Outfielders at instructs will try and tap into power potential

Outfielders at instructs will try and tap into power potential
Jorge Soler

Yesterday we talked about the pitchers, today it's the position players.  Because it's a large group, I'll start with the outfielders and then move on to catchers and infielders in a separate piece.

One player noticeably absent from the list is Reggie Golden, who was certainly a prospect going into the year but had yet another devastating injury.  The fact that he's not here tells me he's still not 100%.  I would think the Cubs would try to make up as much as possible for his lost time had he been able to go.

If there's a theme with this group, it's unlocking some of the power potential that all these players have. Whether it's more extra base hits, the 20 HR potential of Albert Almora, or the light tower power of Jorge Soler, it seems like all of these players will be looking to turn it up a notch for next season.

  • Albert Almora, 18, CR: Almora is going to be a busy man this fall.  The Cubs let him get his feet wet this season in AZ and Boise, but now it's also going to be about developing a more patient approach.  Almora isn't a free swinger, but he was advanced enough to make consistent contact (13 Ks in 145 PAs) with pretty much anything that was being thrown up there.  His ability to eventually hit for power will depend on learning to wait for pitches he can drive.  I'd be surprised if he didn't vastly improve on the 2 walks he drew this season.  I wonder also if the Cubs will tone down his leg kick much like they've been doing with Starlin Castro.  His defense is advanced.  Almora will likely start the season in low Class A.
  • Jorge Soler, 20, RF:  Soler and Almora will be linked this fall and probably for their entire careers if we're lucky enough to see both make it.  Almora will continue to help Soler learn English and adapt to American culture.  And it probably won't hurt to be around someone who works as hard as the Cubs future CF.  For Soler it's mostly about gaining experience and continuing to shake off some rust. The raw power is obviously there, it's a matter of dialing it up more consistently.   He has shown a good ability to recognize pitches and I think he'll eventually draw more walks and be more selective as to pitches he can drive.   Given his age, it wouldn't be surprising to see Soler jump to Daytona despite just 20 games in Peoria, but the Cubs may want to keep him paired with Almora to start the season.
  • Yasiel Balaguert, 19, LF:  Balaguert  probably won't stray too far from the other OF'ers, having played with Soler in Cuba.  Balaguert was a disappointment this past season.  He didn't show the solid hit tool I expected and looked a little out of shape.  He'd played CF in Cuba but no way did he look fast enough to play that in the U.S.  That will put more pressure on his bat.  A return to the Midwest League seems like his most likely destination.
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr., 19, CF: Dunston really struggled at Boise but picked it up when he dropped down to AZ.  For a player that is considered a bit raw, he did show a good eye at the plate, walking in about 10% of his PAs.  Dunston has quick hands and may have a chance to develop some power as he fills out.  He also runs well.  More famous because of who his dad is, he's a legit prospect and has the ability to make it to the bigs on his own merits.  He'll be 20 and probably starts the year in extended spring training with another crack at Boise in the cards.
  • Trey Martin, 19, CF: Martin was one of my favorite players at Boise.  It's easy to get forgotten on that prospect-laden team, but Martin made sure he got noticed.  He oozes athleticism and put it on display on defense with more than his share of highlight reel catches, though he's not as smooth and instinctive as Almora is out there.  He also runs well, but is a bit of a long strider and I don't think it's going to translate to stealing bases.  Martin, though, is not just an athlete playing baseball.  He can hit and started to show some extra base power at Boise.  More of a sleeper prospect.  We'll likely see him start at low A ball.
  • Trevor Gretzky, 20, LF: Gretzky was one of the hottest hitters on the AZ team down the stretch, but it was mostly singles (1 double, 1 triple no HRs in 132 PAs).  He shows good plate discipline and for him it's going to be about tapping into the power potential lurking in that 6'4", 190 lbs. frame. Given his best positions are LF and 1B,  he'll need to fill out some and gain strength to supply the kind of power the Cubs prefer to see at those spots.
  • Bijan Rademacher, 21, OF:  Some thought his future was on the mound but the Cubs kept him in the OF and he immediately hit his way out of Arizona and Boise, then got off to a nice start in Peoria before stalling down the stretch.  Rademacher showed a nice arm, extra base power, and some athleticism in the outfield.  He's the oldest player on this list so the Cubs may see if they can get him up to speed for Daytona and the FSL.


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  • Interesting that Almora is the youngest, but the most polished and advanced prospect on this list.

    Other than Szczur, do we have any legit OF prospects between this group and the MLB club?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Javy Baez?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So far as Baez moving to OF... I have no doubt he could do it, but why? Half the scouts now believe that he can stick @ SS. Why move a premium glove out of the infield? I saw him play 3 positions (SS/C/1B) at a tournament the winter before he was drafted. He started throwing in the bullpen in-between games and I honestly thought he was going to start @ pitcher for them in the championship game (he didn't). I asked him if there was anything he couldn't do on the ball field and his answer was "play outfield".... lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes. Jae-Hoon Ha, who played all year in AA and hit .273/.352/.385 with 28 doubles, 3 triples and 6 home runs. He's generally considered the farm system's best defensive outfielder. Most scouts see him as a 4th OF rather than an everyday player, but he's still only 21.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Not any that are currently playing there now. Ha is a possible 4th or 5th OFer. Same with Rubi Silva, who'll be playing in the Fall League.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's what I thought.... Thanks everyone!

    Who are potential fits there from our current infield prospects? Lake? Vitters?

    I haven't seen Lake play. I know you think of him as a potential utility IF guy, but with his speed/range and arm can he profile @ OF? I'm not unhappy with what I've seen from Vitters defensively at 3B. Just curious what our OF will look like post Sori & Kim's Husband until Almora/Soler, etc.. arrive.

  • Looking at the list of free agents this year......looking at pitching mostly...many of these guys are over 35 years in is the list of all the free agents, thanks to

    Rod Barajas (37) - $3.5MM club option, no buyout
    Henry Blanco (41) - $1.24MM mutual option
    Chris Iannetta (30) - $5MM club option with a $250K buyout; player can void
    Gerald Laird (33)
    Russell Martin (30)
    Brian McCann (29) - $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Jose Molina (37) - $1.5MM club option with a $300K buyout
    Mike Napoli (31)
    Wil Nieves (35)
    Miguel Olivo (34) - $3MM club option with a $750K buyout
    Ronny Paulino (32)
    A.J. Pierzynski (36)
    Humberto Quintero (33)
    David Ross (36)
    Carlos Ruiz (34) - $5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Brian Schneider (36)
    Kelly Shoppach (33)
    Chris Snyder (32) - $4MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Yorvit Torrealba (34)
    Matt Treanor (37)

    First basemen
    Lance Berkman (36)
    Jason Giambi (42)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Aubrey Huff (36) - $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Casey Kotchman (30)
    Adam LaRoche (33) - $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
    Carlos Lee (37)
    James Loney (29)
    Xavier Nady (34)
    Mike Napoli (31)
    Lyle Overbay (36)
    Carlos Pena (35)
    Ty Wigginton (35) - $4MM club option with a $500K buyout

    Second basemen
    Jeff Baker (32)
    Robinson Cano (30) - $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Mike Fontenot (33)
    Orlando Hudson (35) - $8MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Maicer Izturis (32)
    Kelly Johnson (31)
    Adam Kennedy (37)
    Jeff Keppinger (33)
    Jose Lopez (29)
    Ryan Theriot (33)

    Jason Bartlett (33)
    Yuniesky Betancourt (31)
    Ronny Cedeno (30)
    Stephen Drew (30) - $10MM mutual option with a $1.35MM buyout
    Alex Gonzalez (35) - $4MM vesting option. Details here.
    Cesar Izturis (33)
    Jhonny Peralta (31) - $6MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Marco Scutaro (37)
    Omar Vizquel (46)
    Jack Wilson (35)

    Third basemen
    Miguel Cairo (39)
    Eric Chavez (35)
    Mark DeRosa (38)
    Brandon Inge (36)
    Maicer Izturis (32)
    Jose Lopez (29)
    Placido Polanco (37) - $5.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
    Mark Reynolds (29) - $11MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Scott Rolen (38)
    Ty Wigginton (35) - $4MM club option with a $500K buyout
    David Wright (30) - $16MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Kevin Youkilis (34) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout

    Left fielders
    Melky Cabrera (28)
    Jonny Gomes (32)
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Josh Hamilton (32)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Reed Johnson (36)
    Andruw Jones (36)
    Austin Kearns (33)
    Carlos Lee (37)
    Ryan Ludwick (34) - $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Juan Pierre (35)
    Juan Rivera (34) - $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Delmon Young (27)

    Center fielders
    Alfredo Amezaga (35)
    Rick Ankiel (33)
    Michael Bourn (30)
    Curtis Granderson (32) - $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Angel Pagan (31)
    Cody Ross (32)
    Grady Sizemore (30)
    B.J. Upton (28)
    Shane Victorino (32)

    Right fielders
    Matt Diaz (35)
    Kosuke Fukudome (36)
    Torii Hunter (37)
    Andruw Jones (36)
    Ryan Ludwick (34) - $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Xavier Nady (34)
    Juan Rivera (34) - $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Cody Ross (32)
    Ichiro Suzuki (39)
    Nick Swisher (32)

    Designated hitters
    Bobby Abreu (39)
    Johnny Damon (39)
    Travis Hafner (36) - $13MM club option with a $2.75MM buyout
    Raul Ibanez (41)
    Hideki Matsui (39)
    David Ortiz (38)
    Luke Scott (35) - $6MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Jim Thome (42)
    Delmon Young (27)

    Starting pitchers
    Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
    Erik Bedard (34)
    Joe Blanton (32)
    Bartolo Colon (40)
    Aaron Cook (34)
    Kevin Correia (32)
    Jorge De La Rosa (32) - $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout
    Ryan Dempster (36)
    R.A. Dickey (38) - $5MM club option with a $300K buyout
    Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
    Jeff Francis (32)
    Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
    Freddy Garcia (37)
    Zack Greinke (28)
    Jeremy Guthrie (34)
    Rich Harden (31)
    Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
    Roberto Hernandez (32) - $9MM club option
    Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Edwin Jackson (29)
    Hiroki Kuroda (38)
    Francisco Liriano (29)
    Kyle Lohse (34)
    Derek Lowe (40)
    Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Shaun Marcum (31)
    Jason Marquis (34)
    Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
    Brandon McCarthy (29)
    Kevin Millwood (38)
    Jamie Moyer (50)
    Roy Oswalt (35)
    Carl Pavano (37)
    Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
    Anibal Sanchez (29)
    Jonathan Sanchez (30)
    Ervin Santana (30) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Joe Saunders (32)
    James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Carlos Villanueva (29)
    Chien-Ming Wang (33)
    Kip Wells (36)
    Randy Wolf (36)
    Chris Young (34)
    Carlos Zambrano (32)

    Grant Balfour (35) - $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout
    Jonathan Broxton (29)
    Matt Capps (29) - $6MM club option with a $250K buyout
    Brandon League (30)
    Ryan Madson (32) - $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout
    Brett Myers (32) - $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
    J.J. Putz (36) - $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Mariano Rivera (43)
    Fernando Rodney (36) - $2.5MM club option with a $250K buyout
    Joakim Soria (29) - $8MM club option with a $750K buyout
    Jose Valverde (35)

    Right-handed relievers
    Jeremy Accardo (31)
    Mike Adams (34)
    Luis Ayala (35)
    Miguel Batista (42)
    Shawn Camp (37)
    Todd Coffey (32) - $2.5M club option for 2013 with a $300K buyout
    Francisco Cordero (38)
    Juan Cruz (34)
    Octavio Dotel (39) - $3.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Chad Durbin (35)
    Kyle Farnsworth (37)
    Jason Frasor (35)
    Kevin Gregg (35)
    Jason Grilli (36)
    LaTroy Hawkins (38)
    Clay Hensley (33)
    Livan Hernandez (38)
    Bobby Jenks (32)
    Brad Lidge (36)
    Matt Lindstrom (33) - $4MM club option with a $200K buyout
    Derek Lowe (40)
    Mark Lowe (30)
    Brandon Lyon (33)
    Guillermo Mota (39)
    Juan Carlos Oviedo (29)
    Vicente Padilla (35)
    Brad Penny (35)
    Joel Peralta (37)
    Chad Qualls (34)
    Ramon Ramirez (31)
    Jon Rauch (34)
    Francisco Rodriguez (31)
    Takashi Saito (43)
    Rafael Soriano (33) - $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout
    Carlos Villanueva (29)
    Jamey Wright (38)

    Left-handed relievers
    Jeremy Affeldt (34)
    Sean Burnett (30) - $3.5MM mutual option with a $250K buyout
    Tim Byrdak (39)
    Randy Choate (37)
    Pedro Feliciano (35) - $4.5MM club option
    Brian Fuentes (37) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Mike Gonzalez (35)
    J.P. Howell (28)
    Will Ohman (35)
    Darren Oliver (42) - $3MM club option with a $500K buyout
    J.C. Romero (37)
    Hisanori Takahashi (38)

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I wrote a piece earlier on the types of pitchers I thought the Cubs would pursue in free agency.

  • ive heard that soler and almora have 5 tool talent but what are their future offensive numbers as in average homeruns ops obs etc.. if they do reach the potential what would the numbers be?

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    Soler has the better power and has a chance to be a monster offensively. Almora isn't quite at that level with the bat. I don't think either will be huge threats on the bases Soler is more of a 30-35 HR potential guy while Almora might be more like 15-20. Really hard to guess OBP but I imagine they can hit 280 or .290 or so, perhaps more for Almora with solid walk rates.

    A lot of Almora's value will come from playing excellent defense at a premium defensive position.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - Almora's solid walk rate? You said in he story he had 2 all year long. Are you referring to his high school numbers?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He doesn't have one now, but I don't think he'll develop one at time. Pitch recognition looked good and I think he'll start drawing walks as he learns to apply that skill better.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you mean by "Huge threats on the bases"? Almora is widely considered to have better than average speed and plus instincts on the bases. He was 5 for 7 in SB's in 33 games. I don't think 25-30 SB's annually is unrealistic for him..... Soler turned out to be a BEAST on the bases. He was 12 for 13 in SB's in just 34 games. He gets compared to Sosa a lot for his tools. I know some believe he will lose a step when he fills out. But is it unreasonable to think he can be a 30/30 guy? I think he certainly has that potential, though 20-25 SB's to go with those 30+ HR's is more likely..... I know neither are in Billy Hamilton's (that's who we need playing 2B & batting lead-off) class, but I wouldn't discount their SB potential just yet.

    When you add in Baez as a legit 30/30 prospect and B-Jax's 20/20 potential to go with Castro... we have some pretty toolsy offensive power/speed guys to get excited about.

  • what are the offensive numbers that almora and soler can put up (homeruns batting average obs ops etc...) if they reach their full offensive potential

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    sorry didnt pop up the first time i did it

  • No way will the Cubs go after big names in the draft. Most likely they go after players who had past physical problems and are on the rebound.

    Only trade i see this off season is with Marmol. But don't count out trading Vitters.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'm assuming you mean free agency and if so, I totally agree. I don't think they'll be going after big name guys. If there's a guy less than 30 years old, they may kick the tires and show some interest...but I don't think they'll get into bidding wars if that's what it will come down to.

    I also believe they'll try and trade Marmol. I don't know how much value Josh Vitters has at this point, so I think they'll keep him in AAA and give him another shot to improve his defense and approach.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    RE: Free Agency, I agree the Cubs will look to sign a starting pitcher or two, since we are so thin.

    I don't foresee hardly any position player signings though, barring trades; about the only one is maybe 3B, where we probably need a veteran as Vitters won't be ready. Nobody great though, either Ian Steward again, or someone like Wigginton or Scott Rolen, cheap and at the tail end of their careers.

    Getting Recker probably saved us from having to sign a veteran C (not that he'll be in the majors necessarily, but we needed someone at Iowa, and that was going to be Clevenger if he had to sign a FA)

    But you have to figure in our mode, we're probably playing our opening day lineup, barring trades of course, except for 3B.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I was actually thinking about doing an article on 3B free agents as a follow up to SP FAs.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What are your thoughts on going after David Wright in 2014? (On the assumption that the Mets exercise the option this year.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Great player, but I don't see the Cubs making that kind of investment yet. He's actually tailed off quite a bit in the 2nd half, but I think someone will still pay big, whether it's the Mets or another big market team.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Junior Lake's trade won't surprise me.

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    In reply to tim815:

    It would surprise me if a team gave up something of value in return for Lake. He made no progress this year, and is very marginal at this point.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    i agree, Lake is unlikely to bring much in return now. And because of that he probably won't be traded. We are not just giving away assets. But he did make progress this year. He did well at AA.

  • In reply to John57:

    I agree. Not much value there. I'd say he held his own, which to me was pretty good considering AA is a big jump, but I think teams have to ask themselves where he's going to play. Defense not good enough for SS, offense not good for the corner positions. He still has a ways to go.

  • What are your thoughts on keeping marmol? I know he is 30, but relief pitcher seems to be a position where players can be productive thru their mid 30's. He may have 5-6 productive years left. The current staff seems to have gotten through to him.

    Just food for thought...

  • In reply to cubbiefan60:

    Relievers are pretty interchangeable, so you don't really want to start paying $10M or more for Marmol when realistically you can get someone as good or less than half of that.

    His salary will go up, his value will go down and he might be 33-34 by the time the Cubs are competing.

    I'd rather they trade him while he has a little value left

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    How much value does he have? If you were another team, would you trust him to be your closer? And if you don't (which I wouldn't), would you pay $9 mil to a set-up guy?

    He has trade value, IMO, only if the Cubs agree to pick up a chunk of his salary. And we probably would. Even then, we don't get a ton back. Maybe a high-ceiling, low-floor type of reliever, but we have a whole bunch of those now in the minors.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Not a ton, and I'm sure the Cubs would pay much of the salary. The value comes strictly from having two plus pitches, that 96 mph fastball and that slider, and the relative youth to expect he can maintain that kind of stuff. Somewhere,hopefully, there's a pitching coach who is eager to get his hands on him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    As opposed to having teammates eager to get their hands on him -- which is what happened after most of hist appearances in April and May.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! And most Cubs fans, as I remember. He was awful.

  • Talk out of Miami...Ozzie might bet the boot.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    get the boot.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Kenny Williams has wet himself he's laughing so hard.

  • John, question for you about another outfield prospect we haven't talked about recently. Kevin Encarnacion? Where would you rank him and where do you think he plays next year. He got off to a great start but then we didn't hear much about him?

  • In reply to ddbennett34:

    He sort of stalled and then got passed up by Jeffrey Baez, who's a CF with good speed and some power potential -- and he's younger than Encarnacion.

  • I can't wait for Kane County games next spring. Almora AND Soler? Be still my heart!

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Ha! Maybe Soler. He could just go to Daytona -- but even without him that team figures to be stacked.

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