Cubs future model could be built for speed

Cubs future model could be built for speed
Evan Crawford steals 2nd

Whenever you think of past Cubs teams, you don't really think speed.  They've never been built like  a Porsche, they've always been something more like a used Cadillac, one for which they paid far too much.  Now that could all change...quickly.

One of the more exciting components of the Cubs rebuilt farm system is it's speed.  It has already started to reach Wrigley, with Starlin Castro and Tony Campana leading the team in stolen bases.  But they're just a small hint of what's to come.  And these guy just don't run, they get on base...a lot.  This is not an exhaustive list by any means.  I tried to limit it to legitimate prospects who could be up within the next 3 years -- and most of them will get here much faster than that...(of course...these guys don't really do anything slow).

1. Brett Jackson (OF) - Jackson is the Cubs best known prospect.  He's a great athlete with skills in every area, starting with speed.  He grades out as having above average speed and should steal about 20 bases per year as major leaguer. OBP = .376

2. Matt Szczur (OF) - Perhaps the fastest player in the organization, Szczur's task is to harness the speed which made him a top NFL WR prospect and translate it to baseball.  So far, so good.  Szczur has stolen 19 bases in 24 attempts across two levels .OBP = .362

3. Logan Watkins (2b/SS)- another great athlete trying to translate his natural speed to the diamond, Watkins has 13 SBs but he's doing it much more efficiently than he did last year, getting caught just 3 times.  Last season, Watkins stole 19 bases all season and got caught 10 times. OBP = .381

4. Evan Crawford (OF) - Acquired from the Giants in the deal that sent Mike Fontenot out west, Crawford is one of the fastest players in the system.  This year he has stolen 23 bases in just 28 attempts.  OBP = .394

5. Zeke DeVoss (2b) - Recently signed after being drafted in the 3rd round of this year's draft.  DeVoss wasted no time making an impression at Rookie Level Arizona, getting the game winning hit in his debut.  But he was just getting started.  On the first day he gets promoted to Boise, he gets on base 4 times, steals 5 bases, and scores 4 runs.  He has a chance to have the best combination of OBP and speed on the team.  OBP = .400 (in very limited plate appearances).

We're looking at a group who gets on base and then wreaks havoc once they get there.  All of them have a legitimate chance to be on the Cubs roster by 2014 in some capacity or another.  These guys won't be your father's lumbering Chicago Cubs.  This will be the newer, sleeker model, and they could be an exciting team that puts the constant pressure on the opponent's pitching and defense.  And that's something we haven't seen here on the north side in a long, long time.

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  • This is the style that has me excited, the guys that I believe can give this team direction & identity. I love a team built around speed. Like you say, guys to get on base, force the pitcher to throw out of the stretch, put pressure on him constantly while on base, get those extra bases, and on defense play with great range. Its an identity that leads to good consistent & exciting baseball.

    I'm impressed with Zeke DeVoss already. What type of trajectory do you see him taking to the majors? Seems like he has the chance to move up quickly. And how's his D?

  • Speed never slumps...and the fact that these guys find ways to get on base even when they're not hitting really helps too. Totally agree!

    I can see DeVoss moving to Peoria by the end of the year and then spend half of next season there if he continues to play well. By 2013, he could get to AA and basically be a call-up away. More realistically though I think he gets to Wrigley by 2014. He really made the right decision by signing early. He got the jump (no pun intended) on the rest of the top picks.

  • It almost becomes difficult to put together a batting order if these guys pan out. Probably ends up something like this:

    1. Zeke DeVoss
    2. Starlin Castro
    3. Brett Jackson
    4. Some 3B
    5. Some 1B
    6. Matt Sczcur
    7. Reggie Golden
    8. Catcher
    9. Pitcher

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    I think Castro will be in the 3rd spot long term since he's a better hitter than Jackson. I might switch those two or even move Jackson down into an RBI slot. But, other than that, I agree. It will look something like that if they all turn into major league ballplayers. I might put Golden up to 6th though since ideally he'd be a power guy/run producer. Here's an alternative

    1. DeVoss
    2. Szczur
    3. Castro
    4. ??
    5. ??
    6. Jackson
    7. Golden
    8. ??

    It is tough...not sure where all the pieces fit. It's too early to tell...Szczur could develop some power yet...Jackson has such could all-around skills that he could fit almost anywhere in the lineup.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Castro, at this point, just doesn't seem to perform in the 3 spot, and I think he prefers to just put the ball in play, spraying it to all fields. As well as being an emerging base-stealer.

    I like Jackson in the 3 hole because of his OBP skills and power. I'm willing to deal with the lack of average if he's able to hit his fair share of doubles and home runs when he is making contact, as well as his ability to walk gives reasonable potential for a 2 out rally in the first.

    Perhaps you move Sczcur all the way to 8th with the catcher 7th and Golden 6th. The purpose of this is to use him as a sort of secondary leadoff man if there's 0 or 1 outs. Also, he can clean things up from the rest of the order with his ability to double and homer. I would just ask that he learns more about the strike zone as the 8 spot will be pitched around.

    Right now I'm hoping that Baez and Vogelbach both pan out, they're essentially the same age as well, but they would profile well as our 4th and 5th hitters in my original lineup. Would give a S, R, L, R, L, R, R, ? sort of lineup. Helps having Clevenger as a left handed catcher who has good offensive skills, but lacking in power.

  • All we need is Jack Clark to hit clean up!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    LOL...and don't forget George Hendrick!

  • I almost mentioned Hendrick, but that '85 team wow!

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