Cubs Arizona Fall League Update

Cubs Arizona Fall League Update
Junior Lake

Cubs prospects are making a good showing this season in the Arizona Fall League.  Yes, it' a small sample size.  And yes you'll hear some tell you that it doesn't mean anything -- although I suspect that's because the darlings of the prospect world, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, are struggling mightily.  Something tells me that if they were tearing up the league we'd be hearing a different tune.  I'm not going to say that these performances tell us everything we need to know about prospects, but they don't mean nothing either.  If so, why would they bother to have it in the first place?  Why send so many scouts there?   This is a chance for some of the games most talented young players to face each other on an everyday basis, so the fact that the Cubs prospects are doing so well is encouraging.


Josh Vitters - Vitters can flat out hit.  Sure he has his flaws: he doesn't get on base enough, his swing doesn't lend itself to power, he's a poor defender who may have to move to a position where offense is at a premium.  But this guy can flat out put the bat on the ball.  His line is .405/.425/.649.  He has 2 HRs, although both came in the first game.  I'm willing to live with the low walks if he can hit .300 with 25 HR, so we need to see that tool develop more.

DJ LeMahieu - LeMahieu can also make contact extremely well, but he's a tall slender guy with a swing designed more for singles than extra bases.  He's hitting .293/.370/.390.  The most encouraging thing about LeMahieu is that OBP as he has significantly raised his walk rate where it's at about the league average.  Again, small sample size caveats apply, but LeMahieu has shown the willingness to see more pitches so far this fall.  Now...maybe the Cubs can slightly tweak that swing so that he can increase that low slugging number.

Junior Lake - I'm getting all kinds of excited about Lake's development.  He's a toolsy guy with good size and the ability to play SS - if he can put it together he'd be very valuable asset, whether it's to challenge LeMahieu for the 3rd base job, an excellent utility player, or trade bait.  His numbers have been outstanding this fall: .333/.400/.649 with 3 HRs and 7 SBs.  He's still somewhat hacktastic and has 2 walks versus 10 Ks, but a SS with a speed/power combo?  You could do a lot worse.  It makes me laugh that fans in Boston think they can send Iglesias over to get Castro in a Theo deal.  Not only would we never give up Castro, but I'm thinking I like Lake better right now as a prospect than Iglesias anyway.  And it wouldn't surprise me if Boston did as well and that he winds up being part of the comp package...but that's 100% speculation on my part, so take that with several grains of salt.


Trey McNutt - The encouraging thing about McNutt is that his fastball is back.  After an injury plagued year, he's back at in the 95-96 mph range that had him so dominant just a year ago.  The discouraging part is that he has had trouble commanding it. His breaking ball isn't quite what it was yet either. The results are mixed.  McNutt has a sterling 1.80 ERA but no strikeouts versus 3 walks in 5 innings.  We can blame some of that on rust and assume (or hope) that McNutt will shake that off by next season.

Andrew Cashner -- His health and arm strength is back.  Cashner is once again the pitcher with nasty stuff that we've seen only glimpses of so far.  His fastball has been clocked at 100 mph.  His numbers may not reflect it yet (6.00 ERA), but we know what Cashner is capable of when he's healthy.  I wouldn't be surprised with this new front office that the Cubs will be mindful of a large innings jump. Cashner may well return to the bullpen next year with an eye toward building his strength up to be a starter by 2013, if not sooner.

Chris Carpenter -- Oh man.  Carpenter is the pitching version of Junior Lake for me this fall in terms of me getting all giddy.  He's always had a triple digit fastball and a filthy slider, but he always made you wonder what he could do if he could command it.  Well, this is what he can do: 5.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 1 walk versus 9 strikeouts in an extreme hitters league.

Marcus Hatley -- Hatley is the only Cub struggling.  He has an 0-2 record with an 11.81 ERA.  He's allowed 15 baserunners in just over 5 IP.  Hatley is more of a middle relief prospect and likely someone the Cubs are trying to find out if he should be someone they should protect on their 40 man roster.  It' safe to say they're in the clear to leave him exposed to the Rule 5.  It's doubtful Hatley has shown anyone he's ready to contribute to a major league bullpen this year.





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  • "I'm willing to live with the low walks if he can hit .300 with 25 HR, so we need to see that tool develop more."

    Fine ... just so long as the GM doesn't sign him to an 8 yr contract at 19 million with a full no-trade clause.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Nobody will do that with Vitters at this point-- too much risk, too much to prove...and improve.

  • Wow, John, thanks for the insight! With Carpenter doing as well as he is, I sure wouldn't mind seeing Marmol traded for talent. I don't think Marmol can get back to where he was. It's time to unload him.

  • In reply to pkm613:

    Carpenter is looking like a beast right now. I know he was upset that the Cubs didn't call him up in Sept., looks like he's responded in the right way.

  • John,

    Two quick questions for you. Why is Dolis not a part of this crew playing in the fall league? He has a great arm and could make a huge impact on the pen this coming season. If Dolis, Carpenter and possibly Cashner are in the pen next season, would the Cubs entertain the idea of trading Marmol in order to bring in either some rotation help or a run producer? (That being said, keep in mind that I would prefer to see Cashner in the rotation, until he proves that he is better suited for the pen, which I hope he never does.)

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think the Cubs are pretty happy with what they saw of Dolis this year. They are very high on him. Sometimes you send these guys to the fall league for different reasons: With Cashner it was to get him innings after a lost season,with Hatley it may have been to get more info to see if they should put him on the 40 man, and I think the Cubs brought Carpenter to see if he can keep improving his command.

    Those things were probably more important to them than seeing more of Dolis.

    I could see Carpenter and Cashner joining Wood and Marmol in the pen, but with a new philosophy coming in, perhaps they'll look to move Marmol, make Wood the stopgap closer, then maybe bringing in Dolis midseason as they begin to transition Cashner to the rotation. Lots of good arms and the Cubs will have to find innings for all of them somehow. It's probably a nice problem to have for the new front office and manager.

  • I hope the Cubs dont trade Lake. He needs 1-2 years for us to
    know what kind of player he really is.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm really beginning to like Lake a lot. I hope it doesn't come to that but we don't know how much Boston is asking for in return, and with Scutaro in an option, Iglesias being something of a disappointment with the bat, and the possible trade of Youkilis, you have to think they may need some help in the infield. They have Middlebrooks for 3rd but at SS they have question marks...Is Lowrie a true SS? Can Iglesias hit? It wouldn't surprise me if they've asked about Lake.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That doesn't mean he's in play, however. Perhaps the Cubs feel as strongly as you do.

  • It's nice to see Vitters hitting well, although my enthusiasm for him has diminished as of late. I think I still need ti see more of this from him before I get pumped up for him again. I think Carpenter has a chance this upcoming year to become a elite prospect, he already is a high prospect fro the Cubs but he can become one of the top pitching prospects if he continues to progress.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Carpenter with command is scary. It's been the only thing holding him back. IF he's really figured it out, he can be a legitimate closer option.

    As for Vitters, my excitement is tempered until he hits for more power and/or gets on base more. His value right now is tied 100% to his offense, so he needs to be outstanding in that area to make an impact as a starter.

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    I think Vitters would look better in a Royals' uniform, and Alex Gordon would look better in a Cubs' uniform.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Me too, and the Cubs probably do as well. The important part of the equation is do the Royals?

  • Is possible for the to also get a prospect in return besides Theo.
    Iglesias? If we give them Lake.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It's possible. However, IF Boston is indeed interested in Lake, I don't think they'd want to put all their eggs in that basket. He's still a player with some considerable bust potential, so the Red Sox might want to minimize their risk at SS by having both players. At least that's what I would do ;)

    The Cubs have a player, Logan Watkins, who will be in AA next season and is capable of playing SS, 2B, and OF. He's also a guy they're high on. He may be a possibility for Boston as well (and he has better plate discipline than Lake), but if they take a SS, it'll be one or the other, so the Cubs will still have some depth....and don't forget we already have Barney at the ML level too.

  • I for one am excited about our future, Bjax, Vitters, LeMa, Lake, Dolis, Carpenter, Clevinger, McNutt, will all be a level away. Counting our lower level talent you can't be nothing but excited. Watkins is one who I'm definenitly excited, he just seems like a ballplayer, maybe a Pedroia type player. Go Cubbies!!

  • In reply to PJS24:

    I am too. It's great to see our guys continuing to perform as they move up the ladder.

    Watkins is a hard-nosed player like Pedroia. He's athletic and he plays hard everyday. Pedroia is stronger, however. I think Watkins will get stronger, but he has a long way before he has the kind of sock that Pedroia does. That being said, he's got the same kind of mental makeup and he is faster than Pedroia. I think he's an underrated guy in our system.

  • John,

    Is all of this drama going to interfere with the Cubs ability to trade with Boston going forward? Not saying they need to make trades with the Red Sox, but you don't want to burn any bridges either.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Eddie, more recent reports describe the talks as "business-like and civil", but even if that weren't the case, I don't think it would carry over. If there was drama, it wouldn't have been between Epstein and Cherington, the two people who would be making the trades. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they both had trade ideas already. As we've seen, newly appointed GMs often go to their original team early on because they know those players so well. It happened when Dallas Green came here and he picked up a bunch of ex-Phillies (including a farm hand named Ryne Sandberg).

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