We will take a break from the draft with this post to talk more about the current team issues and news. But we do have something for draft/prospects in the photo gallery at the bottom of the page. Long time reader History Rat put together some "Future Stars" baseball cards with some of the Cubs prospects and recent draftees. Check it out.
I want to reiterate that Starlin Castro is having a pretty good year. He ranks 6th in wOBA among all shortstops and is tied for 10th in MLB in WAR, so it makes him among the top 1/4 as far as offensive shortstops and among the to 1/3 overall.
He is still flawed and his approach is still unrefined -- but it has shown flashes of being better, and that is what we should expect early on. It isn't going to suddenly come together all at once for him.
As the Cubs continue to obtain players who have both patience and power, Castro's role will eventually slide, perhaps to the 6th spot, where he can concentrate on making contact and hit with men on base, a situation in which he has hit .321 with an .898 OPS, .204 ISO, and .389 wOBA for his career. Even his walk rate is higher (7%) with men on.
Prospect List Preview (Top 6)
I will write a more complete list sometime mid-season but for those wondering, I would currently rank the top 6 as follows:
- Kris Bryant
- Javier Baez
- Albert Almora
- Arismendy Alcantara
- Kyle Schwarber
- Jorge Soler
I was talking to an industry friend about how I so much want Soler to succeed because he fits in so well with what the Cubs like in terms of approach and power. But he needs to stay healthy. I think the Cubs are going to keep him out until they are sure he has balanced his muscle strength so that it won't happen again, but that comes with a great cost in development, something he really cannot afford. Unfortunately the Cubs seem to have little choice right now.
Alcantara's success in AAA and his ability to play the middle of the field while providing some serious extra base pop and speed gives him the edge over Schwarber -- for now.
Jordan Pacheco on waivers
Lots of questions on whether the Cubs should pursue Pacheco, who was a very good hitter in the minors with some discipline. He has been catching for the Rockies which makes the bat potential intriguing, but at 28 he hasn't yet showed any success at the MLB level. Pacheco was once named as the hitter with the most strike zone discipline in the Rockies organization, but hasn't been able to maintain the solid walk rates he showed in the minors.
I am intrigued because of the position value and that maybe he is a late bloomer, ala Luis Valbuena, who also put up great minor league numbers but took a while to develop at the MLB level.
Worth a flyer? With the lack of catching depth in the Cubs system, why not?
Trevor Cahill DFA'd
This is a different situation as Cahill is still owed 17M, including 12M next year alone. The peripheral are good as Cahill has upped his K rate to over one per inning, but the walk rate has shot up as well. Couple that with a .368 BABIP, a low strand rate (67%), and a dropping groundball rate of 48% after having 56% or better the previous 4 years and you can see why he has struggled.
Is he fixable?
I think so. The velocity is still there and the lower GB rate and higher BABIP suggests he may be leaving more balls up in the zone. I think with Cahill's height (6'4") and solid frame, he can be a mid-rotation, groundball guy who can eat innings for you and at age 26 he is still entering his prime years.
But $17M is a lot of money for a project, even if the Cubs will have plenty of payroll space to handle it. It would be somewhat similar to the Sox taking on Alex Rios contract when the Blue Jays put him on waivers a few years back.
UPDATE: Was told not to rule out Cahill as the Cubs are intrigued but there are issues as to a) the money, of course and b) where he can fit in the rotation right now. Feeling is he is a fit for the Cubs both because of how his stuff might play at Wrigley and because he is just 26.
Gregory Polanco to debut vs. Cubs
Gregory Polanco makes his debut tonight and he has been one of the most talked about prospects in the minors this season, hittng .347/.405/.540 with a .421 wOBA in AAA. Cubs fans have already seen top Astros prospect George Springer have some success and now they will see the Cubs go head to head vs. Polanco.
We should probably see the Cubs start to make these kinds of promotions in 2015, so in a way, it is a preview of what's to come in their own organization. It makes me envious, giddy, and slightly impatient -- but it's understandable why Cubs will wait.
Now that I have got you thinking about 2015 promotions, here is the 2014 Cubs lineup...
- Bonifacio, CF
- Lake, LF
- Rizzo, 1B
- Castro, SS
- Ruggiano, RF
- Olt, 3B
- Barney, 2B
- Whiteside, C
- Wood, SP
Sure, hoping that top 5 can do some damage tonight. And one more thing, just for fun. Ever wonder what a 97 mph fastball looks like? This should give you a good idea...
I like how the hitter doesn't flinch at 97 high and tight. I probably would have hit the deck -- and quite possibly peed my pants.
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