Report: Cubs set to promote shortstop prospect Luis Vazquez
Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports

Report: Cubs set to promote shortstop prospect Luis Vazquez


by - Senior Writer -

Lost in the translation of another rough weekend where both the offense and middle infield continue to struggle, there could be some good news for the Cubs as this team needs a jolt. It was reported on Sunday that Dansby Swanson is nearing his return to the team, which will be a massive upgrade from what the Cubs currently have at SS.

Later in the day, news broke that rising infield prospect Luis Vazquez is getting promoted ahead of Tuesday's game, which instantly raises the question of what the corresponding move will be. While most would love for both Nick Madrigal and Miles Mastrobuoni to be traded, it does appear that Nico Hoerner could be headed to the IL for at least a week, so adding Vazquez will come with a price.

Regarded as to having the best overall glove in the Cubs entire system, Vazquez is a defense stud who can play SS, 2B, and 3B. Until Swanson returns, look for him to spend most of his time at SS before moving to second while they await the return of Hoerner. After that, it will be up to him to earn a spot on this roster, as he could be a great late-inning glove candidate to stick at third if Christopher Morel needs to be lifted for defensive help.

The 24-year-old Vazquez has been in the Cubs system for quite a while, but it wasn't until he reached AA that he really started to break out and put himself on the map. His performance alone last season, mixed with his defensive wizardry, earned him a spot on the 40-man roster at the end of last season, and now he will have the opportunity to show what he can do, even if it is only for a short time.

After hitting just 16 homers in his first six professional seasons, Vazquez broke out for 20 homers and 80 RBIs last season while also hitting .271. Those were all career-high numbers for the young shortstop as he landed in AAA toward the end of last season, which is where he has been all season.

Across his 39 games with Iowa this season, the power numbers are a bit down from where they were a season ago, but he is still hitting .262 with three homers and 11 RBIs. He has taken 16 walks and struck out 37 times, but that isn't what the Cubs are banking on him doing. This is the best defensive player regardless of position in the Cubs' entire system, and with the Cubs' defense continuing to struggle, they need someone to fix the defense, especially in the middle infield.

Hoerner and Swanson both did that when they were struggling, so having both of them out of the lineup does hurt this team. Both are gold glove winners for a reason. Vazquez has gold glove potential and could easily win one at AAA this season if he qualifies for the award.

One thing that is a bit concerning when you look at Vazquez's offensive numbers is that he got off to a blistering start but is now stuck in the middle of a long cold stretch where he is hitting just .143/.273/.232/39 wRC+. Those numbers have occurred over a three-week stretch, and oddly enough, they kind of duplicate what the Cubs offense has done in that same time frame, so take what you will away from that.

It would be one thing if Vazquez was hitting the ball like last season or earlier in the year, but that isn't the case right now. That isn't part of his game, and despite his breakout last season, most project him to have an average bat at best in the majors. His game is all about the glove, which is why the Cubs are calling him up.

You saw a similar situation with Pete Crow-Armstrong last season, and he went on to struggle until getting a second chance this year. The question is how long Vazquez will be up, as he is expected to join the team on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. What we do know is that Craig Counsell said that neither Swanson nor Hoerner will be ready for Atlanta on Tuesday, so expect Vazquez to start at SS when that series opens.

You also have to consider Hoerner's possible IL stint, which then opens up a roster spot for a potential stay if the glove pans out. Then there is the Mastrobuoni or Madrigal option, as both have minor league options left and could be on their way back to AAA to give Vazquez a roster spot. Either way, it will be nice to see him get a chance at the MLB, as the Cubs' offense could use a jolt of energy right now.

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