I recently did my top 25 Cubs prospects but that list was whittled down from a much larger one. I decided to take some of that list and look at guys who just missed and maybe one who should have made the list. We'll cover some sleepers later in the week.
Guys who just missed
- Starlin Peralta, 22, RHP: If I had to do the list over again, I probably would have chosen Peralta over Robert Whitenack, who has really struggled with his velocity and command since coming back from TJ surgery. Not that I've given up on Whitenack, it's just that he has become more of a risky option. Peralta was recently returned to the Cubs after wowing the Arizona Diamondbacks with his raw stuff (mid to high 90s fastball, good slider) but was sent back because he is nowhere near a position to help a team that expects to take a shot at the playoffs. Peralta has a long way to go and still needs to develop a change-up and be more consistent with his command. Because of that he probably ends up a reliever, but he'll get a chance this year as a starter and if he continues to progress, the Cubs won't leave him unprotected again.
- Tim Saunders, 22, SS-2B-3B-OF: Jason McLeod admits Saunders is a guy who slipped through the cracks and that he should have been picked higher. He's an athletic player with a surprising bat who can play a number of positions -- including SS. He's another guy with off-the-charts makeup. I don't know if Saunders will start at the MLB level, but I don't think I'd bet against him making it to the big leagues in some capacity.
- Ben Wells, 20, RHP: Like Whitenack, he has great stuff when healthy but hasn't regained it since his injury. Wells works with a two-seamer that is consistently 92-94 and was said to have reached 97-98 last spring. He compliments that pitch with a good, hard slider, a solid change and promising command. That pitcher would have made the list easily but the last time I saw Well, he was more like 87-91. His return to top prospect status will depend on a return of his velocity.
- Reggie Golden, 21, OF: Golden is a potential 3 outcome offensive player (BBs, Ks, HRs) who has the bonus of playing a good defensive RF. He takes a big rip at the plate and it's often either feast or famine. He also shows the ability to take pitches (10.4% walk rate in 2011). Golden has been held back in large part because of his inability to stay healthy.
- Matt Loosen, 23, RHP: Along with the next two on the list, Loosen is one of 3 Cubs pitchers who work with 4 pitches. I like Loosen a bit better than the other two because he can dial his fastball up to 95 mph, though he most often works in the low 90s. His also flashes a plus curve at times. When he had good command and both pitches working, he looked dominant at Daytona.
- Barrett Loux, 23, RHP: I like Loux's 4 pitch repertoire and his ability to command his fastball, but he doesn't have that one "out" pitch and that likely relegates him to either the bottom of the rotation or middle relief.
- Nick Struck, 23, RHP: Struck is similar to Loux in that he has 4 average pitches, but nothing to really put away hitters consistently. He'll likely compete with Loux for a spot over the next year or two.
- Josh Vitters, 23, 3B: Vitters has fallen off the top 25 as he has struggled to improve his defense and his approach. The Cubs really wanted him to work on both, but Vitters was let go by his winter team and has been injured this spring. He can still hit, especially against LHP, but without some combination of better defense, OBP, and/or power, he is looking like a part-time player.
- Lendy Castillo, 23, RHP: Castillo turned out to be much more raw than he looked last spring and will get a chance to rebuild his prospect status in the minors this year. Athleticism and a fastball that can reach 97 (sits 92-94) are his biggest assets. He'll have to develop a consistent second pitch and better command to keep hitters honest.
- Marcus Hatley,25, RHP: He is the Cubs 3rd hard throwing upper level reliever behind Zych and McNutt. As converted outfielder, he's also the most raw. Athleticism has a way of translating to sudden improvement and Hatley will need it as he'll have to pitch with better command of his mid to high 90s fastball and hammer curve.
- Dallas Beeler, 23, RHP: Two years ago, Beeler showed a lot of promise with a hard 91-93 mph two-seamer plus a slider and change which figured to be at least average MLB pitches. Beeler, however, had a disappointing year, some of which may have have had to do with bad luck (.330 BABIP)
- Stephen Bruno, 22, 2B-3B-OF-C: Bruno consistently squares up the ball and can hit the ball all over the field (.361/.442/.496). He's an underrated athlete who can play all over the field. He's most likely to be a versatile utility player who can provide a solid bat off the bench. If he proves he can catch, he becomes even more valuable.
- Eric Jokisch, LHP: Jokisch is a lot like (14) Chris Rusin and (15) Brooks Raley in terms of build, stuff, and long term potential. All 3 received some consideration. Like those pitchers, his fastball is in the 88-92 range but plays that up with a plus change-up. Breaking pitch is solid, but not special. Rusin is the most advanced of the three and has the highest floor, while Raley has the best athleticism and the highest ceiling. Jokisch is caught somewhere in between but has more time to develop.
Filed under: prospects