Cubs Prospect Breakout Candidates: Pitchers

Cubs Prospect Breakout Candidates: Pitchers
Dillon Maples

We all know the Cubs are looking to acquire pitching prospects.  After the first two rounds in the last two drafts, the Cubs focused heavily on pitchers.  They've also sought pitching in return when they've traded some of their veterans at the deadline.  Deals involving Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman, Alfonso Soriano, and Ryan Dempster brought back young pitchers.  If the Cubs do indeed deal Jeff Samardzija, as many suspect, the belief is that the Cubs will once again seek to stock up on young arms.

Pitching prospects generally involve more risk, so the key to success is to identify live arms, athletic pitchers, with good makeup and perhaps some pitchability -- and then attack with volume.  The Cubs have certainly added a good supply of strong arms, but most haven't quite had that big breakout season to put them on the national prospect map. C.J. Edwards and Kyle Hendricks had breakout seasons last year.

Who will be the breakout pitchers in 2014?

I had my own answers to that question and I also asked around and got some scouting opinions.  Here are some names that came up.  (Note: I also added the pitching age and projected level for next season).

Pierce Johnson, RHP, 22, Tennessee (AA):  Johnson got off to a rough start in Kane County last year and then proceeded to right the ship and turn in multiple dominant performances.  He did not slow down upon a mid-season promotion to Daytona, though his walk rate increased a little bit.  One scout told me Johnson made a minor tweak to his delivery and has added some more movement on the fastball, so he has a real chance to improve on what was already a good season.  Johnson has the kind of makeup and athleticism the Cubs like and he made great strides learning how to pitch last year.  The one thing, he still needs to work on, like most young pitchers, is more consistent command.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, 23, Iowa (AAA):  Vizcaino has missed 2 full season but is still just 23.  Theo Epstein created quite a stir when he talked about Vizcaino's return to health this offseason.  He's back throwing hard, hitting 98 mph with "electric stuff" and his usual good command.  Vizcaino's best pitch may be his sharp-breaking curve ball and it gives him a second out pitch.   The change-up is solid so he does have a 3 pitch arsenal to be a starter, but the guess is that the Cubs will limit his innings next year and if he does make it to Chicago, it will almost certainly be as a reliever.  Whether that changes in the future remains to be seen, but there are some who believe Vizcaino can be an impact reliever in high leverage situations, perhaps as a closer.

Paul Blackburn, RHP, 20, Kane County (A):  The word "stud" seems to get evoked frequently when I ask about Blackburn.  He just turned 20 and will likely head to Kane County next year.  Blackburn is an athletic pitcher who knows how to pitch and already shows signs of having 3 average or better pitches with good command.  He reportedly put on 30 lbs and was reaching the mid 90s early in the season before missing a few starts and then struggling a bit upon his return.  He dialed it back up for the NWL playoffs, looking like the same dominant pitcher he was early in the season.  For Blackburn it seems all the pieces are there and all he needs is time to hone his skills, build stamina, and develop consistency.

Ben Wells, RHP, 21, Tennessee (AA):  It's hard to believe Wells is still just 21.  He's been around forever it seems, but elbow injuries and Tommy John derailed his promising start.  Wells showed up hitting the mid 90s consistently in the spring 2 years ago but was more in the 89-92 mph range last season.  The fastball does feature heavy sink and Wells does throw with good plane, allowing him to generate weak contact, including a ton of ground balls while keeping the ball in the park.  Last year was about getting through the season healthy, building back arm strength, and regaining his solid command.  Wells is now reportedly throwing a tick or two faster this offseason which should help him play up his hard sinker.  The key to Wells is to develop either his slider or his splitter as a second go-to pitch.  He's never going to be a big swing and miss guy, but he profiles as an innings eater because of his big frame and how he works efficiently, throws strikes, and pitches to contact.

Dillon Maples, RHP, 21, Kane County (A):  The Cubs tweaked his delivery and it looks a bit more fluid than it did as a prep. Maples really struggled when he was at Kane County, particularly with his command.  The Cubs then sent him back to Boise and simplified his approach. The Cubs had him forget the change and attack the zone with his two plus pitches: a fastball that ranges anywhere from 91-96 and a hard, sweeping breaking ball that can be unhittable.  The results were almost immediate.  Maples learned how to pitch with the streamlined approach and went on to dominate at Boise. The plan is to eventually re-introduce him to the change-up and to continue working on being more fine with his command, but for now the Cubs want him to continue to learn and build confidence.

Duane Underwood, RHP, 19, Kane County (A): One of the more talented pitchers in the Cubs system, Underwood has tremendous arm speed, he's athletic, and he's projectable.  It's an ideal starter kit but there's a lot of work to do.Back when I interviewed Derek Johnson, he talked about letting a pitcher develop athleticism and arm strength naturally and they can teach skills later.  Underwood embodies that and will be a strong test of this organization's ability to develop power pitchers.   He remains inconsistent with his command and his breaking pitch, but he did show flashes of brilliance in spots.    I wonder if the Cubs should try a similar strategy with Duane Underwood as they did with Maples and simplify the approach.

Ryan McNeil, RHP, 19, Boise (A-):  McNeil has an upside play in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft.  He was a bit raw and was just growing into his body, but the Cubs saw the potential for a big bodied innings eater who could profile as a #3 starter.  He throws a low 90s fastball with heavy sink and a slider that occasionally shows some tight rotation, throws a change-up with some sink.  It will be interesting to see what he can do with good health and some physical maturity.  He projects as a mid-rotation workhorse if all goes to plan.

Tayler Scott, RHP, 21, Daytona (A+):  He's not going to light up radar guns or a stat sheet.  He's not going to be an ace but there's a certain fondness for Scott in the organization because of his makeup and athleticism.  He features a high 80s to low 90s fastball and a good curve.  From South Africa, the Cubs have been impressed how quickly he's taken to pitching.  There's a chance Scott may pick up a notch or two but there's some who feel that he may have maxed out physically.  A guy to watch if you like pitchability and command types.  Scott isn't there yet, but he has the makings of being that type of pitcher.

Daurys Torrez, RHP, 21, Kane County (A): Torrez also needs to get stronger and build stamina.  He has excellent command for a young pitcher.  He features a two-seam fastball in the 91-93 mph range with some arm side run to go with the sink.  He also has good velo on his slider and a decent change.  Last year he showed more ability to miss bats, striking out hitters at roughly a 25% rate (one per inning) while also showing tremendous command for a young pitcher.  He threw a ton of strikes, putting up a 2.5% walk rate (less than one per game).  He was promoted to Kane County for one start last season and could well start 2014 there.

Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, 18, Boise (A-):  It's tough to call a pitcher a breakout candidate when he has yet to log a professional inning but Tseng's combination of good stuff - a 90-94 mph FB with potential for a plus curve and a plus change -- and advanced feel for pitching makes him a candidate to advance quickly in first season.  The Cubs have to resist the temptation to overwork him as he's just 18 and still needs to grow into his frame.

Other names mentioned:

  • Scott Frazier, RHP, 22, Kane County (A): "He has the arsenal"
  • Michael Jensen, RHP, 23, Daytona (A+): "Not a true prospect, but someone that could sneak his way into a role. Kid knows how to pitch."
  • Juan Paniagua, RHP, 23, Kane County (A): "Needs to get innings. Stuff is there."
  • Josh Conway, RHP, Boise (A-):  Potential plus fastball and slider, just needs to stay healthy.
  • Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Kane County (A): Showed a good change.  Velo was down from what he showed in college, but could come back up again.
  • Trevor Clifton, RHP, 18, AZL (R):  Raw stuff, great arm.  Much to work with but a lot of work needed.

 

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    It really is nice to see this. As down as we are on Cubs pitching prospects, this shows that Theo has done a good job of getting high ceiling pitchers in the system. (Torres, Mapes, and Scott are, I believe, the only ones on there Theo didn't acquire.)

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wells wasn't acquired by Theo either, but I agree with what you're saying. As good as this farm system is, the one thing it lacks is late round picks (at least ones drafted by the Cubs) who have surprised and become top prospects. I think that changes this year.

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    In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    I reject your reality and substitute my own.

    In my reality, Theo drafted Ben Wells last year.

    Ergo, I was right.

    Q.E.D.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes. Unlike last piece, I tried to mix in some older guys plus couple of guys who aren't hard throwers like Wells (also acquired by old regime) and Scott

    And I have to say it was fun to write about prospects again. It's been awhile.

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    Good article! I'm surprised Zastryzny wasn't on your main list. I hope he can get that velocity back up so we didn't just waste a high second round pick on Eric Jokisch 2.0.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    I am a big believer of Zastryzny.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    Thanks. I hope so too on Z. I could have easily put him on main list but there isn't much difference between the two lists as far as potential to breakout.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am struck by the fact that he (Z) is the only lefthander on your list. I am hopeful on him because he is seemingly the one lefty in the organization that is not a 'junk-baller' in the mold of Rusin and Raley. Hopefully they can unearth another lefthander with better stuff somewhere to add to this mix. I like balance in the rotation.

    as always, great read and good list.

  • Realy excited to see McNeil and Conway get mentioned. Especially McNeil. I was pretty upset he missed so much time this season. I really like his stuff and I am hoping for a big year for him this year. Could be some good upside there.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    I'm already saying "this year" I miss it so much. I meant next year obviously. Talking prospects is the best part about the Cubs right now though and I enjoy reading your write ups on prospects, John.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    I can see him being that type of guy they like, pounding the lower part of the zone with a hard 2 seamer and generating weak contact for what hopefully will continue to be a good infield defense.

  • It worries me to read this and see only one pitcher as high as AAA and two at AA, and of the three, two have had major arm surgery. Hopefully, some of the pitchers that are already on the radar screen and hence not on this list start to step it up in a bigger way.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    Keep in mind that this is a breakout list, not a top prospect list. Generally when we mostly talk about breakout pitchers we talk about young guys who haven't hit their stride or are finally getting a chance because they're healthy.

  • just looking at the main list i think the cubs have 3 guys with real #1 ceilings and 3 guys with real #2 ceilings (health permitting of course).

    Vizcaino, underwood and tseng, to me could all be true #1 pitchers. i don't think or expect that any of them to actually become true #1's as of now, but the potential is there.

    i also think that johnson, blackburn and maples all have the upside of #2 TOR starters. obviously once again theres a very great chance that none of them develop into that, but at the very worst all 3 of these guys should be #3's. i, like many others, really love blackburn and cannot wait to see him pitch at the upper levels and see what he can really do.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I'm not quite that optimistic :) I think Vizcaino potentially has #1 stuff but he doesn't have the kind of stamina to pitch big innings that you need from your #1. Underwood and Tseng are so far away right now that I don't want to put that label on them. One scout thought Underwood could end up in the pen, in fact -- and he liked him.

    What I am really oping to get is a lot of good arms permeating through the system so that you have cheap in-house options for your pen and rotation. That saves the team money to go spend to fill in missing pieces.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Underwood was 17 when he was draft and to a degree his body is still developing. I think anything outside of s watch and see additude is a like rash. If you develop him slowly he will become something special.
    Tseng I think will be the opposite I have this gut feeling he will push himself through the ranks quickly.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I've got the same gut feeling on Tseng. Any idea what his workload was like as an amateur? Chinese Taipei doesn't throw excessive innings as youngsters like Japan, do they?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Agreed. Underwood has all the tools, just doesn't know how to use them yet. It may take him a while to figure it out, like Maples. Though hopefully he will be healthy and he'll get there quicker.

    Tseng has a lot of polish already for an a 18 year old. I can see him reaching Kane County by the end of the year

  • this is off topic, but something i wanted to note because im hoping that the action picks up tomorrow at the winter meetings.

    theres been talk of the dodgers considering moving matt kemp and i think this is something the cubs should really look into. he's a big name for the business side of the organization to promote and market and he's an all world player (when healthy). Hes signed to a decent contract) 6yrs/128mil as opposed to jacoby ellsbury who just got 7/153 and they are the same age. he is right handed, but with players this good that is really irrelevant and i think he'd be a good guy for the cubs to go get because they can bring him along slowly back from his injury with no pressure to rush him into the lineup. I also like the fact that with almora two-ish years away we can keep him in center for the time being and shift him to left when almora is ready/ as he ages.

    another thing i love about him is that he can provide protection for rizzo and castro in the lineup and take some of the pressure off of them on and off the field.

    i think this is the perfect time to buy low on a guy who would otherwise not be available. as for what it would take to get him, i think that the dodgers are motivated to get out from underneath his contract so they can reallocate the funds to a kershaw extension so i don't think they'd be looking for a whole lot (as far as guys of this caliber go).

  • Great stuff, John.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Thanks Ben.

  • Great list, John. What the Cubs lack in raw pitching talent, organizationally, they've done a good job in making up for it with strong tutelage. I love what Derek Johnson has done with the talent he's been given, especially the approach of simplifying the game for guys like Underwood. Under the old regime, we got used to seeing the Cubs' pitching prospects explode on takeoff (Mark Pawelek, Grant Johnson, Bobby Brownlie, Hayden Simpson, etc.), but since Theo's arrival, the guys we've drafted have shown real progress, while at the big league level, we've done a great job getting value from acquisitions like Villanueva, Feldman, Maholm, etc.

    Now it's awfully hard to "coach up" a true ace -- e.g. "Kid, can you now try throwing it 98, with movement?" But if ever there was a Cubs coaching staff that could teach pitchability and make good stuff "play up" to ace stuff, it's this one, and so I can envision us having a rotation with five guys who occasionally pitch like aces, and combined with the lineup we're putting together, that gives us a shot to win any series.

  • I am so stoked to see the Kane County staff this year. Blackburn, Underwood, Torrez, Paniagua, Zastryzny, Frazier, Maples, etc. A bunch of potential in that group. Blackburn is the guy that intrigues me most from what I have heard, can't wait to see him in action.

    I have faith Vizcaino is going to bounce back and remind people why he was a Top 50 prospect and in the majors at 20. I liked his stuff better than Delgado and Teheran when they came up. His slight build is the only negative to him. Guy is going to be a stud if he stays healthy. A Rich Harden type starter or dominant reliever.

    Also nice to see Jensen get a mention. Not sure I ever heard what happened to him last year. For a while it seemed there was confusion as to whether he was even still with the org. I totally agree with the scout's take on him too. Nothing overwhelming about the stuff (CB is best pitch and is probably a tick above average), but the guy just screamed 5th starter to me every time I watched him.

  • I think at this point Vizcaino looks more and more that he will probably wind up a closer, at least that how it looks now. I think while the Cubs have some promising pitchers, most of them are raw and in the low minors. That's why it would shock me if the Cubs don't emphasize pitchers in the upcoming amateur draft.

  • Good read. Thank you.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Thank you Kodak.

  • So many of these names are familiar to me, no doubt in part because of coverage here, so I am struck when reminded of how young they are. Hope I can be around to see some succeed at Wrigley.

    Appreciate your efforts John. I am some distance away but would hope I might make a Kane County event this summer.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks. Kane County should have some good pitching this year and a crazy athletic outfield with Martin and Dunston, Jr.and maybe Hanneman. They should be fun.

  • The first 7 alone on this list all have the makings of MLB rotation pieces, but for some experience and fine tuning. Time will tell, but it's pretty exciting to see that kind of "stuff" among these kids. I am particularly intrigued by Wells and McNeil and what they bring. I think it's good to have an innings eating groundball pitcher to throw at a team after they've been seeing heat all day from one of our power starters. I remember Rick Reuschel throwing to the corners with sink and anyone who can do that can throw the FB all day long. I'm hoping one of these two can be our #4 at least.

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    No love for Matt loosen, Corey black? And i've totally lost track of Gerardo concepcion - where is he, even?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I almost suggested Black but I considered that he had a breakout year last year. Concepción looks like a flop.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think it's too early to give up on a 21yo LH SP with 3 pitches in his arsenal.... But he had a long lay off after defecting from Cuba, got lit up in A Ball here in the US and then caught that dreaded Hayden Simpson version of Mono.... He made a couple of starts (3.2 innings to be exact) in Rookie ball at the end of the season and struggled with his control. IDK if he went to instructs or where he is now...

    He just needs to get his strength/stamina back up and then we'll see what we have. So while I wouldn't give up on him just yet, I wouldn't count on him for much this year other than rebuilding his strength & stamina.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I wouldn't say no love, but I don't think I'd put them in the breakout category.

  • John, this was a great article. Thanks.

    I'm going off topic, but I continue to get frustrated by Gordon Wittenmyer. I know there are a lot of GW haters, and I'm not out to bash him here. My issue is that he seems to have a grudge against the FO or Cubs organization. Once again in his coverage today he has the same cynical/dismissive tone that isn't supported by any facts. Here's an excerpt:

    "As they await anticipated new local revenues and continue to deal with financial covenants affecting their baseball spending left from the highly leveraged franchise purchase, the Cubs couldn’t keep up with the big boys this week if they wanted to."

    This an old topic for him, and he continues to bring it up. He has never presented any facts regarding the financial resources of the team. Yes, they are carrying a lot of debt in a unique structure when they purchased the team. This may affect baseball operations and payroll. But to what extent? Nobody outside the Cubs organization can answer that question. So why write about it as if it's a fact/conclusion? Also, it's been made clear by the FO (and written extensively by John) that now isn't the time to invest in expensive free agents. So why cast aspersions on the team for sticking to the plan?

    I don't mind contrarian thinking if there is some grounding in facts/data. I don't see it here, and I wish the editors at the Sun-Times would take a hard look at it.

  • In reply to ccia:

    Newspapers pay guys like him to be trolls. It's the big trend in reporting now. Making people angry seems to sell newspapers. I don't ever click Rosenberg, TJ Simmer, Doyle, or Wittenmyer. I much prefer to come here to read intelligent discourse that is based on something other than the desire to be provocative.

  • In reply to ccia:

    Thanks ccia.

    That's Wittenmeyer's crusade, I guess. I'm not sure I buy all the financial constraints either and there is no real hard evidence, like you say. But I will say this: I don't mind if other teams at least think the Cubs have those issues. Maybe it will allow them to lurk in the weeds for a guy or two this year.

  • In reply to ccia:

    But isn't that what Theo himself basically stated the other not on CCSTL? He said getting the signage & jumbo-tron on the business side were to correspond with making moves on the base ball side. Meaning that while the business is delayed, so is the base ball end. And they won't rush the base ball end & "deviate from the plan" because of media pressure or "criticism". That's what I watched & heard, so if someone who watched that program can concur or refute that, please do.

  • Just out of curiousity, what kind of people did you ask to get these reports? Are they scouts, writers, FO types? Not doubting you or anything, I'm just wondering whose opinions we're reading.

  • Lets hope that with the right coaching most of these young
    prospects will take it. Either for us or trade bait. They should
    be developed very slowly.

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    Excellent piece. Great insight. Keep 'em coming, please.

  • Somebody please tell the Twinkies to move their MWL team from Cedar Rapids to St. Paul sometime soon. I want to see these Cubs prospects roll into town!

  • Great Job John. I think one to watch is Ivan Pineyro. Expectations around here seem to low for him. But he has the makings of a solid middle of the rotation type arm. The Cubs got him for a cheaply signed and struggling Scott Hairston. Hairston was slow out of the blocks and signed reasonably through 2014, so we didn't have to trade him. It's not likely the Nat's FO called us inquiring about Hairston so I'm speculating Theo & Co saw something in Pineyro that they liked & wanted. Not an over powering kind of guy, but he's got a live arm, solid change and scouts rave about his make-up. Seems like the "cookie cutter" mold of a SP this FO targets. He's just 21 and has had as much success at A/A+ ball as any of our other SP's not named CJ Edwards.

    Pineyro was a good but not great pitcher the one time I was able to see him. Decent fastball, good change, but quite hittable when he missed his spots and left pitches up. His Curve seems to be a work in progress too....

    I'm liking the looks of TEN's starting rotation though:

    CJ Edwards, P. Johnson, Pineyro, Ben Wells, and Corey Black (if he sticks @ SP) and/or A. Rivero....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That Tennessee rotation looks real good. Add that to our supply of arms in Iowa, including Hendricks, Ramirez, Jokisch, etc

    We should enter the season with depth at starting pitching dot yhe first time in forever.

    I dont think it is uunrealistic to think we could have 3-5 pitchers in the top 100 prospects next year. Edwards and Johnson could be top 50 with a gpod year. Add in our 4th pick as it looks like it could be a pitcher, plus a possible arm or two for shark. That is not even mentioning any of the breakout candidates.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I have my doubts Pineyro sticks but if he doesn't most likely back of the rotation stuff. I think Black ends up a closer.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Why do you doubt he sticks at SP?

    For me, the biggest question mark about him "sticking" in the rotation is "IF" he can learn/develop his Curve. John did an article with DJ and they seem to favor young pitchers with a good FB & CU's that they can teach the CB to. Pineyro fits this to a Tee.... Everything I have read said scouts love his make-up & work ethic. So he "checks all the boxes" so to speak.

    I don't expect him to ever be more than a #4 type. But he seems to have a good feel for "pitchability" with a better repertoire than a finesse guy....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I just feel his stuff plays better in the pen.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It depends on who you ask. I talked to a couple of top Cubs evaluator and we were mostly talking about those big pitchers who throw with plane and pound the lower part of the zone.

    I'll give you an example of a pitcher -- Michael Heesch. He's not on this list and he's not a top prospect but twice I talked to Cubs people who really liked his approach. When he had his command, he came down with a hard, but not overpower (89-90 mph) two seam FB that featured some arm side run. Scouts from both Cubs (including one top guy) and other teams were remarking how he'd broken 4 bats in 2 innings. I mentioned this to another evaluator and he just smiled and made a motion with his arm gesturing as if it was bearing down on a hitter. I said "downward plane?" And he smiled again and nodded. That is definitely one thing I'd look for. I know Wilken is big on pitchability -- not to say the pitcher needs to be polished but just that the has an instinctive feel for the art. Experience and coaching will take that further, but some pitchers seem to have that feel. Tseng is one. Scott is another.

    To answer your question, I think Johnson is the most obvious candidate from this list. So is Tseng. I think Wells is another. McNeil is a guy I can see eating innings in the middle of the rotation. Zastryzny looks like he can be a bottom of the rotation guy at worst and perhaps more.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Excellent stuff John. Thank you!

    For the record, I'm not disagreeing with you, or Kevin. Nor am I hitching my wagon to Ivan exclusively as a break out candidate. I mentioned him as one to watch, in addition to your list.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. I certainly don't mind anyone adding anyone to the list. It was a small, random sample of people I asked -- and some were my own ideas. So your opinion is very welcome as always!

  • What about Tyler Skulina?!

  • In reply to Timmer:

    I'd say he's a good candidate. His name just never came up. It could just be oversight since I was just asking and they were naming guys off the top of their head, so there's an element of spontaneity in the piece. A couple didn't get back to me yet, so maybe they'll mention him when and if they do.

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    Love pieces like this one.

    How do you feel about Tyler Skulina as a breakout candidate, John?

    What about Starling Peralta or Jose Arias?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I like Skulina. I thought Arias had a chance last year. He looked like a man among boys in instructs last year but injuries derailed him. Maybe it's been pushed back a year.

    I think Peralta may move to the bullpen.

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    Roy Hallady. Much respect.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yes. It was time. Great career. And remember, he was a Tim Wilken pick -- the man knows pitching, if you just give him budget he'll get you a top notch starter. I'm excited to see what happens this next draft.

  • John, this is a good list to start the waves of starting pitching. Will you be having a relief pitching breakout list, too?

  • In reply to historyrat:

    This is a list for both, actually. I can see a few of these guys on this list ending up in the pen: Vizcaino, Maples, Underwood, Conway, Frazier...

  • John....Very interesting article. What do you mean by breakout list? Who will have better seasons in minors or get to big league first? I like the Tony Zych kid as a name to watch for. What do you think of his potential?

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    John,

    Whatever did happen to Michael Jensen's 2013 season?

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Injury. Can't remember offhand if it was shoulder or elbow, which obviously makes a difference.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Indeed it does. Thanks for the update! I wasn't even sure if he was still with the organization. Very little reported on him.

  • Only one LHP in the entire list. Looks like quality LHP and catcher are the greatest system weakness. Raley and Rusin don't look like anything special probably emergency arms. It's a long way down to Zastryzny. I know there is also a kid that John likes that pitched in KC last year. I saw him and wasn't impressed. Are there any others that have some upside?

  • In reply to JeremyR:

    Understand that I like ballplayers who look like they have a future in some role. It doesn't mean I think they're superstars or front line players. Those are big name guys that most fans can identify off the bat. I like a couple of Kane County LHP but they're not high ceiling guys. They're more like potential future role players. Both Michael Heesch and Nathan Dorris look like they have a shot at landing roles in an MLB bullpen. Brian Smith also has a good arm. But none would be considered top prospects right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Understood I think we are on the same page. I know we don't have a Price, Sale, Kershaw in the minors now. Hoping one of the guys can be a Travis Wood, someone who can be a fixture in the rotation not a fringe guy/bullpen arm. Do you see any of the guys you mentioned having the ability to potentially be a mid-to-back of the rotation guy?

  • In reply to JeremyR:

    Not really a whole lot there other than guys you've mentioned...Rusin, Jokisch, Zastryzny probably the best bets to stick as starters but only Z probably better than a 5th starter.

  • I like Vizcaino as a starter. Maybe they should just start him in AAA and limit his innings this year. I'm skeptical about switching guys from releaver to starting as it often seems to delay potential starters progress.

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