Prospect Notes: Cubs may have as many as 3 top 10 prospects; Winter leagues; Bryant HRs (again) and other notes

Prospect Notes: Cubs may have as many as 3 top 10 prospects; Winter leagues; Bryant HRs (again) and other notes
Marcus Hatley (photo by @Abram_the3rd)

Some of the talk today centers around Cubs prospects, so let's get to that along with a recap of the Fall League game today and a look around what's happening in the winter leagues.

Professor Parks and the BP top 101

Much of that buzz was created by Jason "Professor" Parks who is preparing his top 101 prospect list for Baseball Prospectus.  According to Parks,

An early draft of the BP 101 has three #Cubs prospects in the mix for top ten consideration. That's #rig.

Presumably those 3 prospects are Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Albert Almora -- though not necessarily in that order.  Parks said Almora may be the Cubs top prospect because he is a legit CF who can hit .300 with power at the highest level.  He also said Javier Baez may have the highest upside of any prospect outside of Byron Buxton.

Bat is legit. Baez has the best bat speed in the minors; could be an elite hitter if everything clicks.

As for Jorge Soler, Parks did say he'd be in the top 50 while C.J. Edwards and Dan Vogelbach are also getting consideration for the top 101.  Of Edwards, he says,

"Could be a #3 if the body can hold that many innings without issue. Easy arm action; good delivery"

One would also have to think that Pierce Johnson and Arismendy Alcantara are in the mix as well.    Kyle Hendricks, however, will not be on the list.  Parks called him a nice arm but said "he doesn't belong on any top 100 lists".

It'll be interesting to see which prospect prevails as the top Cubs prospect on BPs list.  The cases for Bryant and Baez are obvious but it's less so for Almora, but we're looking at a possible elite level defender at a premium position who hits .300 with 15-20 HRs, perhaps more.

Winter Leagues

We've covered the AFL here and we briefly mentioned Alcantara and Jeimer Candelario getting some play in the Dominican Winter League, but they aren't the only ones.  Here are a few names to follow...

  • Willson Contreras is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League and has 2 hits in 6 ABs so far.  Contreras is the Cubs top catching prospect heading into the offseason but he's  bit of a wild card.  He plays the game with a lot of passion and intensity but needs to reign that in as he matures.  He has all the physical tools to be a top defender and the strong forearms/wrists to hit for at least average power.  He's an athletic player who moves well behind the plate and has some leadership potential -- but he's a long way away.  
  • Christian Villanueva is in the Mexican League and hitting .296/.386/.557 with 2 HRs in 27 ABs.  It's a small sample size but it's nice to see him continue the improved plate discipline he showed toward the end of the year.  Villanueva is the best defensive 3B in the Cubs minors and has a chance to be a .270 hitter with 15-20 HRs on offense.  If he can supplement that average with a few walks, he can be a viable sleeper candidate for the long term 3B job.
  • I've been a big fan of Marcus Hatley and was pleased to see the Cubs re-sign the tall, athletic RHRP.  There's some upside for him as a late bloomer with a mid 90s fastball and a hammer curve -- two potential out pitches.  The issue is command but Hatley is very athletic and that gives him a shot to learn to repeat his delivery and improve his command.  The results are encouraging so far.  He has walked one batter in 6.2 innings while striking out 10.  Watch for him in spring training.  He could surprise the way Blake Parker did two springs ago.
  • Hector Rondon is also making up some innings.  As a Rule 5 pick he was brought along slowly but really appeared to hit his stride, hitting 97 on the gun and showing an improved breaking ball and more consistent command.
  • When healthy, Marcos Mateo can hit 97 mph with a wipeout slider.  That said, he's endured a number of injuries and I have no reports on his current stuff.
  • Other solid arms in winter ball are Yoanner Negrin, Frank Batista, Yeiper Castillo, Eduardo Figueroa, and lefty Frank Del Valle.

Fall League Recap

  •  Kris Bryant got the start at DH and batted 3rd.  He hit his 5th HR of the AFL season.  He also walked.  He's hitting .422 on the season.
  • Jorge Soler went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Carrie Muskat talks prospects

  • Muskat's mailbag included some news on some lesser known prospects.  The most interesting bit to me was how coach Tim Cossins raved about some of the catching converts, including Ben Carhart, Cael Brockmeyer, Erick Castillo, and Mark Malave.  Of the three, Carhart is the one with no catching experience, so it's impressive he's in that group.   Looks like we can expect to see him at that position next year.
  • Muskat also says, "Jeimer Candelario is a solid defender and will be playing for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League, a huge step for the 19-year-old third baseman. Daniel Lockhart, a 10th-round pick in 2011 and son of Cubs area scout Keith Lockhart, is a very smart and talented infielder. Outfielders to keep an eye on include Jeffrey Baez (no relation to Javier), Yasiel Balaguert, Trey Martin and 16-year-old Eloy Jimenez, who is my pick to click. Another teen, 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres, is very polished on the field."



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  • Jeez, when was the last time the Cubs had multiple prospects on a top ten of all the minors? I can't recall that at all.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Prior and Cruz, 2002.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    There you go. I like that they're hitters this time.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Man - I hope the outcome for this set of high-ranked prospects is better than the long-term oucome for Prior & Cruz.

    I can't say enough about how enthused I remain about the progress of the gutting and rebuilding of this team and the farm system.

    I haven't seen anything this good seeming in my time following the Cubs - although I have to admit I payed absolutely no attention to the farm team back in the Dallas Green era.

    If the Cubs achieve half the success in the upcoming decade or so as we have seen from Boston this last decade or so - Epstoyer will go down in Wrigley legend as the guys who excorcized the 'Goat'.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Wasn't Zambrano a Rookie in 2003, was he not a top prospect in 2002?

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    Ranked #68 in 2001 and #80 in 2002 by Baseball America, maybe he was ranked higher by some other publications but I don't think he was anywhere near Top 10.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I don't know. Were Patterson and Prior in the minors at the same time?

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    According to the gamecast, Bryant was the DH today.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Thanks. I guess I just assumed he was at 3B.

  • These are the things I love reading about... not trade speculation and manager searches.... Thanks John!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You are welcome. We have an eclectic group of readers so I try to spread it around, but prospects are my favorite part to cover as well. I don't consider myself a "rumor guy"
    but I do try to mention them when the situation warrants.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I do enjoy the Cubs Den and reading all the varied opinions of your devoted readers and so enjoy the up to date information on the young cubbies! Come 2015, the Cubs dynasty begins and your blog/website/article/whatever you want to call it is gonna sky rocket!!! Are you prepared???!! : )

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the variety... just a little burned out on the other stuff lately. This is our "bread and butter" so to speak. So it's nice to get back to our roots. Thanks big guy!

  • Interesting take from Baseball America as they did their Top 30 Systems. They did it based on Minor League year end awards, so it was a bit goofy. For instance, Kris Bryant didn't qualify in the rankings because he didn't qualify as one of the Cubs Top 5 prospects.

    Nor right or wrong, just how they put it together.

    Regardless, they had the Cubs tied for 5th with KC. Boston was the runaway winner.

  • I'm not surprised. Look at the Red Sox. Most of the key players were either signed or traded for by Epstein.

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    Interesting feedback from Parks, but that's the first I have seen Vogelbach potentially rated ahead of Arismendy and/or Pierce. Guess we'll have to see the final list.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He didn't mention Arismendy. He only answered questions specifically asked of him. From our interview earlier in the year, Parks told us that Pierce Johnson was the highest rated of a group I had that included C.J. Edwards and other top arms. Said Johnson would be his choice for the top 100 but others might like Edwards better.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think Alcantara has a lot of question as to if he can hold up for 162 game season. He is small and has been injury prone. I know people like to pencil Junior Lake in as a super sub in the future, but he can't fill that role because he is a terrible IFer. Alcantara on the other hand can play 2B, could probably handle 3B and has plenty of athleticism and arm to play any OF spot. He also possess the versatility to hit anywhere in the order. Filling that role will also keep Alcantara fresh.

    I've only seen Johnson live a couple of times, but I was not impressed by his command, he threw a lot pitches in the heart of the plate and got a lot of guys to chase breaking balls in the dirt that MLB hitters won't bite on. My looks are hardly conclusive, but its enough to make me hesitant to put too much faith in him becoming an impact guy.

    I'm one of Vogelbach's harshest critics around here when it comes to his defense. He is absolutely a DH or offense only 1B to me. He will never even be average there. He might become passable (below average) and that might be enough, because I am more and more convinced the bat is going to play. He has patience and power to go along with a willingness to use the whole field. And with the lack of middle of the order bats around baseball, his offensive potential is enough to have me put him above Alcantara and Johnson.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    That said, after the to 4, 5-10 or so in the Cubs system is pretty fluid. A case could be made for anyone of them to be 5th.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think you may be a bit too harsh on the big fella. I watched a local kid play HS ball here in Jax that VogelBOMB reminds me of. Another "bat only" type that has done pretty well for himself in the MLB. A kid named Billy Butler whose only defensive advantage over VogelBOMB is a stronger throwing arm. Those two are about the same size and speed/range. He made the AL AS game as a below average defense 1B, so there's no reason to think VogelBOMB can't play some 1B at the MLB level. That stronger arm had some thinking BB might be a corner OF or 3B early on... but his footwork is actually worse than VogelBOMBs.

    Yes, he's built like a tree trunk. No, he won't win any foot races. But his hands are decent and his footwork isn't terrible around the bag. He's actually a lot quicker than you'd expect from a big fella. I'm not saying he's ever going to be anything more than average or realistically just passable; but until he's on the wrong side of 30 he certainly has a chance to be at least passable. He has improved his conditioning and defense quite a bit since he was drafted.

    Ultimately, he ends up a DH in the AL... no doubt. But until he's used up his arbitration years, he should be a "serviceable" 1B that will hit in the middle of any line-up. Still since Castro, Baez, and Alcantara aren't exactly known for accurate throws, you'd rather have Rizzo over there. I think we end up trading him by 2015/2016, because when that bat is a AAA/MLB masher, he will net some nice pitching for us...

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    I disagree with Parks about Hendricks. I care about results, not style points. Paint the black at 89 or throw a wipeout slider, I don't care as long as you get outs. I'm not saying Hendricks is necessarily a top 100 prospect, but to say it the way Parks did, I didn't like that.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I actually agree with Parks on this. I didn't have Hendricks in my Cubs top 10, so for me he wouldn't be anywhere near a top 100. Margins for error shrink for pitchers like Hendricks as they move up. It's tough to bet on a command guy whose stuff is average at best (even Maddux had pretty good stuff), but so far Hendricks keeps proving everyone wrong. Let's hope he keeps doing it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh yeah, John. Don't get me wrong. Hendricks probably shouldn't be on a top 100 list, but...Parks just seemed to discount him, to write him off like the idea had no ligitimacy at all. I don't know, maybe I'm making too much of it.
    And I'm not saying Hendricks is Maddux, but I used to tell my kids, Kyle Fransworth throws 100, Greg Maddux throws 88. One is going into the hall of fame and the other is two bad weeks away from the unemployment line.
    Either way, I'm with you. Hendricks continued his success as he moved up to AAA, let's hope he keeps proving the critics wrong.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I think it's just that Parks, like most scouts, see him as a #4 or #5 starter and those guys usually don't get consideration. I don't think he dislikes him. I know what you mean. Hard not to root for Hendricks and I think he'll be a major leaguer and quite possibly a successful one, but guys like him don't often get the luxury of getting a top prospect pedigree.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I haven't seen Hendricks but any possible comps to Koji Uehara? I watched him mow down the Cardinals last night and not throw a single pitch over 90 mph. Not saying Hendricks can become a dominant closer, but could he become a very valuable bullpen arm?

  • Kris Bryant is plain ridiculous. What a slam dunk drafting him appears to be. Christian Villanueva gets more intriguing by the day. He just seems to take forward steps all the time, albeit them slow steps. I am very interested to see what lies ahead for him. Another great pickup by the FO.

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    In reply to Denim Dan:

    I agree Dan. Dempster may have actually done the Cubs a favor by nixing the Atlanta trade for Randall Delgado. Hendricks and Villanueva will quite possibly prove to be a better return.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Not sure Hendricks/Villanueva is better than Delgado, but I have said all along I am glad that deal fell through, because it allowed us to deal Maholm for Vizcaino. And I like Vizcaino far more than Delgado.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    The Houston Astros front office happens to agree with you. Im Hearing stories they now regret taking Appel over Bryant, and they dont think Appel is that bad, just theyve seen Bryant and c ant beleive they passed him over.

  • Great stuff! With Bogaerts' likely graduation to the majors along with Taijuan Walker's, I think Bryant and/or Baez could potentially be top five guys. I like Bryant and Baez better than Sano and not because of bias. Sano's a 4ish fielder and a 3 runner. I have it like this on this date:

    1. Buxton
    2. Bradley
    3. Taveras
    4. Bryant
    5. Lindor
    6. Baez
    7. Sano
    8. Correa
    9. Taillon
    10. Almora

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Singleton? He's the only guy in the minors that can match Bryant, Sano and Baez for pure power, and at a power-premium position.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Nah, nowhere near my top ten. 25 maybe. He's coming off an underwhelming season with character issues. Yeah he can match their power but Bryant and Baez will have defensive impact. Springer is a guy that's right there along with Syndergaard, Polanco and Castellanos for me.

  • I was hoping to hear Amaya in the group where the catcher conversion is going well. Would love to see him be successful there. His bat would really play at that position. Oh well. He is still a solid hitter and has the ability to play 2B/3B/LF.

  • Wow, I am really excited for the top 3, and ready for Theo and company to draft again this summer. I do have a big concern in Jorge Soler, though. From his bat wielding incident to visa issues. His value will also drop a bit (some part due to injury), but I wonder how much of that value dropped because of these other issues. It must be hard to acclimate to life in the US and I know he has monster potential, but there are quite a few issues that are making me nervous.

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    In reply to HailSzczur:

    Juan Marichal hit Johnny Roseboro over the head with a bat and still made the Hall of Fame. the visa issue is over and a very small inconvenience.

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    In reply to HailSzczur:

    I've seen Soler live and IMO, he has more natural baseball talent than any of our other prospects. The ball absolutely jumps off his bat like it does for few others. The explosiveness reminds me of Rice and Dawson. His build reminds me of Brandon marshall and his movements are smooth, fluid and his instincts good. I think he'll get his legs under him and rise quickly. One MLB scout praised him as a better version of Puig.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Ive heard Kieth Law make that exact same observation about Soler.

  • I don't see Almora as a top 10 guy. I don't see him being that kind of impact player. I think him hitting 20 HR happens maybe twice in his career. I see him hitting around or near 300 most of his career. I see him the way people people saw Castro as a prospect but better OBP. I wasnt a fan of Castro's and i still am not.

    I like Almora a lot more than I liked Castro because I think he bring a lot in intangibles. But overall tools I think they are very similar. I do think Almora will make adjustments better and is a smarter player.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    A gold glove caliber center fielder who could hit .300 with 15-20 home run power, would be a 5 or 6 WAR player in the big leagues. A prospect like that has off the charts value.
    As to Soler, Dave McKay thought that Soler could be a star in the league. Was impressed by his drive and determination to make the big leagues, and his hitting approach and bat speed.

  • Those are the same things they said about Castro. He is a valuable player and I am not saying he isn't but he isn't a superstar either. He is a very good player that will help the Cubs offensively and in the field. He is a supercharged DeJesus for lack of better comp.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    If Castro was a gold glove short stop and was still a .300/.340/.430 guy he'd be a super star. Maybe not a super star (because guys that don't hit 30+ HR a year are rarely considered such) but a perennial all star. Castro was never the fielder Almora is.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    He will be a all-star maybe but I don't see him in any MVP races.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Could put up Pedroia like numbers and do it from a from more valuable position. Pedroia was an MVP.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I would love for someone in the farm or on the team turns into a Pedroia type player. A guy like that who grinds out every at bat, plays every game like its his last has to motivate/inspire all the players around him.

    Personally I don't think he should have won the mvp that year, but he was def top 5. Regardless hes got the trophy and hopefully an MVP will be coming to the north side in the next couple years!

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    Ben Zobrist is a .300/15/75 guy. I don't recall where he was ranked as a prospect but I don't recall him being a Top Ten guy. He is a 5.4 WAR guy (2013) however. Admittedly, the comp is unfair because Zobrist is a super-utility type player. I think he was rated top 5 in the Astros system as a minor leaguer and not sure how he ended up in Tampa.

    Top ten guys show elite skills across the board. Whether that translates to the majors is debatable in many instances it doesn't. Certainly there are a number of players drafted far beneath the radar and without hype that end up being 5+ WAR players. Still, I'd take my chances with Almora because even though he may not havee an elite tool, he is very goo or better in all aspects.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    His defense is elite and if everybody projects him hitting .300 consistently, so is his hit tool. I'm not saying he's definitely top 10, but you have to think in combined terms of floor/ceiling, IMO.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    I agree. I love Almora. I just don'tthink he is one of the ten best minor league players in all of baseball.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I probably wouldn't put him in my top 10 either (though my top 10 is in no danger of being published any time soon). My argument was that he has at least one, if not two, elite tools.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thank you!

    I love Almora, but have never thought of him as our top guy or a top 10. Everyone seems to think he will be a 15-20 HR kind of guy every year. That's his max upside and he hasn't displayed any HR power yet in A ball. In 389 career AB's he has 5 total HR over two seasons.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I have his impact (not necessarily skillset/tools) somewhere around an Austin Jackson.

  • As good as Castro, but better? Hmmm, let's see. Yes, I'll take eight more of those.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I won't. I think Almora will be a solid player with a few excellent years. He is the type of player that will be a big piece to the Cubs offensive success. I think the big power guys are just as important but they need
    runners to drive in.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I think Almora will be a great #2 batting order guy. I also think those top ten lists are always skewed to the reviewer's particular tastes so I don't take much stock in them. To me, Almora has more value to the Cubs then he does to many other teams because he fills so many needs.

    Kris Bryant is legit Top Ten guy though. Great call on that selection last June.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    KG, I always appreciate your insight, but my flippant response is based on my firm belief that Castro will in fact not only bounce back, but within 2 or 3 years be a perennial All-Star and one of the top players in the league. So if Almora can be that too, I want him and others like him.

    I have never seen Almora play live. But based on John's reports all summer long -- especially how he has not just adjusted, but excelled at every level so far -- seems a top 10 ranking is not beyond the pale. And if he has the legit potential to hit .300 most of his career, then seems to me he has the legit potential to league the hitting a few of those years, in which case I want him and others like him, knowing full well we have a few power guys as well.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    May I ask, Kevin, do you see Almora as a LO hitter or a 2/3 hitter?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think Almora is a 2 hole hitter.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Excellent years are hard to come by at the major league level, even for top 100 prospects. "A solid player with a few excellent years" sounds like a Robin Yount or a Ryno to me.

    Ellsbury is on the verge of inking a 100M deal after only having one "excellent" season (2011) and a few good ones. Hopefully Almora has a few excellent seasons at the major league level (I'm assuming that by "a few" you mean more than two)!

    I can see the MVP type upside of the other three. Chicks do dig the long ball! He probably will never go for 37 & 120 like the other three might but based on what I know about them I envision Almora being my personal favorite of the group. Give me the guy with the 7/8 glove that oozes leadership ability.

    In terms of Mega-Upside, and I mean 'best case scenario upside', I think Bryant is the most likely to be the perennial MVP candidate.

  • Here's a surprise managerial idea:

    David Ross.

    The guy speaks and acts purely like a manager. He could start next year as a player/manager backup to Welly. I love this guy.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Thinking out of the box much?

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Nice piece right there!

    He'll make a great manager one day. I love the guy as well. Those are the guys that can come right out and be a skip in the show instantly. Debuted at age 25, so he paid his dues in the minors as well as the majors, only been in 100 games once so he's taken his medicine and rode the pine so to speak, beloved by his teammates. Big fan.

    That's about as good as a front office can use 6.2M over two years if you ask me. A 'been around the block' back-up catcher. Essential.

    Henry Blanco, same thing. He's a free agent. So's Jose Molina....

  • When do the new top 100 lists come out for BP, BA, etc? November? December?

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Normally after the WS. But the teams top 10s normally come out first

  • Park's comments are great because it validates what we all know about our prospects, but the shear amount of minor league talent that will be available to the Cubs starting late next year is amazing. Guys like Arrieta, Grimm, Rusin, Rosscup, Lim, and Dolis that were late season call-ups this year will probably make the team out of ST in 2014... Cabrera & Olt will be given an opportunity as well. As of July we could possibly see Baez, Bryant, Hendricks... and by then guys like Rivero, Vizcaino will be ready to go. In 2015, Soler, Edwards, Johnson, Alcantara are likely to play in Chicago with Almora & Vogelbach coming in 2016. And that doesn't even cover other acquisitions, young studs like Hanneman, or rebounding prospects like BJax/Vitters that could make it. Nice to see Rondon & De Valle in winter ball- I still say this Dayan Diaz guy is a guy to watch coming up next year too.

  • Obviously I've never seen Buxton play but does he really have a higher upside than Baez? 105 K's to only 12 homers in almost 500 at bats is nothing to write home about. 19 caught stealings is way too many. He walks a ton more than Baez but his power will never be close. You can have the walks and the better defense I'll take the guy with the 40+ home run potential.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    ruby, I agree with you, but Buxton did have an amazing first full season. @19 years old. He was the shiny new toy. I'm betting he comes back to Earth next year, and will NOT be the No. 1 prospect on mid season lists. That honor will go to Kris Bryant. (Baez will be on the Cubs).

    I am totally bias, but I wouldn't trade Baez or Bryant for Buxton, Taveras, or any other prospect at this point.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    Buxton does because he hits like crazy and he's an incredible fielder.

  • Nice to see good old-fashioned prospect talk again here as well, John. Thanks for the red meat!

    With the Red Sox on the brink, a post-mortem piece on what parts of their roster still carry Theo's fingerprints (and what parts do not)would be interesting and instructive.

  • Does anyone have any news on Josh Conway or Ryan McNeil ?? Are these guys still considered prospects ??

  • Conway had TJ surgery and didn't pitch last season and McNeil played a few games in the AZ. league,not enough to form an opinion on,but I don't know whether they were thought of as prospects.Conway topped out at a 96 mph fastball so it worth seeing whether he still has that arm after rehabbing.

  • Almora will be the Cubs' Derek Jeter during our "Dynasty" years (Late Teens/Early 20's). That is all.

  • John,

    1) Is Starlin Castro the second coming of Garry Templeton?

    2) Looking at the Cubs' wealth of hitting prospects right now (and trying to project what the Cubs lineup might look like in 2015-16 or so), there's one thing the Cubs may end up lacking: LH hitters. Right now, if you try to project that future lineup, all you have is Alcantara plus either Rizzo or Vogelbach. This makes me think that adding the DH to the NL could really benefit the Cubs, because it would make room for an extra LH bat.

    I also think the Cubs would really benefit from signing Choo, to be one of those LH bats. A DH rule could be key for the Cubs, as it could enable them to carry Choo longer and/or make room for Vogelbach. Thoughts?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    1) no he will not be that good of a SS.
    2) I think a Few things could happen but someone maybe 2 will have to be traded.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    On (2), yes, but not necessarily one of the biggies. For example, trade Castillo and Alcantara, acquire a power hitting lefty for left, and sign Salta...a, then a lineup of:

    LF Power hitting lefty
    CF Almora
    RF Soler
    3B Bryant
    SS Castro
    2B Baez
    1B Rizzo
    C Salt...a

    gets 3 solid lefties in the lineup.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If the purpose is to get more left-handed, why deal Alcantara, who could give them a LH (switch, but better versus RHP) bat at 2B or in the OF?

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    In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Because the bat doesn't play in a corner and the purpose of the exercise was to get all 5 of the big righties in the lineup. He could be stuck in left, but it really wouldn't be that hard to get more production out of left -- and Alcantara as a second baseman could be traded for a such a left-handed left fielder.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I only deal Alcantara to a pitching deep system, and only for a fellow 100 prospect. And that's only if Baez is the plan at 2nd.
    I think Alcantara will be a pretty useful major leaguer.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thanks, Kevin, for the reply.

    What I meant regarding Castro/Templeton is that Templeton was a guy who was a star shortstop at a very young age, hitting 300 and collecting 200 hits a couple of times in his early twenties, but never posted an OPS higher than 709 after age 24, and retired with a career OPS in the 600's. He was incredibly gifted but a poor percentage ballplayer who flamed out and was nothing special in what should have been his prime years. And St. Louis seemed to see it all coming and dumped him off at the perfect time in return for the defense-only version of Ozzie Smith.

    It seems likely to me that the Cubs will deal Castro a year from now for a power arm if he has a bounceback season. He could be an awesome trade chip, but long term, offensively, is he a tablesetter, or an RBI guy? He could be neither; whereas guys like Alcantara and Baez could be one or the other (or possibly both, in Alcantara's case).

    So, my question is will Castro suffer a similar fate to Templeton? It seems that a lot of the efforts of the Cubs coaching staff last year were purposed to save Castro from that kind of end, but they didn't take. I'm sure the plans of the Cubs FO in great part depend on the continued development of prospects like Baez and Alcantara, but it seems telling that Baez is slated to begin the season as Iowa's shortstop, about three months prior to the likelihood of his MLB debut...

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I am very considered Castro peaked early. I am not writing him off just yet but I am considered. As for what type of player he would be. I would say he is a 6 or 7 hole hitter. Do I think he could be traded for a top flight pitcher yes. I think Baez can handle SS but it really matter what Jed or Theo think.

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