Prospect Stock Watch: Preseason Edition Highlights Fast Rising Names to Follow in 2021

It has been a while since Cubs Insider published a prospect stock watch, but this is your lucky day as we’ve got some players for you to invest in before the minor league season begins on May 4. We’ve recommended a lot of prospects over the past two years who are worthy of your time and attention, many of whom felt like safer bets. This primer, however, is all about risk. With that comes the potential for very high reward. 

One hot prospect who everybody and their mother has interviewed over the past year is Max Bain. If you haven’t already gotten in on this young man because of his name, my initial interview, his appearance on The Rant, or two appearances on the Growing Cubs podcast, you may have missed the boat. This week, Baseball Prospectus ($) and MLB Pipeline both had nice write-ups about Bain’s transformation that we have chronicled in detail the past year.

If you want to climb aboard the Bain Train now, tickets are going to cost you a little bit more than if you would’ve joined back when he signed as an undrafted free agent. Once the season gets started, his appearances are going to have all of Cubs Prospectland viewing.

Even if you aren’t able to watch his games in person or via, Bain is a tremendous Twitter follow who has been very transparent about his baseball journey. He maintains a YouTube vlog as well, so expect to see a lot of content from him across various platforms.

One guy I would not sleep on is former outfielder Brandon Hughes, who has only been pitching full-time for half a season. After being told at the end of spring training in 2019 that he would not get playing time in the field, coach Paul McAnulty suggested the lefty fall back on his strong arm and brief pitching experience at Michigan State — go back to the mound.

Six months later, he went through three levels of the minors in 12 weeks, starting out in Arizona and ended the season as a valuable reliever for South Bend who can bring it in the 93-95 mph range. The pandemic might have been the best thing for Hughes’ development because it allowed him the time to physically prepare his body to pitch and also to develop his secondaries. His delivery just seems so easy and he looks to be playing catch at 95 mph.

Pablo Aliendo, a 19-year-old from Venezuela, has been impressive in spring training with his athleticism and bat and might be a bit of a breakout player this year. He did not break the .200 mark while playing in the Dominican in 2019, but a year and a half can be an eternity for such a young player when it comes to maturation. He drew rave reviews from player development VP Matt Dorey for his strength and receiving ability and still has plenty of time to develop.

While Cristian Hernandez drew all the IFA buzz back in January, one interesting player who slipped through the cracks for the Cubs was outfielder Daniel Ferreira. Baseball America loves the bat speed and compact swing that allows him to drive the ball despite being just 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds. Then again, he’s just 16 and has more than enough time to mature both physically and developmentally.

The final prospect for you to invest in today is a guy the Cubs won’t even officially sign for seven more months. According to Baseball America ($), the Cubs are rumored to be in on third baseman/catcher Adan Sanchez from Panama. He’s been a star there since he was 12 years old and is still growing at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. He’s very athletic and David Ross once called him “a stud” when he was calling the Little League World Series back in his broadcasting days.

In just a few days, Cubs Insider will be publishing season previews of each affiliate. Greg Huss and I will break down the likely lineup for each team and offer some predictions for the upcoming season. Those rosters are going to include plenty of guys we didn’t see coming because most of them have missed the past year and a half of affiliated ball. It could be a wild, wild summer when it comes to the minor leagues.

We can’t wait to find out how the players above and dozens more not listed here perform once minor league baseball returns.

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