The Chicago Cubs have one of the least productive offenses in the major leagues, and that comes as no surprise to Cubs fans. With future talent still being groomed in the minor leagues, possible contention appears to still be a few years down the line.
But while we wait for the organization’s “core” prospects to make their way to Wrigley Field, there are plenty of opportunities for other young guys to make their case to be considered for part of the team’s future. One of those guys with that very opportunity has already gotten some major league experience.
Logan Watkins made his major league debut last August for an unimpressive Chicago Cubs team. In 27 major league games last season, Watkins hit .211 with a .268 OBP and also committed just one error in 56.1 defensive innings – all at second base. While these numbers don’t necessarily light anyone’s fire, they are not bad for his first taste of the show.
With Triple-A Iowa so far this year Watkins has a .295 batting average with a .381 OBP. Not only are those improvements from his time in the majors, but they are also better than what his numbers were when he was called up last year. In the month of May he hit .306/.359 in 23 games.
In addition to his hitting he has been successful on the base paths, stealing eight bases in nine attempts. But more importantly, he has started to expand his role defensively. So far this year he has played six different positions; every spot in the infield besides first base and all three outfield positions. His transition into a guy who can play well in a utility role has increased his ability to play everyday, and also helps his overall value.
One area of weakness offensively for the Cubs has been the outfield, where they have struggled to provide solid, consistent production. Nate Schierholtz has not been able to match his numbers from last season, Ryan Sweeney has been injured, and the other outfielders – Justin Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan, and Ryan Kalish (now with Iowa) – have not been able to do very much with the bat. Watkins could provide resting time to these guys while giving the team better offensive production, and that would also give one of those guys the chance to get at bats and play more often with Iowa. He would also have Emilio Bonifacio to mentor him on being a utility player in the majors.
Regardless of whether or not he has a long term future with the Chicago Cubs, Logan Watkins can provide temporary relief for a team that has mostly struggled offensively this season. If he gets an opportunity and plays well enough then he can claim a spot on the major league roster, or become an interesting trade target. With his ability to play at multiple positions and if he continues to hit well, he could possibly be traded for a decent pitching prospect (similar to last year’s Scott Hairston deal). If he doesn’t play well, then that would just match with the production that guys like Coghlan and Ruggiano have been giving them. Whether he plays well or lays an egg, having Watkins on the major league roster won’t hurt the Cubs.
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