Cubs Midseason Prospect List, Part 2: Prospects 7-15

Cubs Midseason Prospect List, Part 2: Prospects 7-15
Jen-Ho Tseng

We did the creme de la creme yesterday but the Cubs prospect cache runs pretty deep.  There is both impact and depth in the system even beyond the top 6.  Not all of them will make it of course, but some of them will become role players, some will be traded, and some may step up to the next level in the next year or two. We had a run on hitters last time, now we have a run on pitchers

7. C.J. Edwards, 22, RHP, AA, Tennessee

Edwards made just 4 starts before going down with a shoulder injury that, thankfully, showed no structural damage.  The Cubs say his shoulder is fine and he is making tremendous progress working out in Mesa.  Before going down, Edwards was picking up where he left off in Iowa, posting a 2.61 ERA (3.08 FIP).  When he is healthy, Edwards throws an easy 92-95 mph FB with outstanding late life and a knee-buckling curve, giving him two legit out pitches and a change-up which gives him 3 plus pitches.  The delivery is sound, the make-up is off the charts...so why is he just #7?  The slender build is one concern, causing some to question his durability.  He also needs to improve his fastball command so that he can better set up his devastating curve.  If Edwards turns into a #3 starter, the Cubs should and will be very happy, and as long as he is healthy he has a good chance of doing that.

ETA: 2016 or possibly late 2015

8. Jen-Ho Tseng, 19, RHP, A, Kane County

Tseng has emerged as one of the Cubs better pitching prospects and despite being just 19, may have the best fastball command of the Cubs top 3 pitching prospects.  He doesn't have the velocity (90-92, touches 94) or the movement of Edwards or Pierce Johnson does on the FB, but he locates it very well, setting up his devastating curve, which is a legitimate swing and miss pitch.  Tseng also has the makings of a good change, has a great feel for pitching, and is yet another Cubs prospect with great makeup, often lauded for his poise on the mound.  That was pretty evident as Tseng would often get into trouble early in games and calmly work his way out of it, then settle down and dominate the rest of the way.  the Cubs have been careful to limit his workload (50.1 IP so far) and shut him down when he felt some very slight shoulder discomfort,  But he quickly returned and has been pitching as well as ever.  He is a well-rounded pitcher already and should move quickly.  I think he has a #3 profile right now but there are some scouts out there who think he can be more than that.  If he can get his velo consistently in the 92-94 range, then we can't rule out the possibility that he can be a TOR starter.

ETA: 2017

9. Pierce Johnson. 23, RHP, AA, Tennessee

Johnson has struggled with a hamstring injury and has not pitched much this year.  He struggled with his command at AA but seemed to find it in his last rehab start at Kane County.  Johnson features a 92-94 mph FB that can reach as high as 96 when he needs it.  The FB has some good arm-side run.  He complements that pitch with a high 80s cutter that has horizontal break toward his glove side, something I didn't see much of his first time at Kane County. It gives him an effective 4th pitch to go with a power curve ball and a change.  The curve is his best pitch.  It's a legit swing and miss offering with a sharp break that he can throw when ahead in the count.  It wasn't there for him the last time I saw him pitch so he relied more on the cutter as his secondary.  The change-up is average but the quality of his top 3 pitches make up for it.  The command is what will hold him back from being a front line starter, but the big athletic body, the stuff and tremendous makeup give him a shot at the #3 slot in a good rotation, though he may just end up a #4 if he doesn't sharpen the command.

ETA: 2016 or late 2015

10. Kyle Hendricks, 24, RHP, AAA, Iowa

Hendricks fooled many scouts because there just didn't have an out pitch or the kind of physical projectability you look for in pitchers, but the Cubs saw a tremendous aptitude for the game and the ability to adapt and add to his arsenal as the competition has gotten better.  Hendricks dominated AA last season and has been nearly as good at AAA since his midseason promotion, going 12-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 134.1 AAA innings since last season.  He has upped his K rate to a career high 22.5% (8.2 per 9 IP) while showing his usual great control (6%, 2.2 BB/9 IP).  Hendricks won't be a strikeout guy at the MLB level but he works very effectively down in the strike zone, keeping the ball on the ground (an excellent 1.8 GO/AO ratio) and in the park (0.38 HR per 9 IP).  Hendricks works with an 89-92 mph FB that can touch as high as 95. a solid curve, cutter, and a very good change.  His command and feel for pitching are his greatest assets and it gives him the ceiling of a #4 starter and his floor appears to be at least as a #5 guy.  He still struggles a bit more with lefties and I suspect MLB lineups will stack their lineups that way, so Hendricks will have to continue to grow in that area.

ETA: 2014

11. Paul Blackburn, 20, RHP, A, Kane County

Blackburn has good athleticism, a tremendous feel for pitching, and the potential for average stuff or better across the board.  The fastball has been 88-92 this year and he has flashed a good curve and a solid change at times.  The command has improved as Blackburn is throwing strikes (2.12 BB per 9 IP) and keeping the ball down, generating ground ball and HR rates at above average levels this year.  Blackburn doesn't do anything exceptionally well but he also has no glaring weaknesses.  There is still projection left in terms of refining his curve and developing it as more of a swing and miss offering, but even on his current trajectory could end up as a #4 though a #5 might be more realistic.

ETA: 2017

12. Arodys Vizcaino, 23, RHP, AAA Iowa

Vizcaino is an MLB reliever right now who is simply in the minors so the Cubs can control his appearances in an environment where development supercedes W-L record.  He has touched 98 mph with regularity this year and mixes in a power curve that gives him a swing and miss offering.  Vizcaino has a change, which gives him a 3rd weapon, particularly vs. LH hitters.  His command is good, enough for him to fit as a high leverage, late inning reliever, very possibly a closer.  I don't see him returning to the rotation for the foreseeable future.

ETA: September 2014

13. Dan Vogelbach, 21, 1B, A Daytona

It seems like Vogelbach is having an off year but he actually has a higher wOBA and RC+ than he did last year at Kane County.  Vogelbach has tremendous upper body strength and plus-plus power potential but he hasn't shown it consistently yet in full season ball.  He has worked hard to slim down and become an adequate first baseman on defense, but it is his bat that is his ticket to the majors.  But don't think that Vogelbach is some sort of meathead slugger.  He has an intelligent approach at the plate, working the count, drawing walks, and taking the ball the other way when necessary.  He is essentially a two tool player, much like #5 prospect Kyle Schwarber, but Vogelbach isn't as athletic and is relegated to 1B, making it essential that he continue to develop his skills as a hitter, particularly his power.  His future as a Cub is in question, as the Cubs have 24 year old Anthony Rizzo having a breakout/all-star type season and is signed through 2019.

ETA: 2016

14. Jacob Hannemann, 23, OF, A Kane County

Hannemann is a toolsy player with great makeup and unusually good instincts for a player who has missed so much time.  He struggled early on as he shook off rust and battled nagging injuries, but he is beginning to hit on all cylinders now.  Since a 2-week span where Hannemann went 1 for 36 (and 0 for 27) in early May, Hannemann has hit .321/.372/.479 with 3 HRs, 16 SBs in 18 tries.  He has a pretty good eye at the plate, walking 8.7% of the time and is the fastest player in the system.   He has better bat speed than you might think for a "speed" player.  He has some pop in his bat.  His CF defense needs work and I'm not crazy about his two strike swing, but Hannemann has shown the work ethic and the aptitude to improve quickly.  I think the Cubs will let Hannemann settle in at Kane for most of the year with perhaps a late season promotion to Daytona to get his feet wet.  He could also go to the AZ Fall League to get much needed reps.  He's 23 and the Cubs may not have the luxury of moving him one level at a time, so that works against him, but outside the big six, he is the most intriguing position player in the system right now in terms of potential impact.

ETA: 2017

15. Rob Zastryny, LHP, A Daytona

At first glance, you wouldn't expect a guy who is 1-6 with a 5.31 ERA to make this list but those numbers are deceiving.  Zastryzny was an example of a pitcher with good control but mediocre command early in the season. He often left the ball up and without having the sheer velocity to get away with it, he got hit hard.  But his control was still good, he continued to throw strikes, and his stuff still had plenty of swing and miss.  Overall Zastryzny has struck out 9.1 batters per 9 IP while walking hitters at just a 2.3 rate.  Zastryzny works with an average fastball (89-91), a much improved slider, and a change-up which is probably his best pitch.  Zastryzny's greatest skill may be his feel for pitching and with a repertoire that is at least average across the board, he can be at least a #4, possibly more if he regains the velocity he showed late in his amateur career.

Just missed the cut: 

  • Gioskar Amaya, 2B, A, Daytona
  • Stephen Bruno, 2B, AA, Tennessee

Amaya has had a good start to the season.  He can hit any fastball and has a good approach that continues to mature as he moves up.  His defense is a potential plus and he has gap power that hasn't shown up this year.  He has the potential to be a starting 2B in the big leagues.  Bruno is one of the best pure hitters in the system, but we will talk about him in our next piece on fast rising prospects, along with a few others who just missed the cut.

Dropping off the list:

  • Christian Villanueva, 3B, AA, Tennessee
  • Jeimer Candelario, 3B, A, Kane County

Two 3Bs who struggled and were reassigned to a lower league.  Both still have talent to be big league ballplayers.  Villanueva is a doubles power hitter with average HR power and plus to plus-plus defense.  Candelario is also a doubles power type with average HR power, but he has a better approach and a better overall hit tool than Villanueva.  His defense, on the other hand, is about average, but he has shown great improvement in the past 2 years.

Tomorrow: Fast Rising Prospects

 

 

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  • If even half the guys on these last two lists come up and contribute by 2016-2017 - then I view it as a success level we haven't seen from the Cubs in at least 10 years - possibly not since the Green ear.

    Thanks John - things to look foward to!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks Dr Kaz!

    I don't think we can hope for all of them, but I think a few will make it and perhaps the Cubs can use some as trade bait to upgrade other areas.

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    CJ Edwards and Pierce Johnson strike me as potential candidates for AFL, since they have both missed time this year, and AFL is roughly AA level (so I'm told).

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed, if all is well and they can handle the workload, perhaps AFL would be a good spot for them so they can continue to work on their development.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree as well, I would like to see Edwards, Johnson and Soler, Almora for much the same reasons (need playing time)...maybe for the same reason they have Hanneman as the part time AFL player like Almora was last year (wed & sat)

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    I would probably put Bruno in behind Hendricks (and move Hendricks up some) but that is just my personal preference.

    My favorite thing about the Cubs Minor League system is that there is depth. Nothing is based on "THE PLAYER" panning out. If, in the unlikely event, even Bryant fails there are other 3B in the system that can step up. We are 2-4 deep at every position with the exception of "front line starter." However, we will have cash available to fill that void as well as my belief that a pitcher doesn't have to throw incredibly hard to be a TOR starter.

    Also, we will have some valuable trading commodities with these guys. That is part of how I look at the Shark/Hammel deals. Not only are we going to be stocking up on talent but also increasing some of our surpluses so that we can trade for the players we would like in the future.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    What holds Bruno back are less than ideal physical characteristics. He is 5'8" and he will be 24 next season and for me it's hard to rank him ahead of Amaya or Gleyber Torres, much less the rest of the top 15, because they are similarly skilled players who are more advanced at a younger age, They have some physical projection left.

    That said, Bruno is thriving at a higher level and his floor is the highest of the group. He is almost certainly going to be a major league player if he stays healthy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We have different criteria we judge by which makes discussion (as long as it is civil) fun. I don't put much faith into physical projection and choose to ignore height/weight. As I have said before, if the guy can hit/get hitters out I really don't care what size he is. But that is simply a difference of opinion and different choice of how to weight information.

    Thanks for all the insights into our minor league players. It is nice to have a whole group of them so when some fall short there is another guy who can step in his place.

  • I do find it interesting though John that Beeler didn't make that top 15 list, or the near miss list. I mean - he sure looked like he had the floor of a #3/#4 starter over the weekend.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    The other teams have very little scouting report on him. It's just like when Lake came up last season, and if you judged it by the results of his first two weeks you'd think he was going to be a perennial all-star. It's about how you perform ten starts from now when there is a book on you and whether or not you have the mental or physical ability to adapt to that. It's easier to dominate in your first start than later on. And I'm not so sure Beeler has the physical stuff to adapt his game enough to be a #3 starter long term. But a 5 maybe 4 guy isn't out of the question.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think Beeler is a #5 because he lacks a really good pitch after that fantastic two seamer. Then again, that one pitch can go a long way if he commands it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough John.

    Nothing wrong with finding a #5 rotation guy in the 41st round of a draft and then working him up to the majors though. That's a sign of both Beeler's ability to work with what he's got - and for the management to both find him (the previous guys weren't absolutely horrible at finding guys with talent - just at developing them).

    Slot him into the rotation for a while, and see how well he does until somebody better comes along. Inexpensive innings-eaters with high ground ball rates are rarely a bad thing.

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    Hannemann is playing "catch up" because of serving a Mormon mission too I believe. Kind of like the time lost by Soler between his defection but before he was signed

  • I have gotten more and more intrigued by Hannemann this year after stumbling upon this blog a year ago. I knew he had upside and was having a pretty good year but I didn't know he was also the fastest guy in our system. I hope he can keep that hit tool working in his favor and smooth out his defense because I am feeling a "man crush" starting to brew up

  • Rashad Crawford, Jeffrey Baez, and Trey Martin may have something to say about who is the fastest guy in the system.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Alcantara has some wheels as well and creates havoc on the base paths...some pitchers get completely thrown off their game worrying about him.

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    Wow, almost this whole list is filled with pitchers. Gotta feel good about that.

    After watching the great performance last night by Arrieta I could help but feel good about the coaching job that Bosio has done. You just saw a guy that pounded the lower part of the strike zone as well as keep hitters off balance. It was almost a carbon copy of what Dallas Beeler did the other night. You can really see how the whole system is preaching to throw strike and hit the lower half of the zone.

    Got me to thinking. Would it be the worst thing in the world if no one met the Cubs price for Shark and we just decided to pay him the money he is seeking this winter with an extension? Not many teams have a true #1 type of guy and the Cubs have guys that just seem to be able to get the job done.

    Then you add the type of bats we know that are one the way with a dash of superior bullpen arms. I see the playoffs very soon. Could be as soon as next season with a worst to first finish in the division.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I'm starting to feel this way as well. In fact, I don't hate the idea of keeping Hammel too unless someone wants to overpay. Hell, I would even offer him an extension or a qualifying offer at the end of the year. I feel like it would be hard for the Cubs to lose if they extend him, overpay him for one year, or get a draft pick in return for someone else signing him.

    Once we add (this season and next) two or three of Bryant, Baez or Alcantara to Rizzo, Castro and Castillo, are we really that far off from playoff contention with a rotation of Samardzija, Arrieta, Hammel, Wood and Jackson/Hendricks/FA?

  • John, do you have an opinion on Zastryzny's ETA in the bigs?

  • In reply to ratay1:

    I am not so sure he will even make it to the bigs. I remember the live draft coverage when he was picked, they were surprised he went so high. Said he does not have a very strong arm and was ready much lower by them. It is looking like they may have been right. Out of all the picks they made this seemed like the only one they've made (of high picks) that was a head scratcher but I was (and am still) hoping they saw something in him that others did not.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    If those "experts" were half as good as finding talent as our FO, they'd be working in baseball and not at a Network. They were stuttering and stammering trying to give a description of him. Just because they didn't their homework, doesn't mean he's any less of a prospect.

    This is ridiculous reasoning for estimating Z's eta to the Big leagues. To find a LH SP that is more than holding his own in A+ exactly 1yr after being drafted screams first round talent...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes those same experts were shocked we chose Schwarber this year. He seems to be doing OK.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Not sure I understand "holding his own"...he is 1-6 with a 5.31 and a .292 average against him. He has done well in the last five starts but I doubt you would have a hard time finding someone drafted out of college who would be able to string together five good starts amongst some horrendous ones as a 22 year old and a year after drafted.

    Rob Z was unquestionably a reach. He might turn out to be a 4th or 5th starter in the majors but that doesn't mean he should have been picked where he was. Two picks later, Miami took Trevor Williams, who is 6-5 with a 2.58 in the FSL. If you need a lefty, there are multiple ones putting up better numbers (Tom Windle being the next, drafted mid second round) including Kevin Ziomek drafted by the Tigers with more than a K/inning, .208 avg against (in low A).

    Just because our FO has done a great job with the draft with most of the picks doesn't mean they are right on all of them. Rob Z was a bad pick (and, if they wanted him, he likely was available in round 3).

  • In reply to springs:

    maybe he would be available in the 3rd... maybe not. two things are quite obvious though, this FO obviously rated him higher than any of those guys drafted after him... ad its WAY too early to call anyone from 2013 draft a bad pick. Your absolutism of him being at best a 4th/5th starter aside, several professional scouting reports I've read, including public comments by this FO, rate his as more than that... I'll trust them over your opinion that he was a bad pick. In 5 years, whether he was the steal of the draft, or a total bust will be quite obvious. But it isn't today.

  • John, will there be any July 2 coverage this year, or will it mostly be a yawn this year with the spending restrictions? Is there any chatter about the Cubs trading their bonus pool higher slots? Any sense of what those slots might be worth?

  • In reply to CubsML:

    $2,288,700, $458,000, $309,300, and $206,700.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I think CubsML means trade value, not what the actually monetary amounts are. Could be wrong though.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    well cubs kinda set the bar last year in the Torreys deal for space.I think they got 800k back?

  • In reply to CubsML:

    id be shocked if the cubs don't trade a couple of slots away. The bad thing is the top slot can only be moved to Miami and Houston I believe

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    In reply to nkniacc13:

    Sort of...you can move that top slot to anyone. They are limited to adding 50% of their original pool. Only Miami and Houston can straight-up add our top slot without going over the limit.

    HOWEVER, teams can trade us BACK a lesser slot, there is no rule against that

  • In reply to Zonk:

    True but nobody can spend it all. Anyone can aquire it but only those 2 can spend it all.

  • Not sure I am quite ready to place Hanneman quite so high. But I understand it.

    Haven't caught any of Tseng's starts this year. Hoping to do so soon.

    Love the love for Gioskar though. Been one of my favorites since day one. Guy is going to be a big leaguer. One of the higher floors in the system as far as I am concerned.

  • A year from now should be the fun list to make when Bryant, Baez, and Alcantara are all in Chicago. I can see names like Skulina, Torrez, Torres, Underwood, Conway, Clifton, Sands, Cease, Stinnett, Jimenez, Rodgers, Carhart, and maybe others (2015 draftees) will be pushing for a spot. That is some serious depth and potential!!!

  • In reply to historyrat:

    plus anyone acquired in trade

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    Wow in the Cubs system has the best chance at being a #1 or 2 in a rotation?

  • In reply to Kevin:

    Tseng.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cease could be this guy once he gets healthy and signs, of course.

  • Hannemann is real interesting. Very good speed and knows how to use it. Even stole home a few days ago. Then hit his 5th home run. Glad to see he has more than Bobby Dernier power. Starting to bring the hit tool and strike zone control part up to a good level too. How is his arm?

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    I'm a big fan. If it wasn't for the mission, it's entirely possible he's coming out of a major school (sorry, BYU) as a Jacoby Ellsbury clone. In that case he wouldn't have made the second round, let alone the third. But, of course, he did have those two years off and he comes out as a super raw but coachable kid. The big issue is that he really needs to fly through the minors given his age but I'd rather have him than any of the other options there for us.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    And according to a friend of mine that works for St Louis he would not have made the 4th round. They had him high high on their boards but wanted to see if he would slide to them in that round to avoid cost concerns.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Didn't he play football at BYU as well?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Yes, he was a Corner Back.

    http://byucougars.com/athlete/m-football/jacob-hannemann

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    Off topic

    Just an observation but isn't it time to just adopt the DH for all of baseball? I mean even the minor leagues are using the DH. Lets take a kid like Bundy in the Orioles organization. He has someone hit for him in most of his games that he pitches. Noe let's saw he gets traded to the Cubs or any other National League team and he is expected to handle a bat?

    With all the current emphasis on the OBP now in baseball why is it hard to just accept the DH and move on? Not to mention how fans just want to see more scoring in baseball.

    Rant over......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I've got some other reasons why they should pull the trigger:

    1. Balanced playing field in All-Star game, inter league games and the post season. AL teams have a deeper roster of hitters, period.
    2. Extend careers of great hitters.
    3. Reduce risk to already fragile pitchers

    It should happen but I'd like it to be sooner than later. The MLBPA should be behind it and I'd think external partners like advertisers and broadcast partners would all be interested in increasing scoring. I'm not sure about owners, I'm sure they have pros and cons.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Don't forget the fact that every offseason there are about 17 MLB hitters vying for 15 positions. There is no way that Morales lasts on the FA market until June if the NL has a DH.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Why does this need to be brought up ad nauseum? If we're going to have Designated Hitters, why not Designated Runners for the old, fat guys that can't run? How about Designated Fielders to cover balls hit to a fielder's weak side? We could even have Designated Catchers who come in only when a fast guy is on base (so we could extend the career of the aged catchers who can't throw anymore.)

    Or, we could just have baseball. Let's get rid of the DH in both leagues.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Great post, Cliff! An added touch would have been to type WHAT YOU SAID in ALL CAPS!

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Because those are not things.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Once upon a time, the DH was also not a thing.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Agreed! Heck, many of 'em aren't hitting in college or high school, either. They are paid to pitch & field their position, not to hit.

  • John: Considering we had the same top 6 (albeit in different order, although I'm sure most had the same top 6) I wrote down my own top 7-15 before I clicked on the link to this article...the differences?. Where is Tyler Skulina on your list? He has been even better than Blackburn this year at the same level, and with his size, stuff, velocity he has #2 upside in my opinion. His slider is now better than Johnson & Blackburn's Curves as well in my opinion. I had Tseng pretty high as well but I can't put him above Johnson and Hendricks just yet. Although as far as Tseng's velocity, I know he doesn't have much body projection left even at 19 but once he loses the baby fat and matures into lean muscle I definitely see him adding a tick or two to maintain 92-95 mph which very well could make him TOR in the end.

    My 7-15 would be (not that anybody cares)...

    7. Edwards (AA, has been dominant [2013 minor league player of the year] - upside: #2 starter - floor: high leverage reliever)
    8. Johnson ( AA - potential very good #3)
    9. Hendricks (AAA, knocking on the door, has been great everywhere, solid pitch mix, control/command, plus makeup, and coaches reports of throwing 94 MPH FB's regularly (12-15 per game) in AAA)
    10. Tseng (I agree with everything you said, except I think the added velocity is sure to come as he matures, but he is in A ball, I do however have him ahead of the next 2 A- baller's on the list)
    11. Blackburn (as you said, solid all around, I tend to see more of a good #4 starter though, however he is only 20)
    12. Skulina (Huge frame, throws down plane, plus mid-90's FB (92-96 mph) with very good movement, plus tight slider/out pitch, also in A ball has been very good (despite bad control, showing how good his stuff is). He is 22, however f he can improve his control and his changeup (big if) he could have TOR upside
    13. Vizcaino (late inning reliever is almost back, he's a reliever but he's a stud...and he's close)
    14. Vogelbach (Still just scratching the surface of the power I believe he has, but already a very good hitter (despite his early season struggles) no hurry with Rizzo at 1st base he can take his time to become the high impact bat that he should become, and with his weight loss, I think he will surprise some with his play at 1B eventually)
    15-20. (Some mix of Underwood, Jimenez, G. Torres, Villanueva, and Hanneman)
    Just missed: Candelario

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Wait...was C.J. Edwards MLP of the Year in 2013? I know I wrote that, but I guess it was just fresh in my mind from the Jesse Rogers article where he said that Edwards came up clean from his MRI. He said...

    "Edwards was the key member in a five-player trade last July when the Cubs moved Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers. Edwards is the fourth-rated Cubs prospect and top pitcher, having won minor league player of the year in 2013. He was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA before going down with his injury. "

    ...but after I just reread my comment, I thought about it, and I believe Javier Baez won the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year award last year (2013) and Buxton won it for BA...so I'm not sure where Rogers (or I) got that from unless it was for ESPN or something.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of 2013 were Javy Baez and Kyle Hendricks.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Pretty sure John reported that Skulina is not throwing with that velocity this year. I think he said 88-90. Add to that he is older than Tseng and Blackburn while in the same league and I can totally understand the ranking John provided.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    When Skulina threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings this year on May 18th he was throwing 90-96 MPH all day per every report. Also he was throwing 92-96 MPH in College...he didn't just lose his velocity...he's also 6'5", 255. I think whoever said that to John caught him on a bad day (perhaps he was working on controlling his FB?) but he definitely has the ability to hit mid-90's, and the FB has sick movement as well...and his slider has been sick as well.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    ... also I have Tseng & Blackburn ahead of Skulina as well so I'm not sure where that came from.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    When I asked where John had Skulina on his list, it wasn't a rhetorical question, I was seriously asking how much farther down he had him ranked personally. By the way, I understand where JA is coming from as well, Skulina's K's are a bit down this year and his control is still a work in progress...but he has also shown flashes of brilliance in my opinion.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Oh, I misread then. And I may have been misremembering what John said regarding Skulina's velo. I haven't seen him pitch this year.

  • I'm curious . . . the mass media narrative on the cubs system is that it is lacking pitching prospects, especially TOR prospects.

    Is this just a convenient story, one not based in facts? or is this indeed the case.

    I see 7 pitchers among the top 15 -- on this on a top 5 farm system.

  • In reply to Gunga:

    It is pretty close to the truth. If Tseng can consistently hit the mid 90s he could be one, but he is not one now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    JA: could you free me from the spam filter? I wrote a rather long comment (i'm sure that's why it got stuck, sorry)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Forget it it just showed up, I need more patience.

  • In reply to Gunga:

    IMHO there are only about 20-30 TOR prospects in all of baseball with about half being drafted early in the 1st round and the other half owning a TOR pedigree but developing well so far. There are probably another 60-70 potential TOR ceilings in baseball but I wouldn't count them as TOR prospects until they continue enjoying success (stats and scouting reports) at A+ or higher. I think you could squint and see a few of the high school guys the Cubs took this year in that second category but most all of the guys in that second category are lottery tickets until they prove otherwise at A+ or higher.

    Recent examples of 1st group (high pedigree, at least two plus pitches, decent command/control, performed well at higher levels and scouts support skills yielding good performance): Dylan Bundy, Kyle Zimmer, Kevin Gausman, Robert Stephenson, James Taillon, etc.

    Recent examples of 2nd group (questionable or non-existent pedigree, at least one plus pitch with potential for at least one more, questions about command/control, performed well in spurts at lower levels and scouts intrigued by pitcher's tools but not ready to put stamp on yet): Michael Lorenzen, Hunter Harvey, Trey Ball, Daniel Norris, Joe Ross, Chase DeJong, Jose Martinez, etc.

    Progress isn't linear for either group of guys but graduation to a TOR prospect always includes skills consolidation in a few of the areas noted above whether it's improvement or refinement of arsenal or steps forward with command and control. Sometimes it can be mental (Arrieta) and sometimes it can simply be proper sequencing (Peavy).

    The fact that the Cubs have several pitchers in their top 15 prospects does not reflect individual projections for said pitchers. It's a HUGE win for any team to develop a pitcher who is good enough to pitch in a major league rotation, so that might be a feather in the Cub's cap in the end as many on this list project to be that capable, but it doesn't necessarily mean any of them would profile to front a rotation. A glaring weakness of past regimes has been not developing this kind of depth and too often focusing on the acquisition of TOR potentials at the expense of quality hitters. A quick look through bullpens of seasons past (Hendry's in particular) reflect this shortcoming.

    The likely byproduct of building the kind of depth the current regime has is that even if all of these pitchers don't develop enough to stick in the rotation, they can often be relief aces. So not only will future Cubs teams have rotation depth at AA/AAA when the inevitable injuries strike, they'll also have quality, cost-controlled relievers so payroll can be prioritized for harder to come by needs like lineup holes and TOR starters.

  • In reply to jmoultz:

    Well said, jmoultz. And I agree.

    The Cubs method has been hitters in the 1st round and attack pitching in volume after that. Make sense and so far so good.

  • fb_avatar

    White Sox just signed Henry Rodriguez, ex-Cub and possessor of a 100mph fastball.....and absolutely no control.

    In 30 minor league innings this year, given up only 13 hits, 55Ks (GREAT!)
    ....but 43 Walks, and 28 Wild Pitches. Twenty-Eight. WOW!

  • That's awesome stuff ,John

  • John, you're going to have to stop all this reporting and analysis. Now I'm starting to wake up at 5:30 and immediately start thinking about what you're going to post next and all the accompanying dream scenarios. You're costing me my sleep!

  • Hey, John, you should really start using MinorLeagueCentral and use groundball percentage instead of AO:FO ratio. GB% is a more telling stat. And Hendricks ceiling is that of a low end #2, not a #4. That's more of a floor. a #4 pitcher in baseball carries something like a 4.5FIP. Hendricks won't be close to that.

    Assuming you believe he can be a 6K/9 2.5BB/9 guy, he can be a very solid #3 with a sub 4FIP in the majors. Getting well over 50% grounders is a big deal.

  • What!? No Vitters or Jackson?

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