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Cubs Top 50 Prospects: 21-30

Cubs Top 50 Prospects: 21-30
Gioskar Amaya

Had to make a last minute change yesterday as the Cubs announced that yet another player was going to get a crack at catcher and I think it was an inspired choice...

I hope you're not looking for Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters yet, by the way.  I haven't given up by them but the upside isn't as exciting as it used to be.  Both look like role players off the bench at the MLB level right now.

And here's how crazy the depth is getting:  I really, really like some of the players I haven't mentioned yet and think they have a shot at being MLB players.

21 Gioskar Amaya 2B/C, 20, Kane County (A)

The Cubs just announced that Amaya will be playing catcher in instructs and if he is able to stick, that will do wonders for his stock.  He's an intelligent, instinctual player with very good makeup and enough quickness and arm to be a good catch and throw type.  His bat will play better as well.  Amaya struggled a bit at Kane County before getting hot in the second half -- then cooling off in the last 2-3 weeks of the season again.  He has solid bat speed and can handle most fastballs, spraying line drives from gap to gap.  He has some pull power but that's not his game.  Amaya has improved his approach the last couple of years and puts up consistently good ABs.  His upside as a 2B was an average starter and if he takes to catching, he could be at least that there too.  He immediately becomes the Cubs best catching prospect.

22. Neil Ramirez, RHP, 24, Tennessee (AA)

Ramirez was once the #5 prospect in a good Rangers system but command issues, arm troubles, and concerns about his delivery dropped him down the list.  The Cubs will give him every chance to start and he has the pitches to do so.,  He works at 92-94 as a starter and is able to reach 97 in short stints.  His calling card used to be his big curveball, which was the best in the organization but he has been mixing in a slider of late because it's easier to command and because he tended to hang the curve.  His next best pitch right now may be his change up.  Ramirez bounced back strong this year with a 9-3 record and a 3.11 FIP and struck out just over 30% of the batters he faced.  His ceiling as a starter is as a #3, but many feel he may be best off as a hard-throwing late inning reliever where he can throw in the 96-97 range.

23. Yasiel Balaguert, OF, 20, Boise (A)

As a hitter, Balaguert has some exciting potential.  He has good bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat.  He started to display some of that power potential at Boise after struggling last season when the Cubs pushed him to Peoria as a 19 year old.   The downside for Balaguert is that he's relegated to a corner though he does have the arm for RF.  He's one of the more underrated hitters in the system with quick, strong hands and good batting eye (9.7% walk rate).  He slumped a little late in the season but this is a player who I think will be a lot of fun to watch at Kane County next year.

24. Corey Black, RHP, 22, Daytona

Black is an undersized pitcher (5'11", 175 lbs) who generates mid 90s velocity that can reach 97 mph (and has reportedly hit 100 mph in the past).  His secondary stuff is average (curveball, change) and the lack of a second out pitch likely relegates him to 7th inning work rather than a closer or set-up man.  His slight build makes it very unlikely he sticks at starter, though the Cubs will surely keep him there for as long as possible.

25. Rubi Silva, OF, 24, Tennessee (AA)

Silva is a toolsy player capable of playing all 3 OF positions and an arm that is one of the best in the organization.  At the plate he had a bit of a breakthrough in terms of power, hitting 15 HRs and slugging .483 (.199 ISO).  Silva's biggest weakness is a hacktastic approach than can be exploited by savvy pitchers with good command.  But if he can hone his approach to be at least adequate, he can be a valuable outfielder off the bench because of his defense, speed, LH bat, and power.

26. Willson Contreras, C, 21, Kane County (A)

Contreras is the Cubs best current catching prospect but he has a long way to go.  He's quick behind the plate and shows a strong arm but he's erratic both at blocking pitches and when it comes to throwing runners out.  At the plate he has forearms made out of granite and good bat speed.  He hit a career high 11 HRs and more than doubled his ISO% (.174 from .084 the previous season).  He also improved his walk rate from 4.1% to a respectable 7.5% -- thought that disciplined approach was also erratic.  Consistency is the key for Contreras, who plays the game with a lot of intensity and sometimes lets his competitive nature get the best of him.  He has some growing up to do, but if he does, he has a chance to be a pretty good all-around catcher.

27. Gleyber Torres, 16, SS, AZIL

Torres is the more polished of the Cubs two big amateur IFA signings.  He has a good feel for hitting and while he isn't a top notch athlete, he has good instincts at SS and the Cubs feel he has a chance to stick there.  As a hitter, he's been compared to Freddy Sanchez in that he is a guy who has a chance to hit for average and some extra base power and perhaps average HR power.  He has good hand-eye coordination and a smooth, short swing.  He has at least average tools off the board with his bat and arm projecting as potentially above average.

28. Zac Rosscup, LHP, 25, Chicago

I normally don't like ranking relievers but considering Rosscup has earned a 40 man roster spot and a call-up, he gets special consideration.  It also helps that he he has unusual velocity from the left side, sitting 92-93 and touching 94.  He couples that with a good slider and a deceptive delivery that plays up his velocity even more.  Rosscup misses a ton of bats (13.7 Ks/9 IP at AA, 37% rate) The issue with Rosscup, as you might expect is command.  He has really struggled with it since his call-up but if he can throw strikes consistently, he should have work for a very long time as a LH reliever who can miss bats.

29. Ivan Pineyro, RHP, 22, Daytona (A+)

I had some trouble deciding where to rank Pineyro because some like him a lot while others I talked to consider him to be "just a guy".   And by that I mean a guy with average (or even fringe average) stuff who relies on location and command.  Pineyro is often in the 88-90 mph range with his best pitch being his change-up.  He threw a lot of strikes as a Daytona Cubs (1.8 walks per 9 IP) but is usually somewhere above the two walk mark, which is still very good.  He can also miss some bats (7.6 Ks/9 IP, 20.5% rate).  Overall, it was a pretty good haul for Scott Hairston.  Pineyro pitched very well after the trade, going 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA (2.89 FIP) but like Hendricks he's going to have to keep sharpening his stuff and command while proving himself at every level.

30. Jacob Hanneman, CF, 22, Boise (short season A)

Hanneman was another tough rank.  We know that the Cubs fell in love with him and picked him in the 3rd round.  They paid him an overslot $1M  bonus despite him missing two years on a Mormon mission and playing only his freshman season at BYU.  Scouts were impressed with his fluid athleticism, instincts, makeup, and how the game just seems to come so easy to him.  He quickly adapted to Division 1 college ball and some considered him the best hitter in the conference outside of Kris Bryant.  Hanneman has very good speed and a short stroke with some pop at the plate.  As you might expect, the pitch recognition isn't there yet after having so much time off. He also relies mostly on his speed to play defense in CF and needs to get better reads and take better routes, but the Cubs believe he will pick those things up quickly with some reps and coaching.  I think if Hanneman was just 19 like most freshman, there'd be a lot to be excited about and he'd be much higher on this list, but he'll be 23 in April so that excitement is tempered for me.  He'll need to stay healthy and continue to adapt and move quickly.  The guess is he starts at Kane County next year.

 

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  • fb_avatar

    A couple interesting names not on here: Josh Vitters and Jae Hoon Ha.

    I personally think Vitters has a better shot at ML career than some guys on this list, albeit as a backup. But he can still hit.

    I don't really believe in Ha, and sounds like you don't either. My money would be on Ha being exposed to Rule 5 draft, but not taken, which would be all you need to know about what everyone else thinks

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Better shot, yes, but better impact potential? Of that I'm not so sure. With Vitters the bat is decent but the burden on it has increased with the move to LF.

    I like Ha, but he is a 5th OF'er to me and the scout I talked to about hm felt the same way. His defense is very good but i don't think it's so far and above beyond what either Szczur or Silva could provide in CF -- both of those players continue to improve and both have a chance to provide a bit more on offense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From what I've read, Vitters' biggest problem is attitudinal. It sounds like he tends towards being lazy regarding his approach to his profession. Leopards don't change their spots, but occasionally, if rarely, people can. If Vitters "gets it", Vitters could be a pleasant surprise. I'm not counting on it but I do hope it happens.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I wouldn't call him lazy, but he has a bit of that laid back California style to him and doesn't always play with a sense of urgency. While I think that can work in a role, it may not work as an everyday player where you need to bring it day after day. I think it's possible to change -- Jim Edmonds had some similar criticisms as a young prospect.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am shocked that Vitters and Ha are not ranked higher. More so with Ha. You feel like Ha is a 5th outfielder? All the other outfielders before him are starters and 4th outfielders?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think they're all likely 4th/5th OF'ers with a potentially more well-rounded skill set to offer. That's not to say that Ha can't ultimately be the guy with the best career, but trying to balance projection and likelihood of making the majors here and I don't see Ha as being much more than a defensive guy who maybe hits .260 with single digit HRs if he plays a full season.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I haven't given up on Vitters and I'm pulling for him. But the expectations have to be nil right now. As a corner OF'r, Vitters bat is just average. That;s his calling card and he just lost any positional value it may have had. His defense is average at best. Given his struggles this last year or so, he's probably a platoon RH bat playing avg or below defense in a corner OF... Hard to say he's top 30 worthy when there are legit prospects who have the potential to play every day at the MLB level. Of course, we thought that of Vitters when he was at the lower levels too. But that's why this is called 'top prospects'. Vitters may still be a contributor on a MLB team. But his prospect star has faded.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Maybe, Zonk, maybe. I will say this: Vitters better be in the best shape of his life when he comes to Spring Training, and he better get there early.If he does not show better effort, I could see him get sent packing.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think Vitters' floor is higher than a lot of guys on this list, but not his ceiling. Not even a little bit.

  • As usual John, right on the money! Great list!

  • In reply to cubs25:

    Thanks.

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    John, another question. Where would you rank a guy like Mark Malave? He, like Torres and Jimenez, was a big IFA signing, and he did OK this year as an 18 year old in US. Has he not progressed as was expected? Is he already losing some shine? Just curious, since he is an IFA who has actually played unlike the other two you ranked.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Malave is ranked but you really have to stand out early to get ranked high if you are in the complex league (ala Castro, Candelario). Malave has shown promise, but he hasn't been as productive as those players were -- or even as much as guys like Amaya and Hernandez were in AZ.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right, Gioskar and Marco were better in AZL Rookie ball, at the same age (18).

    I guess the fact is we aren't looking good so far in our 2011-12 IFA signings (including Paniagua)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Acosta has been a disappointment so far and Marcano has been solid in the DSL/VSL, but doesn't look special right now -- especially for a guy who projects to play LF and will rely on that bat. Malave is the best prospect of the bunch and his stock is helped by a return to catching.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with your thoughts on Malave at this point. I do want to add (and I think from your previous references to him that you agree) that in terms of possible projection as a hitter, he could jump into the top ten in 1-2 years if he develops. He shows a good eye for his age, potential to hit for power and good average, switch-hitter and moving back to catcher.

    None of this is fully evident now, though it often isn't for 18 year olds. But I don't believe there is anyone (other than the two 16 year olds) else with the potential to shoot up the propsect list in the next few years more than Malave. I think he has a similar ceiling as Candelario (maybe more power, less OBP) and would do it as a catcher.

    I would be remiss to add that even in my excitement about him I recognize that the most likely result is that he never comes close to his potential and fizzles out at or below AA. In terms of possibilities and ceiling though, I think Malave could end up being as valuable of a hitting prospect as anyone not in the top 4 on this prospect list. The fact that someone with such upside is not even in our top 30 is another example of the depth of the system.

  • Interesting that Amaya is a conversion candidate now. I wonder how that came about... I know you really like Contreras, so what is it about Amaya that makes you think he's a better prospect than Contreras? I've never seen either play and so by default, have no opinion.

    You think Contreras moves up to Daytona and Amaya stays at KC?

    Good call on Hanneman. I honestly had no idea where to rank him...lol In six months, he could be forcing himself into top 10 consideration or being pushed off the list altogether. He has to stay healthy and then given his age, can he move quick enough? We'll see.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Dammit, I swear this wasn't up when I posted...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    lmao... happens to all of us Mike.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I like Contreras in terms of physical ability and his intense style of play but I also think he's very raw. Amaya is the better pure hitter and has the more consistent approach at the plate. I also like Amaya's potential to be a smart, calming influence behind the plate. I think he's got great makeup and intelligence for the position. Another interesting side note, he picked up English much quicker than most kids out of Latin America do and he'll be able to communicate easily with all pitchers.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know you have been a fan of Amaya, John, and, as you write above, consider him a potential MLB starter at 2B. Since the Cubs have moved him, I read the tea leaves and came to the conclusion that the Cubs feel 2B will be locked up for the near future by Baez or Alcantara. The move makes more sense if the organization believes that Amaya would be blocked at 2B in 3-5 years.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Agreed. And I think he's the kind of player who can adapt to that kind of switch quickly.

  • I think Ha' s best chance and, it is not a good one, is to break camp as the Cubs 5th outfielder 2014. The short window would require that Vitters and other right side hitters have a slow spring and Ha a hot one. Another minor league season will make the numbers even harder.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Yes. I'm not sure Ha is protected at this point because of the Cubs depth in 4th OF'er types and how easy it is to replace such players from the waiver wire.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Ha has more power in him that hasn't shown up yet. He's still young. He's shown some power in the past. And from everything we've heard he's a very good fielder. I like his chances more than Silva.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    I don't know if I like his chances better than Silva, but there is something about Ha that emitted 'I am a baseball player' whenever I see him play. I like his instincts on the basepaths and in the outfield. He gets quality at bats and appears to be a good situational hitter, but his ability to hit the ground running after periods of inactivity is the skill that is intrigues me most. Many spare outfielders need pt to keep from rusting. Ha' s ceiling may be 5th outfielder, but his floor may be exceptional 5th outfielder.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't dispute anything you say about Ha, including his likelihood of being a long term major leaguer perhaps being better than some ahead of him on the list.

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    Gioskar at catcher is intriguing. I thought you could make a real good case for Contreras, Candelario, Amaya, and Hernandez repeating A ball. But, if Amaya is getting moved to catcher, they're going to have to break him and Contreras up. So I'd think Contreras goes to Daytona and Amaya stays in Kane County.

    I also agree on a lot what you say for Hannemann. I'd add that, given his age, his injury plagued half season was about as catastrophic as an injury plagued half season could be. He REALLY needs to get some reps out there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed on all counts. Seems wise to keep Amaya at Kane and let him focus on learning how to catch under Mark Johnson.

  • I expected to see Kevin Encarnacion and Zeke DeVoss in this group. And we have the Ha, the Vitters, the Dunston, the Andreoli. This system is some kind of deep.

    So far, it seems that only Alcantara and Amaya need to be protected. Amaya will have to learn fast to make a roster spot worth this move.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    All those guys got consideration and I'm finding the gap between 15-40 is a lot less than the gap between 1-15.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes even though it is quite difficult to rank these guys and lots of people will disagree, I am so glad that you did this and give us another look at what they can or can't do. Dunston is definitely the one that thought would have made it in here. Hard to say as he had to come back to Boise, but that plate discipline really stands out. His dad gives hope that he may have more than enough to make it as Jr is already way ahead in the walk department. LOL. But then again this is why lists fluctuate so much especially from year to year because people step up, some are repeating levels so should improve numbers and others get injured etc. I definitely can't say it enough but it is a good problem to have as there are bound to be guys that will succeed out of the bunch on some level. Still see too many of the guys in the minors that are more fringe type/bench players. But the tide is turning with all of the waves and yet another wave coming next draft. Can we start next year already as I want to see the minor league players of who will take next step or turn things around LOL Fall league is somewhat exciting, but just for a handful of guys.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    We'll see Dunston in the next piece. Definitely a good argument to put him here in the top 30. I wouldn't protest with a lot of disagreements here because I think it gets increasingly speculative and ranking -- especially in the 15-50 range becomes much more speculative.

    To be honest, I don't think too much in terms of lists. I think there will be players off my top 50 who have a realistic shot at being solid big leaguers, especially relievers. I think mostly in terms of impact guys and guys who can play roles.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    If space on the 40 is reasonably available, then I agree w/ you on Amaya, but assuming space is dear, I think it unlikely somebody sans Houston viewing him as someone able to hold onto a MLB slot for the season. In a sense, Amaya's season may help us if he isn't assigned a roster spot.

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    Notice nobody is asking where is Brett Jackson. Only 18 months from #32 on BA's top 100 list, to not even top 30 on Cubs. I've never seen a healthy prospect collapse like that. He even had 7Ks in 14 ABs in Rookie ball.

    Too bad, nice guy apparently, but he's probably done, and I expect a DFA before the Rule 5 draft

  • I'm especially pleased that the Cubs are looking for more catching prospects. Anytime a catcher has knee problems (Castillo), there has to be concern. Some catchers (Posey) can move over to play first, but Castillo has nowhere else to go if his knees give out because first base is more than covered.

  • I'd been with you up to this point. But no Dunston, Vitters or Paniagua. I'm not a fan of Silva at all. Not that I think he can't make it, but I don't see much there. Your other choices are not bad, but those Dunston, Vitters, and Paniagua over a lot of them.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Panigua has shown nothing so far, and Vitters seems like a lost cause. I'm with you on Dunston though, he's looked quite good so far. The problem I think is that his ceiling looks no higher than Szczur or Andreoli. So why get excited about a guy doing that in Boise when the other two are doing it in the Southern League?

    Frankly, out of the Cubs' multiple 4th OF types in the system right now, I like DeVoss the most. Speed and outstanding OBP skills, that is a terrific tool set for a 4th OF.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I had heard Paniagua's velocity rebounded towards the end of the season in Boise. Though I do agree he hasn't shown anything yet, what has Torres shown. Or Hanneman. At the start of the season, Paniagua was talked about as potentially the Cubs best pitching prospect and expected to be a fast mover. Then he couldn't get his visa and struggled with velocity for a month and half. I'll chalk a fair amount of that up to being sidelined for so long and I'm looking forward to see him after actually being allowed in the country, and able to work with his coaches.

  • So glad Pineyro is getting a good look. I'm biased towards control guys. 'Tired of seeing Cubs issue walks.

  • "At the plate he has forearms made out of granite" loved this comment. Good work John. I have high hopes for Neil Ramirez, I agree his floor does seem to be an effective late inning reliever, however I think he still has a solid shot at being a middle to later starting rotation. Him being 24 and having to repeat a year at AA (since struggled briefly at AAA) would scare some people but I think it helped him focus on specifics in pitching and can see him excelling at triple A next year with a shot at getting some big league innings later in the year.

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    Haha ;) Thanks. I saw Contreras knock out a 6'4", 220 player out cold with those forearms when the runner tried to run him over at home. Fell like a ton of bricks. Turned out to be okay, but they needed to break out the smelling salts.

    I do think Ramirez still has a shot to start, which is why I have him higher than guys who are already relief pitchers.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Niko Goodrum? I was actually at that game. Scary moment, had to go off on a stretcher.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    That's the guy. Though I think I had the wrong measurements, but he was tall and had a good sized frame, even if he isn't done filling out. He's 6'3" and probably at least 180, bigger than Contreras anyway. Scary moment indeed. Glad he was okay.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not to mention he was coming around all the way from second, so he had a full head of steam and Contreras didn't budge an inch. Impressive, but scary.

  • These lists are wonderful. Absolutely awesome work and analysis. Thanks a bunch for putting them together.

    Lots and lots to think about, but at a quick glance, the first overarching thought I have is in spite of the organization making huge strides in overall pitching depth, there's still a lot of work to go.

    Looking at the pitchers listed in the top 30, only a handful of them profile well as starting pitchers long term, and on top of that, only a few of them as middle rotation or better.

    Edwards, Johnson, Blackburn profile as middle rotation, perhaps with an outside shot at #2 type of potential if all breaks right (health, command, etc)

    Hendricks, Zastryzny, Underwood, Pineryo and maybe if you're very generous Maples profile as starting pitchers at this point, with the likelihood of them ending up as back of the rotation starters for various reasons.

    Vizcaino, Cabrera, Ramirez, Black and Rosscup likely all profile as bullpen arms.

    Of course there's lots of action to still take place, and the situation is fluid (in both directions) for most of these guys, but assuming things pan out as is, the Cubs still remain in need of more high and middle end SP help.

    Given how well the front office addressed the need for future power bullpen arms this past year, it will be interesting to see how the front office address the top and middle of the rotation over the course of the next 18 or so months.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Thank you and those are all very good points. Impact arms are hard to come by and the Cubs had a chance to select one with Gray in the past draft -- but it's really hard to argue with choosing Bryant there. I do like the plan of stocking up on good arms and knowing that some will end up in the bullpen.

  • Not going to lie, I thought for sure Paniagua would be in the top 30. Not that I am a huge fan of him, but I know you were chalking this season up as a lost cause for him during the minor league season. Thought you would give him a pass. I am in no way disagreeing about it, just my thoughts based on what you were saying during the season for him.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    Paniagua to me is already destined for the bullpen and I feel he will likely move to that role next season because he may not have anough time to develop as a starter at this point. It was a good gamble on a great arm, but I think they'll be happy to get a pen guy for now -- hopefully a late inning RP.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey John - I too was surprised by Paniagua's absence in the Top 30. Why did his relegation to the bullpen lead you to leave out of Top 30? There are other strictly MLB bullpen prospects (Rosscup, Black) and a couple others that are very likley to windup in the pen(Cabrera and even Vizcaino) on your list already?

    If you still see JCP as a potential lights out 7-8-9 inning guy, would think he would be in the top 30, which leads me to believe you probably don't see much success even in a bullpen role in his future?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Rosscup has already proven himself at the upper levels and Black is still a starter for now. I'm less partial to guys who move to the bullpen early in their careers, which is what I think will happen with Paniagua. I think Paniagua can still be a late inning guy, but I think the road is tougher when you have to move to the pen early in your career.

  • I think some folks here are underappreciating the importance of a bigtime bullpen in the modern game. And as a result, short-changing the value to the organization of some of the pitching prospects. I mean, look at successful teams in recent years, most (not all) of them have shut-down bullpens with multiple power arms. ATL, KC, OAK, and to a lesser degree, BOS, CIN, PIT and STL. I understand that nearly every reliever is a failed starter at some point, but still, if a guy profiles as a dominant reliever, that has definite value and the guy deserves to be ranked.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Not underappreciating it, just that guys who can stick as starters longer generally end up as better bullpen arms than guys who are RPs from the early minors.

  • I really like your point, and think that at some point, a clever GM is going to build a pitching staff of around 12 or 13 guys with pure power stuff. First, we will need to advance to the point where the pitching statistics 'Win' and 'Quality Start' are obsolete. A 'Starter' by then may be a two or three-inning former reliever who stays in for 30-50 pitches and then turns it over to the next pitcher, who might be the 'Starter' in three days. Preposterous or possible? Just something I've been pondering lately.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I hope not! Teams will need more players.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I'm not sure about that, but that's an interesting thought to say the least. I think the problems come when you have to use more pitchers than you planned on any given day.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I believe it was my Dad who threw the idea of multiple 3-inning pitchers at me many years ago. After thinking about it off and on for a good long time, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't work for the precise reason you mention, John. If one or more of the 3-inning guys simply doesn't have it, then the problems start, because innings start piling up for all the other guys. That is why guys like Multiple Ed end up being valuable. Regardless to some extent of the numbers, they munch up the innings.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Then you need a pitcher who can throw everyday like Terry Mulholland. Add perhaps two of those and have everyone else be part of the structured 3 inning style.

    The biggest issue, though, is limiting your star pitchers to 3 innings. Do we want (in a few years in our ideal Cub development world) to remove Edwards after 3 perfect innings and bring in Corey Black? The other team might be happy you did.

  • I'll represent for those of us who are GLAD Vitters and Jackson aren't on the list yet! I'm hoping they bounce back and have good years but they've been replaced by better guys. Maybe BJax could have cracked the top 30 by virtue of his other tools and make-up but hey...if you're 0-1 with a strikeout by the time you're done brushing your teeth its hard to make a list.

    I have a take on Vitters and other "laid back" California kids. Its the Orange County vibe. BJax is a northern Cal kid but he's got a bulldog mentality apparently. A lot of that is growing up in baseball heaven (OC, particularly south OC) which happens to be nothing but really, really nice neighborhoods. There are also lots of baseball academies that parents pay 800-1500 a month(!) for their kids to go to after school to get instruction and play in tournaments in San Clemente and Fountain Valley and other places on weekends. Every other team has a big leaguer's kid on it. Dave Stewart, Craig Grebek, Adam Kennedy, Casey Candale all have teams. Flashy uniforms, top notch brand new equipment, team shoes and bat bags, the whole nine. It really is pampered baseball and it really puts a stamp on a kid's baseball personality and mentality as he matures. Couple that with a bonus north of 3 million and you don't have a ton of motivation to get to your ceiling. Hopefully our other OC kid (Kyle Hendricks, Capistrano Valley High) gets to or surpasses his. Looks like Hendy might have learned a thing or two about hard work at Dartmouth!

  • Gioskar is just a solid all around ballpalyer. He is going to make the majors. Doubt he will be a star, but I think he'll be a guy that hangs around rosters and teams will always have a bigger, better plan in place for a position and when it fails or a guy gets hurt Gioskar will fill the hole and get 400 at bats or so and put up league average or better offense and solid defense.

    The fact they are going to try him at catcher makes me even happier. He would be a potential starter there. I think it is a smart move and one that will pay off in the end.

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    I'm glad you're doing top 50 this year! Crazy the amount of talent in the Cubs system that extends below the top-30. Vitters, Jackson, Ha, Andreoli, Zych, Loosen, Wells, McNutt, Hernandez, Encarnacion, Dunston, Skulina, Masek, Frazier, Paniagua, Mejia, Moreno, Loux, Lopez, Shoulders, Rademacher, DeVoss, Golden, Rivero, Jokisch, Cervenka. 6 of those guys are going to have to be left off your top *50* list. Wow.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    I'm really high on Jokisch and how about Justin Bour? I like him, too.

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    Hey John great analysis. Stumbled on you blog this spring and have become a daily reader. What are your thoughts on gerardo concepcion? Haven't heard anything about him recently. I know he struggled big time early on. Does he still have some long-term promise?

  • In reply to Brian Gierke:

    Thanks Brian. I think he's a 5th starter at best at this point and even that is a long shot. It remains to be seen how much of his pedestrian stuff and command is due to illness/injury and how much was just him -- and even if it was illness/injury, can he even regain what he once had?

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