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10 Cubs prospect breakout candidates

10 Cubs prospect breakout candidates
Trey McNutt

Reader supercapo asked me an interesting question yesterday about which 3 Cubs prospects had the best chance to breakout in 2013.  Now by breakout, I'm going to assume we're talking about prospects who are not yet in the limelight.  It's safe to say that Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler are already well known in prospect circles, so for purposes of this piece, we'll leave them out.  That's not to say they can't break through even more and suddenly reach Oscar Tavares or Jurickson Profar status, but this focus is going to be on the prospects outside the top 100 who have a chance to make a name for themselves this season.

As I thought about this, I started wondering what defines a breakout player.  There are so many ways to do it and, for different reasons, I found myself compiling a list in my head that was much larger than 3 prospects.

So, instead of 3 players, I'm going to go with 10 pitchers and position players and break them up into 5 categories.

With that, these are 10 prospects whom I think have a chance to outperform expectations in 2013...

Injury do-overs

These players had miserable 2012 seasons.  One tried to come back from a serious injury while the other sustained one early in the season.

  • Robert Whitenack, RHP: Whitenack burst on the scene in 2011, showing a fastball that peaked at 96 mph.  He junked his super cool, but hard to control knuckle-curve in favor of a slider and suddenly his command was off-the-charts good.  Then, right when there were whispers that Whitenack could rise to the majors that very season, disaster struck.  Whitenack felt the dreaded twinge, underwent TJ surgery and, although he worked hard to make it back in 2012, he just wasn't the same pitcher.  He threw about 90, the slider was flat, and the command wavered.  Now fully healthy again, the hope is that we see the 2011 Robert Whitenack -- and if we do, we can be sure we'll start hearing the whispers of reaching the majors again in 2013.
  • Reggie Golden RF: Remember him?  Before there was the toolsy Jorge Soler, there was the toolsy Reggie Golden and his RF athleticism, strong arm, and prodigious power potential.  What was especially encouraging is that for a raw player, Golden seemed to pick up the game quickly, showing surprising pitch recognition and selectivity (10.6% walk rate at Boise in 2011).  Perhaps a year off will allow him to finally heal  and maybe, just maybe his athleticism and maturity can help him quickly make up for the loss of development time.  Either way, it's probably make or break for Golden this year.

The comeback kids

These guys had uneven years but to me, they showed enough skill and talent to become consistently better players in 2013...

  • Dillon Maples, RHP: Maples also had an injury issue slowing him down, though it wasn't nearly as serious as Whitenack.  His arm was just fine last year as he displayed a fastball that sometimes sat at 96-97 and a curveball that was about as unhittable as it was uncontrollable (10 walks in 10 IP).  The concern with Maples is an awkward delivery that almost certainly leads to his command issues and probably some of the nagging arm issues as well.  The Cubs have worked on cleaning up and simplifying the delivery this offseason.  Reportedly they have been pleased with the results so far.  If Maples can harness his potent 1-2 combo, he'll move quickly.
  • Zeke DeVoss, 2B:  DeVoss had a disappointing year after a good debut in 2011 and has gotten lost in the 2B shuffle.  I got a chance to see DeVoss firsthand often last season.  He's a smallish but wiry guy.  Not as much raw speed as I thought but he's very athletic and a smart baserunner.  He also takes a ton of pitches and I sometimes wondered if he was too selective at times.  Few Cubs prospects saw more pitches than DeVoss last season and my hope is that it pays off this season.  I would like to see him to continue to grind out ABs but I'd like to see him be a tad more aggressive and pounce on hittable pitches.  He's strong enough to shoot balls into the gaps and fast enough to run out a few ground balls.  He should hit better than the .249 average he hit last year while still maintaining a healthy walk rate.  Defensively, he has the range and arm to play 2B, but he's still a work in progress.

Reaching the next level

These guys are top 10 prospects for the Cubs but nobody considers them elite on a national level.  Not yet, anyway...

  • Pierce Johnson, RHP:  This is a lofty choice because much is already expected from Johnson, but it's mostly from a Cubs-centric point of view.  Nationally, he's just another high-round pick.  To the Cubs, he was a mid first round talent who only slipped because he missed two weeks late in the season.  It turns out he's fine.  The Cubs will have to hope he can stay that way.  Johnson doesn't throw quite as hard as other young Cubs prospects such as Juan Paniagua, Dillon Maples, or Duane Underwood, but he throws plenty hard enough.  Johnson is able to consistently throw 93-94 and touch 96.  He has a second plus pitch, a power curveball, that is a legit strikeout offering as well.  He can also mix in a hard cutter and is developing a solid change. That's what sets him apart from the other Cubs young pitchers.  He's simply more advanced and could even start the year in Daytona.  If he succeeds there, perhaps even earning a mid-season promotion to AA, then we'll start hearing a lot more about Johnson from guys outside the Cubs organization.
  • Jeimer Candelario, 3B:  Keith Law stole some of my thunder on this one by putting him in his top 110 but most prospect experts don't have him quite that high.  What's impressive about Candelario is that he has such an advanced feel for hitting that, despite being it's youngest player, he held his own in the middle of a powerful Boise lineup.  At times, Candelario seemed over-matched.  He's also still growing into his big frame, so the numbers, particularly on the power side, didn't meet expectations.  But perhaps we were all being a bit unrealistic in retrospect. We're talking about an 18 year old kid playing pro ball in the U.S. for the first time.  Boise, Idaho is about as far away in terms of miles and culture as Candelario can possibly get from the Dominican Republic.  Add that while he was adapting to all this, it wasn't unusual for him to face pitchers that were about 4 years older than he was -- all while getting to know a whole new set of teammates.  No other Cub made the jump from the DSL to the NWL that season.  Despite all that, Candelario hit a respectable .281/.345/.396 and seemed to get more comfortable as the year went on.  This year, he'll be coming to Kane County, which is just a one step jump and he'll have a year's experience worth of life and baseball in the U.S.  With his focus squarely on demolishing baseballs and improving his 3B defense, Candelario could carve out a big name for himself this year even amongst all the great prospects scheduled to play at Kane this year.

"Late" bloomers

Not really late as both are still young and far from their peak years.  One player has had to learn the nuances of the game while the other has struggled with nagging injuries and inconsistency.  A fresh start in 2013 may do them both good...

  • Matt Szczur, CF: Let's start from the beginning.  He's an athletic player, but coming from a football background and a cold weather state, he just didn't develop the necessary baseball skills early on in his career.  Despite great speed, he didn't run the bases well nor did he cover a lot of ground in CF.  His body was built for football and it affected his flexibility and arm strength.  He was aggressive at the plate.  He was, in short, a football player playing baseball and for awhile, his pure athleticism kept him afloat.  Szczur has worked ridiculously hard to shore up every single one of those aforementioned weaknesses.  He is now considered a plus defender with a solid arm, a good baserunner, and he has a good eye at the plate.  Like DeVoss, he saw a lot of pitches in 2012 and sometimes that can pay off down the road.  But there's still one big question. Will he hit?  Szczur once again went to work this offseason.  This time to improve a swing that uses too much upper body and sometimes has an awkward, sweeping follow-through that costs him bat speed.  The fall league was hit or miss for Szczur.  At least while I was there.  At times, I saw a good, balanced, hard swing and at others I saw him revert to old habits.  Szczur may have progressed enough in most areas to already  be considered a 4th or 5th OF'er prospect at the very least.  Whether he can me more than that is going to depend on developing a swing that will allow him to consistently drive pitches into the gaps rather than settle for just putting the bat on the ball.
  • Trey McNutt, RHP:  If you catch Trey McNutt on the right day you'll see a pitcher who repeats his delivery well, throws in the mid 90s, and has a nasty breaking ball -- one with a curve like break and slider velocity.  If you squint really hard, you might even see a little  young Kerry Wood in the 6'4", 220 lbs. McNutt.  Unfortunately, those days have been frustratingly scarce of late.   He's had some minor obstacles/injuries, including a Wood-like recurring blister problem, which hasn't made things any easier.  But if McNutt is healthy, he has the athleticism, makeup, and talent to put it all together quickly.  His stuff is still potentially as good as any pitcher in the Cub system.  He just needs to stay healthy and throw strikes.  The Cubs are putting him in the bullpen for now, but as we've seen with Jeff Samardzija and Alberto Cabrera, the Cubs have no qualms about returning athletic, big-bodied, strong-armed pitchers to the rotation once they start figuring it out.

Sleepers

A couple of guys whom I think are underrated as prospects, but some polish and physical maturity could allow their natural athleticism and talent to blossom into big results on the baseball field...

  • Jose Arias, RHP: I got a chance to see Arias pitch in instructs and was impressed.  He's a tall, big-bodied pitcher with a live arm who can reach the mid 90s.  He over-matched the Dodgers prospects that day, to the point where more than a couple of the players tried to "cheat" on their swings by starting early.  That only seemed to make things worse for them because Arias also had a good curve and a solid change going on that day.  Afterward, by happy coincidence, he took a break and sat right next to me.  I seized the opportunity and asked him about his performance.  He told me he'd been pleased with the progress of his offspeed stuff -- not just that day, but in general that fall.  We know he can throw hard.  And he can be intimidating with his mound presence.  If he can carry over that secondary stuff into the season, then maybe we'll see him dominate MWL hitters in the same way he dominated those Dodgers prospects.
  • Trey Martin, CF: Martin is a long, loose-limbed fluid athlete who eats up ground in the OF defensively while also displaying a strong throwing arm.  But he's not just an athlete playing baseball, he has great body control and hand-eye coordination which help him make good hard contact  at the plate.  His swing gets a little long as he's still not filled out and doesn't yet have the strength to hit for consistent power.  But I think that as he matures physically, we'll see him shorten up and potentially settle into a comfortable 15 HR/year guy with plenty of doubles and triples.  Martin is still putting things together and it's hard to say when (or if) it will click for him, but once he matures, both physically and in terms of baseball specific skills, he has all the raw tools to give the Cubs yet another top CF prospect.

These are my 10 guys.  I'm curious to know who some of your breakout candidates are....so I turn the question back on to you all...

Which 3 prospects (or more) do you believe will break out big for the Cubs this year?

 

 

Filed under: prospects

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  • Thanks John, great information. I'm going to go with Junior Lake this year.

    Planning on trekking from Kansas to catch games in Des Moines, Kane County and the Mother Ship (the Friendly Confines). Especially excited about Kane County!

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    Thanks!

    Lake! Now there's another guy with tools and athleticism who can be scary if he figures it out.

    Let me know when you go to Kane. There's a good chance I'll be there.

  • My additional candidates are:

    1. Dan Vogelbach - Keep putting up OPS's > 1, big boy, and you'll move up the charts quickly.

    2. Ben Wells - Get healthy and stay healthy all year.

    3. Gioskar Amaya - Keep your OPS high and improve your defense.

    4. Tayler Scott - Improve your command in the strike zone.

    5. Jae-Hoon Ha - Hit more long balls and stop running into walls.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Great choices and comments! I think Wells is my favorite on that list. It may be the only reason I didn't pick him is because I did it last year and I take full responsibility for jinxing him :)

    I also think if Vogelbach hits at full season ball and surprises with his defense, he's going to silence a lot of his doubters.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Id love to see it. Saw Big V several times down in AZ and his power is as advertised. Does appear to have relatively good feet for his size, but limited lateral movement. Hands look very quick and appears to have good strike zone knowledge, something not seen much in a 19YO.

  • Thats great news about Dillon Maples & Jose Arias.

    Arodys, Paniagua, Pierce & Whitenack are the guys I'm m keeping my eye on the most. These seem to be the guys that will determine how close we are to putting some farm talent in the rotation.

    Id also like to see how Tayler Scott progresses as well as a few DOSL pitchers Daury Torres & Carlos Rodriguez. I would guess they would be coming stateside this summer?

    Between developing these players, the draft, & the trade deadline, I can see all experts giving the Cubs a top 5 farm system.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Those 4 pitchers loom huge for the Cubs pitching plans over the next 2 years. If they can get some good years out of those guys, it's really going to ease the pressure to get pitching from the outside.

    I don't get into DSL players too much only because I don't really see them, scouting reports are hard to come by, and stats aren't very useful at that level. It makes quality, accurate assessment very difficult. That said, those two guys performed well and could get a look at AZ this year.

  • Logan Watkins......Josh Vitters.......Ben Wells

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I like the Wells choice a lot. Vitters is a bold choice. To me, Watkins has already kind of broken out. He's a good, polished player.

  • 1) Dan Vogelbach - 1B - has been talked about many times but, I love to see the combo of raw power & avg from the left side of the plate. I'm really interested to see if he can progress thru the system and push his way to Wrigley.
    2) Barret Loux - RHP - also been talked about - I'm really interested to see what kind of pitcher he is and look forward to an exceptional season & quick rise thru the ranks.
    3) Michael Jensen RHP - had a nice season last year at 11-5 w/ 115k to only 40w. He is probably going to Kane County and I think he might better those numbers and lower the era a tick.

  • In reply to jaxx51:

    Nice...I like the Jensen choice a lot. Polished pitcher and good enough stuff to stick as a starter. I think he goes to Daytona though. Pitched at Peoria last year.

  • Lendy Castillo has cleared waivers.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Hooray!! Glad we got to keep him. Thanks Caps!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, good deal, like we can develop him as the young inexperienced pitcher that he is instead of throwing him out there to get eaten by MLB hitters, nothing to lose there.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Excellent news.

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    In reply to Caps:

    Rules question: how long before he is Rule 5 eligible again?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think he'll be Rule 5 again after the season, so he'll have to show something if that's true. I could be wrong there, though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Rule 5 being carried on MLB 25-man is one season. That has been satisfied.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If he is not put on the 40 man roster after the season ends, he will be eligible for rule 5 draft next December.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Woot!

  • In reply to Caps:

    Now it will be interesting to see when they make the last move to get to 40. In order to let sleeping dogs lie, I will not name my choice for being DFA'd.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Very interesting indeed.

  • Most of my picks have been mentioned already but I'll be watching Tony Zych, and Arismendy Alcantara to make big jumps, and because I don't think the D-backs will hang on to him, Starlin Peralta.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Some pretty good talent with those 3. All 3 were on my giant list (as many of the other prospects mentioned) before I started whittling down.

    I think Zych could end up at Wrigley by the end of the year. Alcantara is so athletic and gifted. Going to be hard not to keep an eye on him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Alcantara had a fairly good year playing in the MWL, a league that's tough on hitters. Never seen him, but going off his stats looks like a solid BA with doubles power and smooth hands defensively. Another middle infielder to watch.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Alcantara was in the FSL this past year. Alcantara has more than doubles power - it's not impossible to envision that combination of bat speed and loft in his swing generating 12-15 HR's a year.

    Actually, some folks feel like the bigger issue is his defense right now. As of now, the tools are there, IMO (although some have argued that they think he'll end up being too big for short ... I'm not sold on that, yet). A lot of his defensive issues seem ... fixable, though.

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    My 10 -- without John's nice groups:
    -Jeff Baez
    -Carlos Rodriguez (DSL pitcher -- his numbers are just wrong and only turns 19 in July)
    -Roni Torreyes
    -Pierce Johnson
    -Trey Martin
    -[Name of the week] Paniagua
    -Rashad Crawford
    -Robert Whitenack
    -Shawon Dunston, Part Deux
    -Carlos Penalver

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm a Dunston fan. Hopefully he adjusts better this year. Crawford is an insane athlete. if he can translate that into baseball skills he could be a pretty exciting player.

    Favorite choice (other than those that overlap mine!) on the list though, might be Jeffrey Baez.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Actually according to the Cubs website Rodriguez will turn 18 in July.
    His numbers were pretty dominate last year though.

  • John, On Whitenack, guys who throw the slider for the first time almost always seem to develop elbow problems. Wasn't he more of a power sinker type, similiar to Brandon Webb? Hope he doesn't develop Webbs arm problems.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Webb is not a bad comparison at all. Whitenack is a bit different. He doesn't have the same movement on the two seamer as Webb did (few do).

    However, Whitenack is 6'5" and he uses every inch of that. What makes his fastball so effective is not so much that he can touch 96 every so often, but that he throws it with such a sharp, downward plane. If he can sit at 92-93, regain the bite on his slider, and pitch with the kind of command he did in 2011 then I think he'll be a big league starter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well ... then you can say any power sinker guy is like Webb? I understand why you made the comparison, but Webb's secondaries were, at his peak, better than how Whitenack's secondary stuff is currently viewed, and hence why Webb was considered a a TOR starter at his peak and Whitenack is viewed as more of a guy with a mid-rotation ceiling. I like Whitenack a ton and have been saying positive things elsewhere (the velocity was solid when I saw him ... hit 92), but I think the Webb comp is tough for me to buy.

    A better comp might be Chien-Ming Wang at his peak, as Wang's secondaries were always a bit spotty, akin to how Whitenack's secondaries are currently viewed. That said, Wang at his peak had a nasty power sinker, arguably, if not the best, one of the best, in the game, a power sinker that could run in the mid-90's. Whitenack's stuff in 2011 didn't show that well, but he's still developing, so that comp seems somewhat possible to me.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I didn't make the comparison. I responded to it and even called him a different type of pitcher.

    In fact, as someone who regularly comments on this blog, you should know that I rarely, if ever make comps. I let others do it and I give my opinion, usually trying to find some common ground. That's what I did here

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I was the one who made the Webb comp to Whitenack, and John rightly pointed out that Webbs 2 -seamer separated him from Whitenack. Ive only seen Whitenack twice on video, and both were from last year when he was still recovering from TJ. You are correct in the fact that Wang would be a solid comp to Whitenack in terms of raw stuff, Id have to check there K/BB numbers to see if Whitenack is more of a pitch to contact sort(Wang) or a swing/miss power sinker(Webb).

  • I'm going with Arismendy Alcantara (finally healthy), Tayler Scott (going to get better as he gets more experience) and Duane Underwood (I think he will become one of Derek Johnson's pet projects).

    And early 2014 breakout call on Josh Conway. Great arm once he gets all the way back.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Don't forget whoever they draft and there are some interesting pitcher in the 2ND and 3Rd rounds.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    We're going to have to put that list together soon.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Some really good choices here. Underwood is a nice high ceiling guy. For some guys once things click, all bets are off. He's one of those types, in my opinion. If Alcantara hits in AA he's going to be a very valuable commodity.

    In fact, good choice all around. Maybe we should keep a spreadsheet and save it until the end of the year and see how everyone did.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think I liked the Underwood pick more then you when it happened. He was one of the youngest players in the draft and one of the strongest arms. If he can adjust he could be a number 2 if everything went perfect a #1.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Ive only heard one negative on Underwood, and that is he doesn't have the same stuff when runners are on base. Hope that's not true.

  • Tony Zych. I think he's the real deal. Just might be hard for him to get major league playing time with our bullpen being pretty deep now. I think Szczur, Loux, and Amaya are all in for good years too.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Zych seems to have been born to be a late inning relief pitcher. I think if he pitches well, he may force their hand. Perhaps it will even give the Cubs some trade flexibility.

  • Great article by the way! Good work John.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thanks Kevin.

  • Nice list. I am going with 3 guys all considered young for their level:
    Ben Wells
    Arismendy Alcantara
    Ronald Torreyes

    I like your Trey Martin pick the best.
    I am not including Candelario because he gets some spotlight already. Same with Vogelbomb.

  • In reply to Norm:

    Thanks. My goal was to try to make it as diverse a mix of candidates as possible.

    In doing so I left out some good names, including those 3. In fact, Wells was my last guy cut from my list of 10.

    I'm not as high on Torreyes simply because so much is going to depend on his batting average. Of course, if he hits .300 or more, that would be just fine as long as he plays solid defense (which he does).

    As far as Candelario and Vogelbach, it's a judgment call I suppose. They get some attention but I wouldn't say either has had a breakout season. Candelario's numbers were so-so and Vogelbach has to do it at the full season level. In fact I think for Vogelbach to truly "breakout" and get more national respect, he's going to have to turn some heads with his defense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I think you have said before that Prince Fielder is a much better defender than Vogelbach. If everything clicks, can Vogelbach be as good on D as Prince?

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Fielder is a better athlete so it'll be tough for Vogelbach to be as good, particularly when it comes to things like range and footwork. What you want from Vogelbach is a guy who will make all the routine plays and hope that he'll have at least fringe average range. His bat will make his career anyway.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Makes sense. Great article.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, If VBoom makes the bigs with the Cubs, I wouldn't be surprised if this kid becomes a huge fan fave. Just seems tohave the right combo of ability and demeanor.

  • In reply to Norm:

    Alcantara sort of broke out in 2012. He somewhat fell off the radar for some due to the injury (although I've consistently argued that there was a strong case for him to be in the Cubs top 10 ... and I'm glad to see BA agreed), but the improvement he showed with the bat early sure grabbed attention.

    As a side note, hadn't pondered Jimmy Rollins as a comp until BA mentioned it ... but I can sort of see that.

  • Eric Jockisch. Smart, poised, and deceptive outpitch(circle change). Lets hitters get themselves out.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's a good new name. The Cubs have some interesting lefty finesse types and Jokisch definitely near the top of that list for me.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I like Jokisch also. Knows how to pitch, a lefthander who gets right handed hitters out.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Jokisch certainly seems to get results with fringe stuff. Paul Assemacher carved out a nice career as a lefty specialist with a good slider/cb combo.

  • If exceeding expectations is the criterion (and Logan Watkins has graduated already), my dark-horse list is Jae-Hoon Ha, Taiwan Easterling, and Justin Bour.
    Bold prediction: if Rizzo gets hurt, Bour will fill in at 1B and hit nicely in the bigs.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    That is bold. Bour would have to leapfrog not just the MLB guys, but minor league vet Brad Nelson, who seems to have been signed specifically for that sort of emergency.

    Easterling was my favorite Peoria batting practice guy before Baez strolled into town. Live games were a different story though. Had trouble with breaking stuff.

    Always nice to see Ha gets some love too.

    Exceeding expectations is one of the criteria. What we're looking for in a general way is a big jump in prospect status. For a top 10 guy that means more national attention (i.e. top 100 status) for a sleeper type that might mean breaking into the Cubs top 10.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Ha is a fascinating case. I'm not on the Ha wagon ... but ...

    1. He's young for the level.
    2. Whether or not one think his CF defense is over-hyped ... it's certainly capable. In RF, he'd be fine, and possible elite.
    3. He has tools. There's definitely the potential for some power ...
    4. He finished strong.

    AND, perhaps the most important thing in making a Ha case,

    5. He showed improvement in his approach.

    Can that hold? If that does, he might not need a ton of power to be useful. I'm not on the Ha wagon, but there's a case for him to be a breakout and someone to keep one eye on.

  • Oops...and at pitcher, Eric Jokisch and Tony Zych (hat tips to 44slug and SFToby).
    Great breakdown in your lead article, John. Love the categories.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Thanks! It was fun to write. Props to supercapo for the idea. I just ran with it a little.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,

    You article far exceeded any expectations I had when asking the question. After reading your thoughts and all the posts the guys have shared, it is easy to see why the national media have been so positive about the progress of the Cubs system.

    I don't know the minor leaguers as well as they rest of you do, so my 3 might be more of the guys that I hope to see really stand out this year. Since the Cubs system seems to be much weaker with arms I am going to have to go with 3 arms.

    Ben Wells, Duane Underwood, and Barret Loux. Most of the guys I would have listed, were already included in your article.

    Outstanding job as always, John.

  • Off topic but looks like Chris Carpenter is out for the year for St. Louis. Does anyone know how their starting rotation looks this year? Maybe they would like to serve some of their delicious prospects to Jed in return for Garza.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I'll take Shelby Miller, please.

    Not that the Cards would do that. But it's still fun to think about.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    The Cards will probably start off going internally. I've always been a big fan of Joe Kelly, and he'll probably get a look. There's also Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Carlos Martinez as factors. They've built up such a loaded pitching chart of prospects, it makes little sense to not try them out.

    Push came to shove, someone like Bud Norris, if he's supposedly available, may make more sense than Garza for them.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Wainwright, Garcia has health issues, Westbrook, Rookie Shelby Miller, J Kelly, maybe Rosenthal if they want him in the rotation. Im still thinking, especially if Garcia isn't 100%, they are going to struggle w/o Carp and Lohse in there rotation.

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    I don't see a trade with the Cards happening.

  • Maples, with his first chance to really show how good he is.

  • In reply to 2Smack:

    That's one of the reasons I picked him. He hasn't had the opportunity to let loose yet.

  • In reply to 2Smack:

    Smack, even young Mr Maples himself said he didn't follow the teams recommended training regimen last year, which set back his development for a year. He will likely start in Spring AZ league, then probably move to Boise when short season ball starts. Should have been to low A ball this year, would take a giant leap for him to see Kane Co.

  • fb_avatar

    My under-talked about prospects who I believe will rise in the rankings this year

    Ben Wells
    Ryan McNeil
    Trey Lang
    Josh Conway
    Anthony Prieto(didn't his fastball get up to 95 at one point?)

    Mark Malave
    Stephen Bruno
    Rock Shoulders(even if by name alone)
    Shawne Dunston Jr.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Very young list. I'm big on Wells, of course and McNeil is a good sleeper.

    I like the Lang choice too and part of the reason is that I think the Cubs may stretch him out. He has two plus pitches already so it's a matter of developing a change. But he can get by at the lower levels with two as long as he commands them.

    I think Conway's larger impact will be in '14. Prieto once reportedly reached the mid 90s a few times but hasn't done it in a while, so I'm guessing that was an aberration.

    Dunston is guy I like and Malave is interesting but I haven't seen enough of those DSL guys to include them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Ive heard Dunston part 2 is already considered a major league caliber defensive outfielder. Doesn't have his dads arm(who does?) but gets excellent reads and takes great routes. I guess its his offense that needs work.

  • John, I'm a Jeimer Candelario fan, big time... I watched almost all televised games by the Boise Hawks and from my observations, I think youth caught up to him, his swing got long and he got aggressive, he wanted to yank everything out of the park, but he showed flashes of making adjustments and went back to his patient approach... There power is there and will show up as he gains experience.

    From all the comments and article I heard/read during the 2012 season, Candelario seemed to be the guy to go to during the clutch in the late innings, he seems to have a knack to get that rbi late in the game.

    On defense, it's true that he needs a lot of work, but I think he could still make improvements... He reminded me a bit to Aramis Ramirez on defense, he would make a nice diving stop then he would get up and throw the ball away... And some other times he would have problems running down a player caught in the middle of nowhere... His range is not great, but if Rammy (who has poor range and makes a lot of errors) was able to improve enough to become a GG candidate, Candelario can certainly improve, if not, LF is not out of the question.

    Here's one of my favorite Jeimer Candelario highlights:

    http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=23098739&sid=t480

    Ball was crushed.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I remember that HR. The power is there, just needs to tap it into a bit. I'm hoping he can stay at 3B. I think he's better out there than Vitters and that alone is a good sign, as Vitters has made it all the way to the MLB at 3B, albeit briefly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I definitely hope he stays at 3B, more importantly, I hope he pans out and becomes a Cub regular as a switch hitter that can hit for some average and power, plus a solid plate discipline... Either way, his position will be sorted out the closer he gets to the bigs, let's hope he stays at 3B for now.

    PS. I agree with your statement about Vitters.

  • John, loved this article!

    I think the position players are easier to call that the pitchers. I'm surprised you didn't peg Shawon part deux, he appears to be due for a big jump in his development......

    Anyways, the three I keep seeing in my crystal ball are:

    1). Trey McNutt - I think his power stuff plays up a notch coming out of the pen and he can learn to "pitch". I think he'll be a contributor out of the pen in late 2013 &/or 2014 and eventually the brass may move him back to the SP rotation.

    2). Robert Whitenack - I've asked you about him a few times this year. That worm-killer of his was dominant before he had to shut it down. He just turned 24 and if his stuff is back he should move quickly and I'm surprised he's been such a forgotten man.

    3). Josue Marcelo Carreno - Kinda surprised my fellow "Den Mates" haven't shown Marcelo more man-love. We got a 21yo SP with middle of the rotation stuff for Jeff Baker.... let me say that again, JEFF FREAKIN BAKER NETS A 21yo SP... with above average stuff! Very good strikeout numbers, limited walks, good innings pitched, etc, I’d like to see him improve his ground-ball % for success at the friendly confines, but he’s still young. btw, he was Detroits #11 prospect. All he has to do is make it to Daytona and he's outperformed what we gave up to get him!.....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Carreno is a great call, Man!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier!

    That was a great trade. Really interested to see Carreno in AA. If he has another good year I'd have to think he's got a good shot at getting a rotation spot down the road.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I tend to think that over-states Carreno's ceiling a bit. From BA's trade central:

    "He throws strikes with a live low-90s fastball he throws to both sides of the plate, and while his curveball and changeup are presently below-average, he has shown he can rotate the former and sink the latter at times. Scouts who like Carreno see three future average pitches and the clean pitching mechanics required to profile as a starter."

    To be clear, this doesn't preclude him from being a breakout. I just think that mid-rotation slightly over-states his ceiling (I guess it's not impossible, but based off that BA report, mid-rotation sounds like a case where everything goes perfect). His ceiling seems a lot closer to Nick Struck's, which is why I think he's off people's radars a bit.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I agree toons, mid rotation starter is his ceiling. He may need all the stars to align to get there.... but what do people expect of him? Nothing because he seems to be off of most peoples radar and even the professional scouts aren't mentioning him at all. He pitched at low-A ball last year. If he does well at Daytona, I think he's a prime break-out candidate to exceed expectations and get some recognition. He could also very well end up at AA in 2013.

    The reality is though he is a legitimate prospect and after 2013, I believe Cubs fan will celebrating JedStein on this move.

  • John, I know it will be big with a lot of guess work but could you write some thing telling us where all these players will start the 2013 season. I have 10 tickets to Kane County and wonder who will be there.

    Also thanks for a great article!

  • In reply to cbbiefun2014:

    I don't know if anyone has been formally assigned yet. Kane County WILL be a lot of fun to watch. Many of the future stars will start there, but I'm sure a number of them will be promoted as the season (and their skills) progresses. You might want to check their web site as opening day nears:

    http://www.kccougars.com/

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Imagine Soler, Vogelboom, Almora as the middle of your line-up? Bruno/Saunders near the top-there offense has tons of potential.

  • In reply to cbbiefun2014:

    Yes. I will. In fact. I had that article planned for this week. I'm as excited as you are! Should have it up soon. Wanted to start with Kane County then maybe work my way up.

  • Apparently Ryan Braun's name has been found among the Biogenesis documents, not linked to a specific PED, but MLB is going to investigate.

  • In reply to mcneilscot:

    I wish I could say I'm shocked....

  • In reply to mcneilscot:

    Selig will pardon him once again.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Selig didn't pardon him...they were just talking about how MLB was very angry that the player's union got him off on a technicality. Said MLB will investigate like never before now to vindicate their original findings last year.

  • Great article and great comments by fellow Denizens. My question for you John (or anyone else) is how old is R Golden now?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    He is 21 and he'll be slightly old for his league, which I'm assuming will be the MWL (low Class A). But he's not terribly old. Could still get to majors by about 24 or so -- but he has to stay healthy and produce consistently to have a shot. He's easily the biggest longshot on this list.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    And thanks!

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    Nice article, John, thanks!

    Out of pure intuition, I'll go with Junior Lake, Lendy Castillo and Marco Hernandez (I'm surprised nobody mentioned him).

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Thanks Joao!

    There may have been a mention or two of him on Twitter, I think -- but yeah, I'm a little surprised there hasn't been more Hernandez love considering how strongly he finished the year.

    Lake and Castillo would be a nice development too since they could help the team in 2013.

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    I would like to see John Andreoli keep his OBP high and increase his extra base hits. I know that sometimes increasing power often decreases contact, but he would look a lot more valuable as a AA corner outfielder if his OPS was over .800.

  • In reply to Mike Mayberry:

    He's a solidly built guy, so he may develop a little more gap power. I'm not sure how much HR power he'll have. I see him a little as a Reed Johnson type. Not sure he'll be as good a hitter, but he has better plate discipline.

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    Good article, John. You could really make an argument for most of the young players in the Cubs system.

    I like Torreyes to break out this year. Last year was a down year for him in terms of batting average, but I don't think there's anything mechanically wrong with his approach.

    This is a guy who'd never had a BABIP below .377 (!) in any stop where he got more than 25 ABs before last year. It dropped all the way to .268 last year, and even an improvement to .300 or around there would make his stats look a lot better.

    Where do you think he starts this year? Tennessee?

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    Thanks Jason.

    It's a good point. You really could make an argument for those young guys at the lower levels. That's part of the reason I tried to mix it up a little on my list -- and also the reason why you guys keep coming up with more great names :)

    I think in an ideal world, Torreyes starts at Daytona again but they may not have that luxury. The Cubs have Amaya, DeVoss, Bruno, Saunders, Alcantara, Hernandez...all middle IF'ers who figure in at one of the A ball levels. As young and inexperienced as he is, Torreyes has played the most games at high A level -- so they may have to see if he can handle AA.

  • Great article John. Couple guys I was looking at.

    Marco Hernandez I thought was on the cusp of something while at A-ball, but Baez came up and that seemed to slow his progress. I think with another shot at A-ball he gets it together.

    I know a lot of people we're into Starling Peralta, but seemed like Jose Rosario had better secondaries albeit less of a fastball. Prior to the elbow strain he looked pretty good, I know Goldstein was pleasantly surprised by his performance when he saw him pitch. If all is well on his medicals I'd like to think he'll continue as a starter and make a step forward. Though at 6'1 170 he might ultimately wind up in the pen.

    Ronald Torreyes got hot in that 2nd half down in Daytona. I'd like to think continues on that path and either rakes in AA or repeats again for A+.

    Michael Jensen looked good for the Chiefs, though at 22 was probably a bit old for the league. Heard he has a nice plus 12-6 curve hopefully he brings up the K rate this year.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Thanks. Great picks all around.

    Agree with Rosario. Great stuff with that guy but like you imply the only question is durability. He was lights out in the game I saw him last year. I think he struck out 11 and he pretty much made them all look silly doing it.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I was as big on Marco as anyone. The bat speed is still very good, there's still power potential, and there's less questions about his ability to play short than a year ago. His ceiling at shortstop is still very good ... something I think Cubs fans somewhat under-rate.

    Of course, for all the positives, one big negative hampered him. He'll have to show that he can be a more disciplined hitter, a guy with a better approach. In his defense, Peoria was probably a culture/weather shock early for him, and he settled down after a rough first few weeks (really rough). He had a nice couple weeks before the demotion. Of course, he didn't help things by struggling in Boise to start, but again, he turned things around. Both times, when he started to turn things around, he showed a far better approach, so it's not like he has some "instinctual" issue like say, a Tyler Colvin. At the end of the day, though, he has to show it.

    The Cubs are in a very fortunate position to have reloaded the middle infield depth so quickly after Castro/Lee passed through.

    I think Rosario is a bit under-appreciated (granted, the injury didn't help). He's awful young to lock in a path, but his future might be in the pen, where he wouldn't really need that third pitch and can blow people by. In a best case scenario, he probably has mid-rotation potential, but that assumes a lot ... a lot going right. One step at a time, though - get him healthy (never did hear full information on what the problem was) and send him back out.

    I do think, though, that Peralta's ceiling is higher than Rosario. His breaking ball might not be as consistent (although both aren't consistent yet), but it flashes better ability, and then there's basic frame stuff. Starling's fastball is probably better as well. I really, really want him back, but obviously, Arizona will make that decision.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I really appreciate he many thoughts you bring here Toonster. How do you handicap the Dback's likelihood in managing to keep Peralta through the year on their staff?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Prior to the their Braves trade, I thought there was a decent chance they might keep him around. Let's just say, gut feeling, I thought it was 50/50 that they might stash him in the pen, find some random injury, and then send him down to the minors when possible.

    Post-trade, with Delgado added to the mix (and let's not rule out Spruill as long shot factor, as he is on the 40), it seems hard to see how they can fit Peralta in there. There's just a ton of arms in the mix for them already. I think they'll probably come and try and see if the Cubs will work a deal, but I think, as of now, there's a decent chance that they can't keep him on the 25. If the Cubs have a chance to get him back, I hope they do. There's very little realistic prospect that the D-backs could offer (I'm ruling out guys like Skaggs and a few others) that would be more intriguing than an arm headed to A+ with some ceiling.

    Btw, should be clear this doesn't mean I think he's definitely a guy who can stick in the rotation. He very well could be more ... Alberto Cabrera (granted, we are stretching out Cabrera now, but I still feel like Cabrera is a pen arm long-run). But with our lack of intriguing arms, he'd be a nice one to get back.

  • Tomorrow Mayo releases the top 20 prospects for the Cubs... Very interested to see how he ranks them, I already had questions about his top 100, I'd like to see how he ranks them between 10 and 20.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I haven't had a chance to write on Mayo's 100 so I may have to combine that with the top 20 tomorrow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good idea, looking forward to that!

  • Great stuff John and contributors. Seeing all these names, and some details, in one place gives me hope, "my heart soars like a hawk." I won't pretend to know enough to project. But I hope, in the name of speeding the process of building a strong MLB team without doing anything stupid, that one or more of the outfielders near the top of the system - Jackson, Ha, Szczur, and/or someone else, emerges as at least a serviceable Cub. Good young infielders are starting to populate the big club, enough pitching was signed to bridge the gap a little. The outfield picture appears the most bleak at the top levels. Thanks.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    Thanks Bruno. It does give hope -- especially with so many candidates out there. Would love to see big years from the OF'ers, starting with Jackson, of course.

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    Try these on for size:

    1- Gerardo Concepcion: after a miserable year adapting to the culture and the game here, he finally shows why he was considered one of the big three Cuban prospects last year.

    2- Larry Suarez: In the system forever (since he was 16), the Big Z clone finds his niche and harnesses all that potential...without the mental problems.

    3-Dae-Eun Rhee: Another post-injury comeback 2 full years after TJ and shows 2010 prospect form.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    All 3 of those are pretty deep sleepers, especially the first two. Lots of scouts already giving up on Concepcion but I agree he should get a mulligan.

    Suarez is a giant. Great fastball velo. One scout I talked to didn't think there was enough movement. He definitely needs to be a RP, in my opinion.

    One guy I was thinking about in AA was actually Dallas Beeler. Another guy coming back from an older TJ surgery, but he has better size and current stuff.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Deep sleepers for sure but all are relatively young still. Beeler is a good one, another slow recovery but still has potential.
    What did the scouts see in Concepcion that had him so highly rated? It was all Cespedes-Soler-Concepcion a year ago and all 3 were in big demand. Wonder what happened.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    I would say it was Cespedes and Soler at the top with Concepcion a very distant 3rd. There was some mixed opinion on Concepcion even before the signing and almost everyone was surprised at the bonus. The Cubs, though, did like him a lot and thought he could be a #4, maybe even a #3. This year we'll get a better idea about him and I hope that you (and the Cubs staff) are right.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He also had that bout with mono, so he was not at full strength...so maybe we didn't see the same guy the Cubs and other teams saw in Cuba.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We saw what mono did to a relatively small Hayden Simpson. Talk about a very deep sleeper. Hendry once brought up the name Roy Oswalt as a Simpson comp. Seems like Simpson will never recover from his bout with mono. Hopefully Concepion can.

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    In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Great ones here. Completely forgot about Rhee. At one point he had the look of a #2 starter. Beeler is a guy I think will surprise people as well. Man the more we list all these potential prospects that are recovering or trying to bounce back the more I like our farm system. If even a few of these guys elevate themselves to top prospect status were good to go. Starting to see why we have a top 5 system now.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Would be awesome if Rhee can comeback to form. Love that Split-change he throws. I had him pegged to breakout last season, but maybe i jinxed him lol.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Rhee's velocity last year was never as good as it showed at times in 2011. I think he'll be kept as a starter, but he might be better off in the pen where he can just power through the fastball and use the split-change as an out-pitch.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    He showed flashes last year, just wasn't consistent. Couldn't throw consistent strikes with his FB , of all things. His split change got ant Burt Hooton/Mike Mussina potential to it?

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    Seeing Martin his game, build, skillset, etc kinda reminds of Cameron Maybin. I have pretty high hopes for him.

    Candelario isn't as puggy as people make him out to be IMO. He looks like he can develop into a pretty strong, muscular kid not a Sandoval-type. As a hitter though I like the comparison. Body is made for power, nice bat-speed. Swing gets a bit long occasionally.

    If both guys pan out we'll have a hell of a problem all around the diamond.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Can't wait to see Cubs with those problems!
    What a shame we'd have to trade away top prospects in order to build a championship rotation!

  • Read through all the comments and it looks as if Brett Jackson is off most everyones radar. So I will be the first to predict that he has indeed revamped his swing and is in for an Anthony Rizzo like comback this season. To me is will go a long way in showing how the new regime has improved their "Player Development".

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Jackson would be a pretty good choice actually. Could break out all the way into the teams starting CF by June or July.

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    I wonder if McNutt will eventually go back to starting. This front office seems inclined to give relievers with potential the chance to prove themselves as starter, and if McNutt really figures it out as a reliever, I wouldn't be shocked if they moved him back into the rotation at some point.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Especially big, athletic guys who have a chance to handle the load. I think if he comes back strong the way Cabrera did at AA/AAA last year, he has a good shot at getting another crack at starting. It'll depend on whether he can make progress with his command and show some sort of consistency with a change -- though he won't need it much in relief.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't know John, you mentioned Kerry Wood as a slight comp to McNutt. Much as I enjoyed Kid K at his best, we need the healthy version. McNutts injury bug seems much like Kid Ks.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I really wouldn't be shocked if they gave him one last look in the rotation this year. If the blister issues aren't bothering and he's healthy, you might as well give him another look in AA as a starter. Waiting another year doesn't make a ton of sense, as you'd have to build him back up again.

    That said, with how he over-throws the fastball at times, his future may be better in the pen. But his problems have always been fixable (at least, enough to be a starter ... whether or not he can be is a different question) provided that he's healthy and his blister issues aren't a problem.

  • i was wondering what your thoughts were on austin kurk? i seen him pitch in peoria and seemed to be a good young left handed pitcher. do you see him making it to wrigley?

  • In reply to nightster2007:

    I think you can put Kirk in that group with Raley, Rusin, and Eric Jokisch in that they are finesse type lefties who rely on command and changing speeds. Kirk is a bit different in that he relies on a good curve rather than a change-up. He's also different in that his command has been less consistent, so I'd put hm behind the other 3 for now. When Kirk has his good stuff and locates well, however, he can outpitch any of them on any given day. He's had some dominant performances, including the no-hitter in Peoria.

    He has a shot at Wrigley by 2014 but this is a big year for him. He's behind the other 3 LHPs now so he'll have to do some leapfrogging just to move past them on the depth chart. On a less direct level, he also has to compete with RHPs like Nick Struck, Robert Whitenack, Matt Loosen, and Barrett Loux for the bottom of the rotation/middle relief type roles over the next couple of years.

    The simplest way to put it is that he is going to have to set himself apart from those guys and that isn't going to be easy.

  • John, the Cubs development team named Austin Reed as a dark horse prospect. What can you tell us about him?

  • In reply to CubsML:

    12th round HS overslot in 2010. Brother is obviously a key guy cross-town. Austin's a big,righty (6'3" or 6'4") who could probably add some weight to his frame as he matures (he's only going to be in his age 21 season next year). As a starter, the reports were mixed, but roughly 88-92 on the fastball, could get some sink on it, with average at best (and more often, below average) secondary stuff (off the top ... changeup and I want to say a curve on the breaking ball but I could be off right now) that was still a work in progress. The bigger issue was that he had mechanical issues and had trouble with finding a consistent release point for his 3/4 arm slot.

    Moved to the pen last year where he could ramp up his fastball to the mid-upper 90's. Couple reports had him triple digits, but 2ndhand. Mechanically, seemed a bit sharper.

    Physically, he has the potential to be a starter if he can find some consistency with his mechanics. Of course, secondary stuff has to be sharpened up a bit, as the secondary stuff is still average at best, and the command is an issue, but if he finds some mechanical consistency, that will go a long way to shoring up things. If they keep him in the pen, he probably has a good shot at Daytona. If they want to stretch him out, for me, it's tough to see him finding a starting slot in Daytona to start 2013 - not impossible, but tough to see it. Furthermore, they may be better off piggybacking him if they wanted to stretch him out a bit, so keeping him in Peoria might make more sense.

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    It's really awesome to see good comments and contributions to that. There are so many fans completely off their rockers, and the Internet gives them the ability to think they know it all. While the Cubs don't have a whole lot of MLB ready excitement, there's plenty of excitement with the teenagers and early 20 year olds in the system. The future does look bright, even if it's a few years away.

    What I like, is a good number of the guys mentioned aren't in the Cubs top 20. Some are because of their higher picks naturally, but not everybody mentioned are house hold names among most fans.

    With all that said, In the past, I've fancied Justin Bour and Rebel Ridling, but they're starting to get a little older for the levels they're at. Ridling fell off the wagon last year completely, after a great 2011 campaign. I still like Bour quite a bit, but as said he'll have to leap frog quite a bit to see action at the MLB level. I hope he gets a look in the spring. Even if he continues his modest success, he's still blocked by Rizzo, who's going nowhere anytime soon, and Rizzo is younger.

    I like Junior Lake a lot. I really hope he gets a shot at 3rd soon. He's a raw, toolsy guy, but I think he could fit into playing 3rd with that arm of his. I like it better than a Stewert/Valbuena platoon.

    I was really high on Whitenack after his awesome start in 2011. I'm looking at him bouncing back this year and get back on track again.

    Nick Struck is a guy I haven't seen mentioned yet. He's nothing overpowering, I would like to see him make a better jump from Tennessee to Iowa this year. He's probably nothing higher than a 3rd starter at his very best, but there aren't very many other options for starting pitching in that level area. He just turned 23 after the season.

    I'm looking forward to see how little Shawon does this year. I want to see if Trevor Gretzky will fill out that frame (6'4" 190lbs) of his too in the coming years.

    The last guy I wanted to mention who sort of broke out last year was Greg Rohan. He played across 3 levels last year. He's far past the age of being a young prospect, who will be 27 this upcoming May. I don't expect him to break out, but he's a guy that could get a shot, should some injuries occur this season, but nothing more as bench depth.

    I really enjoyed this John.

  • I'll throw out a name that people haven't really mentioned - Pin-Chieh Chen. Not that I'm necessarily expecting him to breakout, but he's certainly a candidate to watch, partly because he's leaving the MWL. Had a really good run in the summer, although may have had some luck there. Doesn't pound the ball on the ground nearly as much as the scouting reports seem to suggest at times, and can spray the ball around. Good approach at the plate.

    That said, I could easily see him struggle in Daytona. Another 2012 Peoria guy that I'm keeping one eye out on would be Dustin Geiger. Like Chen, could easily see him struggle in A+, but he's still young and has very legitimate pop. Again, expectations aren't high, but if he can shorten his swing a bit and maintain his power, there's something mildly intriguing there.

  • Better late than never.

    Of all the great performers at Boise last year I like the underdog, Bruno. His breakout will be to prove he can do it in full season ball. I'm not sure if he skips KC or not but I will be following him.

    I also like Trey Martin to show he can compete in the KC outfield. That whole team will be fun to watch.

    As far as nearer to the Majors goes I like Whitenak, Lake and Bret Jackson. It'd be nice to add a piece or two to the major league roster this year.

  • One name I haven't seen whici I figured would be brought up is Wilson Contreras. I seem to remember him being the better of the Caching prospects in the lower minors and possibly being able to more than just a catch and throw guy. Any opinions on him?

  • My money is on Vogelbach. I am a little tired of hearing negative comments attached to every statement ever published about him. I expect him to crush the ball all summer and climb these lists.

    I too am excited by DSL lefty Carlos Rodriguez.

    But my real sleeper is Frank Del Valle.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I don't think the comments are intended to be negative most of the time, though I think a national expert or two (won't name names) put too much emphasis on his weight and exaggerate his flaws on defense.

    I'm a huge Vogelbach fan. I rated him #5 on my own list based on that enormous hitting potential, but when people talk about position value and the big burden on his bat, those are legit concerns. He has to hit and hit a ton to make a big impact at the MLB level. That is not singling out Vogelbach. I would say that about every 1B who still hasn't played at the low class A level.

    There are two things he can do to silence critics. The main thing is keep on hitting. The second thing is improve his defense.

    As for Rodriguez, the general rule of thumb when it comes to evaluating prospect is not to put a lot of stock in DSL numbers -- or even rookie league (AZ) numbers. If he's dominating at Boise, then we can start to get more excited.

    Curious as to the Del Valle choice. What do you think sets him apart?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Every third or fourth game over the last couple of years, he seemed to turn in a dominant performance. Just a gut feeling.

  • I have a hard time getting into the prospect watch like a lot of you guys do. All power to you, I just can't get to excited about 21 year old kids learning to play. Wake me up when they get here. I know how hard it is to make the big leagues, and what a massive difference there is between success in AA or AAA ball, and being a proven major league player. Light years.
    That being said, the guy I can get fired up about is Brett Jackson. I think he could be rookie of the year in the NL. I loved his athleticism and the way he competed last season. He has the bat speed, needs to make the adjustments. I think he will.

  • Understood. It's been a big prospect week around baseball, so I've been riding that wave a little. Spring training is just around the corner, though, so it'll balance out again.

    I have high hopes for Jackson. Love his approach to the game and there's no question he'll do whatever it takes to keep getting better.

  • All hail Szczur. I think he finally puts it all together in 2013.

  • Tim Saunders doesn't get enough mention imo. He tore it up batting everywhere he went, has great speed and is a very good infielder. Kid has a great attitude and from what I hear a work ethic to match.He's a great story!!

  • In reply to teddygunz:

    Boy he did hit well, didn't he? And it was across all levels and it was pretty consistent. I think he's got a great shot to be a big leaguer.

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