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Scouting the Newest Cubs

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With the Cubs floundering and Jim Hendry selling for the first time ever, the Cubs beat the trade deadline and packaged Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers on Saturday.

Since two of the three players returned are prospects, I asked Jared Massey from LA Dodger Talk to help us to sort out the organization's new talent.

Blake DeWitt

Year Age Tm G PA R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2008 22 LAD 117 421 45 97 9 52 45 68 .264 .344 .383 .728 93
2009 23 LAD 31 53 4 10 2 4 3 7 .204 .245 .388 .633 68
2010 24 LAD 82 292 29 69 1 30 30 49 .270 .352 .371 .723 99
3 Seasons 230 766 78 176 12 86 78 124 .262 .340 .379 .719 93
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2010.

The centerpiece of the trade and the lone acquisition with major league experience, DeWitt is an infielder who has ample experience at both second and third base. He's shown a limited offensive skill set in his first few major league seasons, highlighted by above-average on-base skills. Remember that OPS undervalues OBP, so he's better than that stat shows, but his OPS+'s indicate he's been just about league average in that category in both of the seasons he's had adequate playing time in.

I asked Jared for his thoughts on DeWitt, specifically about his defense and whether he has a chance to develop more power as he ages:

DeWitt's swing is more line-drive oriented and there's a chance that he could develop more gap to gap power, but I don't see him becoming much of a home run hitter. He's improved defensively at second base and should be an average fielder there. However, were he to move back to third, he'd be one of the better defensive third basemen in the NL.
Brett Wallach

Wallach is definitely the more exciting of the two pitching prospects that were obtained. A 3rd round pick just last season and the son of former major leaguer Tim Wallach, Brett is a recent pitching convert who had spent much of his amateur career at shortstop. He's got a low-90's fastball with heavy sink and a hard slider, and has exhibited both strikeout ability and control issues in his young professional career.

Jared on Wallach's future projection:

Wallach has a good amount of projection, given his age, athleticism and relative inexperience, but he hasn't shown a whole lot of velocity this year and probably profiles as a mid to back of the rotation starter. He could eventually move to the pen, which may lead to increased velocity, but he has a starter's repertoire and should be given at least another few seasons to develop in a rotation.

Kyle Smit

Smit was the least important part of this deal, and I know relatively little about him, so I'll let Jared do the talking on this one.

Smit was the Dodgers' 5th rounder in 2006, drafted out of a Nevada High School, but never really lived up to his billing as a high round pick. Until this year, when he was converted to a relief pitcher and started showing improved stuff and command. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has a good breaking ball, which has led to 2.35 ERA in 37 appearances. He's still probably a year or two away, having pitched in only 3 games above A ball, but he could be a pretty solid middle reliever in time.

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