Cubs Notes: International prospects, Tango, Stanek GIFs, and Pitch F/X

Cubs Notes: International prospects, Tango, Stanek GIFs, and Pitch F/X
Trey Martin and Jeimer Candelario

Let's round up a few interesting links to take us into the evening...

  • Ben Badler of Baseball America takes a look at which teams have signed the most international prospects using the 2013 Baseball America Prospect Handbook as a guide (subscription required).  The Cubs are tied for 5th, signing 11 of the top international prospects, led by Jorge Soler, Jeimer Candelario, and Hak-Ju Lee, now with the Rays.  In addition to signing their own international guys, the Cubs have done a good job of acquiring a few through trade, including 3B Christian Villanueva and RHP Arodys Vizcaino.
  • Speaking of the BA Handbook, I haven't received mine yet but I'm getting antsy about it and reader emartinezjr was kind of enough to list the top 30 to help me get through the next few days.  We've already seen the top 10 from Baseball America.  Just missing the cut were Christian Villanueva, Juan Paniagua, and Alberto Cabrera.  Most of the 30 names are similar to my own list from November, but some nteresting names toward the bottom of the list include RHP Matt Loosen and a couple of my favorite sleepers: RHP Marcus Hatley and CF Trey Martin.
  • Jon Greenberg of ESPN does a nice interview with new Cubs sabermetric guru Tom Tango.  There's some great information here as you get a peek into the thought process of one of the most innovative baseball statisticians in the game today.  That in itself is great, but almost equally entertaining to me in the piece is how Tango is completely impervious to Greenberg's snark.  Give it a read.
  • Speaking of great info, Bleacher Nation did a podcast and guest Harry Pavlidis does a great job explaining Pitch F/X data.
  • We will be doing stuff on the draft soon (I promise!) but for those wanting to get an early start, Fangraphs has some great GIFs of Ryan Stanek's slider, which many think may be the best pitch in this year's draft.  Some sharp, two-plane break here from the slider.  Some scouts think that Stanek tends to fall in love with the pitch sometimes and from these GIFs, it's not hard to see why.

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  • Let's hope that having Cuban players in the system helps them
    in signing more in the international draft. I hope they have more
    money to spend than last year

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think it helps develop a presence down there. The Cubs brand is getting pretty well known in Cuba and throughout Latin America. The facilities are a big help too.

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    John. I know this is a loaded question with so much time left, but would you take the high school position player first and then stock up on pitcher, or would you take a college pitcher with the second pick? (If a college pitcher, would it be Stanek?)

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    With the first pick, I'm always, always taking the best player and until someone proves otherwise, it's probably Appel. If the best player turns out to be a non-pitcher, then I'm loading up on pitching over the next few picks, much like last season. Once you get lower in the draft, the info becomes less certain and you can be more flexible with need.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John what is your opinion of the thinking that a position player is more likely to make good on his potential than a pitcher, and its application to early first round picks to mitigate risk?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Statistically I believe that's true, especially college hitters.

  • Just remember that there is difference between the
    best athletic and the best player

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm referring to the best player but athleticism is definitely a factor.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A pitcher can be a better player.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Absolutely. I'm just using the word "player" generically to mean either a pitcher or position player.

  • Seems like the slider is so sick because most of it is late action. Plus it almost looks like a hanger before the late action, inducing the batter to swing.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Agreed. Good call...

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    There was a certain lefty like that once. His name was Steve Carlton. Seems he was pretty good.

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    Wicked looking Slider. How is his command with it? Does it rate as ++ at this point? Stanek has the body and arm of a #1 for sure but I want to see his where his command and durability are. Ifeverything was equal come draft day I take Stanek over Appel, who I feel will have an overworked arm. As of today I take Appel but things can change.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Don't forget Manaea too. Lots of options. I don't know if they should take Appel, but as of now he's the consensus BPA so I'm using him as a default #1 until someone proves otherwise.

    Not worried about an overworked arm with Appel at this point, but I reallyhope they monitor that this year at Stanford. Should be fun to watch those 3 and we can be pretty sure there will be another new name or two who will emerge.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is Appel's arm necessarily more over-worked than Stanek's or Manea's?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Not really. All those guys threw a lot of pitches last year.

  • They should have as many people as they can watching the top
    players in the draft. This has to be a "can't miss" pick

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm sure they're going to do have tons of info on that pick. It's huge for them. They need to be sure and they need to get the guy they think will be an impact talent.

  • John, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your articles and also weigh in a little on this topic. I've been reading this site almost daily for 5-6 months, and I have to say that your work is just truly superb. I've always been a huge Cub fan, but living in Arkansas, I've never really been privy to all of the minute details of the Cubs and their activities as much as many of you Chicagoland folks. The people who come to this site and post comments are also top notch, and I have really come to have a deeper love and appreciation for the Cubs and baseball as a whole as a result of the time I have spent reading here.

    As a devout Arkansas Razorback fan and Cubs fan, I would obviously very much love to see the Cubs go with Stanek. I am still learning all of the saber metrics and advanced analysis, and I don't really have much to offer in that regard. What I can tell you is this: Stanek has got some sick stuff. I am really glad you posted that GIF of his slider because I think that says it all. I think that some people have concerns about his durability because of his delivery, but even if he doesn't make it as a starter, I think he'd be a pretty good bet to make it as a closer. I guess we will see how it all pans out, but whichever way we go, I'm just excited that their seems to be a cohesive plan for the future. Thanks again!

  • In reply to Razorback Cub:

    Thanks Razorback, I appreciate the kind words.

    I'm really intrigued by Stanek. That slider is a major league out pitch right now. All he needs is that 3rd pitch, consistent command, and durability. I have to think he's going to get a lot of attention from Cubs scouts this spring.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He does seem to put a lot of stress on his arm with his delivery. But your right, that slider has Steve Carlton/Johan Santana slider written all over it.

  • Is it possible you write an article about the top 30 at some point, John?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Once I get the book I'll write a bit on it. I don't want to give too much away because BA wants to sell books, but I'll highlight some stuff.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's what I figured, but I would like to hear your take on it, thank you.

  • I know the media needs to write a story but can we please stop with the colin kaepernick drafted by the cubs and its the cubs loss that he did not sign with the cubs. He might can play football but there is no way of knowing he would have been a good baseball player.

  • In reply to seankl:

    It was just a flyer pick too. I don't think the Cubs truly expected to sign him and yeah, no way of knowing if he could have made it. He was just a raw arm. But like you say, people like a good story.

    But Kapernick and WRs Szczur and Samardzija could have given the Cubs one heck of an offense :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A bit OT here, but about Kaepernick as a QB, one thing I like about him is hes a gunslinger, most of his throws are 10-20 yds downfield, very little dink-and-dump with him. Hes Certainly made Crabtree a better WR.

  • john how is the overall pitching depth in this years draft ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    There is some depth in both the college and high school ranks, but it's not a particularly strong class. They are really going to have to do their homework. It's another reason why that 2nd pick is so important. Without a ton of top tier talent, you have to have those high picks this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think this draft will be as bad as originally thought. There will a lot of surprises if you know enough and are looking hard enough. Its going to be a fun draft because the players will surprise you. One of my favorites is an OF from NJ named Marcinczyk. I think he is going to surprise players.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I do agree there are always going to be surprises, sleepers, late bloomers and good players who will make an impact, but a thin, relatively weak draft gives you less margin for error. Everything I've heard indicates this year's crop is sub-par overall, but the good thing in baseball is that all you need to do is find an impact talent or two to make it a successful draft.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Also the reason that second round pick is way more important than picking up a free agent with the pick attached to him.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:


  • Good interview with Tom Tango. Second generation sabermetrics coming to tthe cubs. You can drown in data if you collect extraneous information (from video analyses), the trick is to collect the right information. Having someone who can help guide that when you are first setting up your information management system can make all the difference in how useful it turns out to be. It helps to have the guy on staff to say, well we always wanted to know this or this, so we could then make this assessment or determination. I think the first thing they will do is go through all the existing usual metrics and either tighten them up or replace them, that is the most direct way to apply this to get an edge over the competiton. Then at the same time they can add new parameters where they are fairly certain they can get useful information from them. Should be good, be nice to see the payoff in the FO management decisions they are making.

    The interesting thing to keep in mind is when you watch the games, all the data and statistical metrics are always and always have been right there in front of you, it is just a matter of keepinng track of a few things and doing the math.

    Hard to believe the cubs are really doing this 21'st century baseball stuff, I hope this doesn't mean they will be getting rid of the wgn bikini cam.

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    In reply to eddie35:

    I think we'll see their assessment of defense improve. My main takeaway from Tango's conversation is that defensive stats don't have the same level of depth or value that offensive stats do. I'll bet that's an area he'll be focusing on.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Here's a video of a conversation between Bill James and Larry Bowa discussing defensive metrics and James brings up Tango's name:

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