Cubs invite 22 to spring training -- including top prospect Javier Baez

Cubs invite 22 to spring training -- including top prospect Javier Baez
Javier Baez (photo by Tim Sheridan of boysofspring.com)

The Cubs have sent out their spring training invitations and top prospect Javier Baez is easily the most surprising and most exciting player on the guest list.

The other most recent invitees are...

  • C Michael Brenly 
  • RHP Casey Coleman
  • RHP Barret Loux
  • C Rafael Lopez
  • RHP Nick Struck

This will be the first chance for many to see Baez play and it speaks to their tremendous confidence in his ability to match-up against higher levels of competition.  It's also an indication that he is on the fast track to the big leagues.  This is not to say he will come up this year or even next, but the Cubs are giving him a taste of big league life to better prepare him when he is ready.

As to when that is, it's impossible to say.  Most prospects move a level at a time and adjust to new leagues at a gradual pace, but you make exceptions for special players.  The Cubs did so with Starlin Castro 3 years ago.  Elite talent doesn't necessarily follow a step-by-step plan.  It's their performance that will dictate their readiness.

The Cubs have brought up a couple extra catchers to help carry the load early in the spring.  Both Michael Brenly and Rafael Lopez are advanced catch and throw guys who can handle pitchers well.

As for the pitchers, Casey Coleman is no surprise.  He's logged in quite a few MLB innings already and will get a chance to stay in the Cubs depth plans and put himself in a position to be called upon if needed. He'll get competition from Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck and recent acquisition Barrett Loux.

The others had previously been extended invitations upon agreeing to minor league deals with the Cubs.  They are...

Pitchers

  • Andrew Carpenter
  • Jaye Chapman
  • Dayan Diaz
  • Jensen Lewis
  • Blake Parker
  • Zach Putnam
  • Hisanori Takahashi (L)
  • Corey Wade

Catcher

  • J.C. Boscan

Infielders

  • Alberto Gonzalez
  • Edwin Maysonet
  • Brad Nelson (1B)

Outfielders

  • Bryan Bogusevic
  • Johermyn Chavez
  • Brent Lillibridge
  • Darnell McDonald

 

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  • No Koyie Hill ?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think the very mention of Koyie Hill's name should result in this...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYkbqzWVHZI

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Very fitting!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Pop Quiz: What player has a higher career OPS in a Cubs uniform? Koyie Hill, or Steve Clevenger?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I've actually heard this before and it's Hill, but I'm not sold Clevenger is as bad a hitter as he showed after coming back from the oblique injury (nor is he as good as his numbers looked before the injury). Tough to swing a bat with that injury. I don't think he was ever 100% so I'll give him a mulligan.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Koyie Hills name give me Excedrin Headache #............

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    The signs keep suggesting they expect Baez in Wrigley sooner rather than later -- or they're playing a game to increase his value on the trade market. Given that both Giancarlo Stanton and David Price could find themselves traded next winter, both seem equally likely.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think it's all about giving him a taste of the big leagues and he's got the confidence to handle it. If Baez gets to AA this year and continues to rake and play good defense, it's not out of the question he can be part of their 2014 plans. I think they're just being proactive and not putting themselves in a position where he gets a whirlwind ride to the majors.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Apart of me feels like we're better off waiting till Price hits FA than blowing up the farm to trade for him. He'll be what 29 I think when he's a FA? As good as Stanton is, power hitting RF'er are not something i'd trade multiple top 5 prospects or ML ready players for. Anybody else feel the same or just me?

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    No way.

    He will never see free agency. The Rays will trade him and whatever team picks him up will almost certainly extend him.

    He'll be 35 before he sees free agency.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Then if that's the case we shouldn't go after him. It'll take a kings ransom to acquire Price through trade and if it results in a bidding war with teams like Texas, St. Louis, Toronto etc then we might as well not waste our time. Their farms still blow us out of the water.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    St. Louis won't be part of any bidding war -- they just don't operate that way.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    David Price will not see free aganecy

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    In reply to Colman Conneely:

    I agree 100%

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    Same here. Something tells me he will end up in Boston, NY or LA, the places that are willing to pay a kings ransom for him.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I have mixed feelings about it myself, Marcel. On the one hand I would really hate to blow up what looks like a really promising core of prospects for anyone. On the other hand you have two guys who are legitimate superstars. As far as Stanton goes, I think I would rather not blow it up for him. He's a great hitter but there are more impact hitters out there than true #1 horses. Its really hard to win a championship without a true #1. I think one of the best examples (obviously the Yankees didn't win it last season) was CC shutting Baltimore down in game 5 last season. I just hope we're "ready" to bring him aboard sooner rather than later. I really like all of our guys but I'm not going to heartbroken if we got either Price or Stanton. I'm really rooting for Vodgelbach to have a monster year so hopefully he'll have enough value to enable us to hang onto to two of the big three. A big year out of Junior Lake would really soften that blow as well.

  • If Takahashi makes the club, that means Bowden is out. Baker starting on the DL. Team heads north with 12 pitchers? Three lefties would be nice. One starting, two for relief.

    Garza
    Samardzija
    Jackson
    Villanueva
    Wood

    Marmol
    Russell
    Fujikawa
    Feldman
    Camp
    Rondon
    Bowden or Takahashi

    Castillo / Navarro
    Rizzo
    Barney
    Casrto
    Stewart / Valbuena

    Soriano / Sappelt / Lilibridge
    Dejesus
    Harriston / Schierholtz

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I don't understand that Takahashi/Bowden connection. Why is that an either/or situation at this stage? Plenty of time for stuff to play out roster wise before you make that kind of definitive statement on those two players.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Unless Bowden really does poorly, I would expect him to be the favorite to break with the team. If he does, the Cubs can keep both he and Takahashi until they decide if Bowden can make it. If Takahashi makes the team, Bowden is gone.

    To be honest, I doubt that the Cubs success this season will depend upon this particular decision.

  • Glad to see the club is giving Baez a taste to see the level of competition he will be facing in a couple years time. Do the big league regulars see more action toward the latter stages of ST game play? If so, it'd be interesting to see if Baez gets extensive play later on in ST.

  • In reply to C L Dubya:

    My guess is we'll see Baez early but it reminds me a bit when the Cubs invited Castro -- and he kept on hitting until the end of the spring and almost made the team out of spring training. If Baez keeps hitting, maybe he sticks around too.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you mean john stick around?? Say if Baez has an amazing spring with the opportunity he gets do they still start h

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    In reply to Colman Conneely:

    In high A

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    Just stick around a bit longer than expected. He'll probably start in high A but won't rule out AA if he looks like he's made major progress.

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    Would have liked to see a few guys who are a bit ahead of the pack for the level they play in like Johnson, Almora, Panigua, etc to get a cup of coffee this spring but that's just personal bias for me to get a look at how far away(or close) those guys are.

    Off topic but any updates on Ben Wells, Ryan McNeil, and Josh Conway? Havn't heard much on them lately but I expect all 3 on our top 20 at some point. All power arms too I believe.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Barring bad seasons, I think we'll see Almora and Soler next year. Pitchers are handled differently. May not see them until they reach AA level.

    Wells was still recovering when I saw him at instructs so I'm hoping he's back to his healthy mid 90s self by spring. Conway will be brought on slowly and my guess is he'll stick on rehab assignment or a while than go to ext. ST. We won't see him until short season ball. McNeil probably goes ext ST and then to Boise with a chance to jump to Kane by the end of the year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Awesome thanks for the updates. If those 3 along with Underwood and the #2 pick if a pitcher can provide that 2nd "wave of pitching" after Johnson, Panigua, Maples, and Vizcaino then that will go a long way for us.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think that undersells Ben Wells in comparison to those top arms. If he stayed healthy and performed the way he did early in the year at Peoria, Wells is probably a top 10 prospect in the system. He was that fascinating early in the year. The low-ish ranking is justifiable, due to the uncertainties on his health, but if he's healthy, he's a good bet to start in Daytona, which would put him either on par, or ahead of, Johnson, Paniagua, and Maples.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think we'll see Almora next year for a cup of coffee. The reason I say that, is because of the roster rules.

    In order to get that cup, Almora would have to be added to the 40-man. He wouldn't be Rule 5 eligible next offseason, so that move would effectively cost us a 40-man spot. This offseason shows how any team can get in a crunch there.

    Soler is on the 40-man already, so he is definitely a possibility.

    But Almora will not be at Wrigley until the club is pretty sure he'll stay. I predict the earliest that will happen is mid-2014

  • when do we find out if we get to keep Lenny Castillo?

  • In reply to mditka:

    It can be a two week process at most. There's 10 days before they have to put him on waivers (during which time they can seek a trade). Then once they waive him, it's another 3 day process.

    Lendy was DFA'd 6 days ago so it may be up to another week before we know what happened.

  • Isn't Takahashi out until later in the season, i.e., recovering from TJ?

  • In reply to cubman:

    I think you are thinking of Chang-Yong Lim.

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    In reply to cubman:

    As John says below, that's LIm you're thinking of. Takahashi has pitched the past three seasons in MLB, and did quite well for the Mets and Angels in 2010 & 11. He posted a 5+ ERA last year for the Angels and Pirates, but if you're looking for a silver lining, he did have more strikeouts than IP.

  • Interesting.... it certainly does appear they have Baez on a fast track to Wrigley. He certainly doesn't lack the confidence to compete with the big boys. We'll see.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I was surprised. He did get schooled a bit in the FSL and in AZ this fall -- but something tells me that it won't shake him. He seems like the type of guy who uses that stuff for motivation more than anything.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I haven't talked to him personally, but from what I've seen (on twitter) and heard - he IS expecting to play MLB in 2013. IDK, personally I think 2014. But he doesn't lack confidence or work ethic and will use set backs as motivation. I like guys with a chip on their shoulder. But really, with Javy it's more of just an internal drive to be the next "Great one". With an adjustment or two, he can rake anywhere.....

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope it is , John. Last athlete I saw in that vernacular was named Michael Jordan, and everyone knows what he turned out to be.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Very true. I think it's more than motivation though with Jordan It's also having the aptitude as far as knowing how to adapt/adjust to what people are doing to to you and then having the skill to execute it. If Baez has that same kind of makeup, then we'll have ourselves a star in Chicago for a long, long time.

  • Now that there are 13 teams in each league, there will be interleague games happening throughout the season. Does that mean the Cubs have more interleague games scheduled than previous years?
    If yes, should the Cubs invite a non-roster veteran slugger to spring training as a DH option for interleague games? Otherwise, what do Cubs do in those games.....Soriano to DH and Hairston to left?

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    There are now 15 teams in each league, and there will be inter league games going on all season long.

    If they have a stretch of games in AL parks, they can add a bat or just go with the hot hand on the bench.

  • Another clue they're thinking about fast tracking him. The other was that meeting they invited him to about handling the media, etc., when most/all the other invitees were AAA guys with a good chance of being called up this year. Probably mostly about exposing him to the pitching, but wouldn't be surprised if they want him up with the big club's coaches to help him get used to playing some at third or the outfield.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Yes, McLeod even mentioned that group of players could be up in next year to year and a half.

  • A couple of questions about catchers that weren't mentioned much in the Cubs Catching Prospects article:
    Are Brenly and Lopez fill-in guys, along with Boscan, to mainly handle all the pitching volume in ST? Or does any of them have a shot at the big team in a year or two?
    Also where do you see Juan Apodaca? I thought he was pretty good behind the plate at Tennessee.
    Thanks again.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Brenley & Lopez are needed there because of all the pitchers in camp. There are always extra catchers on a mlb SP roster.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Apodaca is more of an organizational guy than prospect. Kind of like JC Boscan. Break glass in case of emergency. I'm not sure he's still with the organization, actually.

    I think Lopez has a better chance than Brenly because, while both can handle the job defensively, I think Lopez is a better natural hitter. Won't hit for power but I think he might make enough contact to be useful as a backup.

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Apodaca is now a member of the Texas Rangers organization. Boscan is already 33 years old and has appeared in 11 big league games. He'll be an emergency policy at best, as he's not even on the 40 man. Lopez is 25 but has just 35 games at High A under his belt, and the only way the 26 yr old Brenly gets to Wrigley is if he buys a ticket. He was once regarded as a no-hit, solid D catcher, but his defense regressed last year, throwing out just 20% (21/84) of would be basestealers.

  • Also, in addtion to my recent post, what about Stephen Bruno? Last October you wrote that he was a position-change candidate who could jump to the top of the list.
    Just curious of any of these org. guys have a chance to bloom into big-league catchers. Thanks.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Haven't heard anything new since instructs but I hope they give him a shot. He'll probably see some time this spring at catcher I would imagine and they'll go from there.

  • I'm back from the KC Cougars "Meet The Cubs" event and have thoughts, but I wanted to drop one on everyone right now. Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde was asked who he thought would surprise in the Cubs system. He identified Austin Reed, calling him a "sleeper" and a "dark horse."

    Verrrrry interesting.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Please forgive, but what does Austin Reed play?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Hes apitcher. His brother , Addison, is the white sux closer.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Saw Reed pitch when I went to Kane last year. Threw hard (mid 90s) and also has slider and a solid change. In the recaps I remember wondering why he gets hit as much as he does sometimes. Was inconsistent last year but did look good at times. I also remember they called him a sleeper when they first drafted him

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He was over-hyped in his draft year, but Reed showed a lot of promise last year. He's better suited for the pen, where the mechanical issues aren't as big and he can just let it rip. I think the problem for him is that his fastball flattens out at times, although I'd really have to double-check. He's still tidying up his mechanics it seems, but his ceiling as a pen arm is very good. Of course, ceiling only means oh so much.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    A 12th round pick, 150K signing bonus guy whom most Cubs fan can't identify is over-hyped? I think we have a different definition of what that word means.

    With Reed, I'm looking at an athletic, big-bodied guy with a chance to have 3 MLB pitches. It's premature to say his ceiling is as a pen guy. That may be his most likely path to the big leagues but pitchers with lesser physical tool than Reed have made it to the majors as starters. I wouldn't put that label on him at this stage of his career.

  • saw something on twitter than caught my eye....

    Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112
    #Cubs Jason McLeod says Baez more advanced at SS than Castro was at that age

    Harry Pavlidis ‏@harrypav
    @BruceMiles2112 wow. McLeod doesn't strike me as easily impressed, so that's higher praise than I would've imagined or hoped for.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He gave the impression that the Cubs don't think Baez will have to move positions.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    There's some (a lot actually) that think he wont. I've seem him play, and I think he's a helluva SS. But I'm not a scout....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    In my opinion, he's more instinctual and has better hands. His range isn't quite as good, but positioning and anticipation could make up for that. If Baez can stay at SS, that's huge because Castro will then give you an above average 2B or 3B. However it works out the Cubs should have a couple of very good hitting infielders in a couple of years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with what you said, but when you factor in how many balls Castro gets to and records an out that Javy wouldn't have gotten to VS. the number of throwing errors by Castro over Baez... makes me lean to Javy. Time will tell, but like you said; this is a great problem to have for 2014/2015.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That's exactly what they'll have to weigh out once both are ready. In the end, who makes you the most plays, saves you the most runs, etc. on defense.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    ....or one of them becomes trade bait. Good SS are very much in demand in trade.

    Side note: Given the Ranger's needs and offseason, I am surprised they didn't trade Profar or Andrus. If they love Profar that much, I would have dealt Andrus, who would have netted alot in return.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Im still in with those who think Baez will outgrow SS. Hes a realitively large-bodied for a SS, built along the lines of a Cal Ripken, a Jhonny Peralta, or a Hanley Ramirez.

  • From McLeod about Baez struggling in Daytona:

    "So that was good for his development. Ultimately he's going to let us know when he's ready, just by the way he performs and does some of the things that are going to be addressed in his player plan. We're all very excited about what the future holds for him, but we also know he has development left ahead of him."

    His "player plan". Love it!

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Sounds individualized. I like it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not only that, but we HAVE A PLAN!.....

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    In reply to cubs1969:

    I've heard them speak of them before. They have one for every guy on the farm. (They would never admit it, but presumably much more goes into player plans for guys like Baez and Soler than for guys like the now departed Rebel Ridling.) They contain the things they need to work on to make the jump to the next level. It's a very welcome change from the old days of Hendry running things -- hopefully it will bear fruit in the next few years.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    His Player Plan? In the past i would have said for the cubs that was a no trade clause?

  • Here's a nice comparison between Cody Ross and Scott Hairston, I think you're all gonna like it... Good article.

    http://mlb.sbnation.com/2013/1/31/3937266/chicago-cubs-arizona-diamondbacks-scott-hairston-cody-ross-free-agency

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    In reply to Caps:

    That is an interesting article, thank you for sharing.

    Maybe the biggest factor is playing time; Ross has had it, and Hairston has never been a true regular player.

    I wonder if the point on Hairston was to buy low, and flip at the deadline, in much the same way we did with Maholm. The Maholm signing was brilliantly done, and exactly what clubs with weak farm systems have to do: Take a shot on a low contract, and when the player outplays the contract, flip for maximum return. The Cubs turned $3 mil into a top prospect, and 4 months of good pitching to boot. PS: That only happens with the option year Maholm had.

    Also, reading that article, if I am a right-handed pull hitter, I would try to get a pillow contract with the Red Sox next time!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yeah, interesting perspective when you compare the PT factor as well as the home/away splits... Hairston has played with the Padres, A's and Mets... Definitely not good places to hit.

    Whether the Cubs signed him to flip him at this deadline or not remains to be seen, I think the question is when he will be traded, not if... One thing is certain... Hairston brings versatility, he could create value and get traded, but in the other hand, if Soriano gets traded, you can move Hairston to LF and not lose a lot of power.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Hairston is only a 2yr contract, and relatively inexpensive. Id say keep him unless someone really wants to overpay, like say a top 3 prospect.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks for the link Caps!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You're welcome!

  • John, one thing about Barrett Loux-when he came out of college, he threw a nasty breaking ball. After arm surgery, apparently hes not throwing the same breaking pitch. Anyone figuring he can eventually start throwing his 12-6 CB again?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I don't think so. I'm not sure he's going to have a dominant pitch at all and will rely more on command and location. Given he has a solid average repertoire, he'll be more than a finesse guy, but I think what I'm hoping for is a solid #4.

  • One week until pitchers and carchers report, who is going to mesa? I haven't heard but the new facility is ready for this spring?

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