Future plus bat at the 2B position. Could move very fast in ’21
How acquired: MLB Draft 2nd round 2019
While the Ryan Jensen selection pointed to a new draft strategy for the Cubs in 2019, the selection of Chase Strumpf in the second round immediately brought a familiar profile back to the Cubs system. Strumpf represents a safe and accomplished bat who should move quickly through the Cubs system. A three year NCAA career with a .297/.409/.507 college slash line made an immediate impression on Cubs fans following the draft.
Chase Strumpf continued to carry that strong first impression into the low minors with an excellent .292/.405/.445 line in Eugene. A brief stop (six games) and a back injury in South Bend led to a paltry .506 OPS, but expectations for 2020 remained high.
Strumpf was a limited participant in the 2020 spring training with a cast on his left (non throwing) arm and with the baseball shutdown, fall instructional league would serve as the opportunity to see him get game action. Chase Strumpf made the most of his limited time in instructs batting an absurd line of .375/.414/.792(!) with a 1.205 OPS and showing improved power. Instructs stats are courtesy of @FullCountTommy via Arizona Phil over at TCR.
Strumpf has a nice balanced swing. He utilizes a leg kick before landing in a crouch and bringing a line-drive swing through the zone. Strumpf’s head stays level through the point of contact. He’s able to drive the ball the other way. The Pac12 may not be the SEC, but it’s no slouch. Strumpf has faced impressive pitching in college. He can get beat and, in my viewing would chase on breaking balls down and in. He did sport a 20% K rate in instructs this year as well. All of these notes are normal parts of development. He’s capable of making in-atbat adjustments. There’s no glaring mechanical issues or holes in the swing that prohibit him from succeeding at the next level. I have this as an above-average hit tool and one that can continue to carry him through the minors and, ultimately, to the majors.
Strumpf can hit the ball to all fields but the majority of home run power (at the present) is from his pull side. As he gets stronger the hope is the doubles in the right-center gap morph into over-the-fence power. At instructs, he led the organization with 3 home runs, but we’ll have to see in a larger sample size at AA or higher. From 2019, I’d put it at average power, but it has above-average potential.
Unfortunately, defense doesn’t appear to be Strumpf’s strong suit. He worked at 2B (his primary position) and 3B in instructs, but the arm doesn’t lend itself to being an asset at the hot corner. It’s common for instructional league to move players around the diamond to test out versatility and expose minor leagues to concepts like shifting. I worry this is most likely below-average fielding and arm grades, but at 2B that’s still very playable. Solid defensive positioning can make up for deficiencies, especially at second base. He’s not a butcher out there and Cub fans should not have Daniel Murphy flashbacks (don’t worry that link is Cubs fan safe).
Chase Strumpf has average speed now, but if steals happen as he advances that’s likely as a product to intuition and baserunning. He has enough lateral movement playing second base to cover the position.
This is a bat first profile, but one that can comfortably slide in at second base. I’m a believer in the bat. Right now there’s above-average hit and average power, but if the power keeps advancing you could be looking at a plus hit (.280 in BA per Fangraphs) and above-average power (19-22 HRs per Fangraphs) in the middle infield. To give you a contextual example that’s a line very similar to Jonathan Villar’s for the Orioles in 2019. Hang with me because Villar put up a .274/.339/.453 line with 24 home runs and below average defensive grades good for 4.0 fWAR. That’ll certainly play and if surrounded by above average defenders at shortstop and first base, Strumpf at 2B fits right in adding another patient polished bat to the lineup.