Forecasting big league promotions: Wada, Alcantara, Hendricks, and more

Forecasting big league promotions: Wada, Alcantara, Hendricks, and more
Alcantara would give the Cubs offense a boost (picture: boysofspring.com)

Updated 10:45 AM

While all eyes are on Kris Bryant and Javier Baez this offseason, don't expect either of them to get a call this year to help the big league club at any point this season.  You will have to wait until 2015 for those two.

That being said, it doesn't mean the Cubs won't get any help from a farm system which is not just one of the best in the game, but has plenty of MLB ready talent at the upper levels.

The top 10 candidates

In no particular order...

Tsuyoshi Wada

The Cubs just DFA'd Eli Whiteside and added Tsuyoshi Wada to the 40 man roster.  If that isn't a harbinger, then I don't know what is.  I have been a bigger skeptic of Wada than most.  He has had great results in AAA with a 7-4 record and a 2.86 ERA, the K rate is solid (8.65 per 9IP, 23.5%) as has his walk rate (2.4 BB/9 IP, 6.5%) but his 4.01 FIP doesn't portend as nicely.   Wada isn't going to blow you away.  He will mix and match, add some deception, he'll change speeds, he'll change your eye level, and he will locate his fastball pretty well.  AAA hitters struggled with it but it remains to be seen how the smoke and mirrors show plays against big league hitters.  The front office likes him though, and they know quite a bit more than I do, so I'll keep the faith here.

Arismendy Alcantara

Alcantara seems to have made a good adjustment to AAA Iowa but some of you may remember that he regressed somewhat to his aggressive approach early in the season.  The strikeouts were up, the walks were down. But since mid-May, covering his last 155 PAs, Alcantara has put up the following numbers:

  • .309/.374/.576
  • 9.7% walk rate
  • 9 SBs in 11 attempts
  • .267 ISO
  • .404 wOBA

I don't know what Alcantara's benchmarks are for a promotion but I would venture a guess that they are something less than that.  Given the fact that the Cubs are playing him in CF when there are plenty of other CF's on the roster makes you think they are finding a spot for that dynamic offensive profile. He'd be like a shot of expresso for an often sleepy Cubs offense.

Kyle Hendricks

Wada may be putting up the best results but Hendricks performance translates best to MLB success.  Hendricks does what you need a Wrigley pitcher to do.  He holds down the walks (2.1 BB/9 IP).  He keeps the ball in the park (0.30 HR rate) and he misses bats (8.3 Ks/9 IP).  He is 8-5 with a 3.55 ERA but the FIP is just over a half run better at 2.96.

What's more, Iowa manager Marty Pevey is saying that Hendricks now hits 95 mph 15-18 times per game.  Hendricks has always been able to touch that velo but perhaps with some maturity and added strength, he now has the stamina to sustain it for more than an occasional show-me pitch.  Hendricks still isn't going to be a power pitcher -- he will still thrive on locating his fastball, changing speeds, and setting up hitters with a solid 4 pitch repertoire, but it's nice to have 95 in your back pocket when you need it.

Arodys Vizcaino

Theo Epstein recently stated something we have said here for quite some time now:  Vizcaino is a major league pitcher who is only in the minor leagues so that the organization can control his usage.  He is back throwing 98 mph and has become more consistent hammer curve -- and if that isn't enough, he has shown good command and an average change-up to help combat lefty hitters.

I imagine the Cubs would still like to be able to control Vizcaino's usage and not have the game dictate it, so we may not see him until September when rosters expand and the Cubs have plenty of other bullpen options.

Zac Rosscup

A lefty who can miss bats and touch 94 mph.  And has a 40 man roster spot with MLB experience?  He's pretty much a lock.

Blake Parker

Parker has been the good soldier as he has toiled in AAA as the team's closer despite being good enough to pitch in the majors.  Always known as a guy with great makeup, he didn't sulk.  He simply went down and dominated, posting a 1.31 ERA, 16 saves, and striking out just over 12 batters per 9 IP while keeping the walks down at 2.61 per 9 IP.  He is also a lock.

Chris Rusin

He has had some issues with the long ball but he is throwing strikes and missing a fair amount of bats.  He has plenty of experience and can start or relieve, making him an ideal replacement for Carlos Villaneuva should he be moved.

Dallas Beeler

Beeler is already on the 40 man roster and he has had a solid season.  He isn't going to miss bats but he is going to use his 6'5" height to generate good plane and pound the lower part of the zone with hard, low 90s sinkers.  The ball is going to be put in play but it will be on the ground (1.5 GO/AO and a sterling 2.5 to 1 ratio over the past two seasons at AAA).  He can fit at the bottom of the rotation, long relief, or be used as a situational reliever.

Ryan Kalish

Kalish made the team out of spring training but ultimately was sent back down to get more reps, something he hasn't had a lot of over the past two seasons.  He hasn't lit it up at Iowa but I imagine he'll be back.

Logan Watkins

Watkins has reinvented himself as a super-sub at Iowa, playing every position except pitcher and catcher.  He is versatile defensively, hits lefty, can get on base, and run.  Those combination of skills can land you a spot on an NL 25 man roster.

Others in the mix

These guys have performed well and are ready or near ready MLB players, but the lack of a 40 man roster spot hinders all but one of them...

  • Armando Rivero dominated AA as their closer, striking out an astonishing 14 batters per 9 IP while recording a 1.56 ERA (2.33 FIP).  He is also 26 so the clock is ticking.  Rivero is in AAA to work on FB command and while he won't master that, he will get the call if he shows progress.
  • Marcus Hatley has made incredible progress with his command and control.   He has walked just 2.17 batters per 9 IP while striking out 12.41 and posting a 2.48 ERA (2.10 FIP).  He's a guy I always liked and a good reason why you never give up on big, athletic pitchers who throw 95.  Once the command clicked, everything else fell into place.
  • Christian Villanueva may have been demoted to AA but he is still on the 40 man roster and maybe he gets rewarded for being the good soldier and taking the promotion in stride and, like Parker, he has that strong makeup and has performed well.  It also helps he can play defense at least as well as incumbent Luis Valbuena.
  • Chris Valaika was one of many minor league free agents the Cubs signed and has outperformed them all at Iowa, including MLB'ers Ryan Kalish and Chris Coghlan.  Versatility also helps as Valaika can play all infield positions plus the OF corners.  Valaika has a decent RH stick, hitting .304/.368/.456 on the season with 7 HRs.  The biggest drawback for him is that he does not have a 40 man roster spot.
  • Rafael Lopez is already 26 but the combo of a solid lefty bat with a good approach, good defense (albeit an average arm at best), and not a whole lot of catching depth in the system gives him a shot to earn a 40 man roster spot.
  • Eric Jokisch could be a candidate but I see him being squeezed out right now by Wada, Rusin, and Rosscup.  2015 seems more likely for him.
  • Matt Szczur looked like a good bet early in the year but a poor season in which he has hit .244 with virtually no power makes adding him problematic unless you are looking at a defensive replacement/pinch-runner off the bench.

One last hurrah or time for goodbye?

  • Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson:  One last look?  Vitters can be a righty bat off the bench while Jackson can provide some speed and defense. However, it remains entirely possible that the team may instead use their 40 man roster spots for other players at this point.

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  • Color me very skeptical regarding Wada. When I watch him I don't see a single above average MLB pitch. Expecting any more than Chris Rusin production seems optimistic. And in that case, you might as well just bring up Chris Rusin.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    He might be Rusin with a more experienced approach, but that is as far as I will go on that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm sure we'll be seeing more than enough of both of them once Hammel and Shark are dealt.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, could an upcoming trade for Villanueva be the reason they want to bring Wada up?

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm past skeptical.
    I think Wada will get pounded by Major League hitters.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    We dont need anymore softtoss, fin esse lefties. We have enough James Russells and Wesley Wrights already. I prefer Rosscup and Cervanka, who both throw hard enough you have to respec t there fastball.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Rosscup and Cervenka are relievers (and i like them both and both should be solid options). Wada and Rusin are starters. Completely different conversation.

  • Vizcaino, Rosscup and Parker are all MLB ready and will be up in September at the latest. How soon they get here will depend on injuries and the number of relievers dealt at the deadline. Vizcaino will be here as soon as he can throw back to back games consistently.

    Alcantara should get a September call up, but I think he should get as much AAA time as possible. I don't want to see him brought up after the deadline. Kalish and Watkins will probably see some time, but they aren't exactly going to provide much impact. I hope Valaika gets rewarded and takes Olt's ABs once a roster spot is available.

    Rusin and Wada should be the rotation fill ins. Hendricks may not get added to the 40 man until the offseason. I think a September call up is the earliest we see him and that will be dependent on roster spots. Beeler can be the emergency guy and hopefully give the team 5 innings and a bunch of groundballs if they need someone in the second half.

  • Wish we had a 32-man roster. I would love to call up many of those guys right now.

    Regarding a Shark trade, I really see the Cubs adding some other pieces to the mix to get a much better return for him. Maybe add in a Scuzur or Rivero, or something along that level of AAA player to sweeten the pot a little. Then maybe we can get Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey and a Aaron Sanchez type of return for Shark (if not better).

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Szczur sweetens nothing, he would just force the acquiring team to drop a similar player from their 40 man roster.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    What about Rivero?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I can see Rivero looking good to teams in need of bullpen help. He may even be useful this season in a late call-up. Not sure if he may have more value to the Cubs than what he can get us in trade though. Parker may be a better bet to get something useful right now.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Rivero has value. He can be a late inning reliever and he is not on the 40 man roster so an acquiring team has the flexibility to only put him on the roster when they want. But he may be someone the Cubs want to keep as he could be a key cog in the Cubs bullpen next year, especially if Grimm and/or Ramirez are transitioned back to starters.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    That would depend on who they would be able to drop and how he compares to Szczur.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Szczur at best is a 5th OF, defensive replacement, pinch runner. Most teams have a guy like that in AAA already or can acquire one easy enough.

  • Beeler walked in the ballpark right in front of me the other day. He looks like a major league ball player. He's huge. I'm surprised he doesn't throw harder than he does. I guess low 90s isn't anything to squabble about.

  • The other nice statistic that Hendricks has is a fantastic GO/AO ration. There was one game earlier this year where it was a 6-1 ratio. That will play well in Wrigley. I am getting a bit excited about him being a solid #4, maybe even a touch better. Remember, he is all of 24 years old.

    Interesting stat on BJax. His splits against RH's is not bad. something like .240/.310/.420. Again, not great, but if his role is a 4th OF platooning vs. RHP, he might be able to contribute.

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    Great stuff as usual John. I'm bummed you didn't come Friday-I would have bought you the best scotch in the house!

    I think Wada=Villaneuva. Veteran swing man/6th starter.

    I also think we match up really well w the pirates in a trade for Hammel. They have expendable mlb ready arms and he's perfect for them.

  • I love all of this talk about prospects and trades, but it is starting to become excruciating. I cannot wait for something to happen already!

  • John, Luke(I think) from BN the other day said he believed Soler might get a call up in september to get some extra ABs and make up some of the time he's missed. Do you thing there's any chance of that?

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    In reply to Rudy:

    Not a chance. He'll either go to the AFL or Winter leagues to get those at bats.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    No. MLB is not a place to develop for a guy with his limited experience.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    So he's on the 40 man, so it is a possibility... but I think it will depend greatly on his performance "IF" he can stay healthy until then. he signed a 9yr MLB contract so there is no arb clock to be concerned with.

    That being said, they could just as easily decide to keep him in AZ and rebuild/rehab his hammies for AZ Fall League or even Winter ball in Latin America.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes, but doesn't Soler need to be promoted to the majors prior to opening day 2016? Doesn't his contract allow him to walk if he isn't on the opening day roster? He needs to start playing soon so that option isn't on the table next year.

  • This article makes me mad, why would you not give Valaika a chance in this outfield? He had a cup of coffee with the marlins, and is one of the best most consistant hitters at Iowa.

  • I'm betting on Manny...................That being said with tongue firmly in cheek.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    That would make things fun.

  • Lots of difficult decisions ahead. But to my mind, Alcantara and Lopez should be on the 25 man roster asap. I would dfa Barney and Baker.

    That could not possibly make the MLB Cubs any worse and possibly a damn sight better.

    Of course, I suppose we have to worry about losing a high draft pick? Right now we only get the #3.

    Oh well, next year is going to be exciting for sure. I've been looking forward to 2015 for several years now. What's a few more months. Since I looked at Soriano's contract, I'm guessing in 2009 or 2010 (seems like much longer ago than that) and saw he was off the books in 2015.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    I could see the Cubs DFAing Baker to make room for Lopez. Not sure if they will do the same with Barney. Also, guys like Shierholtz could be traded which make room. Lots of different options.

  • Prior to the Whiteside DFA, Wada addition to the 40-man roster - I was predicting that Beeler (followed by either Rusin or Rosscup) was the pitcher most likely to take a Cubs 25-man roster spot post movement of either Shark or Hammel.

    Now - am thinking that Wada might get his ticket punched first as well. Also - gives the Cubs a chance to showcase him a bit as a potential trade candidate as I would guess at his age he's not likely to be considered a long-term team component and might get something decent in return.

    It's going to be an interesting July/August as the pieces that are going to get moved get moved.

  • Jason Parks @ProfessorParks · 29m
    He's borderline top 30. Im high on him. RT @NotTheCubsWay: @ProfessorParks how close does Arismendy Alcantara get to top 50? Is he top 75?

    Wow!

  • Any ideas on what has happened to Szczur ( .244/.310), Silva (.252/.297), and Jae-Hoon Ha (.201/.237) this year? Szczur is understandable as this is his first year at AAA. But, Silva and Ha have regressed big time at AAA.

    With the Wrigley OF in shambles, this year was their golden opportunity to put on a good show and force their way up (see Chris Coghlan's pre-promotion numbers). And, as many a career minor leaguer will tell you, one may never get another chance like this one; so grab it while you can!

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    You could throw Vitters into that group too. Jackson cratered last season, so this year is just more of the same from him. All of those guys have blown a big chance. Szczur, Ha and Silva have always been fringe prospects to me so I an't say it is that surprising that any one of them has failed, but the fact that all three are performing badly is unfortunate, especially considering the current need for their services.

    Szczur and Ha are both plus defenders but Szczur has no power and doesn't use his speed effectively on the basepaths while Ha never developed the extra base power I expected him too, mostly because his plate discipline never came around. Silva is kind of a left handed Junior Lake (with less power), a good athlete with no clue how to put those skills to use.

  • Is it fair to say at Wada, Rusin, and Jokisch are all the same type of pitcher (soft tossing, crafty LHP) and that no MLB rotation can have more than one of those?

    And, speaking of soft tossing, crafty LHPs, is recently hired Ted Lilly working with those three in Iowa?

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    The best news on Alcantara is that if he can maintain that .375 OBP he could solve the bases empty for Rizzo problem.

  • Call up Alcantara and send down Olt. Olt can play 1st to get the AB's he desperately needs to get his mojo back. And he can work with Manny again. I don't see how this is helping Olt with limited AB's. Thoughts John?

  • I see that Bryant and Baez were selected for the Futures game. Good for them! Hopefully Baez won't break his hand again.

  • Alcantara , Baez , vitters, Bryant all nice games offensively today , Wada another QS and win

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    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Alcantara looks very close to ready to me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    yep He is at .290 / .334 . / .848 OPS (i think) got another double, RBI , SB think He scored a couple runs too today, Javy 1-2 w 2 BBs ( that makes me happy ) And Bryant was Bryant, Vitter i think 2-4 with an RBI i think i am going off memory of the box. I want Alcantara to be brought up as soon as the trades are made to open up the 25, excited to see what he can do . CF / 2B dont care just get Him in the lineup with Castro, Rizzo .

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