Cubs Top 35 Prospect Countdown: #16-20

Cubs Top 35 Prospect Countdown: #16-20
Rob Zastryzny

We're getting near the cream of the crop and today's segment will tie in with our pitching article yesterday.  Specifically, I'm talking about compiling depth as the Cubs simultaneously look to dig up a potential top of the rotation arm.

Speaking of which, I had a feeling I might regret my rather conservative ranking of Jen-Ho Tseng after my conversations with a number of different scouts and the recent explosion of good reports do indeed have me wishing I'd gone with an earlier draft that would have had him in this 16-20 range.  Ultimately I decided that it was too big a jump for someone who had yet to play. And since he didn't even crack any top 20 IFA liststo put him in the Cubs top 20, much less the top 10, just seemed too much of a stretch.  Suddenly that idea doesn't seem all that crazy.

But that really does illustrate how rankings can be so fluid and why I always have reservations about it.  In the end though, it is just for fun and Tseng's sudden ascension into the national scene is a story in it of itself.  Maybe next time we'll go ahead and take that leap of faith.

With all that said, there are plenty of talented pitchers that are also worthy of this ranking, all of whom have a chance to take a real step forward with some additional development.

Here are the pitchers who did crack the top 20 and be sure to check out the video by Tim Sheridan of Boys of Spring at the bottom of the page. A last minute scheduling conflict means no podcast for this particular segment but we should be back for next week.

20.  Duane Underwood

  • Age: 19
  • 6'2", 205 lbs
  • Expected 2014 level: Kane County (A)
  • Key 2013 stats: 5.96 K/9 IP; 4.47 Ks/9IP, 4.65 FIP

Underwood is among the Cubs most intriguing pitchers when it comes to raw talent.  He has athleticism and arm strength, sitting at 91-93 mph and reaching 96 mph last year.  He also flashed a good curveball at times, showing good depth and break on the mid 70s offering.  The change also showed improvement.  One big change you may not with Underwood is that weight -- and the bad news is that it wasn't like Paul Blackburn putting on muscle weight, Underwood was a little soft.  Inconsistency plagued Underwood in his prep days and caused him to slip into the 2nd round and to avoid the same pitfalls he needs to do better with his preparation.  By all accounts Underwood is a good kid and very coachable, and he has all kinds of ability, but he'll have to understand that the competition at this level is pretty cut-throat -- you can't ease up on the pedal too often or you'll get left behind.

19. Dillon Maples

  • Age: 21
  • 6'2", 220 lbs
  • Expected 2014 level: Kane (A)
  • Key 2013 stats: 8.8 Ks/9 IP; 4.1 BB/9 IP

Maples is another good athlete with excellent arm strength whom the Cubs bought out of a football scholarship at UNC for $2.5M.  There are no concerns about Maples staying in shape, but it did appear to me that early on that he was pressing on the mound.  The Cubs may have thrown too much at him early in the season with the jump to Kane County and trying to speed up his development after two injury plagued seasons.  Maples struggled with his changeup and the process of setting up hitters, as well as throwing strikes, so the Cubs dialed it back, sending him back to Boise and having him focus on throwing his fastball, which reached as high as 97 (sat 92-94),  and a hard curve that can be absolutely unhittable.  Maples learned that he didn't have to have pinpoint either of those pitches to be dominant and seemed to relax and throw more strikes.  He cut his walk rate in half and actually walked 2 or less batters in 7 of his 10 appearances at Boise.  That led to a 5-2 record and a 2.14 ERA.

At some point the Cubs will gradually re-introduce the change-up and the finer points of pitching, but even if Maples never fully grasps either of those things, he has the two plus pitches to be a power reliever at the back of the Cubs bullpen.  If the Cubs decide to make him a reliever, he could move very quickly.  He'll start in Kane but the hope is that he can finish the season in Daytona.

18. Tyler Skulina

  • Age: 22
  • 6'5", 235 lbs
  • Expected 2014 level: Kane County
  • Key 2013 stats: 8.38 K/9 IP, .394 BABIP, 5.59 BB/9 IP, 9.31 ERA but with an FIP of 4.54.  Numbers much better at AZ, however.

So how does a pitcher who stands at a strong, athletic 6'5" and 235 lbs. who can reach 96 mph and potential for a good slider, curve, and an average change last into the 4th round?  Inconsistency, that's how.  But in my conversations with scouts, Skulina's name came up often as a guy to watch for 2014.   What he lacks right now is consistency with his command and mistakes in the zone really hurt Skulina both at Kent State and at the professional level.  He fits the profile of the kind of pitcher the Cubs like.  He's athletic enough to learn to repeat his delivery well and has the height and velocity/movement (tail, sink) to throw a devastating two-seamer if he can pound the lower part of the zone with it.  It's a nice starter kit for any pitching coach to work with and some think his ceiling is about as high as any pitcher in the Cubs system, but stuff alone won't get him there.  Developing the right approach and the command to execute it will determine whether Skulina can make it as a starter or has to switch to the bullpen at some point.

17. Neil Ramirez, RHP

  • Age: 24
  • 6'4", 190 lbs
  • Expected 2014 level:  Iowa (AAA)
  • Key 2013 stats: 11.10 K/9IP, 3.67 BB/9 IP; 9-3, 3.84 ERA (3.11 FIP)

Ramirez has had an excellent spring and with one option left, has put himself on the cusp of a big league job.  There is no rush on Ramirez, however, who has the size and repertoire to be a starter, but consistency with his command and delivery will be key.  The Cubs still have some time to find out as he'll open the year in Iowa.  Ramirez has hit as high as 97 mph in the past but his tall frame also allows him to pitch effectively in the low to mid 90s because of his good downward plane.  His main breaking pitch used to be a big breaking curve but because it is difficult to command, especially as you move up and hitters tend to lay off of it, he has instead taken to throwing a slider with smaller, sharper break.  It has developed into a solid pitch in it's own right.  Ramirez also showed great improvement with his change-up and it's a become a legitimate change of pace for him.  There is no doubting his stuff, but if Ramirez is to become a starter, it will be because he can continue to generate groundballs and consistently pound the lower part of the zone.  That should help him limit his pitch count and work deeper into games, but the command has to be there.  If not, then Ramirez can go to the bullpen and simply rear back and throw mid 90s fastballs and mix in the slider/change when needed.

16. Rob Zastryzny, LHP

  • Age: 22
  • 6'3", 205 lbs
  • Expected 2014 level
  • Key 2013 stats: 0.93 ERA at Kane, 10k vs. 2.5 BB ratio in AZ.

Our man at the scene in Arizona, Mauricio, had Zastryzny at 90-91 mph this spring with a high 70s curve and a low 80s change up.  According to Mauricio, "  He was above the competition but Zastryzny sequenced very well as he moved the ball around. He showed a good feel for the changeup and utilized it well. The breaker only flashed but there's room to grow there. The breaker had two breaks, one that was more over the top and one that was a two planer with better bite to it. He has starter potential if the breaking ball comes along. His delivery sits in between a true over-the-top and high three-quarters plane so I think the arm slot is right for him to develop that pitch even further." The best pitch for Zastryzny last year was his change as his fastball never quite reached that mid 90s level he showed in regional play as an amateur.  Even if he doesnt' regain the fastball, the stuff is plenty good enough, especially for left-hander.  He has the makeup, pitchabilty, stuff and potential for the kind of command to be a starter in the bigs and that's why I have him higher than pitchers who have better velocity and/or better, more consistent breaking pitches.  If that mid 90s velo returns, he can still move up this list quickly, but for now there are enough questions about his ultimate ceiling -- which looks like a #4 right now -- to put him much higher than this.

Here is the rest of the list to date and descriptions, click here...

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  • I love the fact that some of that drafted pitching talent (along with a few who came in as trade pieces) are moving up the Farm system. Almost none of these guys (with the possible exception of Hendricks) working up the system are likely to be factors in 2014 though.

    The future - with homegrown rotation and bullpen pieces looks pretty bright. Much brighter than I remember it looking since the time of Pryor. And even then - the same kind of depth wasn't apparent.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    What they have right now are a lot of quality arms. They may not have that standout guy yet but you have to like there chances of filling out a big chunk of their staff from within.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, werent some of the Red Sox kids 2nd round draft choices when Theo was there? I seem to remember Lester being one, and some one else now in there rotation besides Bucholtz(1st rounder) and Lackey(FA).

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Yes they were and Buchholz was a supplemental 1st rounder, if I remember correctly -- which would be in that same range as P.Johnson, Blackburn, and Zastryzny pick-wise.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Theo drafted Masterson in the 2nd round (71st overall)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed John - no true 'Ace' jumps out at you at this stage of any of these guys' development.

    But I must admit I like pretty much everything I have read about Tseng. Haven't even seen a good film loop of him pitching though - so that's all via just the 2nd hand reports. BUT - if he's doing well at A ball this year, that probably means he is at least 2 years additional from having any impact in Wrigley as they move him up the ranks,..... and a lot can go wrong in 3 years.

    A lot can go right too,...

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    It would be nice to see a few things go right -- and for a couple to go drastically right. Pierce Johnson is a guy to watch for me to take a big step forward if he can stay healthy. If you have enough good arms, it increases those odds that at least one or two of them can breakthrough in a big way.

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    John,

    Now that you've gone all the way up to your #16, I know with a strong certainty that none of the following will be included in your top 35: Eric Jokisch, John Andreoli, and Dallas Beeler.

    Your thoughts on each and why they were excluded from your top 35? I ask, because they're all included in my subjective top 30.

    (I know they won't be included, because your top 15 will *likely* be some order of Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, Edwards, Johnson, Alcantara, Vogelbach, Olt, Hendricks, Villanueva, Vizcaino, Candelario, Blackburn, Jimenez).

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I really like all of those guys and they all received strong consideration for the list. I think they're all potential big league players -- and in some cases, more likely to reach that level than some of the players who made this list. I think those 3, Daniel Lockhart, Jefferson Mejia, and Carlos Penalver would have been the next set of candidates that just missed the cut.

    I think Jokisch is a lot like Rusin, who never really made my top 30 lists but was always on my radar as a potential 5th starter, lefty specialist type. Dallas Beeler just didn't miss enough bats for me but I like the approach and the good two seamer. Andreoli would probably have made the list if I thought he could play CF better, so I gave Szczur the edge instead. Rubi Silva is another guy who is in that area of extra outfielders who have a shot at contributing. Brett Jackson is beginning to put himself back on the map as well.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Great points, and they certainly make sense. Those three along with the others you mentioned are all on the fringe of top 30/35 lists.

    As for Brett Jackson, how great would it be not only for the Cubs, but also the story (and confidence) of Brett Jackson if he could reemerge as a serviceable big leaguer. I doubt anyone thinks he'll ever now hit his high-ish ceiling that was projected as recently as early-mid 2012. But if he could emerge as a 3rd or even 4th OF option, that would be very pleasing. Still has some power, good defense, speed, and good pitch recognition. Plus, he's LH, which can only help the length of his leash in this organization.

  • Don't beat yourself up over the Tseng ranking. You and I have discussed this a bit recently. You opted to error on the conservative side. Some, with new information that wasn't available then have opted to be aggressive on his ranking. We'll all have a sense of where he is after 2014.

    For those that don't know. Tseng was originally ranked as a top 2 IFA in the 2013 class. He also has an advanced feel for pitching and has pitched on the international circuit. But leading up to the IFA signing period, his velocity and command dropped and he struggled in the WBC. A lot of teams wrote him off and he slipped all the way to #29 on the top 30 rankings. The Cubs scouts stayed with him and saw his velocity and command improve. We signed him and he has been lights out so far. Professor parks is the one on record as saying he would rank him in our top ten prospects right now. Kevin Gallo is also on record as saying he has TOR potential with 4 avg-plus pitches.

    All in all, not a bad find by our FO. He should move through the lower minors quickly this year and some are even predicting he skips Rookie & Boise all together and starts at Kane County.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I very much prefer a conservative approach. I handle pleasant surprises better than unpleasant ones!

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Ha! Good point!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. I do regret it a bit, though I do stand by reserving judgment on a guy who has basically come out of nowhere. There are always mid-season lists! I do know Kevin likes him a lot and I know of at least 3 other scouts who had glowing reviews, not to mention Parks and the guys at BP. There's a lot of support there, especially within the past month or so.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No regrets buddy. Right now, he's just another teenager with potential who has yet to play in his first game as a professional. to reach our top 10, I's think he would have to live up to his potential and dominate at KC and maybe sample Daytona effectively by seasons end. He might, but that's still aggressive for a teenager. If he does that, then Badler, Callis, mayo, etc are going to launch him into top prospect rankings. But top ten like parks said and even top 20 like Anderson hinted is a bit premature.

    Then again, they've all got Jiminez & Torres in that range now and they're younger and even farther away so...

    But to get the top 3 and arguably 4/5 of the top 10 IFA's from one class is remarkable. To have 2-3 of them b=crack the top 20 prospects of one of the best & deepest farm systems is incredible.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I personally prefer to consdier IFA's ranked very low until they show something stateside, at least in A-.....so I happen to agree with your Tseng ranking.

    Let's see how he does at Boise, and then adjust; same for the other promising IFAs

  • These guys are the reason we all were geeked about the Derek Johnson hiring.

    There's a lot to like with Underwood & Maples both. Either could develop into a true Ace, or never make it above AA. I hope this year is the year they both get a more consistent base under them.

    I loved the Skulina pick. If he develops that elusive consistency, we've got ourselves a big, durable and effective innings eater in that 3-5 spot of our rotation for years.

    Ramirez is another example of Epstoyer extracting high upside over medical concerns from the Rangers. Ramirez's shoulder injury that held him back is obviously behind him... he's looked really good this Spring.

    So far as Zastryzny, there's so much variance in opinions on him. I've never actually seen him pitch, but some say if he gets that velocity back up to mid 90's that he has #2 potential. Others see a #4 or #5 slightly better than Rusin kinda guy. IDK. I think it's difficult to judge his breaker much while in AZ ST though as Breaking Balls are notorious for not breaking there... One thing though, this FO was excited to get him at the top of the 2nd round and given their track record, that's good enough for me right now...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Not sure what to think of Zastryzny at this point. Also heard stories last draft that he was on the Cardinals radar. So that's pretty high praise, as well.

    If the velocity IS gone though, it's not a good thing. If he does turn into a solid #4, I think we can say that's the floor the Cubs were looking for with their second round pick.

    Another possibility: since they signed Zastryzny under-slot, perhaps they wanted a flyer on both Zastryzny and Hannemann and that was the way to make it happen.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thats a possibility. I never considered the $$$ aspect. Theo personally cross checked Hanneman and came away giddy with excitement over his upside. They knew his asking price before they drafted him.

    But remember Johns article with DJ? They're looking for guys with athleticism & arm strength that they can teach a breaking ball to. Big Z fits that description to a tee and only started throwing his CB & Slider both last year. Also, being a college arm should have the high floor and ability to move quickly, which we all covet.

    Also, If I remember correctly, they paid over slot for Trevor Clifton who we selected in the 11th/12th round and he was expecting to go in the 2nd/3rd round. I think he tweeted he got 3rd round money and all of this may have actually been held up waiting on Bryant to sign as that's where we had the most to save, though Boras extracted full slot value...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think an under appreciated part of MLB's draft is using picks and slot money to get as many of the guys you want as possible. In football and basketball it's easier because you can trade picks. (I think it's possible the Cubs would consider trading down in this draft, if they could, to get 2 or 3 late first round/supplemental picks.)

    Assuming it wasn't all about money, Hayden Simpson is potentially an example of poor draft management, because most draft experts felt he would have been available in the second or third round.

    The best example of using the draft rules to your advantage isn't the Cubs, it was the Royals clever grab of both Dozier and Manaea. As I understand it, it was unlikely Dozier would have made it to the supplemental round had the Royals gone with Manaea first and so their solution got them both players instead of just one.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I understand your point. But KC just got lucky that it worked out that way. They may have made genius & creative moves on the financial parts, IDK enough about it to say. But they just got lucky that Manaea was there at 34. Most were thinking Manaea would still go in the top 15-20 picks with the questions about his hip. But then his agent refused to release his medicals to some teams causing even more uncertainty. The buzz I was hearing was that he was content to go back to school if he didn't get what he wanted...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agree to disagree here. Much like the Pirates letting Reese McGuire slide, I think they did their homework and knew there was a good chance he would be there if they let him drop. This was made an even stronger possibility by the buzz you point out -- that he would go to school if he didn't get what he wanted. That pushed a lot of teams drafting later in the first round out of contention.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    From what I understand, The Red Sux under Theo were really good with # 2 picks.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    That is true, though they had a key advantage: They consistently spent way overslot. Between 2003 and 2010, according to that Grantland article, no team spent more on the draft than the Red Sox, despite them never having a pick higher than #17. It was the smart thing to do, unfortunately that loophole is now closed

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Theo & Co have been very good throughout the draft. But everyone swings & misses more than they hit a HR. Pedroia & Masterson are probably his best 2nd round picks. They drafted Lester in the 2nd round right before he got there so they I think they did okay there...

  • I have a feeling next years top ten could be fairly pitcher heavy. If Baez and Bryant graduate, and we draft a pitcher with rhe 4th pick; add that to guys like Edwards, Johnson, Tseng, and Blackburn. Finally some pitching depth is starting to show.

  • John, just read that scouts are watching
    Nate and Barney. Any truth to this?
    If so which teams and why

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    You have to figure that one of Barney, Valbuena, or Murphy are on the hotseat at this stage. Especially if (as it appears likely at present) Olt breaks camp as a regular at 3B. Of those guys - Barney might have the highest value to the right team - due to his defensively flexibility and relative cost and service-time controls.

    If (as it appears at present) that Olt and Bonifacio are coming North, then a lot of the time that one of the Barney/Valbuena/Murphy UT/2B might otherwise occupy is going to be eaten up. It gets to be even harder to justify carrying these guys if Castro is healthy, and once Baez does make his eventual appearance in Wrigley.

    Detroit could use a guy like Barney,.... In some ways - so could the Yankees,.... but do they want him enough to give back any trade value?

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    You're probably right, and I feel like either Barney will get traded, or Murphy will get cut. One or the other.

    I feel like Valbuena will stay on the Cubs, because a) they need some insurance if Olt falters, and b) he doesn't have that much trade value, but is also too good to cut....kind of in between

  • In reply to Zonk:

    That - and in a pinch Valbuena won't hurt you defensively at 3B or 2B, is at least a stopgap SS, can hit for at least occasional power, and maintains a decent BB-rate despite the relatively low Batting Average.

    I think at present - it is more likely that Murphy is cut, than Barney is traded, but I suspect with Castro, Olt, Bonifacio and Valbuena as IF piece - one of those two will find himself expendable.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Also, Ryan Roberts is arguably a better player than Murphy, and he's available. If Bonifacio was with the Cubs earlier, Roberts probably would not have signed with Cubs. The only thing Murphy can do that Roberts can't is play a decent SS. Roberts is likely on a veteran deal that will give him release if he is not called up by June 1

  • In reply to Zonk:

    True - but - since Roberts is on a MiL contract - he's not going to cause any roster problems if he is released or optioned to the minors. I assume Murphy is on a ML contract? But don't know off the top of my head.

    Am betting you are right on the money with the release on his contract too.

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    W

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    Sorry about that

    Would you say the cardinals big advantage in having a train of pitchers available every year is better scouting, better development or both? Either way, why are we not poaching some of their personnel instead of having our Rolodex stuck on "Boston" or "San Diego"?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think the pendulum has shifted on the Cardinals where the farm system is getting a bit overrated. They had a good run for a few years but I think Cubs fans tend to focus on their success stories. They're system is rated lower than the Cubs right now and the pitching prospects aren't at the same level as they've been in the past -- some high risk, high ceiling guys but I wouldn't call their current crops the envy of baseball anymore.

  • John,

    It's great to read these very thorough and well-reasoned articles on Cub prospects. To me, you're every bit as good a writer about Cub prospects as the national guys like Parks, Law, Callis, Badler, etc. I like reading those guys, too--because it's good to hear what everyone has to say and they're all great evaluators. But IMO you do a great job of incorporating the consensus of opinions and also adding your own assessment, which is valuable in its own right.

    Reading the writeup on Underwood did get me wondering about how he and Tseng compare. They're the same age and have similar FB velo, but it would seem that Tseng's secondaries and command are ahead of Underwood at this point--although they both suffer from inconsistency. Is that a fair assessment? Tseng actually strikes me as having a lot in common with Blackburn, in terms of what he brings to the table--it's tough to see much difference between them, in terms of stuff.

    On Zastryzny, if you could put your finger on ONE thing that led the Cubs to pop him not just in round 2, but at the top of round 2, what would it be. To me, intangibles aside, he looks a lot like guys like Rusin who typically go in the 3-5 round range. I still haven't seen a good answer from anyone as to precisely what the Cubs saw in him. It seems like the normal thing to do when picking a pitcher in the 50-60th overall pick range is to snag a guy with good velocity and the makings of a plus breaking pitch (and then you work on him with consistency, location and changing speeds as he moves up the ladder). Zastryzny has neither the velocity nor the plus breaking pitch you expect from guys taken that high. What gives? Do you think he was a reach--or maybe another expression of Wilken's somewhat quirky influence (Simpson, Colvin, etc.)?

    Great writeup on Maples BTW.

    One last thing--did you see Ben Badler's recent write-up of Cubs' international signings from last year? What he wrote about Mejia got me pretty stoked. From the sounds of that article, Mejia could turn out to be a steal and may have a better than mid-rotation type ceiling.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Thanks Svaz! I appreciate that very much. It really has been fun for me to do these write-ups and I feel like I learn a bit more every year.

    That's a fair assessment on Tseng and Underwood but I will say Underwood has a very good curve when it's on. And I would agree that Tseng is closer to Blackburn overall.

    For Zastryzny, I think what caused them to pick him that high was that 95 mph FB he showed late in the season. If they thought he'd drop to 90-91, then Im not sure they'd have picked him and he may have been a better mid to late 2nd round guy.

    Mejia is a guy that would have been a top 40 prospect had I gone that far.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Though I don't think he was ever on the Cubs radar, Ryan McMahon a pick later might really end up a painful reminder of what they could have had. Hunter Green -- a guy who was on their radar -- is another guy they might wish they had another chance at.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hunter Green was the guy I liked but have to admit I didn't see Zastryzny at all.

  • Ramirez has looked like a steal PTBNL in watching him this spring training. If you were a betting man would he be a starter or late inning guy?

    Also, in the interview with Bosio a couple of days ago, he said he thought Vizciano was going to be a late inning/closer even after this year. He never entertained the idea of starter when Len asked him about it. Thoughts? I'm on board at least for the first 2-3 years.

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    In reply to IowaCubbie:

    Vizcanio's service clock was running the last couple years while he was hurt; for that reason, and the injury history, I think it would be wiser to move him quickly as a reliever, rather than spend another year building arm strength, refining pitches, etc.

    I think that starter ship sailed with Vizcaino when he got hurt again last year, and he's strictly bullpen now

  • In reply to IowaCubbie:

    I agree with Zonk's assessment, but nothing lasts forever. Dempster made the switch from closer back to starting pitcher at age 30 so it's not out of the question that Vizcaino could eventually convert back. But ideally, he needs to make it through the next 2 seasons healthy before that's really an option.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks for the answers guys. So what I am getting is if his service time is already started, used him as a reliever for a couple of years to build up strength and see if he can stay healthy. If that happens, sign him to a 4+ year deal at reliever money and then you can see if he can be a starter? From the way Bosio was talking he thinks Vizcaino is the best arm the Cubs have. If the stars aligned and that plan worked out, he would be a starter again (a la dempster) about the time we go for it all. That or he just stays healthy and is a very dominant closer when we go for it. Either way, I am on the Vizcaino band wagon!

  • In reply to IowaCubbie:

    Thats pretty much it.

    I don't think baseball guys like Bosio get too caught up in the business side of things. He's just answering within the scope of his control. Which is for now, Vizcaino is a reliever, potential future closer.

    I think if they had asked him differently, say: "If Vizcaino can stay healthy for the next year or two and command his great stuff, do you think he could transition back to starter?" Bosio would've likely said Absolutely, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it (or words to that effect). If Epstoyer extends him to a team friendly deal based on his Arb salaries as a reliever vs starter, then that's just good business.

  • In reply to IowaCubbie:

    Guess is a bullpen guy for Ramirez but can't rule him out as a starter yet. He has the size and the repertoire, just has to be consistent with command/delivery.

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    I have 2, of 20, spots left in my Yahoo fantasy baseball league drafting online tonight at 7 p.m. Chicago time if anyone's interested.

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    In reply to Ray:

    1 spot left.

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    In reply to Ray:

    We're full.

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    A little off topic here but I found a great write up about the Cubs financial issues:

    http://www.bleachernation.com/2014/03/19/the-chicago-cubs-financial-story-the-payroll-the-debt-and-the-syncing-of-baseball-and-business-plans/

    Warning: It's an extremely long article and will have you chasing your own tail...... lol

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Yes, that piece was very well done by Brett. It was great to see all the legwork on the financials pretty much back up what we've been saying here. If you have the time and you're interested in the specifics, I definitely recommend reading it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely a great article and a must read for everyone to understand the financial side going forward as pertains to FA signings and extensions of existing players. (ie Shark)

    Yeah,, it was long but well worth the time.

  • I really like how Zastryzny's pitches based on arm angle dive in on righties and I like how Skulina uses his body as a shield, thus hiding his arm action. Of course, John has made me a Tseng believer. Never in my life would I have thought all 5 of these guys would have been slated as pitchers. I know there are other pitchers up the count so as much as their is a void, there is help on the way

  • In reply to Gator:

    Yep. Our pitching situation is nowhere near as bad as some were making it out to be. In fact, even without Samardzija, I'd say that if the FO can acquire a legitimate #1 starter between now and the 2015 offseason, the 2016 season could have a seriously competitive rotation. There's just no way that out of what we have already (not even figuring in the draft) we won't have a very solid #3-#5 and a good chance of a sleeper candidate emerging as #2. Young? Yes, but still formidable. And the Cardinals have shown that that can get you into the post-season no problem.

  • I watched the video over an hour ago and I still can't get my toe to stop tappin'.

  • In reply to xhooper:

    Glad we could help you get your groove on.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just one hidden benefit of the Den!!
    By the way, looks like Kane County is going to be an interesting place to see a game this summer.

  • Skulina has been my sleeper Cubs prospect since day one. Love this kid. And yeah, Underwood = Most Commonly Forgotten Cubs Prospect. So raw, but so much talent......

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Underwood is the kind of guy who can come in a hurry but he has to get after it. I think he will. The performance in minor league camp was an example (4 no hit innings).

    Skulina looks the part and the only thing he needs to do to make it all work is to refine that command. Could be a huge steal if he does.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Was that in this years minor league camp ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Because I'm really pulling for underwood.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Yesterday, per AZ Phil.

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    Levine says the Tigers are scouting Barney and Schierholtz, Cubs want pitching.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Levine also said the Snakes might be in on Shark, but I can certainly see why the Tigers might be looking at Nate & Darwin.

    There actually could be a deal available here- the Tigers do have other pitchers besides Robbie Ray or Jake Thompson with some real upside. Crawford, Knebel, and/or Farmer all look like some arms that would interest the Cubs if the Tigers want to keep their top guys.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Crawford, Knebel and Farmer can't be traded until after the June draft unless as a ptbnl. Outside of Farmer, I can't see the Tigers being willing to part with any of those guys anyway.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Casey Crosby anyone? Once a highly touted prospect, he's struggled for quite a while now. Maybe too long for the Cubs to be interested. But if he's healthy and throwing well now...

    Don't know anything about what he throws, but 24-year-old Jose Alvarez put up good numbers in AAA last season and was originally signed by the Red Sox while Theo & Co. were there. He's on the Tigers 40-man roster and started 6 games for them last season with mixed results. As a 2006 IFA signing, he's likely out of options so that lowers his value to the Cubs.

    The best possible get I see would be 23-year-old righty Drew VerHagen. He's not a big strikeout guy but started to come on in AA last season and is a groundball machine with a sinker in the low-to-mid 90s.

    All their other pitching prospects are too high end for Schierholtz and/or Barney. Robbie Ray and Jake Thompson are too good while Corey Knebel, Kevin Ziomek and Jonathan Crawford are too good and can't be traded yet anyway. Perhaps if both Schierholtz and Barney are packaged and the Tigers are desperate enough (and feel they have enough pitching coming from the 2013 draft in which they took 7 pitchers in the 1st 6 rounds) Theo and Jed might work their magic, pull off a miracle and get one of Ray or Thompson, but that feels like a pipe dream to me.

    I don't see the Tigers wanting to give up someone from their bullpen given their win-now status. And I think the Cubs would rather have a prospect anyway.

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    if schierholtz goes to the Tigers then our outfield is what - Sweeney/Kalish/Ruggiano/BJax/Lake +/- Bonifacio? I know BJax was sent down but you'd think he'd have to be the first call-up for an OF spot - at some point you have to see what he's got.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If Barney goes with him then they will probably keep Sweeney, Lake, Kalish, Ruggiano, and possibly bring back Jackson or keep one of the remaining non-roster guys most likely Coghlan.

  • fb_avatar

    haven't been following casper wells - is he a factor?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think he's still around, but not a huge factor, it seems.

  • AZ Phil reporting that Junior Lake got 8 PA's as the DH in the 2 minor league games today. "Junior Lake collected five hits (four singles and a double), stole two bases, and scored two runs"

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