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Scouting the Prospects in the Derrek Lee Trade

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Matt Swain

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

The Cubs made a brilliant move yesterday, dealing Derrek Lee to the Braves. While Lee was a fine player and citizen as a Cub, he served no use to a team as bad as this one. And when his contract runs out at the end of the season, the Cubs can always still re-sign him, should they choose to go that direction, so there's no need to keep him around.

In the meantime, they've saved themselves nearly 2 million dollars and extracted some value in the form of three prospects.

I was out of town without an internet connection yesterday when the trade happened, so I'm a little late to this party, but here are some thoughts on each of the prospects the Cubs received.
Robinson Lopez

Year Age Tm Lg Lev W L ERA IP BB SO WHIP
2009 18 Braves GULF Rk 3 1 1.29 48.2 12 42 1.089
2010 19 Rome SALL A 3 8 4.37 92.2 43 70 1.371
2 Seasons 6 9 3.31 141.1 55 112 1.27

Lopez was the centerpiece of this deal, as 19 year-olds with quality fastballs tend to be. In case you're interested in a fully detailed professional level scouting report, our friend Mike Newman at Scouting the Sally is in the right place at the right time with this post, dated Monday.

Here's the Cliff's notes: though Mike doesn't see a ton of projection left, Lopez has an electric arm that sat 93-95 with the fastball and touched 96. He has an inconsistent but potential-laden curveball, and is developing a change-up that he isn't using in game action yet. He summarizes by saying: "Going forward, Lopez is a pitcher whose game could make significant strides with increased preparation and game experience."

That is an excellent report for a guy acquired in a waiver deal. Parallels will inevitably be drawn between Lopez and Chris Archer, who was also a teenager in the Sally League when he was acquired from the Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade and has since developed into one of the top handful of prospects in the Cubs system.

Archer was a little different in that he already had the Ks and just needed to tighten up his control, but it's definitely encouraging when you consider that Lopez will follow the same path with a staff that's already had success with a similar pitcher.

I'll finish by re-iterating that Lopez is a great pickup who probably will be one of the Cubs top 10 prospects at the end of the season based on his scouting reports. He's probably better than either of the pitchers obtained in the Ted Lilly trade, and the fact that Jim Hendry was able to extract him from the Braves with no leverage at all is pretty impressive.

Tyrelle Harris

Year Age Tm Lg Lev W L ERA IP BB SO WHIP
2009 22 Danville APPY Rk 0 0 1.59 5.2 0 9 0.882
2009 22 Rome SALL A 2 0 0.77 11.2 5 15 0.857
2010 23 Rome SALL A 0 0 2.53 10.2 4 12 1.219
2010 23 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ 1 2 3.71 26.2 12 37 1.312
2010 23 Mississippi SOUL AA 0 0 1.46 12.1 6 11 0.973
2 Seasons 3 2 2.42 67.0 27 84 1.119

Harris is neither as young or exciting as Lopez, but the strikeout numbers sure are nice. A 19th rounder in last year's draft out of the University of Tennessee, his fastball is more 88-92 and complimented with an average changeup. He does have some impressive size at 6' 4" 235 and gets positive reviews for mound presence, but based on his scouting report will have a hard time repeating the success he's enjoyed at the upper levels of the minors.

If everything works out, he's a middle relief arm who throws strikes and pitches better than the stuff he has, which does happen every now and again, though seemingly never for the Cubs.

Jeffrey Lorick

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2009 21 Danville APPY Rk ATL 2 1 4.09 33.0 30 13 42 1.303
2010 22 Rome SALL A ATL 3 6 2.32 50.1 42 21 41 1.252
2010 22 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ ATL 0 0 0.00 2.0 1 0 2 0.500
2 Seasons 5 7 2.95 85.1 73 34 85 1.254

The final piece, Lorick was drafted exactly one round after Harris in 2009, and as a starter looks like just another guy. He has that nice ERA, but it's based more on luck that anything at this point judging by his peripheral stats.

What's intriguing about him is his dominance against left-handed hitters. He has faced 75 of them as a professional, striking out 24, walking 4, and allowing just 12 hits. Lorick has his slider to thank for that, but it definitely leaves open the possibility that he becomes a useful bullpen piece who can get outs against tough lefties.

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