UPDATED 1:00 Saturday
Kyle Hendricks, perhaps the most divisive prospect in the Cubs system, is getting his first taste of spring training at the big league camp. Hendricks was the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year last summer after a dominant season in Tennessee that ended up in Iowa. While he had some adjustment issues in Iowa (3.18 FIP in Iowa vs. 2.65 in a notorious hitters part in Tennessee), the season was an unqualified success for him.
Carrie Muskat had a piece yesterday evening talking about the first three batters Kyle Hendricks faced in spring training: Anthony Rizzo, Welington Castillo, and Starlin Castro. I think it's fair to say the Cubs wanted to show him their best in that particular lesson. It's somewhat unclear from the writeup, but it sounds like Rizzo got a hold of one. Either way, the results are unimportant. Giving the young man this big a challenge right off the bat suggests they want him to know exactly what big league hitters can do to him, so he understands the work he has to do.
1:00 PM SATRUDAY UPDATE: Dan Vogelbach Update
I wanted to give a brief update on Vogelbach. Carrie Muskat reports that Vogelbach lost 30 pounds over the offseason and is unrecognizable. I'm of two minds here. Getting in better shape will prolong his career and possibly improve his defense, making him more valuable. However, to the extent that some of his power was coming from his mass, I'm hoping this doesn't impact the power tool too much.
6:30 PM UPDATE: Draft Update
The college baseball season has started, and so it isn't too early to start looking at possible draft picks. Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede is supposedly on the Cubs radar. After an exceptional outing tonight against UIC -- 6 IP, 1BB, 1H, 1ER, 11K -- he may be taking the first steps to taking himself off the Cubs radar, as he will be gone long before the Cubs pick.
North Carolina State SS Trea Turner is 9-for-20 with two walks and strikeout so far in the young season. He is also 5 for 5 in stolen bases.
East Carolina's Jeff Hoffman had a solid but unspectacular start, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up 5 H, 3 BB, 3ER, 6 K.
The Eyes Have It?
In the same Muskat piece is a story about Mike Olt's first batting practice. Olt claims, "For my first at-bats in a long time, it's the best I've ever felt in Spring Training. I'm not even counting last year, but the year before that. I saw the ball really well."
This sounds good, obviously, but this is just step one. If he's honestly feeling like the guy who ripped apart AA in 2012, the Cubs could be big, big winners in the Matt Garza trade.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Carlos
Carlos Villanueva has emerged as a leader on the young Cubs team. Manager Rick Renteria says of the right hander, "Every team has players that people gravitate to because they feel they have a certain amount of trust with them. Villanueva has been around. Guys like him, they know him. He’s someone they can talk to."
Villanueva himself knows that he would make an attractive trade target at the deadline, and would rather remain on the Cubs. "The bittersweet part would be leaving this organization which I feel very comfortable in now. It takes me a while to get to a place where I can be myself. My normal, loud self."
Just Joshing Around
OF Josh Vitters, the almost forgotten 2007 #3 overall pick, is striving to avoid injuries this year. To that end, much like Starlin Castro, Vitters spent the winter working on his conditioning. "This year, I'm more prepared than ever, therefore I'm more confident than ever. I'm really just starting to learn the way that it really works to keep building off of different things I'm doing over the offseason to become an everyday player."
If the Cubs were looking for Vitters to show that he cares about this, it sounds like he's making the first steps in that direction. The bigger question, for me, is why all of this is starting six years after he was picked.
Go' Wittenmyer is an Island
Theo sat down with Gordon Wittenmyer recently (does he receive hazard pay for that?) and addressed questions about the Cubs financial situation and bringing the prospects up to the major league team.
We need to make sure that when the next wave of prospects comes up, they don’t take too much of a burden. We hope to have strong players around them, hopefully an impact player or two around them on the club so that they can break in the right way. You don’t want your prospects breaking in carrying too much responsibility. You don’t want them hitting in the middle of the order. You don’t want them having to carry a club or playing an instrumental role on the club.
Gordo of course takes this to mean the Cubs need to spend extensively or everything is doomed but, if you read what Theo is saying here, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro re-emerging as impact players fills in some of the holes. Welington Castillo continuing to develop could fill in another impact player. I also found this response particularly telling:
I’m not disappointed in the least bit. We know we have something special brewing here. … We really believe in our young players, we believe in ownership, we believe in our business side, we believe in what the Cubs are becoming.
Gordon seems to have been trying to get Epstein to express "disappointment" about the financial issues but Theo wouldn't bite. I think much of the interview needs to be read as Theo responding to leading questions.
Filed under: Uncategorized