Minor League Preview: AA Tennessee position players

Minor League Preview: AA Tennessee position players
Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva

Next stop in our minor league preview is the Southern League and AA Tennessee.  It's right about here where we start to separate the men from the boys.  Many consider the jump from A to AA at least as the jump to the majors.

You'll see me quote more statistics from this point forward because it becomes a larger part of the equation when it comes to predicting MLB performance.

It gets a little tricky here because it depends on how many veterans the Cubs want to keep in AAA.

If you missed the earlier previews (Class A Peoria and advanced Class A Daytona), you can find them by clicking here.

Catcher

Top prospect: Rafael Lopez (.269/.338/.403 at Daytona) is one of the Cubs many catchers who are converted infielders.  Lopez has taken quickly to the position and his defense is already considered a plus.  As a hitter, Lopez has a solid approach (11% walk rate between Peoria and Daytona) and makes solid contact though at 5'9", he lacks the size to hit for much power.  He profiles more as a backup at the MLB level, but he's already 25 so he has to keep moving quickly.

Others to watchMichael Brenly gets good reviews for his catch and throw skills as well as his knowledge of the game, which isn't surprising considering he's Bob's son.  He's a big kid who will show some occasional power but finding consistency with the bat has been his biggest issue so far.  Micah Gibbs is also a good defender but has had even bigger struggles at the plate recently.  He'll turn 25 in July so he needs to get to AA at some point this season.  Chadd Krist could find himself at AA with a strong first half, particularly if he keeps hitting.

First Base

Top prospect: Despite being one of the Cubs most productive minor league players, Justin Bour may once again start the season in AA.  It's not anything Bour really did wrong, but the Cubs picked up some veterans in Brad Nelson and Bryan Bogusevic who can play 1B and present short term replacement options if Anthony Rizzo should miss any time.  The Iowa Cubs also have Josh Vitters who will likely see some time at 1B as well as Steve Clevenger, whom the Cubs are trying to make more versatile.  Moreover, there is nobody from Daytona who can step up and start in AA.  It just may end up a numbers game for Bour.  He does have a chance to reach AAA, of course, at some point this season.  It's also still possible the Cubs may try to squeeze him in at Iowa from day one since he'll turn 25 in May.

Bour is a big first baseman at 6'4", 250 lbs but didn't show a great deal of power for someone that size (17 HRs, .455 slugging pct., .172 IS) but he's a good, productive hitter with a knack for situational hitting, which helped him tie Anthony Rizzo (between AAA and MLB) for an organizational high of 110 RBIs.  Bour has soft hands but limited range on defense.

Others to watch: If Bour does get bumped to AAA than Greg Rohan is a possibility if he is still with the franchise as an organizational player.  Much like Bour he's a good situational hitter who may not have enough power to be an ideal fit at a corner spot in the big leagues.  He's an older player at 26 so historically his odds of making it are low, but he has hit at every level so far.  If Bour gets moved up a some point then Jacob Rogers is also a candidate.  Rogers was just drafted last year but is 23 and has an advanced approach at the plate.

Second Base

Top Prospect: Ronald Torreyes has the opposite problem as Bour.  Although he struggled in the first half and didn't dominate the Class A Florida State League (FSL) overall, the Cubs numbers below him may force a move up.  Torreyes is just 20 years old, so the Cubs can certainly afford to let him spend another half year in the FSL, but they may not have that luxury with guys like Zeke DeVoss, Tim Saunders, and Stephen Bruno all ready for a promotion (and those guys have to move up to make room for Gioskar Amaya in Kane County).

Torreyes is an advanced hitter for his age.  He did struggle to start the year but rebounded to hit .297/.361/.450 after the all-star break.  He's listed at 5'9" though he is more likely somewhere between 5'5" and 5'7" -- but Torreyes shows some surprising pop, as his 2nd half slugging pct would attest.  He squares up the ball frequently and has uncanny contact skills (6.1% strikeout rate) so he's a good bet to keep hitting for average as he moves up.  He'll need to do that because none of his other tools are plus.  He's average at best in terms of speed and range in the field, but he has great instincts so he plays them up well.  His lack of size makes him an underdog but those instincts at the plate, on the bases, and in the field give him a solid chance to beat those odds.

Others to watch: Javier Baez looms in Daytona and could advance to AA by midseason.  As he gets closer to the big leagues the Cubs will try him at other positions to prepare him for the majors, since Starlin Castro is entrenched at SS.  Even if he doesn't play 2B yet, he could move someone like Arismendy Alcantara to that position by the second half.  Elliot Soto will back up both 2B and SS.  He's a smallish player with good defensive skills.  He projects as a utility guy if he can hit enough to advance.  Rubi Silva can play 2B as well but has played more OF of late.

Third Base

Top Prospect: ChristianVillanueva was added to the 40 man roster this offseason and the injury to Ian Stewart has allowed him to get some playing time with the big league team this spring.  He's been overmatched so far but has not let it affect him in the field, where he continues to play his trademark good defense.  Some scouts have him as a 70 in the field which makes him a potential Gold Glove candidate and among the best defenders in the organization.

At the plate Villanueva shows a solid approach with good pitch recognition skills, though it only started to show in walks in the second half last year (10.5% walk rate after being traded to the Cubs).  Hes not a physical player, standing 5'11 and 160 lbs according to his bio, but Villanueva looks like he's put on some weight since that measurement -- though it's difficult to say how much of that is muscle weight at this point.  He has a chance to be an average hitter across the board, something in the .275, 12-15 HR range, but combined with and improved approach, great makeup and instincts, and his very good defense, it may be enough to make him a starter.

Others to watchJavier Baez is a candidate to play here if he moves up but is more likely to play middle infield.

Shortstop

Top Prospect: Arismendy Alcantara may have to make the jump despite not playing a full season at either Class A Peoria or advanced Class A Daytona.  Alcantara is a dynamic, fast-twitched athlete who makes hard contact despite his slight build (.302/.339/.447) and complements it with very good speed on the bases (24 steals in 28 attempts).  Like many Cubs prospects, he has an aggressive approach at the plate (5.3% walk rate) but did improve over the course of his shortened season.

Defensively he sometimes rushes himself and gets sloppy with his footwork, causing him to make a lot of errors.  He made 36 total, and despite a strong arm, most of those miscues came on throws.

Others to watch: Baez, of course.  Eliot Soto will be the utility guy, as mentioned above.

Outfield

Top prospect: Matt Szczur draws almost as much mixed opinion as Junior Lake.  When the Cubs first signed him they billed him as a Jacoby Ellsbury type before Ellsbury started hitting for power.  That would be great since the Cubs passed up on the original Ellsbury to draft Mark Pawelek. (Yes, I'm still not over that one.)

Those who like Szczur still think he can be that kind of player while his detractors point to his unorthodox swing and say he'll never hit enough to be a full-time starter, if he makes it at all.  To Szczur's credit he has whittled down the original list of criticisms one by one -- improving his approach (12% walk rate), defense, his baserunning skills, and even his throwing arm since signing, so this is just one last hurdle to climb -- though it may be the biggest hurdle of all.  On the plus side, he's a fantastic athlete and his improved baseball skills -- especially baserunning and the ability to play good CF defense,  give him a good shot to make it as an extra outfielder even if he doesn't hit enough to be  starter.

Though not as attention grabbing as Brett Jackson, Szczur has also re-tooled his swing a bit, but for different reasons.  Szczur makes decent contact (15% strikeout rate) but lacks Jackson's explosiveness and extra base power.  Szczur hit well in Daytona (.295/.394/.407) but has not reached that level in AA or the AZ Fall League and he has struggled this spring, so Szczur will return to Tennessee to start the season.

Other outfielders:   Rubi Silva, 23, was the Cubs top position player prospect out of Cuba before Jorge Soler came aboard.  Silva is a great athlete who can play all 3 OF positions and 2B.  He's a good hitter but is undermined by a hacktastic approach (2 walks in 83 PAs at AA last season) that will get exploited at the MLB level.  He was at .302/.322/.412 in Daytona.  John Andreoli (.289/.402/.376) is an on-base machine with above average speed that he plays up with great instincts.  He's a stocky 6'1", 215 lbs so he doesn't look like your typical 50 steal guy.  Despite the large, sturdy frame, he didn't hit for a lot of power, but the Cubs think he has the ability to hit double digit HRs with good doubles power down the road.  He's a good outfielder defensively in the corners but may be a little stretched in CF. Nelson Perez, 25, looks the part at 6'3" and about 200 lbs and showed some great improvement in his approach last season at Daytona (13.1% walk rate).  He showed great improvement overall, hitting .278/.380/.494 with 11 HRs (.217 ISO), but struggled in his second attempt at AA (.205/.282/.402).  Maybe the 3rd time will be a charm.  Johermyn Chavez hasn't yet mastered AA so it's possible he'll return there this season.  Jae-Hoon Ha may repeat AA if the Cubs keep a lot of veterans in AAA.  We'll cover him in the Iowa preview because I expect that he'll at least play there at some point this season.

 

 

 

 

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    I really hope Szczur figures it out. I'm a a fan of his and I'm holding out hope he can be the second coming of Reed Johnson.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I guess you mean as a 4th OF'er when you compare him to Johnson because I just don't see the similarities in the players other than their hard-nosed style of play. Szczur has the speed to play a true CF'er, which Johnson never was. Despite the occasional highlight film play, he simply didn't cover enough ground out there. Moreover Johnson was always known for his hit tool while that is Szczur's biggest question mark.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    You mean a "bench" player?

    We have many of those types......Cubs want All Star Outfielders...not guys who spit in the dugout and bats once every three games or play one inning in the outfield.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    you really need to set higher goals for our prospects.

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    In reply to waitingOn2015:

    I don't think that's really fair.
    Not every prospect is going to be a star. To hope for that is just blind, and to believe it us plain gullible.

    When I said "figures it out" I was talking about hitting, or at least hitting well enough.

    I don't think 4th OF is really that much to scoff at.

    Currently we expect HUGE things from Almora and Solver. And to a lesser extent we still have high hopes for Jackson.

    Reed Johnson did some really good things. His BA as a pinch hitter was way higher than that of when he started. He had great effort on defense and was an awesome clubhouse guy. Those are some pretty great qualities to have in a 4th OF.

    Szczur has taken a much longer time to advance than what you typically see in a star OF guy. To still hold him to that expectation is kind if unfair, especially considering its easily the position with the most depth in the system.

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    I thought BA's ranking of Alcantara was a bit high, and Villanueva's stock has fallen back just a bit.....but AA is the true test. Let's see how these guys do.

    Our AA club is a little prospect-thin; our system has some good prospects, but mostly at lower levels.

    Maybe we'll see Soler though. BTW, check out the piece on Fangraphs on him, if you haven't already.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I thought so too. Sometimes a new name bursts out there and you get all excited (I do it too -- I ranked Paniagua higher than anyone else!). I'm sure a lot of the ranking has to do with the fact that Alcantara plays SS.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I've seen the Soler piece. Pretty good analysis -- although I don't agree he had problems recognizing pitches -- then again, I saw him late in the season when he was playing for Peoria, perhaps he saw him earlier when he first came up to AZ. If anything, I was impressed by his ability to lay off bad pitches and work the count even back then. He has continued to improve since the days in Peoria, but I wouldn't say he was flailing away last year when I saw him play.

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    Off Topic, but MLB Trade Rumors wrote a retrospective of the Garza trade.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/03/transaction-retrospection-garza-heads-to-chicago.html

    Seems like it was forever ago, but still hard to assess, as Lee and Archer have not produced yet at ML level, though both are good prospects.

    I still think it was a good trade in a vacuum, as 3 years of Garza was worth those prospects, but of course the timing was bad. Lee would be surplus at this point, but we need more prospects like Archer.

  • I wish the Cubs wouldn't have traded Dempster and just held on to him for the compensation pick. Villanueva doesn't excite me at all. Hopefully the Cubs can continue to add impact arms at the deadline this year like Vizcaino. Players like Villanueva are way too common in my opinion.

  • In reply to Justin:

    Exciting isn't a word I'd use to describe Villanueva but not everybody is going to be exciting on an MLB team.

    I don't think you'll find a lot of minor league players who can play 3B defense the way he can -- and it's harder still to find players who can play that kind of defense and be average on offense. He's capable of being a starting 3B and he's two steps from the majors. A supplemental pick is always exciting, but the odds they get to AA and still be thought of as a top 10-ish prospect are pretty low. Villanueva may not be exciting but a potential plus 3B with a good chance to make it can be more useful to a team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hear ya John. But, is a guy who plays above avg defense and hits 275 with 12-15 homers as an offense offensive ceiling someone the Cubs want to run out there everyday when they are trying to win? And I agree the chances of a comp pick making it are very low, but they need as many picks as possible to finally get the arms down on the farm that they have been missing for years.

  • In reply to Justin:

    If you've got big hitters at the other positions (Castro, Baez, Rizzo) then you can carry that bat at 3B as long as he's giving you that great defense. The Phillies pretty much had the same formula when they had Utley at 2B and Polanco at 3B.

    I think one of the great things about Baez and the possibility of him playing 2B is that it opens up all kinds of options at 3B. I think his bat is so much surplus over what you expect at 2B that you can afford to carry a defensive 3B who hits more like an above average offensive 2B.

    You always try to get the right peg in the right hole if possible, but usually that doesn't happen -- so you can mix and match. I think that's the best case scenario with Villaneuva -- that Baez can play 2B and hits to his potential. That takes away some of the offensive burden at 3B.

    Think about it this way -- you would certainly take Villaneuva's offense at 2B, assuming he still plays plus defense -- with Baez at 3B. What's the difference if you switch them?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's true. Hopefully he can continue to develop and get stronger. Like you said it will give the Cubs options at the very least if he some how develops into a mlb regular.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I think you could do a whole series of articles on putting all the pegs in the right hole in regards to the current systems strengths and weaknesses; defensively, offensively (line-up construction), pitching and bench wise. I think that will be key not just for this year, but moving forward. And not just the regular season, but also going deep into the post season. I think that's where Theo and Co. will earn there $ in the next year in a half or so through trades and FA signings etc. Just using the Giants as an example, with my limited knowledge, they built there system around homegrown pitching and defense,. It brought them 2 rings, but Is an anomaly IMO. And certainly not the current Cubs strength system wise as far as pitching goes. So they will most likely have to go out and get that. As I said, may be worth a series of articles down the rabbit hole. Who should stay and who should go.

  • Thanks for the idea. That should be an interesting series. I'll put it on the list!

  • In reply to Justin:

    last year that would have been the #7th best 3b option in the nl.
    So, hell yeah i would take it
    Last year Pablo went .283 12hr 63rbi in 396 at bats and I would take him overweight an all right now over what we got at 3rd

  • I was able to catch the replay of the Cubs Angels game yesterday on mlb network. Villanueva hardly looks like a physical specimen. Do you think he could be an above average hitter at 3rd base? Or is his ceiling limited? Also is he a candidate to move to 2nd base and how would his defense/bat play there?

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I hope he can end up playing 2nd. With is lack of power and size I don't see him in the Cubs future at 3rd.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    As far as ceiling, I think he can be an average hitter with plus-plus defense, which would make him better overall than a lot of 3Bs out there right now. He's been tried at 2B but that experiment ended a couple of years ago and I haven't heard of plans to bring it back.

    Not all of your players are going to be superstars and I think Villanueva could be a good complementary player if he reaches his potential. If you've got Castro at SS, Baez at 2B, Rizzo at 1B -- then you can easily carry an average 3B who plays above average defense. If all of those players play as capable, that would be one of the better infields in baseball.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm still not convinced that Baez won't be the SS on the MLB team by 2015. He may move, he certainly offers that flexibility, and his bat will play anywhere. But McLeod is on record as saying that Baez is more advanced at SS than Castro was at this age.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Epstein has already said it will be Baez who moves and they will prepare him to do so as he moves up the system.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know, but we still have to wait and see. Baez may change Theo's mind. Somebody may make us an offer we can't refuse for one of them. Baez may never make it.... But from what I've seen and read, Lots of people (especially Baez) are convinced he can stick at SS.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Baez is also bigger than Castro was. Most of the argument for him moving isn't necessarily all on who is the better SS. A lot of people believe Baez will outgrow the position. Also Castro's bat plays better at SS while Baez's projects to play anywhere. In that case even if Baez becomes the better SS you still get better overall value from having Castro at SS.

  • Just read that the Rangers are interested in Rick Porcillo. Can't help but to think they were holding out to see if Garza was healthy and he screwed us once again.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I'm sure they were. They were one of the teams that liked Garza. But even if he were available, Porcello gives them a more cost-controlled guy who's two seam fastball is a good fit in their stadium. Garza is the better pitcher overall, but if he's not healthy, then it doesn't matter.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I agree. Garza deliberately injured himself in order to hurt the Cubs.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I don't no about deliberately hurting himself, but if I was Garza and assumed you can't agree right now on an extension with the Cubs. I would want to pitch May and June and be able to tell Theo send me to one of these contenders and get myself into the playoffs

    Pitching lights out in the playoffs could payoff big time for Garza, and recovering from his injury he had last year he needs to monitor his innings early and be really for stretch run for a playoff time

    I expect him to really get to pushing it come mid May, which is smart for him and the Cubs at this point in the game.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Yeah, I wasn't saying it was deliberate. I was just suggesting we've been screwed twice now by his injuries.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Injuries are part of the game. If Wood and Prior hadn't been injured, the odds are that we would have been a perpetual contender for the World Series.

    But I would hardly claim that Wood or Prior "screwed" the Cubs or their fans.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I still feel screwed out of Mike Olt which is why I used the word.

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    This team intrigues me more than they should. We have an infield with two of Team Theo's big "gets," and a third guy -- Alcantara -- who could turn himself into a pretty serious trade chip this year. Add in Szczur in center and there is a decent part of the Cubs near-term fortune playing every day here.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Some role players here and Alcantara and Villanueva are potential starters. Will also be first regular look at these guys and I'm really intrigued to see Torreyes hit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Szczur is also a potential starter. His OBP at Daytona last year of .390+ would play well if he can continue to do that. He does have the speed to play a true CF and cause havoc on the base paths. He struggled at AA last year but he seems to have a very good work ethic and I wouldn't be surprised if he continued improving as he moves up.

  • In reply to John57:

    I think he is as well if he hits, but that's the last big question he has to answer. Giffmo compared him to Reed Johnson. I think if he can hit like Reed, then Szczur can be a starting CF with his speed, CF defense, and solid approach.

  • Hey John,
    Why doesn't Andreoli get more attention? Is it that he will likely have to play at the corners and hasn't shown much power?
    He sounds very intriguing to me.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    That's exactly it. He's a LF or RF defensively but didn't slug despite his strong frame. He seems to have the size, strength to hit for more power down the road but it will likely still be less than ideal for a corner guy. Also, as mentioned, he's not as fast as his SB total would indicate. He's a real good player, but may end up being a classic tweener.

  • Forget Porcello coming to the Cubs......Theo made Dave Dombrowski pay an extra $30 million for Sanchez.....Dave is pissed off now on the Cubs........Dowbrowski wants Marlins Stanton, and will trade all his top prospects to get him......so lets end the Porcello going to the Cubs.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Dombrowski will make the deal that best benefits his team. He'd be foolish to rule out the Cubs just because they forced the team's owner to spend more money. That said, I think other teams will be able to outbid the Cubs if the price gets too high.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    CubsTalk...who started the Porcello coming to the Cubs talk........you?.......I mentioned the Rangers were interested in Porcello.....and suggested that they were moving on from Garza......by the way....why do you always combine your thoughts with.......? Are you trying to be funny.....or do you just prefer your annoying thoughts be more annoying.....?

  • 2015 Cubs Lineup......

    2B - Watkins
    3B - Baez
    RF - Almora
    LF - Soler
    !B - Rizzo
    SS - Castro
    CF - Jackson
    C - Castillo

    and if Kirk Gibson let us have a DH in the game....Vogelbach would be our DH.

    Which means several guys will be gone....Vitters, Lake, Barney...

    and if we take a position player this year's draft, he might be the next Trout or Harper and be here by 2015.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I like your attempt, I just don't agree with playing a potential GG CF like Almora in RF and hitting your potential best power threat like Javier Baez 2nd... If that was the lineup, I see it more like: Watkins 2B, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soler LF, Baez 3B, Almora CF, Br Jackson RF, Castillo C.

    Or maybe hit Watkins 8 with the top of the order being Castro, Almora, Rizzo....

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    we could lose half of that lineup in order to aquire David Price.

    No way we get David Price without Soler involved

  • John
    I know this doesnt fit in with the article, but what happened to Dayan Diaz? He hasnt pitched & havent heard an injury? He looked very intriguing.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Last I heard he was having visa problems and haven't heard anything since. Not sure what happened.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Along the same lines. Evan Crawford is showing on the Daytona Roster. I know he was injured last year. I recall him being pretty solid back in '11. Do have any info? Also I am rooting for the local product Soto. Kid was a monster in HS. Seems to being having issues with his hitting. Thanks again for your efforts with this site.

  • In reply to Wild Bill:

    You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoy these pieces. I enjoy writing them and I can't wait for the minor league season to start.

    Soto is a nice little player with a good glove. Has all the intangibles you like in a player. If he hits he has a shot as a utility guy.

    Crawford is a very fast player with a swing that some scouts don't think will play at the upper levels. If he makes it he'll have to leapfrog guys like Szczur, Ha, Andreoli, etc. -- not to mention current MLB'ers like Sappelt for an extra OF'er spot. Exciting speed, but ability to hit and long layoff really hurt his chances.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for the reply. So Crawford will be playing this year the way it sounds. Question. Do minor leagues have a spring training? Are they in camp somewhere?

  • In reply to Wild Bill:

    You're welcome...and I'm not sure what the plans are for him to be honest. Last minor league roster I received had Crawford on it, so I'll assume he's here until I see otherwise.

    Minor league players play at Fitch Park, which is right next to Ho-Ho Kam (actually a very short walking distance).

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    In reply to Wild Bill:

    I graduated HS with Elliot Soto back in '07, so I am rooting for him too. He's a really great guy and a huge Cubs fan, so it would be fun to see him on the team. He always had stellar defense in HS, so I hope he can continue to develop that bat and make it as a utility guy like John suggested.

  • I like the combination of athleticism and speed with guys like Alcantara, Szczur, Silva, Jae Hoon Ha and Andreoli... And even Villanueva and Rafael Lopez have above average speed for their positions... They should have no problems taking the extra base or going firs to 3rd on a single or scoring from first on an extra base hit.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Daytona was an aggressive team on the basepaths last year and it should carry over to TN this year.

    Ha was a real tough choice for me because he could start at AA or AAA. I decided to go with AAA because even if he doesn't start there, I think he'll finish there -- and if he starts at AAA, he may not see AA at all this year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Long term, where do you see Ha? Does he push Sappelt for the 4th outfielder? Or do they carry both -- Sappelt for his bat, Ha for his glove?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think Sappelt that much of an advantage with the bat, Sappelt will either have to improve on his bat against RHP too, his defense in CF or both... Or else Jae Hoon Ha could become a better 4th OF than him.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I can't agree there. Ha's bat is not at Sappelt's level. Sappelt has been a very good hitter pretty much from the time he was an amateur up through AAA. Other than a bad 1st half at Iowa, hes hit AAA very well, particularly the two previous years with Cincinnati. His Southern League AA (.361/.416/.548) numbers overwhelm Ha's.

    Sappelt may not be lighting up the majors yet but he came into them as a much better hitter. Unless Ha improves significantly, he's going to have a hard time matching Sappelt's offensive production as he moves up. If Ha makes it, it's for his glove, instincts, and versatility.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Point taken... I just think Sappelt would have to absolutely kill lefties or improve his offense vs RHP's if he was to be a 4th OF over someone who can play above average defense in CF, like Ha.

  • In reply to Caps:

    No doubt. Sappelt is much more dependent on his bat than Ha -- particularly when it comes to hitting lefties.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Jae-Hoon Ha has to be better on the basepaths than Sappelt was last year. Hope Sappelt understands situational baserunning better this year.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Oh yes, Ha is a much more instinctual player in every other facet of the game, including baserunning. Sappelt's edge is in hitting.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They're different players who would play different roles. Ha is definitely going to play for his defense if he makes it. I see him more as your 5th guy than a 4th guy who might get some ABs or platoon time.

  • Touche', Mike.

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    Danny Knobler at CBS Sports is reporting that the Tigers are now looking to trade for a closer, given the spring struggles of Bruce Rondon.

    He doesn't mention Cubs as possible suitor, but I have to think we are a possibility. Not sure what Tigers think of Marmol, certainly there is risk there.

    The problem is a match: The Tigers primary asset is Rick Porcello, and while he is interesting, we don't really need another starting pitcher. He's also worth alot more than Marmol. Beyond that, the Tigers system is pretty bare for pitching, though some combination around Bruce Rondon could probably get it done......

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Torii Hunter and Nick Castellanos now block Avisail Garcia, I could see a deal worked out around him.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Interesting. I always wonder how much interest they'll show in Marmol given the control issues they had with Valverde last year.

    However, Marmol has been more successful of late and his stuff at this point is much better, so he's much more equipped to get himself out of trouble if he gets into it. That has to be a factor.

  • Absolutely hilarious.....!!!.....!!!!!!.....!!!!!!!

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