Following up on John Moore's post earlier today about strong prospects remaining in the Chicago Cubs system, I want to elaborate on a name that we will likely be hearing more about soon: second baseman Frandy Delarosa. John noted Delarosa's early performance in the Northwest League but let's flesh that out a bit.
The Cubs signed Delarosa out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. Earning a $700,000 bonus, he drew notice as an athletic switch-hitter with a good measure of baseball polish but, at the time, a lack of physical strength. He showed middle infield range but not the arm strength for shortstop, leading scouts to project a move to second base. The positional issue probably hurt his bonus stock a bit but the bat projected well and his makeup was considered excellent.
Delarosa debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2013. It did not go well: he hit just .077 in 11 games with 20 strikeouts in 39 at-bats and just two walks. Given that he was supposed to be polished for his age, this was disturbingly poor performance, though of course the sample was small. He returned to the DSL in 2014 and was much more effective, hitting .281/.336/.402 with 19 doubles, 19 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 249 at-bats, 112 wRC+.
Six months ago the general assumption was that Delarosa would begin 2015 in the Arizona Rookie League. However, he was impressive enough this spring to skip that level, opening up with Eugene in the Northwest League in late June. He's two years younger than typical NWL competition but is handling it just fine so far, hitting .302/.364/.424 in his first 24 games, with 10 walks and 19 strikeouts in 92 at-bats, 122 wRC+. He's six-for-nine in steals thus far and is reportedly looking good around the bag at second base.
As always with players so young we need to see what happens at higher levels, but in my view there are good reasons for optimism with Delarosa. His career started off rough but he's performed much better over the last 12 months, is handling a leap from the DSL to the NWL without trouble, and looks like he has a chance to be an above-average hitter with some speed and gap power at second base. Keep an eye on him.