There's not a lot of feel-good news coming out of the big league team lately, so today's notes will focus on the minors and the draft with some good stuff from Keith Law to start the day.
On the best teams to watch in the minors to see prospects...
For the lineup, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler are the main attractions, but Law also thinks that Zeke DeVoss and Stephen Bruno are worth watching. He calls the rotation one of the best in the minor leagues. And he also mentions Armando Rivero as an arm to monitor this spring.
Scouts opinion on Kris Bryant (insider only),
"For Bryant, I think it's pretty simple: Can he stick at third base, and is he going to be able to make enough contact against better breaking stuff for the 70 power to play? He won't see the latter on a consistent basis in the Southern League, but it's going to be a much better test than he got in college.
Keith Law Chat:
On Carlos Rodon falling...
Seems like the Cubs at 4 would be a stopping point for him - a large-market team with no historical aversion to taking, shall we say, players with his likely bonus demands. After that, it gets dicey.
On the possibility of the Cubs taking a bat with the 4th pick...
I don't think there's any bat worthy of the 4th overall pick this year. It's all arms up top.
It appears that fans who want the BPA and those who want a potential ace could both be happy this year. The two different philosophies may actually merge this year for the Cubs as it appears as many as the top 5 players this year could be pitchers.
We know about Carlos Rodon, Tyler Beede, Tyler Kolek, and Jeff Hoffman, but one more pitcher making waves is prep RHP Grant Holmes. I saw Holmes at the UA game and he's a big, athletic (he also participated in the HR derby), physically mature kid (6'5", 240 lbs) who touched 95 mph that day. Some reports have him hitting triple digits more recently. Though he is not as dominant, his secondaries may be a bit more advanced than Kolek, though not as much as LHP Brady Aiken. Some, including Law, believe he's a top 5 type talent.
Here are the latest results and updates on the top college arms...
- Carlos Rodon had another mediocre outing, going the distance but allowing 11 hits and 6 runs (only 3 earned) and struck out 5. On the bright side, he did not walk a batter. Rodon is 2-5 with a 2.88 ERA on the year with 18 walks and 60 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. Not bad, but hardly the dominant pitcher many thought he would be this season. Reports say the slider has been very good but the fastball is down slightly.
- Tyler Beede also had a less than dominant outing, though he did get the win. Beede went 8 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6. He allowed 4 runs. Beede is 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA on the year. He has walked 16 and struck out 52 in 48 innings.
- Jeff Hoffman had a strong outing, going 8 innings, walking one and striking out 7. He allowed just one run en route to his 2nd victory. He's 2-3 with a 3.40 ERA with 19 walks and 52 strikeouts in 53 innings. That's somewhat disappointing considering his stuff but the last outing is encouraging and he may have the best pure stuff among college pitchers in the draft.
I'm feeling pretty confident at this point the Cubs will end up with one of these 3 pitchers and even if they are all off the table, that leaves them their pick of the top 3 prep arms in the draft. That is a pretty good spot to be in right now.
Rick Renteria on lineups
There's been some frustration about the Cubs lineups already and I explained the other day why I don't think it's such a big deal as it's being made out to be. Yesterday Renteria pretty much echoed my thoughts on the matter,
"We have the flexibility of right-handed, left-handed matchups," Renteria said Saturday. "Someone asked about guys getting comfortable on a daily basis [if not playing every day], and I think we're trying to put everybody in the best possible position for success based on guys they've faced. You'll see us double up and play against righties [against right-handers] and lefties [against left-handers]. It depends on where we're at and what we see is the right fit."
In the absence of a game preview, here's today's lineup as the Cubs once again try to avoid a sweep...
- Bonifacio 2B
- Kalish LF
- Rizzo 1B
- Schierholtz RF
- Valbuena 3B
- Castro SS
- Sweeney CF
- Baker C
- Villanueva P