As we continue our tour of the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this afternoon, we take a look at Chicago Cubs #4 prospect, Jeimer Candelario.
Jeimer Candelario grew up with baseball.
After being born in New York City, Candelario moved to the Dominican Republic when he was only five years old so that his father could open a baseball training facility. The Cubs signed him for $500,000 when he was just 16 years old, and he’s been working his way up the farm system ever since.
The now 23-year-old’s best talent is his bat. A switch-hitter, Candelario possesses a solid amount of skill both in terms of contact and power, and portrays an advanced knowledge of the strike zone.
Despite a promising start to his minor league career in 2011, Candelario’s performance slowly declined through 2014, when he experienced his worst year as a pro. He hit just .213 across both single-A and A-advanced and had an OPS of .667. He just didn’t seem to be able to handle the increased competition and he dropped all of 16 spots in MLB Pipeline’s Cubs prospect rankings as his future in baseball appeared to be in jeopardy.
But he saved himself in 2015. His solid first half in A-advanced earned him a promotion to Double-A, where he finished the season hitting .291 with an .841 OPS. This performance got him a spot in the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to impress, batting .329, hitting five homers, and finishing with a .981 OPS in 21 games.
Candelario was back, but this optimism was short-lived. Starting 2016 at Double-A, he once again saw his bat struggle. In his (little over) two months at Tennessee, he hit .219. The Cubs still decided to promote him to Triple-A, and their faith paid off, as the change in scenery increased his average to .333 with nine homers in 76 games in Iowa.
During his stay at Triple-A, in early July, major league outfielder Chris Coghlan went down with a rib-cage injury. Theo decided that Candelario would be the best fit to replace him on the roster, and then, all of a sudden, the Candy Man had made it. He made his debut in the same city he lived for the first few years of life, New York, and went 1-4, claiming his first major league base hit off of Noah Syndergaard.
In his remaining time on the major league roster, however, he struggled. He didn’t get another hit despite ten more plate appearances, and he was sent back down with five K’s in only eleven AB’s.
You can expect to see Candelario with the Cubs this year much more than you did in 2016. He’s been on the 40-man roster for a while now, and will definitely be in action this year as a depth piece. Candelario’s problem is that he can really only play third base. He’s pretty slow, so he can’t move to the outfield, he’s not super agile, so the middle infield isn’t for him, but he has a strong arm and refined fielding hands, making him perfect for manning the hot corner. As you know, the Cubs kinda sorta have an MVP at third now, but should anything happen in terms of injuries, Candelario will see a whole lot of playing time.
The odds of that actually happening, however, are pretty slim. Thus, Candelario is one of a few Cubs prospects who might be traded soon. His bat is above average, he’s a switch-hitter, his defense is solid, he’s ready to play in the major leagues, and he’s just simply stuck where he is in the Cubs’ system.
Nevertheless, Candelario has been knocking on the MLB’s door for a while now. Whether he stays or whether he goes, he will definitely play a major role for your Cubbies’ in 2017.