Does Jeimer Candelario have a path to the Bigs?
Even after a hot start to Spring Training, does Jeimer Candelario have a chance to make the Cubs roster?
Chicago Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario has been on a tear recently. On Saturday, Candelario went 3–3 with an RBI in the Cubs 9–3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He backed that up by going 2–3 on Sunday against the Texas Rangers before being hit by a pitch and departing.
The 23-year-old Candelario was struck on the ankle, but seems to just have a bruise and is listed as day-to-day.
Even with his recent brush with the injury bug, Candelario’s strong play has caught many Cubs fans attention. Jeimer is a third baseman by trade and has been in the Cubs system since 2011 when he was just 17 years old.
Obviously, the Cubs have their third baseman of the future in Kris Bryant, but Candelario has taken off this spring has a first baseman. With Anthony Rizzo out of the line-up with a stiff back, Candelario has stepped into the first base role and produced very nicely.
First base is a position that Candelario is familiar with as he has played 100 innings at the position in the minors.
According to Candelario’s scouting report, he is better defensively at third base and not quick enough to be an outfielder or middle infielder. That limitation could cause him to be stuck behind a long list of other Cubs prospects.
Offense has never been the issue with Candelario, as he hit .283 with 13 home runs and 77 RBI’s in 132 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. That stellar play in the minors earned Candelario a call-up to the big league club. He played in a total of five games for the Cubs, and logged just 11 at-bats. He hit a dismal .091, but will be able to improve upon his numbers the more he plays.
As of now, it looks as if Candelario will not make the big league squad out of Spring Training. Even though he is slashing .333/.360/.542 this Spring, the Cubs are loaded up on corner infielders.
There is still a chance that Candelario gets some time in the big leagues this season.
If Anthony Rizzo goes down with an injury for an extended amount of time, or two or three outfielders get injured, Cubs fans could see Candelario at the major league level.
He is a switch hitter which could add to his value as a bench player, but his limitations in the field will hinder his chances of breaking through in this stacked Cubs system.
The Cubs will be in the market at this years trade deadline and this off-season for a starting pitcher or two. With John Lackey and Jake Arrieta becoming free agents at seasons end, the need for starting pitching will outweigh the need for infielders.
Candelario will fit in nicely with a team that needs a good defensive third baseman that can hit 15–20 home runs a year. Couple Candelario with follow prospect Ian Happ, and the Cubs could get a nice return of young starting pitchers for the future.
Cubs fans hope that Candelario keeps his hot bat going this Spring and into the regular season, because that only adds to his trade value at the deadline.
Daniel Shepard is a diehard Cubs fan from North Carolina. He really is Cubs Crazy.