.
Baseball America posted a list of the top 45 corner outfielders. And four outfielders from the Cubs’ system made the cut.
Baseball America considers Nomar Mazara (Rangers), Austin Meadows (Pirates), Nick Williams (Phillies), Max Kepler (Twins), Clint Frazier (Indians), Jesse Winker (Reds), Hector Olivera (Braves), Aaron Judge (Yankees) and Hunter Renfroe (Padres) the 10 best corner outfield prospects.
Billy McKinney is coming off a good first full year in the Cubs system that ended on a sour note. McKinney started last season with High-A Myrtle Beach. After tearing up Carolina League pitching for 29 games (.340/.432/.544/.976), the front office bumped him up to Double-A Tennessee.
McKinney hit rather well in the Southern League. And if he didn’t foul a ball off his knee and break his knee cap, he would without question be ranked as the top outfield prospect in the Cubs’ system. McKinney batted .285/.346/.420 in 77 games with the Smokies with 26 doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .766 OPS.
In 106 games between the Pelicans and Smokies last season, McKinney hit .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .825 OPS. And he walked 44 times in 433 plate appearances with 60 strikeouts.
Billy McKinney is participating in minor league Spring Training games. The Cubs talked about starting him at Triple-A Iowa this season if he did not have any setbacks during camp.
Eloy Jimenez turned 19 in November and is poised for a breakout season. Jimenez has huge power and he could make life rather difficult for pitchers in the Midwest League this season. Jimenez played in 57 games for Short-Season Eugene last year and hit .284/.328/.418 with 10 doubles and seven home runs.
Mark Zagunis is simply an on-base machine. Zagunis is a top of the order bat that put together professional at-bat after professional at-bat. Zagunis made a successful transition to full-time outfielder last season.
Zagunis played in 115 games for the Carolina League Champions and hit .271/.406/.412 with 24 doubles, five triples and eight home runs for a .818 OPS. Zagunis walked 80 times with 86 strikeouts in 512 plate appearances. Zagunis is expected to start the season playing for Mark Johnson again, this time at Double-A Tennessee.
The Cubs selected Donnie Dewees in the second round of last June’s Draft. Dewees put together solid numbers in 66 games for Short-Season Eugene. Dewees hit .266/.306/.376 with 14 doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .682 OPS. The Cubs used him more in center last season than in right or left.
The Cubs are looking for a big year, developmentally, from Dewees in his first full season in pro ball. Dewees is expected to begin the season with Low-A South Bend.