As we get closer to live game action and Jeff Samardzija's Thursday start, let's catch up with the latest spring news...
- Gordon Wittenmeyer reports that two sources tell him that a Samardzija trade before Opening Day is a strong possibility while a 3rd says that no such discussions have taken place. I'm very skeptical on a pre-Opening day Samardzija deal as the Cubs don't have a lot of incentive to trade him unless they get blown away with an offer. For all the speculation about dealing Samardzija, we have yet to see a rumor with any sort of legs. While negotiations seem to have become stagnant, it doesn't mean there's a sense of urgency at this point from the Cubs perspective, though that could change by the deadline. Until then, an interested team is going to have to try and pry him loose with a strong offer for the Cubs to deal.
- An article today in Baseball Prospectus listed both Christian Villanueva and Javier Baez among their best tools category. Neither was named at the top of the infield category but Villaneuva was considered for best defensive infielder (and the only 3B) and Baez was considered for best infield arm.
- Speaking of 3B, Mike Olt continues to impress and the usually reserved Wittenmeyer is joining the praise parade. Olt is optimistic too,“As long as I’m healthy, I know that I can do what I was capable of.I know that I belong. I belong in the big leagues. I’ve just got to make sure I stay healthy and make sure I’m on everything and just let my abilities take over. I’ve still got a lot of time, and I’ve still got a lot to work on. But it’s definitely more fun for me right now to know that I’m on the right path.”
- If you haven't checked up on Boys of Spring yet, you really should check in over the next couple of months. Tim does excellent work every spring that includes great photography and video. This article on Cubs prospects is a good example. Tim makes a couple of first hand observations, "Watkins and Villanueva both look noticeably stronger this camp; Olt, with his well-documented eyesight situation, has no issues with the glove at first, he’s very slick with the leather; and for being 5’10″ tall, Alcantara seems built low to the ground, he’s quick and powerful in his fielding." He also notes that Baez hit a batting practice bomb that left the park and shattered the window of a car in the parking lot, Vizcaino's popping fastball, and Almora's ability to hit the ball all over the field. One thing that I noticed that wasn't mentioned was the great shape that Josh Vitters is in this spring. One scout told me late last summer that he was disappointed in Vitters' conditioning after a long layoff due to injury. The former #3 overall pick has said he has come to camp with renewed commitment, but sometime pictures speak louder than words. Vitters is a long shot to make the team, but he looks ready to make any potential decision to send him down a difficult one.
- A nice story from Carrie Muskat on new closer acquisition Jose Veras. It appears the Cubs like him for more than just his ability to close game. The affable Veras seems willing and able to mentor the Cubs young arms. We should see a lot of hard-throwing prospects filter their way to the big leagues to get auditions for long term roles and Veras looks like the perfect kind of personality to help them transition.
- InsideVandy.com has an interview with potential Cubs pick RHP Tyler Beede, who got off to a nice start with a 5 inning, one hit, 7 strikeout, no earned run performance on Friday. Listening to the well-grounded, articulate Beede, you can see why the Cubs would be interested in drafting him. Among snippets of interest, it's encouraging to hear Beede talk about his improved ability to locate his fastball. Beede also specific mentions current Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson as one of his reasons for going to Vanderbilt. Perhaps they'll be reunited next summer. The Cubs have the 4th pick in a year with 3 great college pitchers, so it's possible Beede isn't available.. If not, players like SS Trea Turner, RHP Tyler Koler (H.S), c-3B-OF Alex Jackson (H.S). and 3B Jacob Gatewood (H.S) become possibilities. If the draft were held today, I'd put my money on one of Beede or Turner as the next great Cubs prospect to follow.
- And finally, check out the transformation of Dan Vogelbach's body over the past two years...(h/t Andrew Denney)
Filed under: Uncategorized