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Guest Post: An Inventory of Cubs MiLB pitching

Guest Post: An Inventory of Cubs MiLB pitching
Brooks Raley

Alex Walsh has written for MLB Trade Rumors and once wrote for Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, a forerunner among Cubs blogs. Alex is back with another guest post and this time he's taking inventory of some of the Cubs pitching prospects. I'll be writing more and more about Cubs prospects in the next few weeks, so this should be the first of many that cover the Cubs post-deadline inventory of prospects.

An inventory of the Cubs' MiLB starting pitching

By Alex Walsh

When a guy like Chris Rusin shows up and pitches seven great innings, you might wonder, "Holy crap, what else do we have lying around in the minors?" It's funny because at the start of the year it really didn't seem like the Cubs had much of anything above, say, low-A ball? to offer in terms of starting pitching. But the trades the team has made over the past few weeks, along with some good development efforts with the talent they already had, have changed that conversation a bit. Of the eight guys I list below as being anywhere near starting an MLB game, four were acquired within the past 12 months via trade, three were drafted, and one was signed out of Latin America several years ago.

The following inventory of Cubs starting pitching in MiLB was written mostly for myself, but hey, why not share it with you also?

Almost there

Justin Grimm
Acquired: trade, July 2013

Everything about Grimm's numbers say this guy will be a starting pitcher in MLB. The question is not about whether or not he'll get there, but rather how good he'll be once he does.

He has some upside to him. For example, check this out.

Justin Grimm, Apr 11 - May 30 (MLB): 52.2 IP, 44/14 K/BB, 3.93 ERA
Edwin Jackson, Jun 9 - Jul 26 (MLB): 55.1 IP, 41/15 K/BB, 3.42 ERA

That said, based on the numbers to which I have access, I think Grimm is someone who needs to build up arm strength. His strikeout numbers in MiLB fall in each month of the season (April is better than May is better than June, and so on), for example. And if you look at his 2013 velocity chart, you can see he was able to get above 95 mph with his fastball at one point several weeks ago, but has seen his velo fall since then.

Based on team need, I see the Cubs giving Grimm a full year in Iowa next year, with a focus on maintaining his strength throughout the season.

Control, control, you must learn control!

Jake Arrieta
Acquired: trade, July 2013

Lots of baseball people loved the Cubs' Feldman deal with the Orioles because they see Arrieta as a guy with very high upside. He's got a great fastball that consistently reaches 95, and averages in the upper-mid 90s. As a 23 year old in AA, Jake struck out 70 batters in 59 innings pitched.

But for Arrieta to succeed in MLB, he'll have to improve his command (a revolutionary concept, I know). It's not that Jake can't throw strikes; over the past two years, he's thrown 138.1 innings in MLB, and put up good K/BB numbers (8.6 k9, 3.4 bb9, a 2.54 ratio). To my untrained eye, this looks like a classic control vs command case: he can throw strikes, but not where he wants them to go. My bet is he nibbles a lot, and then when he falls behind in counts, gets too much plate, leading to big H/9 and HR/9 numbers (9.6 and 1.2 respectively over the past two years).

Like Grimm, Arrieta could fill a spot in the Cubs' major league rotation right now were he needed. But it seems like more development could benefit him. Given that his fastball is superior to Grimm's, he has the higher upside.

Barret Loux
Acquired: trade, Nov. 2012

There's upside here, and the former 1st round draft pick (unsigned due to injury and weird MLB rules) has dominated A+ and AA ball. Triple A has been more of a challenge, and for one reason: Loux simply walks too many batters. He's getting Ks, and limiting hits and home runs, but 42 walks in 68.2 IP as a starter simply won't work at MLB. Loux could start in the majors, but looks like a back of the rotation arm, and appears to need another year in MiLB before breaking through.

Left, right, left, right

Alberto Cabrera
Acquired: 2005 (signed at age 16 as an international free agent)

From the looks of his numbers, Cabrera could contribute to a major league team tomorrow if needed -- but not as a starter. The 6'4" righty has dominated right-handed hitters throughout his MiLB career, with a 9.81 K/9 against a 3.36 BB/9. But his strikeouts go way down (6.52 K/9) and his walks go way up (4.37 BB/9) against lefties.

His numbers against righties are even better this year (10.41 K/9, 3.38 BB/9), and he's gotten a little bit better against lefties (6.60 K/9, 2.89 BB/9). He may appear in the MLB bullpen later this year, but should have another go as a starter in AAA in 2014 to see if he can't improve his approach against lefties.

LME - low margin of error

AAA -- Brooks Raley (drafted in 2009), Chris Rusin (drafted in 2009)
AA -- Kyle Hendricks (trade, July 2012), Eric Jokisch (drafted in 2010)

These guys have all had success in the minors by getting just enough strikeouts (usually about 7 per 9 IP) and limiting walks (2 or fewer per 9). Unfortunately, they probably don't have the stuff to make it in MLB, because every mistake they make will be crushed. Chris Rusin is a case in point: yes, he's had two good starts in a row now, but he's been helped by a .152 BABIP. His career MLB numbers, however, are more telling: 45 IP, 5.20 ERA, 49 H, 6 HR. 2.0 K/BB.

Far, far away

Pierce Johnson (drafted in 2012)

Pierce is widely considered a top 10 prospect for the Cubs, and is well on his way toward pitching in the upper levels of the minors.

C.J. Edwards
Acquired: trade, July 2013

Edwards is in High-A, which definitely counts as long way away from contributing at the major league level. As for his potential impact, I'm going to defer to Fangraphs' Nathaniel Stoltz on this one, who says his profile "sounds like a decent third starter or good fourth starter." Here's the link to the full write up: http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/what-can-we-expect-from-c-j-edwards/

Listed below are some other interesting names from throughout the Cubs' system.

Yeiper Castillo
Starlin Peralta
Dillon Maples
Juan Carlos Paniagua
Paul Blackburn
Rob Zastryzny
Erick Leal

Ivan Pineyro (updated 10:41 a.m.)

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  • Excellent post, slowly but surely the Cubs are beginning to stockpile on pitching.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    What was excellent about it?

  • No mention of Ivan Pinyero? He's been lights out since coming over in the Hairston trade. No real upside there?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Charlieboy -- you caught me! After last night's lights out performance I thought to myself, "Man, I should have had this guy in my post." He's definitely a really really interesting arm. And for the low low price of half a season of Scott Hairston? Robbery!!

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    Fantastic post! The pitching is slowly starting to look somewhat acceptable in the Minors. Another name that has recently joined the organization that may become intriguing soon is Ivan Pineyro, a pitcher the Cubs got in the Scott Hairston deal with the Nationals.

  • Nice post, but after a couple of weeks of near euphoria about the future, this post and Sullivan's piece in the Trib about 2014 has me kinda bummed out.

    So we've stockpiled some power arms. All, except for Edwards and maybe Johnson so are still a few years away, have flaws and don't project to impact players. Instead, they can be decent and serviceable, but they're not gonna lead us to the promise land. I am excited about our hitting prospects, but still not thrilled about our arms.

    Then there's Sullivan's piece that I read last night. I know he's a sourpuss and kind of a jag -- i.e, like that stupid, petulant shot he took at Theo and Jed that they might as well go on a cruise this winter. But nonetheless, he's right to point out that the Cubs have substantially reduced their payroll, project to have a payroll next year of only $75 million, and likely pretty much have the same team in 2014 as we have right now, with our impact players still a couple of years away. In the meantime, I'm gonna again shell out big bucks for season tix I can't give away this year.

    Look, I am all aboard on this rebuild plan from the ground up. But when I get bummed like this I just can't escape the image of Crane Kenney smiling and patting himself on the back for cutting payroll in half since Ricketts arrived while raising ticket prices knowing that us faithful will shell out the money because we want to be there when they FINALLY will be worth having. Ricketts and Kenney (and maybe Theo too) have done a masterful job on maximizing the profit margins while convincing the most patient fans in the history of sports to be patient just a little while longer. Makes me wonder if we are all the biggest suckers in the world.

    Sorry for being so negative, but I just can't help it.

    : - (

    Help me, please!

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    I am a season ticket holder too, and we're tired of mediocre play. And next year's team does not figure to be alot better, that is TRUE.

    The problem is ground-up rebuilds take lots of time, 3-5 years. I don't think we're competitive until 2015 at the earliest, and 2016 seems more realistic. That's a long slog. But at least we are doing it the right way, which is getting better organically, THEN spending to fill-in the margins.

    It sucks and you probably know this, but spending to win does not work. The only way we improve in the short-run without the wait is by trading prospects or spending $$$, both of which sell-out the future. Even the Yankees and Dodgers home-grew their core of talent, and spent to add to that core. We're not there yet. But if we're careful, we'll have a truckload of money to spend when we finally do need it.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I would also add that the Cubs have committed significant $ on their organization and organizational infrastructure (i.e., Dominican baseball facility). Is it $25M +, I have no idea, but I do think the approach belies a real attempt to perform an extreme makeover of this organization for its long term betterment.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I have been saying for quite awhile now that 2017 is the earliest that we will be a playoff contender.2018 is even more likely.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Travis Wood didn't project out to be much at age 23 either but now he's a very good #3 starter and a decent #2. At age 25 Jeff Samardzija had a 4.37 ERA in AAA. Its hard to say any pitcher that can throw hard doesn't project out to be anything more than a serviceable starter. Who's to say Arrieta doesn't put it together at age 27 like Samardzija did? Grimm is only 24 and had a 4.23 xFIP in 17 starts this year pitching in the American league this year.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Sorry. Wood is a very good #5. Let's not overdo things.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    This year he's a 2 if you go by ERA, 3 if you go by peripherals.

    I think he can at least be a 4 in the future.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    Wood has pretty consistently out pitched his peripherals.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    If Wood is a #5?! Maybe on the 70's Orioles or the 90's Braves staffs but not an your standard playoff bound team of today. He's at worst a 4.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I think it would be a mistake to expect Wood to maintain the kind of numbers he's posted thus far. He's due for some regression. Having said that, we weren't really counting on him to be anything more than a #4 or #5 starter so let's enjoy the surplus value he's created. If we can keep him as our #4, that's great! If we have to count on him to post #2 or #3 like stats over the next few years, I'm not really comfortable with that...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He made the All Star team! He is very underrated.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    excellent 5, very good 4, serviceable 3

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Hey, if you have tickets you can't give away, something in the chain of supply and demand is wrong. If I let you know when I'll be in Chicago, I'll gladly take them. But then I don't get bummed out by every naysayer with a keyboard.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Kenny - I'll reiterate that yes in fact, even giving away tickets to friends/ acquaitances for the Cubs has been a huge challenge the last 3-4 years. Going to a Cubs game this year is pretty much akin to spending 3 hours at a morgue, with the one positive exception being that there are beer vendors.

    Since you're not bummed out by the naysayers yet, would you like tickets for Wednesday 14th vs Reds?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Thanks sincerely, but I'm not in Chi now. Maybe visiting Sweet Home Chicago in September (for the pennant run haha). Much obliged for the offer though !

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    email me at jimhelms at Gmail

    I split my time between Florida & "Home", but when I'm there I'll gladly pay you for your tix if you're not using them vs buying from a tix broker...

    Even when we get shelled, I still love going and soaking it all in. I still love riding the South Shore to Millenium and then the Red line to Addison like when I was kid....

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Great post Nordorf - I have same mixed feelings as you. Like the rebuild and focus on developing young players, hate reading about Ricketts taking in windfall profits while my season ticket prices remain the top 3 highest in baseball. There's simply no excuse why payroll should not be back to about $110M next year - they are restricted in what they can spend on IFA's and the draft. The Cubs should absolutely be buyers in free agency next year - just keeping to current strategy of keeping flexibility by avoiding no-trades and ultra long deals. Spending money on free agents does not have to impact in anyway their plan for building up the minors.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Windfall profits? He's spending $500 million to renovate the stadium.

    The Cubs tried to spend $80 million on Anibal Sanchez last year. Spending money just because you want a high payroll is stupid. If there are players the front office think can help the Cubs win, they'll go after them.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Yes - windfall profits. They were reported to be the most profitable team in MLB while losing 100 games last year. And having read the deal with the city, they will be making up for their investments multiple times with all the new advertising possibilities being opened up for them.

    Theo and Jed should (and I believe they will this winter) look at their whole roster, identify every gap they have and any gaps they have, they should look to free agency or trades to try and fill them. As Scott Feldman and Paul Maholm proved, dollars spent in free agency can be used to turn around and buy prospects. Free agents are assets - the Cubs should spend the revenue they have on more assets. Not rocket science and not asking a lot as a fan.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Do you really think they won't sign anyone this off season? What have they done the last 2 years to make you think that?

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I think they will spend - thats' what I wrote in 2nd paragraph above (see text in parentheses). My original post was in response to Nondorf who was expressing concern with the implications out in the press that the Cubs would NOT be players in free agency - and I was agreeing with him that if that were the case it would be both dissapointing and not helpful to their overall rebuilding plans.

    But to answer your question - I do think they will spend. I also think they can and absolutely should be a .500 or better team next year, which would mean contention for the playoffs in most years. I don't like reading people trying to push those goalposts out even further because its not reality.

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    Good article, but Alex you missed something on Cabrera. He's out of options in 2014, so a year in AAA to refine his starting approach is not possible. Development time is over for him. For this reason, as well as what Alex mentioned, Cabrera is probably a bullpen guy next year.

    Also, no mention here of Arodys Vizcaino. Understand he's off the radar right now due to rehab, and he may be a bullpen guy, but for now Cubs still want to keep him as a starter. Maybe that was because of lack of other options in the minors.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Vizcaino is special enough to not write off, and may end up looking like a steal for the Cubs one day. Theo/Jed said they see him as a starter and will give him every opportunity to do so. But he is just getting healthy enough to start throwing, and is still a couple of months away from throwing off of a mound. He's missed two seasons and hasn't started a game since 2011 in AA.

    I think he's a MiLB BP arm and possible late season MLB BP addition in 2014 if all goes well. He'll likely have a very low and strict innings limit too. Then after he's proven healthy and rebuilding his strength/stamina, they may stretch him back out for a rotation spot in 2015. But to expect anything from him at the MLB level in 2014 is just setting yourself up for disappointment. I'd rather not count on him and then have the luxury of being able to use him some....

  • Excellent summary, Alex. Look forward to more of these in the future.Thnx.:)

  • Nice work Alex.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Cabrera & possibly Arrieta out of Options after this year? If so (and especially since they have the best upside of the bunch) those are the leading candidates from within.

    Other than situational pitching, never been a fan of finesse lefties like Rusin & Raley. Though Rusin has looked good lately, he is likely due for some regression as you said. Still he's a contender for the 5th spot.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Cabrera will be out of options, yes.

    Arrieta will have an option left, but as of now he cannot be optioned without clearing waivers, which isn't likely to happen for him....this is per AZ Phil, but sounds right, as Arrieta just passed 3 yr. date from his first call-up.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Okay so that confirms my point then. Those two are the leading "internal" candidates because we would likely lose them if we tried to send them to AAA for depth. Plus, they have the best pure "stuff" anyways.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Cubreporter shows that Cabrera still has an option left next year...

    http://www.thecubreporter.com/cubs-40-man-roster

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Could be wrong but believe that option is for this year and he will be out next year.

  • I added Pineyro for Alex in the others section. I'll write about him more when I do my own prospects list.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,

    Any idea when you might be posting your updated prospect list ?

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    What exactly is the latest on Arodys Vizcaino? Does he figure to be ready in 2014? Will Cubs try him as starter, or relief pitcher?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I'm a little unclear on how the options work for Arrieta and Cabrera. I understand the rules for 3 options, but what is the big deal about next year and being out of options.

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    In reply to Buzz:

    TheCubReporter is an inferior blog to this one, but the one feature it does have is AZ Phil. He has all the rules and status on everybody, and it's an excellent resource. Check it out.

    A player who is out of options must be DFA'ed to be sent to minors. Through that process, any team can claim him and add to their roster. That's not a problem if he isn't any good, but worthwhile players get claimed.

    Arrieta will have options, but because he debuted over 3 years ago, he has to clear Optional Assignment Waivers first. That means any team willing to give him a 25-man spot can take him from us. So, Cubs are not likely to allow that, not for him.

    The rules are basically designed to make sure teams cannot stash players in their farm system forever. Eventually, good players are going to get to a 25-man roster, one way or the other.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Just means that they will have to stay on the big leage roster since they would not likely clear waivers on the way back to AAA.

  • It would be such a major steal if Pineyro turns out to be something! I wasn't expecting anything much in return for Hairston

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    Jon Sickels posted his pre-season top Cubs prospects in review. Interesting takes. Note that he did not re-rank them, just commented on them:

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2013/8/1/4566236/chicago-cubs-top-20-2013-pre-season-prospects-in-review

    Some interesting stuff; he likes Villanueva, for example, who gets a little lost in the shuffle with Olt, Baez, Bryant, Candelario other 3B options. Speaking of Jemier, he seems to really like him.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yea, nobody seems to see Villanueva at all with those guys coming up behind him. I think that is a bit short sighted. Sometimes guys look like world beaters at every level until that last step to the majors and then can't hack it. Then there are those that are just serviceable in the entirety of what they bring on the way up the system and then put it all together after getting to the big league club. Villanueva may well be the third baseman in our future. You don't know until he proves it.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    He's always been thought of a solid defender, but marginal bat for the hot corner. But now he's starting to show the power that you want from a 3B. So far as the underdog role, C.V. is used to it. He's been overshadowed by Jurikson Profar since A ball. One interesting tidbit, he hasn't been stealing as many bases since he moved into our system. I'm wondering if it's a difference in philosophy or if he's a step slower?...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Seriously, has anyone had a worse year? 12 months ago he was in fat city, having been stuck behind Adrian Beltre and Mike Olt, and becoming the highest viable 3B prospect in the Cubs system.

    12 months later, he's behind Mike Olt, again, and, oh yeah, the best hitting prospect in the draft plays third base and is now charging up the ranks behind him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Don't forget the teenager in low A ball who could make one or more them expendable in a few years....

    Speaking of Jeimer... I'm going to call it now. I think the Cubs should convert him to Catcher. This has nothing to do with his ability to man 3B. But I see him as an ideal candidate to play catcher very well defensively and having his SH bat at that position would make us a much better organization. He's young enough to make the switch and be right behind/platoon with Contreras...

    Then again, what do I know? I'm just a dumb old former catcher...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'd say he's probably the least of the 4 -- just based on defense and power potential. But when Jeimer Candelario is your 4th best 3rd base prospect, your organization is in real, real good shape.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh yeah, he's definitely behind them. But he's still a legitimate prospect that has the type of quality AB's this FO covets. So if he remains at 3B, he'll likely end up being traded at the AA/AAA level vs. overtaking the 3B job. But I suppose anythings possible. Other than Lopez & Contreras, we have no catchers, so my suggestion on the switch was purely based on organizational need. With his bat & the projection he has left, he would be more valuable to us & others as a Catcher though.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Power is evolving, but I wish that Villanueva had a quicker bat. Defensively he's a 3rd sacker+.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    His development is important if a) Olt fails, and b) Bryant is converted to RF. He doesn't have to hit a ton to start at the ML level, because everyone says he is plus to plus-plus defensively at 3B.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    You know, I'm starting to drop my opinion of Sickels. His comment that Baez isn't showing good plate discipline seems based on walk rates for the season, but he's actually started to show signs in Tennessee. His selling out for power bothers the hell out of me -- I've been clear about that -- but I think his approach in terms of swing/take is starting to come around.

    Also think he was expecting a bit too much from a very young Gioskar and is a little to harsh in his evaluation of Gioskar's season after a pretty lousy start.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Baez is very difficult to evaluate. These guys remember Brandon Wood. Baez has immense talent, but high risk with bat. And, is he a SS? Really tough to rank him.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I don't disagree, I just think Sickels comments on him are incorrect. Bashing him for the lack of walks completely ignores the steps he's taken forward. And, more to the point, misses where (in my opinion, anyway) the strikeout issues are coming from. For a minor prospect, I wouldn't have an issue with that miss. But this is a top 20 guy -- you'd think he'd naturally get a bit more attention.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Oh, yes, Correa being a solid A prospect just a step off Buxton but bland praise for Almora is, at best, questionable.

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    John: Here is a question. Who are the top pitching prospects in our system that were acquired during the Hendry era?

    ...it's hard to think of anyone. McNutt? Brooks Raley? Cabrera? It goes to show how truly bad our minor league pitching situation was when Theo&Co came on board. And why we still have a ways to go.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Cabrera, Rusin, Raley, McNutt, Maples, S Peralta, Ben Wells, Nick Struck... kind of thin isn't it?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You came up with more than I did.....but super-thin is right. This is why we are so much in the hole with pitching prospects. We still have a ways, but team Theo has at least started to fill the gap.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yeah, I guess we should give him credit for Chris Archer & Andrew Cashner so it's not like all of his picks were a "Hayden Simpson" type...

    But he clearly wasn't given the resources to develop talent or didn't believe in player development.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ironically, he was originally hired as The Director of Player Development.....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hendry's main failing was the farm system. I actually think he did a good job on trades; most worked out well for us. Even his free-agent contracts were good, until the Soriano one started a string of stinkers

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    We did trade Cashner. They did aquire Archer from Cleveland. Noralsco drafted in '01 right before Hendry was promoted to GM. But certainly was apart of the system. But yes very lean.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Jeff Samardzija says hello!
    Chris Archer says hello!
    Andrew Cashner says hello!

    How sweet would it be if Hendry didn't have to try desperately to save his job, so all three of them were together right now?

    Woof.

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    In reply to doogolas:

    Or if we'd just canned him before he had the chance to trade Archer.

    Couple points: Archer only kinda counts. He was acquired to flip to the Padres for Jake Peavy and, when that deal fell through, Jim was kinda stuck with him.

    Also, the significant development of two of those pitchers -- Samardzija and Archer -- came AFTER they'd been removed from Hendry's development system. Finding good young players is only half the battle. I think it's debatable that Archer does what he's doing without the patience and ability of the Rays system.

    Finally, we would have traded Cashner for Rizzo, anyway, so all 3 would never have pitched together.

    That's all. Continue trolling.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What's most telling is that it took 2.5 more years for Chris Archer to realy be given a starting spot with the Rays. I remember all the talk of Winter 2010/11 was that Chris Archer was going to challenge for the Cubs rotation that Spring. I really think if Archer had not been traded he would have been up with the Cubs by May of that year. He would have probably failed and done the see-saw between DesMoines and Chicago for the next 2 years. He would not be the same picher he is today (and he'd be nearing arbitration eligibility to boot).

  • Too much information is never enough, when analyzing our royal blue Cubbie prospects. l loved this run down on the pitching prospects in our system,but as a 7 decade Cub fan, I too see the 2015/16 seasons as heading toward the promise land,I just need to hang on for another decade to see what we all envision,Cubs win, Cubs win as Chicago floods with tears of joy. I can't tell all the contributors such as John,Adam,Tom and guest writers how much I love and appreciate this site.Thank you so much.

  • Actually, I'd be OK with Cabrera and Arrieta as the 4 and 5. I know that both would struggle at times, but next year is their time and the Cubs time to evaluate.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I would love a rotation of Samardzija, Jackson, Arrieta, Wood, and Cabrera. In terms of youth and pure stuff that rotation is second to none.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That rotation is a real possibility and has some serious upside to it. Baker or other FA "Value" signings may factor in too... But I see Grimm, Rusin, Raley, Hendricks, and Loux as AAA depth.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Speaking of FA signings, Paul Sullivan decided to troll Cub fans one last time on the way out by saying that declines in attendance mean we won't spend significantly on FAs next year and will, in fact, slash payroll again.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    IDK how he breathes with Head that far up his @$$.... He seems to have an axe to grind with this FO/Organization. Maybe he has ulterior motive, IDK... but I cant stand reading his work and have no respect for it either....

    I expect the Cubs to spend wherever they find value. If thats a 1yr deal ala FELDMAN! or a $55M deal ala E-Jax..... and I wouldn't want it any other way. We could spend $200M on Cano and have a marquis name to sell tickets and merchandise, but would that put us any closer to winning a WS? IDK if it would.... Where would we be in 7 years when his level of play has declined?....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Even when the Cubs were winning he was a curmudgeon. It's just his schtick.

  • Last year the Cubs acquired Marcelo Carreno for Jeff Baker. He was supposed to have a pretty promising arm. Whatever happend to him?

  • C. Black pitching tonight for Daytona at Ft. Myers. I'll give you an update John on how he does. I'm glad to be able to see him was hoping to see CJ Edwards.

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    If were talking about high upside pitchers with question marks why absolutely no mention of Duane Underwood. Has the lowest floor but also the highest ceilidh the system. He is the only guy with legit #1 characteristics in our minors even though he's inconsistent and far away.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Definitely promising guy, but I don't think we have a legit #1 in our system right now. #1 pitchers have great stuff and throw strikes. We don't have anyone doing both right now. But point taken.

    Some of the 2013 draftees have also come out of the gate strong, but it's a little early to rank them probably

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Anyone have a guess as to how many potential #1's there are in all of the minors? How about #2's? It's nice to see our minor league pitching depth improving, but I worry about the fact that even if all of these guys hit their peaks then we STILL won't have any TOR starters besides Samardzija.

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    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Not many, it is true.....so tough to find. But we lack impact pitching talent at the high-end. Problem is, you usually need to draft very high to get those guys, and we've been using our high picks on position players.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Oh my Goodness, Marcel is alive! LOL

    What a difference a year makes.

    8/1/12 White Sox were in 1st place with a record of 57-47. Today they are the 2nd worst team in baseball with a record of 40-65. That's a -17.5 games swing in the standings.

    8/1/12 The Cubs were sitting at 43-60 on their way to the 2nd pick overall in the 2013 draft. Today they sit at 49-58 with a much healthier farm system ranked by top baseball insiders as a top 3 farm. With a +4 games swing in the standings.

    I can't wait to watch the rest of this year. Lots of young guys are going to get a chance to show what they got. Then we shall see Jed and Theo pull a rabbit out of a hat this winter with a few more moves. Then Spring training where I suspect we see a few new faces and a push towards those elusive playoff spots.

    Exciting times!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    That's great perspective. We only have to be one of the top 5 teams in the league to make the playoffs and I don't think that is crazy to imagine next year, especially with an offseason that looked like this one. I'd agree that those odds of being a top 5 increase dramatically in 2015, but things could at least be interesting next year.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Not to gloat (well, just a little) but the White Sox now have a worse record than the Marlins !
    And they just can't admit that they have to rebuild. They're "emerging" instead.
    Thank goodness our FO acknowledges where we were and have a real plan for success. I don't think the South Siders' FO gets it.

  • A.J.! It's been a long time since GROTA. I've missed the optimism and the Star Wars quotes. Are you going to be contributing around these parts now?

  • Skulina and Clifton are very interesting from the recent draft, along with Zastryzny (spellcheck!). You didn't mention relievers, for good reason--most relievers are failed starters. But I think it's fair to say that Zych, Rosscup and Lim are legitimate MLB bullpen candidates. Not as fillers, but as actual useful parts.

    I like Kyle Hendricks and I'm pulling for him.

  • I'm not saying its time to panic about Baez, but a 33% K rate in AA isn't going to cut it. As others have said, all of these home runs may be counter productive.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Ike, Baez is 20 years old! Yes, he has 28 HR and a high K rate. And yes, he needs to tone it down. But that isn't easy for a 20 year old. I coach mostly Fastpitch Olympic development programs in Europe and Asia (yes I know they are not in the Olympics for now). Sometimes in certain countries I have boys and men in the programs, not just women. The girls focus on skills, the boys focus on breaking the batting-tees! Give it time for a compromise to evolve.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I wouldn't say panic. He does need to lower that K rate some. But his walk totals have increased, though I'd rather his BB% be double digits.

    IDK, maybe he's shooting for the Hat Trick club...

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/introducing-the-adam-dunn-hat-trick/

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm not panicked about the strikeouts because it seems a good deal of them are happening because he's taking a home run swing every time. Now, to the extent that he's struggling with breaking balls and that's contributing to it -- that ain't good. But I'm hoping as he starts taking shorter swings, he won't be so uncomfortable getting to breaking balls.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Right, but at some point those big hacks are going to become a habit. I just hope it doesn't get to that point because major league pitchers will eat him up if he's trying to hit every ball 450 feet

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Javier Baez has a .204 BABIP at Tennessee. While he has K'ed a bunch, he has also been very unlucky. And he still has an OPS of .888! With average luck, he should easily be batting over .280, even with all the strikeouts

    I would advance him slowly, and monitor the walk rates, but Baez will always be a bit of a hacker, IMO. If he keeps slugging like that, he'll still make it.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Right but that BABIP is skewed because of how many home runs he hits.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    I think it's hard to judge his work at AA so far. He's only had 99 AB so far. If you look at his work in Daytona this year where he had more AB's, he down around 26% for K's which seems respectable. He also carried the same 7% walk rate at Daytona.

    Being such a young guy, he probably thought he had to prove something with the promotion and took a whole lot more HR swings right out of the bat. I think he'll be fine....

  • How did you leave Arodys Vizcaino off the list if he is the #6 prospect? He'll be back!

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    He's probably not #6 anymore, probably not in the top 10. Hard to evaluate a player who hasn't pitched in a year and half

  • Good stuff. If you'd have thrown an adjective in front of those trades (Soto trade, Feldman trade), I'd have this page bookmarked forever. I'm always trying to remember where these guys came from. Getting to be a lot of 'em.

  • John- no minors recap. I'm literally addicted to that!! Lol, I need my fix. Just curious. Keep up the great work and thanks for all the coverage guys

  • I know John doesn't recap the VSL team in his daily Minor League reports, but has anybody noticed what 2011 IFA signee, 19 year old 3B Roney Alcala is doing this year in the Venezuelan League?

    After hitting .300 last year in the DSL as an 18 year old, he is now hitting .349 with 13 doubles, 9 HR in 232 AB's in the VSL.

    OBP/SLG/OPS = .384/.539/.923

    At 6'1" - 223 lbs he is a Switch Hitter who hits from both sides.

    vs Left - .361 with 3 HR & vs Right .345 with 13 2B, 2 3B, & 6 HR

    The reason I'm bringing this up now, is that yesterday he extended his current hitting streak to 10 games, during which he is hitting .450 and an OPS of 1.228!

    Waves & Waves of talent coming through the system.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Good hitter but don't like the body at that young age and he's a bit aggressive. I think he's interesting, but want to see how he develops physically and in terms of plate discipline.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Make that 11 game hitting streak, he went 1-3 with a double today. He played Catcher today. I wonder if he has any chance of sticking at backstop?

  • Another great start from Hendricks today :). Interestingly, 6 out of the 7 hits he allowed were ground balls and the 7th was a pop-fly single (all according to gameday). He had some control issues in one inning, but righted the ship afterwards. Love the percentage of groundballs he generates.

  • I think Vizciano will be on inning limit next year. Also don't forget the Cubs have atleast 1 more pitcher coming in the ptbn deal for garza

  • In reply to nkniacc13:

    I don't think the PTBNL will be a starter next season (not at MLB level, maybe in minors) and as I stated in the most recent piece, Vizcaino is likely a bullpen guy as well and a long shot to be a starter next year. It'll likely be a year of rebuilding arm strength for him.

  • Nice article, AJ! A bit of a change of pace from all the financial articles you churn out, which I don't know how you do, BTW. 10 seconds of having to think like a grown-up and my head hurts.

  • I don't think so either I was just saying that they will be getting another arm in the PTBNL

  • Thanks for the summary, Alex!

    I would add Matt Loosen (of Daytona no-hit fame) to the "Interesting" list, at least! And probably make room for Dallas Beeler when he comes back from his finger tendon injury.

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