Player development a part of the game in which Cubs, White Sox still have a lot to prove

If only the Cubs and White Sox could develop their young players as fast as a cicada’s life span.

Wouldn’t it be great if some of these prospects could shed their outer shell and start singing and flying around the diamond sometime very soon? Both teams need the help.

It’s hard to say which Chicago baseball club needs help to arrive faster. The Cubs looked like a playoff-caliber team in April, but their far-too-frequent June swoon seems to have arrived in May this year, along with the plague of locusts, er, cicadas.

The White Sox have looked every bit as bad as preseason projections suggested, though we should credit them with a mediocre start to May before reverting back to form.

Both teams have some talented young players, though, and development will be key, for the remainder of this season as well as future seasons. The Cubs have more prospects to get excited about than the White Sox do. Both have a lot of work to do.

The Cubs already are getting help from several young players: Pitchers Ben Brown and Jordan Wicks have produced, like the starting staff as a whole. Relievers Hayden Wesneski and Daniel Palencia look promising, especially that triple-digit fastball that Palencia throws. Cade Horton, the Cubs’ 2022 first-round draft pick, already is in Triple-A and could start pushing for a promotion by the end of the season. Well, when he returns from injury, that is.

Pete Crow-Armstrong is already a high-level center fielder. If he can show some consistency at-bat in the big leagues like he’s shown at Iowa, he might never see Des Moines again.

Michael Busch has shown power while playing a decent first base, but he and third baseman Christopher Morel need to get a hit more than every once in a while.

Catcher Miguel Amaya, in his second season in the majors, has a WAR of 0.1, according to Baseball Reference, down from his career WAR of 0.3. His development appears to have stalled, Friday night’s clutch ninth-inning double notwithstanding.

The Cubs didn’t keep reliever Jeremiah Estrada in the off-season, but the Padres seem to have found a way to tap into his potential. Kind of embarrassing for the Cubs, really.

The other part of development is keeping these kids healthy, too, a part of the equation both Chicago squads have had extensive trouble with this year. Wicks and Palencia both found their way to the injured list. The Cubs’ Brennan Davis and Ed Howard might have made it to Chicago by now, at least for a short visit, if they hadn’t run into some bad luck with injuries.

And now their prized pitching prospect, Horton, will miss a couple of weeks.

The White Sox have top-notch prospects like Colson Montgomery and Noah Schultz, but they don’t have the depth of talent in their organization that the Cubs have, and it’s been a while since they’ve showed an ability to develop. Bryan Ramos did some good things in the couple of weeks he was on the roster, but he’s not ready to break out yet.

Jake Burger didn’t last long here, and Andrew Vaughn is hitting around .200. They are former first-round draft picks, and the club’s inability to develop them helps explain that MLB-worst record.

Garrett Crochet has developed well, a feather in the cap of the Sox development team, a 2020 first-round draft pick who is pitching well. But there just aren’t enough guys like him. Michael Kopech has become a solid pro, but the White Sox were hoping for more.

Daily Herald Sports Editor Orrin Schwarz can be reached at

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