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Cubs Game Preview and Thread 3/10: Catch the prospects while you still can

Cubs Game Preview and Thread 3/10: Catch the prospects while you still can

The Cubs take on the Padres today at 2:05 and you can hear audio on MLB.com.   There are a lot of ties between the two teams.  GM Jed Hoyer, Sr. VP of Scouting Jason McLeod, and Director of Scouting Jaron Madison all came from the Padres, as did 1B Anthony Rizzo.

News and Notes...

  • Anthony Rizzo and his Italian team advanced despite a 6-2 loss to the U.S.A. What was thought to be a short diversion from spring training has turned into an unexpected extended run for Italy in the WBC. While I'd like to see Rizzo in camp, it's hard to imagine he's not going to gain from this experience.
  • Team USA will play Canada today and will need to win to advance.
  • A major brawl broke out between Canada and Mexico.  You can see it here.  Surprisingly, nobody was suspended.
  • Despite their impressive springs, neither Javier Baez nor Jorge Soler are long for the spring.  Manager Dale Sveum has said they will be assigned to minor league camp in about a week or so.  In case you missed it yesterday, Baez hit his 2nd HR and is hitting .360 on the spring.
  • Chris Rusin had a good outing and probably distanced himself from fellow lefty Brooks Raley in the chase for a bullpen spot.  Rusin still faces competition from veterans like Hisanori Takahashi, Cory Wade, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, and Casey Coleman for the last spot in the bullpen.  Rusin has two advantages here -- he's lefty and he's already on the 40 man roster.
  • Junior Lake was in the original lineup but is out with sore right shoulder.  The soreness is in the trapezius -- so thankfully no rotator cuff issue.  Wouldn't want him to lose anything from that great arm.  Side note, Dale Sveum called the muscle a trapeze and Carrie Muskat called it a trapezoid.  It's a good thing they know baseball so well, not sure if they'd make it as doctors ;)
  • Ian Stewart's  has been pushed back until the weekend.  Stewart is already in a crunch to perform in the last couple weeks of spring training and this shortens his time frame even further.

Today's Lineup...

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Barney 2B
  3. Schierholtz RF
  4. Soriano LF
  5. Navarro C
  6. Bogusevic 1B
  7. Villanueva 3B
  8. Gonzalez SS
  9. Feldman P

5 Things to Watch For...

  • Speaking of ties between the two teams, the Cubs will face a couple of old friends today as both Jason Marquis and Andrew Cashner are scheduled to pitch for the Padres.  As much as I want the Cubs to "win" the Rizzo deal, I can't root against Cashner.  Good guy and it'd be a shame to see that talent go to waste.
  • We're going to see more and more veterans play as Dale Sveum tries to determine who will make the team, who will platoon, and who might figure as depth at AAA Iowa.  One of those depth spots is for SS at Iowa.  The defensively oriented Alberto Gonzalez gets the nod today.
  • The outfield defense. The team of Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Nate Schierholtz is the one you'll see most of the time this season -- at least until the trade deadline.  Although Soriano has improved and DeJesus is a good corner outfielder, only Schierholtz is a consensus above average outfielder at his respective position.
  • Bryan Bogusevic continues to make a late run for a spot on the Cubs bench, though his fate may be tied in with Ian Stewart's.  If Stewart is let go, that will create an extra spot on both the 40 and 25 man roster.  You have to think Bogusevic would be the leading candidate for that spot in that scenario.  He also has a chance to make the team if the Cubs send Dave Sappelt to Iowa and use Brent Lillibridge as both a backup 3B and CF.
  • Scott Feldman needs to throw strikes today to be successful.  As a veteran, he's likely working on a few things but he's not the type of pitcher that's going to get away with walking people.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    I know Sveum said the plan is for neither Soler and Baez to be called up this year, and I believe him.

    But as John has said several times, Baez is an elite prospect (and Soler is closing in on it, if he isn't there already) and will tell the Cubs when he's ready. Given the adjustments he's already made in the relatively short period of the spring, including showing more patience and waiting for his pitch, it wouldn't completely surprise me if he forces his way into consideration for a September call-up.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. I don't think they'll be up this year, but I can't rule it out completely.

  • Loved the trapezius bit. BTW, what's the plural?

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    In reply to SVAZCUB:

    trapezii, but I wouldn't call it a shoulder muscle, I think of it more as a neck/upper back muscle.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    It is more toward the neck/upper back. When I first read it referred to as his shoulder, I almost freaked out. Lake's throws alone are worth watching!

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Haha thanks! And it looks like SKMD fielded your question for me.

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    john, today I have a good reason to be thankful for this site where there are knowledgable people (I exclude myself) talking actual baseball. I stopped in at the other cubs blog this morning, and there was a tooth and nail fight going on about whether the cubs should have a mascot, much overuse of a new black-out feature, and a lot of inconsequential personal greetings. Again, thanks.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    You're welcome and thanks SKMD! And you are knowledgeable, always enjoy your comments.

    Pretty funny that there's a fight over a mascot. I go to a lot of minor league games where mascots are more common and I honestly don't even notice them most of the time. Unless they block my view or knock over my beer in some ill-conceived stunt, it won't matter to me if the Cubs have a mascot or not.

    It probably has value to create a more family-friendly environment, but personally I go to games to enjoy baseball and the people -- be it the people I go with or the people I meet there.

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    It never really bothered me that the Cubs never had a mascot before because growing up in the 80's we had Harry singing every game and he was the best Mascot ever, plus we had Marla Collins to look at and thanks to Harry we knew her by name .Either way it wouldn't bother me, it's not like the cheap McCaskey's eliminating hte Honey Bears!!!

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    Non-thread related:

    John, I posted this in the Draft Thread, but I wanted to throw it out there in the current thread to make sure it go seen, not just by you but by everyone.

    Does the fact that Coach Marquez and Stanford are typically near the top of NCAA D-1 Baseball in Pitcher Abuse Points figure into the Cubs decision in regards to Appel? Several times last season, Appel was allowed to go over 130 pitches. A few times he went over 140 pitches, and at least once, he went over 150 pitches. Granted, he's mechanically sound for the most part, and he only pitches once a week, but still there is a lot of mileage on that arm already.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's one of my big concerns with Appel.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Mine too. He's answering a lot of my other concerns, but that one is almost impossible to know the answer to.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    As of today that's my only concern with him. Do we have any comps of pitchers taken in the top 10 who flamed out because of arm overuse? The encouraging this is Appel is getting close to the injury plateau age(22, I think) so the chances of him sustaining a significant arm injuries decrease a bit.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    His make up concerns me a little too.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Have personally not heard much about his makeup besides the obvious draft situation from last year where he was labled as greedy among other things. Are we talking Trevor Bauer-type issues?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Kerry Wood once pitched 180 innings in a high school game, and he turned out all right.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Must have been one helluva game.

  • I know it is ST, but it is still vs ML talent...Wood looking good so far, struck out the side in the 5th to make it his 5th K and 0H through 2IP so far.

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    In reply to SymposiumX:

    Woods looking really good this spring. If he can get up to the 91-94 range on his FB more consistently like he's doing this spring it'll help him tremendously. In his best starts last year he had a few extra ticks on the fastball which give him a bit more breathing room and plays up his secondaries.

    Still just 26 and has a chance to be a part of the long term future. Underrated deal by the FO to get a young, cost-controlled LHP starter for a reliever on a 1yr deal.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I thought it was a smart move by the FO to trade for Wood. To me, where the Cubs are, building-wise, it was almost a no-question to trade Marshall for Wood.

    Dioner with a 2R bomb!

    Making things exciting in the pursuit of C

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    In reply to SymposiumX:

    Agreed. Always thought it was a good deal on principle alone. If Wood pitches well then it's a steal.

    Pretty sure Castillo will be the starter no matter what Navarro does. They want to give him a chance to develop into a possible long-term answer at C so even Castillo he struggles Dale will stick through the growing pains.

    Castillo's development is essential as we don't have another catcher with his ceiling in the system and trying to trade for a young, impact catcher is almost impossible. They go for a premium that we can't afford right now unless there's a guy we can buy low on.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree with that. I wonder if the Cubs will have Cleavenger as the back-up and start Navarro in AAA?

    Of course, Wood goes and makes me look like a CHUD, after talking him up, and walks 3 batters. Still a good trade if Wood is even a solid #4/#5 SP

    Villanueva needs more time to bake in the minors. He looks overmatched at the plate.

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    In reply to SymposiumX:

    Navarro will no doubt be the backup. Clevenger, however, could make the team as the 3rd catcher if he proves he can sub adequately at other positions like 1b, 2b, and 3b.

    Not really worried about Villanueva, hasn't played above AA so didn't really expect much from his offensively this spring, which is fine. His offensive ceiling isn't as high as a Baez so it's not surprising.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    If Clevenger makes the team it will be as a 3rd catcher/infielder. Navarro will be breaking with the Cubs barring injury.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I happen to agree with you, but let me play devil's advocate. Navarro was once a pretty highly regarded prospect, and isn't all that old (29 last month). If the Cubs think they fixed whatever issues he was having, he could be a league average or better catcher. In such a case, he can be the Cubs answer for 3 or 4 years. Meanwhile, catcher is supposedly one of the strengths of this draft, so if the Cubs take one or two to meld with the talent they're trying to develop in the low minors, a 3 or 4 year stopgap might be just fine.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I definitely see where your coming from, Mike. It just seems like soooo long since Navarro played at a high level so in my eyes if he hasn't fixed it by now then chances are he never will.

    I'd rather let Castillo play through the growing pains and give him every chance to develop. If he eventually proves he can't be at least average and Navarro strings together a full season of being average-above average then we'll see what happens.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm hoping things fall right in the draft for the Cubs to take one of those prep catchers. I'd love for Okey or Ciuffo to be there in the 2nd or 3rd round.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    I hope they are there in the 3rd so we can take an upside pitcher with the 2nd rd pick.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I definitely want to see the Cubs go either BPA position/Pitcher, then SP, SP/C, SP........

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Appel and Ziomek 1-2 would be a pretty nice day, regardless of what happens after.

  • Thanks for the information, guys. I wouldn't mind the Cubs taking a C in the later rounds of the draft to add more depth to the position and I agree that Clevenger makes the team IF he shows he can be an adequate back-up infielder at multiple positions.

    I'm not so much "worried" about Villanueva. More so just pointing out that he definitely needs more time to develop.

    Nice 1-2-3 by Marmol, but why did they let Wood bat instead of having a PH?

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    Speaking of Castillo, has anyone seen him and can tell us how he has looked behind the plate this spring? How are his receiving skills coming along?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I know that he has had several throwing errors and some PBs, but I'm sure there are others on this site that have more in-depth information on Wellington's backstop abilities so far in ST.

  • Soler HR.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Nice bomb to LF. Sappelt with a single and Watkins with a BB. That looks good.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    There's some of that needed development time for Villanueva right there. His first pitch swing was weak. He shook his head at himself as he collected himself for the next pitch which he prompted deposited over the wall.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Well put! Good to see the kid correct himself and come back stronger.

  • Villanueva HR.

  • Cubs teeing off on Thayer.

  • I do believe Villanueva could be the next Mike Schmidt.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    That, there, is a very bold statement. I hope you are correct.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Next Spring 2014, Villanueva will be the man most fans will talk about.

    When "Villy" stays at Third, Baez will have to move to the outfield along side with Soler and Almora.

    By 2018, we might see our lineup that will compare to the Big Red Machine of the 1970's.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'd rather Baez moves to 2B than OF. I think there are other OFers in the Cubs organization (or soon will be) that can cover LF.

  • Finally Soler!! The Bigger news is Villanueva having a good spring he isn't talked about like the other prospects are but he could solve our 3B hole next season and have Baez ready to take over 2nd base if they move Barney this season

  • In reply to ELoNIU09:

    It's a bit early. Lots can happen, but an IF of Rizzo, Baez, Castro, Villanueva and and OF of Bjax, Almora, and Soler is something to dream about in the future.

  • In reply to ELoNIU09:

    I doubt that Villanueva will play much in the majors before 2015. He still hasn't been in AA, and this front office likes their players to play a year in AAA.

    That can be changed for a Baez-like prospect, but probably not for one like Villenueva.

  • Wish I could edit my last post...I wanted to add, "How is Villanueva's D looking at 3B?"

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Good. Probably stronger than his bat right now.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Thank you, Q. That is good news. A solid defensive 3B that has the ability to grow at the plate is important to me.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    That's precisely how many have described Villanueva. Good, steady if not spectacular glove at 3B with a bat that has a chance to major league average to above average. As a 20-year-old in the Sally League, he hit 17 HRs with 32 SBs and an OPS of .803. He can do it, he's just got a ways to go yet.

    AA competition does a lot to separate the contenders from the pretenders. This will be a big year for him. It's not make or break as he is still a year young for his level, but if he can put up 15-20 HRs and an OPS of .780+ with consistent, above average defense at 3B, he will have solidified himself as the Cubs top prospect at the position assuming Vitters or Lake don't have a breakout season.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Great information. I will be pulling for him, as well as Vitters and Lake. Hopefully between the 3 of them, one can step up as the clearly superior 3B of the future.

    Speaking of 3B, I have been looking up a lot of information the past day-and-a-half about Kris Bryant. (thanks to posters around here).

    As of right now, I am leaning toward the #2 overall pick either being Appel (I still have questions about his pitch count and maturity/attitude) or Bryant.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Being so far away from the draft, I can't argue with either of those guys. I would include Sean Manaea in that group of guys to watch.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I need to see more of Manaea before I can buy into him having a higher ceiling than a solid #3. I've heard great things, strong lefty, but still needs to develop another pitch.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Those are my top 3 guys too. If Bryant can actually play 3B well, he becomes a lot more valuable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From the scouting reports I've read, Bryant's bat, and not his glove, is what makes him an attractive prospect. And even his bat seems to have some holes (long swing, misses some hittable pitches). It would be good to see him face better pitchers than he sees in USD's league before I'd bite on drafting him real high.
    BA says he would be, at best, an adequate 3B. So he's not the next Mike Schmidt there (but we apparently have Schmidt 2.0 coming through the ranks haha).

  • Is anyone else watching team USA - team Canada in the WBC? This is a great game.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Excellent game....unlike that game last night played by some unprofessional players looking to hurt players on purpose. Any no one was suspended. What a joke.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    That Hosmer double should end it.

  • Just got home everyone. I missed the fireworks. Nice outing by Wood. HR by Soler...and Villanueva with #3? What's going on there?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Welcome home, John. Wood looked solid, minus 3bb. Villanueva was looking lost at the plate until he hit the bomb off of Thayer. Soler continues to impress!

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Thanks. Bummed I missed that Soler HR...had a nice day out, though.

  • OK here is the problem with go off BA and Law on players for the draft they see these players maybe a hand full of times through out the year if that. They then rely on scouts from other teams that aren't going to compromise their teams position on players. Scouting is not an science so how does it filter through a few middle men.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    You have to at least respect their opinion and the info they've gathered. I doubt all the scouts are lying to them. And I'm sure they've seen the players a few times themselves. At least two major scouting media sources have Appel as the top player. Whether he goes first or second -- or whether the Cubs like him -- is a different story but I don't think we should doubt that that's the opinion of quite a few scouts.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I don't take what BA or KLaw have to say as gospel, but they definitely have a lot more information than I have on any players. To be honest, a lot of information I find on players is largely to do amazing posters around here, other sites, and I then put in some time looking up supplemental information.

    I want to thank all of you for helping to increase my knowledge base, especially with yet undrafted, Cubs potentials.

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    Anyone else noticed that Brett Jackson's playing time is dropping and his strikeouts are rising?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That has definitely been noticed. I can only assume it is due to a combination of the decision has already been made that BJax will start in AAA (which has already been determined), and they to try out other players.

    I think even with him starting at AAA, it would be a good idea to give him so more PAs. Nothing like live game experience.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, I was just looking at that. 5 Ks in 12 AB. 4 walks though with an OPS of 1.088. What are we supposed to make of that? My guess is nothing.

    Essentially, spring training stats are meaningless. He just rebuilt his swing a few months back and he's going to need lots of reps against AAA pitching to see whether it is making a difference. I'll put more stock in his K rate at Iowa for the month of June. If it's down by then and he's hitting well, I would expect the Cubs to move 1-2 of their OFers in July and bring him up then.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    If Bjax is tearing up AAA, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Cubs shop DDJ and bring up BJax again.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    I think DeJesus will be much easier to trade than Soriano.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. I would love to see both Sori and DDJ have just an amazing season and both be shopped along with Marmol and Stewart.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    But if they do, then we might be there in contention for a playoff spot, assuming our SPs don't fall apart. Then it's a tough decision for the FO. I guess that's why we pay them the big bucks.

  • Villanueva is fun to watch. He is not very big and actually looks a little soft, but he plays hardnosed. Dives and stops shots that other 3bman just watch go by. I would think he could play 3b in the majors right now. The question is will his bat carry the position.

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