UPDATE: A.J. Hinch to get a 2nd interview along with Rick Renteria per Ken Rosenthal. Please scroll down to see some great stuff from some smart baseball people on A.J. Hinch below.
Yesterday on Twitter we had a little fun when I made a subtle reference to an old movie, when after reading Cubs prospect continue to dismantle AFL pitching, I needed a time machine to 2015. Apparently it wasn't that subtle. Everybody picked up on it.
While we may see some prospects break through in 2014, 2015 is the year we expect many of the Cubs to either make their debut and/or play their first full season in the majors. It's also the year the Cubs win the World Series in Back to the Future 2.
Maybe that's ambitious, but we can at least expect some excitement in Cubsville. And I wonder if the Wrigley renovations will include those holographic projections.
Anyway, on with the notes...
Arizona Fall League/Winter League Recap
- Albert Almora went 0-4 with a walk. He's hitting .333/.371/.606. Not bad for a 19 year old in an advanced prospect league.
- Kris Bryant continues to feast on AFL pitching. He went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a triple, scoring 3 runs and driving in one. In his first 10 games he's hitting .429/.468/.905 with 4 HRs. He's walked 4 times so he's starting to regain that great batting eye he had in college, but right now he's seeing beach balls at the plate, so he's up there swinging. Bryant is leading the AFL in OPS by a wide margin with a 1.373 mark.
- Jorge Soler went 2 for 4 with a walk, including a 2-run HR. In his first 9 games, Soler is hitting .302/.318/.442. His walk and HR were actually his first, but by all accounts Soler has been putting up some great ABs and it's starting to pay off now.
- Armando Rivero pitched one inning and allowed a run. He has a 7.50 ERA
Arizona isn't the only place we can find some top Cubs prospects. The Dominican Winter League yesterday featured a game of Licey vs. Aguilas. Those two teams are the homes of Arismendy Alcantara and Jeimer Candelario, respectively. Only Alcantara played, however, and he he went 0 for 2 with 2 strikeouts.
Rebuilding process going well
- Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago wrote one of his best articles since becoming the Cubs beat guys. He takes an optimistic, but balanced look at the Cubs rebuilding process. I know you all have read stuff like that here on this site, but it's great when someone in the media writes about the rebuilding process with this kind of long term perspective.
Does someone have a DeLorean, some plutonium, and a flux capacitor?
Some love for A.J. Hinch
Speaking of the future, is there a better candidate to lead the Cubs there than A.J. Hinch? An interesting comment tweeted by Craig Calcaterra of NBC Hardball Talk by current Red Sox manager John Farrell,
"Farrell says his job as a farm director prepared him more for this job than anything else he's done."
Considering the Cubs front office has a healthy respect for Farrell, it has to make you think. Hinch has been a manager of minor league operations, a director of player development, and now a VP of Professional Scouting. No other candidate mirrors the kind of experience Farrell had the way Hinch does.
Moreover, I've heard from three individuals lately who have had the pleasure of meeting/knowing A.J. Hinch and all three have nothing but praise for him.
- Wayne Randazzo, Kane County Cougars announcer and sometimes host of the Score, chimed in with his own opinions on Hinch.
"I really liked A.J. when I came across him with D-backs. Very smart.... I always wondered if it was only the fact that he replaced the beloved Bob Melvin that bit him."
- Another person who knows Hinch personally, Mike Pinto (Prof Speaker & Brand Strategist for 20 yrs. Also Field Manager/Dir. of Baseball Ops for Southern Illinois Miners professional baseball team since 2007) responded,
"Worked with A.J. Hinch on a couple of things. Found him very intelligent, easy to work with, professional and a forward thinker."
- Some of you may have remembered earlier that I asked Jason "Professor" Parks about Hinch. I've given you some bits and pieces in the past, but here are his thoughts in their entirety...
"This is going to be a youth dependent team, and I think they need someone with playing experience at the highest level and farm director/player development experience. I really like Hinch as a candidate. I know him very well. He's very bright. Ausmus is another player type, but not a lot of farm experience like A.J. I know how he was with players as farm director and with scouts as an AGM. He can lead. He knows the game very well; former catchers seem to have this great ability to recognize all aspects of the game. He loves information of all kind, scouting/stats, but he's going to trust his players first. He's an outside the box choice, but not a crazy one. He's affable and experienced, and he really knows the game. Not sure if Chicago is the right fit because of the microscope, but he could handle it."
I think Hinch is the real sleeper in this search. He's a real big gamble but a guy who has a chance to make a huge impact on the Cubs prospects. To use prospect lingo, I look at him as the high ceiling candidate in this group.
Could he be the guy who leads the Cubs back to the future?
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