I wanted to write a piece on some bargain free agents today but to be honest, none really stuck out at me right now, so I'm going to wait until I see what happens with the non-tenders. Right now I feel like I want to go with a lot of the guys the Cubs already have -- the Sweeneys, the Bogusevics, the Lakes, as well as some of the up and coming bullpen arms, then some of the names out there right now. But I'll keep digging.
For now, here are your evening news and notes...
- Baseball America came out with it's Southern League (AA) top 20 prospects and as you might expect, Javier Baez is high on the list, ranking 3rd. Scouts describe him as having unbelievable bat speed and when he's locked in, you cannot make a mistake up in the zone. They also say he can get himself out when he's in "swing mode". It's something that I personally think he needs to work on at the AAA level, where more experienced pitchers will be able to exploit that aggressiveness. Scouts also think he'll move off of SS because he doesn't slow the game down enough for a SS. Arismendy Alcantara comes in at 9th and is compared to "a watered down Jose Reyes" and see him being a defensively versatile player who hits around .275 with 12 HRs with extra base pop and base stealing ability. Defensively, they see him at 2B. So maybe that is your IF of the future: Baez at 3B, Castro at SS, Alcanata at 2B, and Rizzo at 1B. Your OF is Soler, Almora, and Bryant. See how easy that works? In reality we'll be lucky if it pans out that way, but the Cubs look to be in pretty good shape for the future as far as their lineup. They can obviously fill any gaps with free agents and trades.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com is impressed with the Cubs prospects in the AFL so far. He says, " Soler is a lot bigger than I expected. Bryant is simply an outstanding hitter -- puts on a show in batting practice, then evidently does it in games, too." His focus is on Albert Almora,"Almora is the one who will be the most interesting to watch. The 19-year-old outfielder missed a good portion of his first full season, but when he was playing in the Midwest League, he was very good (.329/.376/.466). I thought he might have been a taxi-squad guy in the AFL because of his age and experience, but he is on the regular roster. Facing the higher level of pitching in the AFL regularly will be a good test for him."
- Wanna learn how to scout? Ben Lindbergh writes about his experiences in scouting school for Grantland and it's a very interesting read.
- Talking some draft today and yesterday and the hope is that 4 college pitchers emerge to go with SS Trea Turner. Carlos Rodon is out and Tyler Kolek may be too raw and risky for the Cubs taste right now, so we're looking at RHPs Jeff Hoffman, Luke Weaver, and Tyler Beede. Weaver has a bit of slight build and some compare him to a young Tim Hudson. Tyler Beede has all kinds of command issues but has great size, athleticism, and arm strength. If he can figure out his command he can shoot back up to the top 5 in this draft. Some see Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens potential in him. That's high praise but he is obviously a long way away from that.
- Big day for the AZ Fall League Cubs. Almora is on the bench but Jorge Soler is back in the lineup playing RF and batting 3rd. Kris Bryant is the DH and is batting 5th. Wes Darvill gets his first start, playing 3B and hitting 7. On the mound is AA prospect Dallas Beeler, who is a sleeper among Cubs prospects. When healthy he throws a hard two seamer (89-93) with good downward plane, generating a lot of groundballs. He also shows a good breaking ball and change. He has the repertoire, build, and command to be a starter and he'll be someone to keep an eye on in AZ. We'll update this article with a recap later tonight.
UPDATE: Fall League Recap
- Dallas Beeler was impressive, throwing his two seamer at 91-93, peak 94 and mixing in a cutter, hard slider, and a change. He went 3 innings and allowed one run, walked one, and struck out two. His combination of good plane, velo, and location on his two seamer gives him a heavy fastball that generates weak contact. He did not allow a single fly ball. He also picked two runners off first base. He's a guy to watch for next year.
- Lendy Castillo was throwing in the mid 90s but lacked command, walking 2 batters and allowing a run.
- Jorge Soler went 1 for 5 with a walk and scored 2 runs.
- Kris Bryant stayed on a roll and went 2 for 5, including his 2nd HR. He drove in 2. He's hitting an even .500 in his first 3 games.
- Wes Darvill is another sleeper who has matured physically, has a good approach, and has been hitting the ball with more authority this year. He went 1 for 3 today with 2 walks. He drove in a run.
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