Editor's Note: This article and gallery is from Mauricio Rubio. I simply re-published to change the photo gallery formatting.
Prospect Notes from Maurico Rubio
I went searching for baseball in the Arizona desert and I found it in the backfields of major league squads that play in the cactus league. I saw a lot of interesting players whose shape is still taking form as the loose ends of talent and physical ability either meld together with repetition and form tangible baseball skill or they are pulled apart by facing advanced competition.
You can read about most of it here, Jason Parks and Mark Anderson did excellent work (as always) with the Cactus League. We hit the Cubs complex on our last full day there. The Cubs were playing an International Prospect League showcase team, here's what I saw:
When the Cubs acquired Jen-Ho Tseng in July of 2013 MLB ranked him at 29 on their "Top 30 International Signings" list. He impressed during a short stint against lower competition as he showcased a low 90's fastball that hit 94 on the upper level and a curveball that shows a lot of promise as the outing went along. The break was sharper and tighter towards the end as he seemed to gain a feel for it after throwing some looser breaking balls earlier. He showed good command and worked the ball around. Tseng has a good frame and it should be able to handle adding good weight as his 19 year old body grows.
A lot is made of how poor the Cubs pitching depth is within the system. There are some interesting names like Tseng, Paul Blackburn, Rob Zastryzny and Tyler Skulina in the lower levels. It's not close yet but there's some stuff there.
I wrote up Zastryzny for Prospectus. In addition to his pitchability and stuff I was impressed with his work rate. The pace was crisp and he didn't waste any time getting into his rhythm. Zastryzny knows how to pitch and where to work within sequence. If the breaking ball comes along I feel a lot better about his long term future as a starter. The lefty FB-CH guys don't tend to work well out of the bullpen either so it was encouraging to see him flash the breaker.
Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres were both there as well. It was my first look at both players and I don't have enough to give a full write up on them but from a physical standpoint Eloy was a very impressive dude. He has a big body that should fill out fairly well. Gleyber was unimpressive in a limited amount of defensive reps and at bats but take all that with a grain of salt. Both players will be tracked by us as the season wears on.
Below are some photos of all four players listed here.
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