‘Enfuego’ is an understatement when it comes to Candelario’s 2017 start after being one of the last sent out to the minors towards the end of big league spring training. Candelario jumped onto the Cubs’ radar after a solid 2014 season, and then a real breakout 2015 that saw him stroke 10 jacks and 35 doubles. He then cemented his prospect status by repeating the offensive feat while burning through Double-A and Triple-A pitching with 39 doubles and 13 long-balls last year. So far this year, Candelario is showing that he may have little left to prove in the minor leagues, and he could force the Cubs’ hand if this type of extra-base hit damage is still going on in mid-May.
Candelario has pop and is a big strong kid, however his game is going to be to the gaps, and where he gets in trouble is when he starts thinking that he needs to do more. He has always has a good approach at the plate and is relatively comfortable hitting with two strikes, but can be borderline passive at times, setting himself up to have to battle through pitchers’ counts. Couple that with him over-swinging at times thinking that he needs do more home run damage, and suddenly this kid, who is a doubles machine, is faced with having to square up an out-pitch when down in the count.
The glove continues to be solid, and despite getting a lot of looks at first base in spring training, third base remains his best spot. That said, Chicago has a guy there already who’s pretty good, so expect Candy to continue to shuttle back and forth between the corner-infield positions. The ingredients are there for Candelario to be an impact-type bat in a big league lineup — but he will have to show that he can turn the corner and learn to throttle up and back, adjusting in step with major league arms.