Cubs Midseason Top Prospect Report: Top 11, Eugene arms, middle of the field players, and more

I am not too big into midseason prospects list because I think there is too much emphasis put on the statistics from the first few months of the season.   Jeimer Candelario didn't suddenly forget how to hit -- and he has shown that in AAA.  Billy McKinney isn't a .260 hitter with no power, though in his case it may have much to do with a knee injury that was slow to heal this spring.  Justin Steele has good stuff and good makeup, I can't imagine him not bouncing back -- and possibly better than ever.

At the same time, we want to give credit to those players who have made a breakthrough early in 2016.  I've had the good fortune to see all of these players since February, so I know that the breakthrough seasons of Eloy Jimenez, Bryan Hudson, and Trevor Clifton  -- or those of sleepers like PJ Higgins, Jesus Castillo, and some of the other arms -- didn't just come out of nowhere.  Though we do weigh early good performances, this  is not about short statistical sample flukes, this is about the overall statistical body of work,  my opinions on players based on multiple viewings as well as the opinions of professionals.

I am just doing a top 11 and then we'll talk about other prospects in separate categories.  We'll break it down like this...

  • The Top 11 Prospects
  • The injured talent
  • The Eugene Emeralds Rotation -- because we all know the Cubs need impact pitching
  • Middle of the Field Players because they tend to be the most versatile, enhancing their chances of making the big leagues.
    • Catchers
    • Middle infielders
    • Centerfielders
  • The Arizona Rookie League -- because I am there and some of the Cubs picks from the MLB Draft are beginning to sign.

We'll keep the descriptions brief, so click on the players names if you want to see additional physical info and statistics.

This one goes to 11

Willson Contreras is the top prospect in the system.  I think that should be pretty clear by now, but it seems that he has no plans of returning to Iowa. Another would-be top 5 prospect,  Albert Almora, will likely return once Jorge Soler, Dexter Fowler, and Tommy LaStella return.  But just for fun, let's assume nothing and count them as big league ballplayers, which  they undoubtedly have shown that they are no matter what happens in the short term.  I am sharing the top spot with two players, so to make up for it, we'll go to 11.

1A: Ian Happ. 2B, 21, (AA):  Happ has some of the best bat speed, especially from the left side, in the organization.  He's a good athlete who is capable of stealing double digit bases every season.  Add that he has some of the best plate discipline at any level and his defensive improvement at 2B, there really are very few holes in his game.   Happ has really  improved his footwork at 2B and is making the plays he should make -- only 7 errors all season and I believe that about 3 were in the first week.  If there is one thing you'd like to see, it is less strikeouts, but he is improving that part of his game as well.  And as Happ continues to develop power they should be something the Cubs can easily live with.

1B: Gleyber Torres, SS, 19, (A+): Torres has been up and down with the batting average but let's be serious here.  He's 19 and playing in one of the toughest pitching leagues against pitchers who are 3-4 years older.  The rest of his game continues to develop.  He has shown a better approach and has improved his power while still playing good defense at a premium position.  The increased power may have made him a little pull-happy and it's possible he outgrows SS in time, but with his great instincts, I wouldn't bet against him staying at short even if he does grow a bit more.  And it's fitting that two close friends and former (and possibly future) DP partners should share the spot.

3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, 19 (A):  Also fitting that Jimenez and Torres are side by side as they were the Cubs two big signings in their heralded 2013 IFA class.  You could make a case for him as the top prospect as well because Jimenez has the highest ceiling  and the best raw power in the system (70 grade).  He is a more polished hitter than you might think for a 19 year old power guy, employing an all-fields approach that is improving as the season goes on.  Defensively he has a chance to be at least an average corner outfielder with an above average arm.  Considering the power he potentially brings, that is plenty  good enough.

4. Dylan Cease, RHP. 20 (SS):  Cease has the best fastball in the system and if Jimenez is it's highest ceiling position player, Cease is the system's highest ceiling pitching prospect.  It's a plus-offering and the curve flashes plus as well.  He's added a change which looks like it can be an average offering and it should complement the first two pitches nicely and perhaps play them up even more.  The command is improving, though we need to remember he's young and coming off of recent TJ surgery, so patience is important.  And if that is not enough, his mental makeup is off the charts as well.  There is ace potential here if he can stay healthy and keep making progress.

5. Duane Underwood, RHP, 21 (AA): Yes, he is having a tough year but the quality of the stuff hasn't diminished at all.  I've seen him hit as high as 97 and one stadium gun had him as high as 100.  Both the curve and change also flash above average to plus.  If there is one thing that hasn't returned since his early season injury,  it is the command.  Underwood has walked nearly 5 batters per 9 innings and has left too many pitches up in the zone.

6. Bryan Hudson, LHP, 19 (SS):  Maybe I am a little ambitious ranking a young pitcher who is all about projection this high, but there are enough present skills for me to feel confident.  Hudson throws a heavy 2-seam FB that is accentuated by the natural plane his 6'8" frame gives.  Hitters consistently beat that pitch into the ground.  If they miss or take the pitches, Hudson has the control to get out in front and then put hitters away with his plus CB, which some consider the best int he system already.  He's athletic and that helps him repeat his delivery  despite the long, lanky frame and the young age.

7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, 22, (AAA):  We've talked about Candelario a lot recently because of his promotion to AAA, where he has excelled, and his recent addition to the World Team in the Futures Game.  Candelario can flat out hit.  He has strong, quick hands that the more often uses to drive the gaps than hit over the fence, but that HR power could still develop.  He has a patient, disciplined approach, good feel for contact, and he has improved his defense to the point where many scouts think he can be an average defender at 3B.  Seems like he has been around forever, yet he's just 22.

8. Mark Zagunis, OF, 23 (AAA):  Zagunis has some of the best strike zone judgment in the system, consistently generating high walk totals and getting himself into good hitting counts.  So far he has hit for average but does show some raw power in BP, suggesting that maybe he can hit 15-20 HRs down the road as he gains experience.  He's a good athlete with some speed, though not a particularly fluid one, so he works best in the corners, particularly LF because of his average arm strength.

9. Trevor Clifton, RHP, 21, (A+):  He always had raw ability, tools, and good makeup, now he has put it together in an all-star season for Myrtle Beach.  He has cleaned up his delivery a lot since signing and his command has improved a great deal, though there is still a ways to go there.  Clifton can throw in the mid 90s with good movement, a curve that flashes plus, a solid slider, and an improving change.  He's still a work in progress but there's enough there that if the command, secondaries, and pitchability don't develop as hoped, you can still envision him as a power, late inning reliever because of his aggressive approach and the possibility that the FB may tick up even more in short stints -- but Clifton has come a long way already and I am not going to bet against him getting to where he needs to make it as a starter.  He's just 21.

10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B, 23, (AAA):  Vogelbach has proven me wrong to some degree.  I always knew he could hit and I always knew he had raw power, but his lack of defensive prowess had me wondering if he'd hit for the kind of power teams like out of their 1B/DH types.  Vogelbach doesn't incorporate his lower half as well as Anthony Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber, but his upper body strength and his tremendous plate discipline that always seems to have him in advantageous hitting counts helps make up for it.  He's having a career season at AAA Iowa.  Yes, he's strong, but he's a smart hitter as well, as the strike zone awareness, ability  to go the other way, and the presence to foul off pitcher's pitches with two strikes suggests.

11. Jake Stinnett, RHP, 24 (A+):  Stinnett is another guy who has a fallback as a power bullpen arm.  He pitches anywhere from 91-96 mph and adds a plus slider, so the potential two plus pitch combo is there for short stints.  He's also attacking the strike zone more aggressively than he did last season and trusting that the tremendous movement on his sinking fastball and slider will do the work for him.  The average change will play.  Lastly, Stinnett has a strong, durable frame to eat innings and is a good athlete who started as a position player, so if he makes it to the Cubs in the next 2-3 years, we'l probably see him play LF in a 15 inning game or something.

The injured

There are some notable absences from the list but when healthy, they are players with the talent to crack the above list or at least complement it and make a solid top 15.

  • Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, 21, (rehab):  Cruz is just starting to throw bullpen sessions after sitting out most of the spring.  Cruz is a potential top 5 type talent with his mid 90s FB, good CB, and intimidating size/presence on the mound.  If he comes back healthy, then he's a top 10 without  question.
  • Billy McKinney, OF, 21 (AA): If you asked Billy Baseball if his knee was affecting him, I would bet the house that he would say no, but he was a little slow to heal this spring and never fully got on track.  The OBP skills are still there and he is starting to make better contact, though the power has yet to show. When 100% healthy, he's another easy top 10 guy.
  • Pierce Johnson, RHP, 25 (AAA): Like Underwood, Johnson has had trouble regaining his command but Johnson's inability to stay on the mound has hampered his development to where he had slipped out of most Cubs top 10 lists.  When he's healthy and throws strikes, he can still be very good.
  • Ryan Williams, RHP, 24, (AAA):  Williams was just starting to get into a groove when he went on the DL.  One scout raved about the movement Williams has on all his pitches (88-92 sinking FB, CB, SL, CH) and he has the best command in the system.  And, of course, the best beard this side of Jake Arrieta.

The Emeralds Rotation

We've already talked about Dylan Cease and Bryan Hudson, whom I consider among the Cubs top 10 prospects at this point, but they aren't the only intriguing arms out there in Eugene.  The Emeralds are so deep they could legitimately run out one of the leagues best 5 man rotation without them.

  • Jose Paulino, 21 LHP: A good frame and a live, loose arm that generates a mid 90s FB and sharp, hard slider.  He's still raw but hard to imagine a lefty with that stuff not being at least a bullpen guy if he can throw strikes.  He obviously has the time to develop and be more than that.
  • Manuel Rondon, 21, LHP: Another LHP who can reach 96, Rondon also adds a solid, improving breaking ball.  The key to his improvement has been that he has been more aggressive in the strike zone and trusts his stuff much more than he did early last year. The Angels aren't stocked with prospects, so I am scratching my head as to why they would give up such a good, young, lefty arm for a third string catcher (Rafael Lopez).
  • Jesus Castillo, 20, RHP: Perhaps the most improved pitcher since last season, Castillo has always had a live arm and a projectable, athletic frame but he has matured physically now.  The FB has gone from 86-87 to 91-92.  He's always had an advanced change, now the breaking ball and the command are coming around as well.  You may remember Castillo as part of the payment along with another solid SP prospect (Erick Leal), in exchange for Tony Campana.
  • Pedro Silverio, 22, RHP:  Silverio surprised scouts with added velocity, pitching at 92-94 mph the last time I saw him and complements that with a solid curve.  Command is the biggest key for him right now.  He has a very good pitcher's frame  (6'2", 210 lbs) but it is also more physically mature than anyone else's in this rotation, so that limits his upside a little.
  • Justin Steele, 20, LHP:  We touched on Steele earlier and he had his struggles at South Bend, but when right, the lefty has a good low 90s FB (T94-95) that he throws with some deception and perhaps the best LH prospect's curve this side of Bryan Hudson, though fellow well-regarded lefty Carson Sands might beg to differ.  He's still just 20 with Travis Wood-like athleticism, perhaps the best of any pitcher in the minor league system, and good makeup, so I expect him to turn things around.

The Middle of the Field Players

Catchers

A good catcher is among the rarest commodies in the  the game.  The Cubs have that department taken care of with Willson Contreras for the foreseeable future, but he's not the only one with  big league potential.

  • Victor Caratini, 22, (AA): Switch hitter with line drive bat, good contact skills, a mature approach, limited HR power, and average defense. Needs to work on throwing out  baserunners.
  • P.J. Higgins, 23 (A):  Except that he is only RH, we could give the same hitting description as we did for Caratini.  I think he has a chance to be better defensively however, particularly when it comes to throwing out runners, where he rivals Contreras for the quickest release in  the organization.
  • Miguel Amaya, 17 (DSL):  Amaya is just a kid, but already shows good leadership skills, a mature approach at the plate, and advanced defensive skills.  The biggest key for him is that he needs to get stronger, but there is plenty  of time for that.
  • Ian Rice, 22, (A+): Rice easily has the best short and long term power in this group and tremendous plate discipline, but the biggest question is if he can stick at catcher.  Right now that is very much in doubt, but if he can even catch part time, that would be an asset.  The Cubs have similar situations with lower level catchers like Kevin Zamudio, Gustavo Polanco, and Michael Cruz, but Rice is easily the most advanced hitter of the group.

Middle infielders

If you can play middle infield, chances are you can handle other positions too.  And if you can also swing the bat a little bit, the major leagues will find you. We've already talked about Happ and Torres, the two top prospects on our  list, here are some others...

  • Chesny Young (AA): Young has great hands and excellent feel for the barrel.  He makes contact effortlessly and adds a solid approach.  He can hit and has shown some versatility on defense.
  • Carlos Sepulveda, 19 (A):  Short to the baseball and similar to Young as a hitter, the LH hitter isn't quite as athletic and may have trouble matching Young's versatility, but he can hit too and he is doing it as a teenager in a tough hitter's league.
  • Andruw Monasterio, 19 (SS): A mature player who takes to coaching well, Monasterio is one of the more athletic players in this group to go with a bigger frame that could lead to more pop down the road.  He showed patience and contact ability in the AZL last year but has traded some of that (for now), for an increase in extra-base power.
  • Yelier Peguero, 18 (SS): Peguero has quick hands both at the plate and in the field.  Those hands give him surprising gap pop for a player his size (5'10", 150 lbs).  He has deferred SS to Monasterio and is playing 2B, but I think the switch-hitter's skills work well there.
  • Isaac Paredes, 17 (AZL): Paredes makes consistent, hard contact and has some of the best power potential in this group, which admittedly isn't saying a lot.  Paredes has soft hands and good instincts at SS, but a thick build and a lack of plus athleticism clouds his future at the position.  The bat would play at 3B if it continues to develop.
  • Zack Short, 21, (AZL):  I have seen Short for all of one game.  He has an athletic build, good plate discipline, contact ability, and pop.  Based on reports I had, he's a player I consider a sleeper (17th round).  The tools are there but he was inconsistent in his amateur career.  He does have something of a high leg kick and it has been the Cubs pattern to tone that down over the years, as they did with current big leaguers Albert Almora and Javier Baez.
  • Aramis Ademan, 17 (DSL): The slickest glove in this group, Ademan has the kind of fluid athleticism that you like to see at the position.  He has the best chance to stick at SS on a full-time basis of anyone in this group.  At the plate he has a quick, short swing that produces line drives.  He may need to add some strength and doesn't have the big frame to add a lot, but the smooth stroke should allow him to hit for average and gap power to go with a mature approach.
  • Yonathan Perlaza, 17, (DSL):  A very different player than Ademan, Perlaza has a thick, strong build, particularly  his lower half, which he uses to drive the ball with authority.  Despite being just 5'8" he has some of the best power potential on this list along with Paredes and Short.  Defensively he's a little crude and his hands aren't as soft as Ademan's, so a move to 2B is likely and is in fact, already taking place.

Center Fielders

This group is probably the best group of athletes in the Cubs system right now.  When you have athleticism and a strong mental makeup to match, then you have to give those players every chance to succeed, even if it doesn't happen right away.

  • Donnie Dewees, (A): Dewees has struggled of late but he can hit, using a slash and dash approach that helps him make consistent contact and hit line drives to either gap, as well as the bat speed to turn on pitches and pull them down the line.  He is an exciting player to watch.  He's one of the faster Cubs and has taken to CF well, which enhances his value even further.  He's become more patient at the plate and while the average is down now, I think we'll see it improve as the year goes on.
  • DJ Wilson, 19 (SS):  The 19 year old Wilson is an absolute dynamo, packing a lot of energy and quick twitch athleticism into his 5'8"frame.  He can flat out fly, cover acres in CF, throws well, and shows very good bat speed.  He's still raw as far as his pure hit tool.  He's still learning to slow things down at the plate, but if that bat develops as hoped, he'll be one of the most exciting players on the future Cubs -- and that is saying something.
  • Jacob Hannemann, 25 (AA):  If Wilson is the most explosive athlete on this list, then Hannemann might rank as it's most fluid one.  He's a graceful runner who eats up ground in a hurry both on the bases and in the field.  He's been working on transitioning from athlete to ballplayer and he's made good progress this year, improving both his plate discipline (8% BB rate) and contact skills (16.7% K rate).  He is also deceptively strong, as anyone who has seen Hannemann take BP already knows.  That raw power has begun to translate on the field, where he has hit 10 HRs, a .179 slug, and a .179 ISO.  All are career highs.
  • Rashad Crawford, 22, (A+): Crawford is another tremendous, fluid athlete who covers a ton of ground in CF, and like Hannemann shows raw power -- and again, it mostly shows in BP, but it is there and this year he is hitting for more power (.132 ISO is a career high in the tough Carolina League to boot)  He is trying to make a similar transition as Hannemann but he has had a head start. Crawford is still scratching the surface of what he can be and is still raw and a long ways away, but I never count out elite-level athletes with his kind of work ethic.
  • Eddy Julio Martinez, 21, (A): Martinez was a much bally-hooed IFA signing out of Cuba.  He has played corner OF in deference to Dewees, who has better present skills at the position.  Martinez, however, has the tools to play CF down the road too if he can improve his reads and routes.  He does have the arm strength to play RF if he doesn't.  The question then will be whether Martinez will hit for the kind of power you want out of  a corner OFer.  He's not as advanced as you would hope for a 20 year old, but he has great tools/athleticism to build on.  The approach has improved as the year has gone on, with the walks going up (9.4% now) and the Ks going down (22.4%).  He may have to tweak his swing a bit this fall to take better advantage of his bat speed and natural feel for the barrel.
  • Robert Garcia, 22, (SS): The switch-hitting Garcia does some things well.  He has feel for the barrel and quick hands. He can drive the gaps.  He runs well and can play all 3 OF positions.  More of a 4th OFer type.

Arizona Rookie League

For most of the players here, you have to squint really hard to see a major league  ballplayer.  That is not a slight at them or the Cubs system, it is just a testament of just how far they have to go.  We mentioned Paredes and Short in the middle infield section, so we won't mention them again here, but there is some talent here too, even if some of it is about as raw as you can get at the pro level.

  • Jose Albertos, 17, RHP:  Albertos sits in the mid 90s, has touched 98 and already throws 3 pitches, a curve with flashes plus, and a change-up with some sink that he used as his go-to secondary in his last start. Despite his young age, Albertos is not as physically  projectable as some of the other pitchers we've talked about, but he already has a solid pitcher's frame (6'1", 185 lbs) and good present stuff as well as a simple, repeatable delivery.  His command has improved of late and if it continues, Albertos could move quickly  once the Cubs are ready to take the kid gloves off.  Right now they are understandably concerned with protecting a good, but very young arm.
  • Andri Rondon, 20, RHP: A little rough  around the edges but he is some kind of strong, perhaps having the best raw arm strength down here, reaching 96 despite a delivery that needs to be cleaned up a bit to maximize that velocity.  Even though he has a strong, mature frame that doesn't project, I think he can reach at least a couple of ticks higher.  He also shows feel for a hard slider.
  • Erling Moreno, 19, RHP:  Listed at 6'3", he seems taller and the frame is pretty filled out, so there isn't much physical projection here.  He pitches more with leverage than pure arm speed and he has good plane on a low 90s FB.  He has an advanced change-up and a curveball that is inconsistent but can be at least an average pitch.  He throws strikes.  There are a lot of present skills here but doesn't have the upside of the first two on this list.
  • Javier Assad, 18, RHP:  Assad is another guy with a rather mature frame for his age.  He shows clean arm action and a simple, repeatable delivery.  He was 90-93 when I saw him and mixed in a big mid 70s CB.   Needs to improve his command but the delivery bodes well for that.
  • Junior Marte, LHP:  He's the most raw pitcher on this list.  He has athleticism, arm speed, and a loose frame.  Throws low 90s with a big, loopy low 70s CB.  Maybe if you're a good development guy you can turn him into something, but he's 21 and has very little command right now.  His last start was encouraging, however.
  • Yapson Gomez, 22, LHP:  He's on the older side but could be something of a late bloomer.  Pitched at 92-93 when I saw him and touched 94.  Also throws a good CB at 77-78 mph.  The biggest thing about Gomez is that he repeats his fluid, athletic delivery well and fills up the strike zone.  I think he's too advanced for this league right now but he also has limited upside because of his size (5'10", 158 lbs), though he could move quickly as a reliever.
  • There's not much in the way of bats here.  I have already mentioned Paredes and Short, a couple of infielders with solid bats, as well as Kevin Zamudio and Gustavo Polanco, two powerful catchers who will have to work hard to stay behind the plate.  Rafael Mejia has good bat speed but busy hands undermine him often, but some talent there if he makes adjustments -- but also a guy who may  not make it out of A ball.  The most advanced offensive player may be the speedy 20 year old LH hititng Luis Ayala, who is similar to Robert Garcia in that he may  be more of an extra OFer type down the road.  Jhonny Bethencourt is a grinder with some athleticism and versatility, though he hasn't hit as well as expected so far.
  • There's also the MLB rehab contingent of Aaron Crow, CJ Riefenhauser, and Jack Leathersich.  Leathersich, a 25 year old LHP, is my favorite of the bunch.  He throws a deceptively quick 91-92 mph FB and a plus CB that he consistently locates well.  He has put up huge K rates in the upper minors and it isn't hard to see why.

Obviously there are plenty of others to watch that we haven't named and as always, we apologize for the omissions, but feel free to ask about any prospect not listed, including a lot of solid arms with MLB ability who probably have a better chance of making it than many players on this list, but this is how things shook out in this particular format.  And don't rule out seeing some off those arms on our larger ranked list at the end of the fall, not to mention currently unsigned players from the 2016 draft.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • John, I'm always impressed with your knowledge of the Cubs' system. Thank you!

    My favorite on the list is Happ. I think he is the best person to play second base after Zobrist moves on or begins his part-time playing status with the Cubs. I hope they don't trade Happ, but believe he or Torres will go in a major trade at the deadline. If I had to guess Happ stays and Torres goes.

    Again, thanks!

  • In reply to David23:

    Thanks. I planned a quick update but sometimes I can't turn off the mind. It's like a little kid running downhill, I am not going to stop until I crash and burn :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My question to John as a close observer; When do you expect the pitchers in Eugene and South Bend beginning to make an impact at the MLB level? This will have huge strategic implicatbut ions as we know at the MLB level the clock begins to strike midnight on opening day 2018 regarding the projected starting rotation, (which in my mind way back in 2015 when Arrieta ascended to his current level) pushed the timetable towards WS contention to this and next year.

    One could project if Warren does a solid job as the 6th starter in July and August he could be a one year wonder in 2018. Underwood by then if healthy and capable of command and at 23 yrs probably a good bet to replace Hammel.

    But who to replace Lackey and of course Arrieta? The FA market continues to be both exceedingly expensive and age risky.

  • I counted (and likely incorrectly) 43 players, not counting the rehab guys at the end. Pretty impressive list of guys who could impact down the road. The other thing is that we can give up 2-3 of these guys for a RP and really not impact the system.

    Great to see that this team is positioned to be a playoff team for years to come.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I left off a lot of players who are actually better prospects than many of the guys listed here too.

    So many arms at the A+, AA, and AAA level that have good shots of making the bigs in some capacity. I just didn't have the right format for those types of players.

  • Did we trade Dunston too soon? Does Crawford have the best
    athletic potential.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Dunston wasn't hitting in A+ as a 23-year old, I think he was traded to the Giants because Dad works for the Giants. Cubs didn't want to be the ones to release him. He is a non-prospect.....

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Dunston needed a new change of scenery and a chance to play everyday.

  • fb_avatar

    Great article John! Really exhaustive look at the group of prospects.

    Even if Contreras and Almora become graduates, our system is STILL bat-heavy. Good arms, but nearly all are below AA on your list (and Underwood and Johnson are both struggling badly).

    The other obvious thing is that trades are likely to thin this list some; Vogelbach and Candy, for starters, are clearly trade chips....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thanks...this could all well change in a month or so :)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zonk:

    Vogelbach and Candy aren't necessarily "trade chips" though. It is possible that we keep them to "backfill" for guys that we do trade. If we trade La Stella, for example, the spot of LH infield bat becomes available (if we want to use a formulaic roster construction). Candelario may fill that bill if he continues to do well, at least next year (if we decide to simply keep Coghlan for this year). So sometimes we can trade a minor league guy, sometimes he might be used to fill out our roster if we trade someone off the 25-man roster.

  • Thanks for the list, John. Exciting times.

    OT: Saw that Olney says the Yankees are going to demand Schwarber for Miller or just walk away. Might as well move on then. If that's the case, are guys like Doolittle and Vizcaino (again) make more sense?

    As much as I'd like Chapman strictly the baseball player, I don't see the Cubs seeing him as a cultural fit.

    In all honesty, how many teams can offer someone equivalent to Schwarber for Miller? Seems more like posturing to get Soler instead of one of the current AAA guys

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Yeah, that is a definite walk away. Yankees aren't good enough to win and aren't getting better soon, they're going to overplay their hand and hold on to a reliever they'll never be good enough to really use in the postseason. Nobody will give them anything nearly as good as Schwarber.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm still curious who other teams might give up for Miller. I have read that the Marins, Giants and Cubs are all interested (at least). We have discussed and, generally, agreed to reject a request for Schwarber. What would they ask of the Giants, or Marlins or other teams?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I personally believe Miller will stay with the Yanks. The biggest problem with the Yanks' request is that they are demanding an MLB player for Miller because, even if they end up acknowledging they cannot contend this year, they expect to contend next year. Those who are looking for bullpen help and are competing for a playoff spot are desperate enough to be 'all in' on a trade for someone like Miller. The problem is it is illogical to think they would give up someone who could help them win now in order to do so. The Yanks are doing this as posturing in hopes that they can lure in a desperate front office (i.e. the Marlins) into trading an MLB player for Miller. Hey, it doesn't hurt to put some smoke signals out hoping a desperate team agrees, but I suspect that is unlikely. Even if the Yanks are out of contention this year and are cognizant of that, they will unload Chapman and keep Miller unless someone agrees to their astronomical asking price. I believe they only trade Miller if they get that price or get MLB-ready prospects who are performing well in AAA. The teams that appear to need RP help include the Marlins, Giants, Pirates, Cubs and Blue Jays. Out of those teams, I would say the Giants, Pirates and Cubs are very unlikely contenders for Miller. The Marlins (certainly with erratic Loria) and the Blue Jays look like possible contenders and have made major 'shock' trades in the past.

    Regarding the Cubs, if they ask for Schwarber, they better give us Miller AND Chapman or 'we're good'. Schwarber's bat is special, even non-Cubs fans can see that. But having Chapman and Miller on our team this season would be a game-changer and make our team elite in every way. As much as I love Schwarber, I am willing to part with him if it wins us a World Series. I strongly suspect the Yanks will not agree to trading Miller and Chapman in this way, though.

  • In reply to Joe Stallings:

    It looks like the Marlins are finalizing a deal for Rodney.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubswin09:

    Thanks! I was not aware of that.

  • In reply to Joe Stallings:

    I would still not give up Schwarber for Miller and Chapman. Chapman's half a year is not enough extra to compel me to give up Schwarber.

    To be honest, I'm not sure getting Miller, Chapman and Betances is enough for me. Schwarber is young, LH power hitter, under loads of control, and has great mental makeup and is a great teammate and person.

    Chapman has character concerns, and I'm not sure the FO would want him in their clubhouse even if my blind fan heart wants him on the field for us.

    Lastly, if we really wanted Miller, we should've thrown him more money than the Yankees when he was a FA.

    I think when Doolittle comes off the DL and proves he's healthy, he becomes a Cub. Theo and Beane have the history, and Doolittle isn't going to cost Schwarber...

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I agree. Those are all 3 relief pitchers for an everyday LH power hitter. No way. While they are 3 very good relief pitchers, I just don't give up a perennial power hitter for them.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Milk Stout:

    Betances, Miller, and Chapman for The Schwarbenator? I do that deal in a second.

    What a bullpen and what a load it would take off the starters as well. Betances and Miller will help you for a few years. Also, if the Cubs want, they can even try to stretch Betances out and make him a starter. He has the stuff, size, and reptoire to be a TOR arm.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I am starting to think,
    after looking at the pipeline Johns article illustrates,
    the questions surrounding Kyles ultimate recovery,
    his ultimate position based on his recovery compared to the questions already raised about his defense
    and the short term window heading thru 2018
    that a Schwarber package CENTERED around Miller may not be the worst thing.
    Each of the three are proven ELITE relief pitchers in their own right. Miller has a track record and is putting up #'s this year that are unheard of.
    Sometimes for some players, the caveats do not apply. Miller, Chapman and Betances each in their own right may fit in that category. Everyone else available is a significant step down.
    And I am well aware there will be plenty of FA RPing available this off season.
    Would I rather a package started with Soler; Darn right.
    Would I like to see our farm system cleaned out; Heck no.
    Glad its not MY decision.

  • Thank you John. Isn't this something compared to the pre Epstein years. And a great ML team giving these kids a chance to mature. Have you noticed the Icelandic soccer team?
    2016 a great summer.

  • In reply to Glen Hobbie:

    Thanks. It is a much improved system, but not as good as it was a year or two ago -- of course, that is because everyone is at the MLB level now :) Also want to emphasize that this is not a list of the best prospects, just the top 11 guys and then a bunch of sub-categories I found interesting.

  • John thank you for this great information. The farm system is just loaded to the gills. What surprised me the most was Vogelbach getting back in the top 10. I am kinda hoping the NL goes DH in a year or two. I like good LH bats. :-)

  • In reply to John57:

    He's too good a hitter -- and as we know well, hitters are much better bets to make it, especially when they are as advanced as Vogelbach is.

  • In reply to John57:

    But switch hitters like Candelario and Happ are even better.

  • In reply to John57:

    And they are more defensively viable.

  • fb_avatar

    Lots of great prospects to read about John. Every level has both pitching and position players. I like DJ Wilson and Happ the most, but Eloy and Hannemann offer a lot too.
    When I read about Volgs is it fair to see a John Kruk kind of player--good average, very high OBP, fair athleticism. He could do a lot worse than have Kruk like career.
    Thanks again, it's so good to keep up with all the prospects, and there are so many to keep track of too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I wouldn't call his athleticism fair, unless you are counting things like hand-eye coordination and other hitting related traits :) Some exciting players and a large percentage of them won't ever play for the Cubs, but it is great to have depth and see how some guys develop.

  • fb_avatar

    I just noticed the run differential of the Cubs is 170. The nearest is Cleveland at 91. The difference is 79--just that would lead 4 divisions and 79 would still lead the NL Central. That's how dominant the Cubs have been this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It's been incredible, even with that unfortunate dry spell.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    That dry spell oddly coincided with Fowler going down with an injury. Now other things have happened too, like Almora cooling off, losing La Stella as a LH bat off the bench, etc. But Maddon has said for over a year now, "As you (Fowler) go, we go."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Our run differential vs. JUST the Pirates and Reds is +92, which would still be tops in the league

  • fb_avatar

    I see that Vizcaino might be on the block. Would his steroid suspension be a concern, or would the Cubs overlook it and still deal for him. He does have a great FB, good movement and is still young, and probably would take less than Miller or Chapman.

  • The Cubs already have 9 impact level starting position players not in the minors (25 man + injured) plus Happ and Candelario ready to push that number to 11 by opening day 2018 at the latest. That doesn't even count the consensus number 1 prospect who might be the starting ss in AA at age 19 sometime this season. I can't imagine trading any of those 12 guys for a reliever. If they are patient and flexible as to who is available from that group of 12, then a young cost controlled impact arm is going to becone available sometime at a price they can swallow. They shouldn't rush into a lefty reliever costing one of those 12 guys.

  • In reply to kb60187:

    I should have mentioned the players I referenced are under the age of 27. I didn't count zobrist

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kb60187:

    I know. All the players they're pushing are not even to their own best productive years and won't be for a while. I can't remember another team ever having such young, talented players.

  • In reply to kb60187:

    I would agree.

  • I am still not sold on Hanneman being more than a 5th OF. He is far too streaky. Whereas he has strung a few games together lately his lows are too low.

    I can't wait to see Eloy & Dewees in action soon

  • In reply to Gator:

    It's all about his ability. I can tell you that he consistently draws scouts attention. Obviously he is still learning the game and I agree a reserve is more likely but you might have yourself a dynamic player who contributes in multiple areas if everything falls into place. Granted that's a big if, but not sure there are a lot of teams, if not all of them, that wouldn't take him in a heartbeat for the chance to find out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The good news for Hanneman, is there is no rush to get him a shot at the MLB. The Cubs have time to take it slow with him. He has Szczur & Almora stacked ahead of him and potentially Zagunis and/or Happ as OF options. He has Dewees and Crawford coming up behind him.

    He will hit his minor league free agency before too long and then we will get to see what the Cubs think at that point. He is not a bad guy and seems like he is actually a very good guy. I wish him well. In a less deep system, I could see him being pushed a bit more for results and development.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Both Crawford and Hannemann are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter. They may not be able to add both to the 40 man. It is not out of the realm of possibility they lose one of them. The team is going to need to make decisions on upper level OF options (Andreoli, Hannemann, Rademacher, Crawford), and also a number of right handed relievers (Pena, Black, Rosario, Garner, McNeil, Rivero, Paniagua, Peralta). Jose Paulino will also be eligible, but hopefully he is far enough away that a team won't want to take him, even if he is a lefty throwing mid 90s.

    I am not someone that freaks out about the Rule 5 draft or worries about losing guys like this. I have high confidence that the team will identify the players they value the most and will risk losing others. The Cubs have the depth to overcome it and fringe OF and relief pitchers are two commodities that get passed around the waiver wire with great frequency. I am pretty sure the team will lose a player or two this offseason though.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'd consider taking Hannemann if I were another team because of his age and the fact he can give you defense and speed off the bench as your 5th OFer from day one. Crawford is obviously further away -- but he is also about 3 years younger and just one level down. It's an interesting situation.

  • Would you say Candelario has a shot at becoming something like a switch-hitting Jake Lamb? Lamb is an average defender at 3B and mostly a line-drive hitter, although this year more of those drives are landing in the seats.

  • In reply to Lamar Jimmerson:

    I think that's fair. Always thought Lamb was an underrated player.

  • John, I read your scouting reports religiously and enjoy them very much. I can hardly wait until we have a stable of young arms that are ready to bring up like we have done with our hitters and fielders. Keep up the good work.

  • In reply to Sill Cubbie:

    Thanks and I am hoping for the same thing. I think Cease and Hudson are the best arms they've had in a while. Underwood, Clifton, and Stinnett are interesting as well, in part because their stuff is good enough to be power RPs if they can't start.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm curious about the timeline on these guys assuming, of course, no injuries or missteps.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It is always difficult with pitchers. But if they are healthy and have no setbacks in terms of mechanics, stuff, progress etc., both are capable of moving quickly, maybe just in time to help Cubs rebuild as this veteran staff reaches the end of it's window, Won't be enough, though. The Cubs do need to get a veteran or two as well.

  • John, why did we trade Vizcaino back to the Braves?

  • In reply to Sill Cubbie:

    To get Tommy LaStella and because Vizcaino had trouble staying healthy and had no chance to make the team that year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    And La Stella is just plain a solid hitter. He doesn't strike out much (career 11.8%), draws walks (career 9.5%), can play adequate defense at 2B and bats LH (getting a LH bat at an non-traditional position can be valuable). Vizcaino is a relief pitcher. By most accounts his days as a starter are over. La Stella could start if we needed him to. To me this all adds value to La Stella. Relievers are the last place I want to spend a ton of money or prospects. It is relatively easy to hide a bad reliever (just use them in games where the outcome isn't in doubt). Having a good LH bat is worth more to me than a reliever. And there was no gurantee that Vizcaino would overcome his health problems. I re-make the deal EVERY TIME if offered.

    Sorry for the rant.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I never trade a mid to high 90s thrower for mediocre fielder with little to no major league success who is already 27. I ranted extensively about the trade at the time and my rant continues. You can find backup IFs and pinch-hitters. Great arms..no so much.

  • In reply to springs:

    La Stella has missed more games than he has played. Injuries have really held him back, and also the fact that on many teams he would be starting. Yet, he still has been valuable.

    Vizcaino had been unable to stay healthy and when he finally did return to the field, struggled to throw strikes. At the time the team had a number of similar hard throwing relievers (Rondon, Strop, Grimm, Ramirez) that were all healthy and performing better. They dealt from an area of strength to fill a hole.

    There are actually a ton of mid to high 90s relievers that get passed around the league right now. It is not as uncommon as it used to be. For instance, Andury Acevedo (who the Cubs picked up via waivers) throws upper 90s with wicked movement. He has been injured and missed most of the year in AA with a knee injury. Would you trade him for Tommy La Stella. Yes, Vizcaino did have more upside than some, but given his health concerns it wasn't an unreasonable move. And I say that as someone that loved Vizcaino as a prospect when he was coming up and was very vocal about how happy I was when the Cubs originally acquired him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    We should note that Vizcaino still struggles to throw strikes. I think he would frustrate the same Cubs fans that get frustrated with Strop. And Vizcaino walks two more batters per 9 innings than Strop does, that is significant. Not that I wouldn't like to have him, but he's still a flawed RP.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes, he is currently outperforming his peripherals. Maybe he can keep that up because his stuff is good, but it is also may not continue. Also has the previous PED suspension hanging over him. Makes him more risky moving forward. I don't begrudge the guy the use of them if he did it to get healthy (which may well have saved his career). But he is now a risk moving forward.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure why Tyler Thornburg is not mentioned much in trade discussions. The Brewers are obvious sellers and lefties have a .111 BA against him this season. Not only that, he has a lower walk rate and WHIP than Vizcaino. Left handers have a .194 BA versus Andrew Miller and .250 versus Aroldis Chapman (in a very small sample size). Chapman and Miller are clearly elite. Vizcaino would be a good grab but Thornburg may be a nice consolation prize and looks as good vs lefties as any of them. The only concern is an inter-division trade and what the Brewers would be asking for in return.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Joe Stallings:

    Yea, I like him as well. He's a guy you go get early before the deadline. You see what he can do as his sample is small and he's only been a reliever for a short time.

    I wonder if someone like Radenmacher and some low level guys would get it done

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thank you for giving a far more articulate and informed response than I could have.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I think the original purpose of LaStella was to acquire a different skill set compared to most other Cubs prospects, and remember that the infield situation was much different when he was acquired. AA was in the picture, Castro was at short, Bryant was waiting on the service clock, Russell was not even being considered, and Baez was striking out half the time. Lastella was a serviceable stop gap to hopefully help keep the Cubs in wildcard contention last year while they waited on the young bucks. As it turned out, he was hurt and never really had a chance to fill that void, and once he was healthy, that situation was much more stable as the Cubs took off with the young studs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kb60187:

    Yes, he was acquired as a "stop gap" and as someone who had a skill-set lacking at the big league level. I do think there is a place for him on the roster, though. Having someone like him on the 25-man roster has real value to me. He still "checks a couple boxes." LHB, good contact, disciplined approach, can play 2B and some 3B (neither particualarly well, I admit). Those spots are still unclaimed in my opinion. Baez is doing much better and Bryant is all we hoped for and more. But La Stella still has a unique set of skills.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    There is significant difference between Acevedo and Vizcaino. Let's put it differently...mid 90s with movement and another plus pitch. That is rarer.

    LaStella has had value...he is not a useless player. That said, he is a nice bench player who gives good pinch hitting but provides no power, speed, defense and has not demonstrated (at age of 27, he isn't a prospect) that he can hit consistently as a starter in the majors.

    I am not really sure what argument you and Joel are making. You state that you thought it was a good trade at the time. I (and many others) disagreed with the analysis at that time. It is clear now that it was a bad trade for us, as we received much lesser value for Vizcaino than the Braves would receive in a trade this summer. You can discuss injury uncertainty, while I can discuss LaStella's MLB numbers with the Braves, where he was terrible and benched, and state that the same uncertainty existed with his performance (albeit without Vizcaino's upside).

    It seems this is ridiculous...some people thought it was a good trade and others thought it was bad. It turned out bad. Arguing that you actually were right in that it was good at that time seems silly, when it is impossible to prove you wrong or right. It is possible to state that those who argued that it was a bad trade turned out to be correct.

  • In reply to springs:

    I actually did not consider it a great trade at the time, and I still think the Braves "won" the trade. But that is not the only consideration. It is not necessary to win every trade. Sometimes short term (and long term) needs have to be filled, and sometimes it is okay to give up excess value in order to acquire a player that fills one of those needs. The key is not to constantly lose trades and give up value.

    This also needs to be seen in this light: Vizcaino has stayed healthy and has pitched as well as they could have possibly hoped. Everything has turned out exactly as the Braves could have hoped. On the flip side, La Stella has been constantly injured and has never really had a chance to get in a groove in his time with the Cubs. In other words, luck has not been on the Cubs side so far. And still, it is not a horrible trade, just one that favors the Braves a little. The Braves were in a position to take a risk on the health and upside of Vizcaino, and so far it has paid off, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a big risk. The Cubs were trying to improve their club and hopefully begin competing, and despite La Stella's unexpected bouts with injuries the team has done that and La Stella has contributed to that when he has been on the field.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    One of the advantages of having such a deep farm system like the Cubs is that they can occasionally deal excess value from that depth to get a guy they like. La Stella was clearly a player they identified as someone that fits the type of player they want and they did not have any other players like him in the system at the time.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to springs:

    "I never trade a mid to high 90s thrower for mediocre fielder with little to no major league success who is already 27."

    I think this is the core of our disagreement. You don't want to trade a relief power pitcher for a slap hitting middle infielder with a history of making contact and drawing walks but relatively little HR power. I don't want to keep another reliever with a high BB/9IP even if he has a high K% and K/9IP if I could get a guy who can simply put the bat on the ball and not "get himself out" by swinging and missing a bunch of balls out of the zone.

    You are correct that there were those from the beginning that didn't like the trade. It was fodder for many good discussions about how to construct a roster. I have liked La Stella from the beginning for the reasons I outlined here.

    When we acquired him he filled a specific need. In many ways that need is less glaring now that we have other players with similar skills (Heyward, Zobrist, etc) but La Stella is relatively cheap and has produced when he has been healthy (.281/.354/.452/.806 with the Cubs).

    One of the hardest jobs in baseball is that of pinch hitter and this is forming quite a drag on La Stella's production. He is coming into the game cold, often to face a relief specialist. That is the job that he has been saddled with. Check out his splits as a pinch hitter and those as a "regular."

    As things have turned out I would LOVE to have Vizcaino on the team. However, I think La Stella has done some very good things for the Cubs and there was no guarantee that Vizcaino would become what he has become.

  • John, based on your assessment of Ian Happ, are you saying that he should be able to stick at 2B? I know his future defensive position has been one of his main question marks. Assuming he can stay at 2B, what do you think is a good comparison maybe zobrist or neil walker. I feel ideally you'd want him to be at least about as good as those guys in terms of reliability and limiting errors if you're going to play him there as he's not going to be be flashy nor display great range like baez.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I think he has a legitimately good shot to stick there now. He is a lot like Zobrist in that he has a good power/speed combo (at least the younger version had speed), both good athletes, versatile, both have great plate discipline, switch-hitters. Happ may K more but I think he may hit for a bit more power too.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Maddon likes versatility......does Happ have the arm for 3B? Did he rate high in OF corner? Playing 2B/3B/LF/RF would be good

  • fb_avatar

    Before I go to sleep I looked at the standings. Right now, just 4 games shy of 81, we are 51-26, 25 games over .500 and 11 games in front of the Cards. If we go .500 from now on that's 94 wins, and I don't think we'll go just .500 the rest of the way. I am looking at between 100-108 wins and that's not an overly optimistic estimate.
    I am enjoying every day of this season, and while I take it day by day, with the talent and youth and manager and FO of this team I can see this go own for the next 5-10 years at least.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'm in agreement with you here Jonathan,... barring some fairly significant injuries to the rotation guys,... this is a team that is likely to win quite a few more than 100 games.

    Even with the injuries to Schwarber that put the man out for the season, and with some more minor (thankfully) injuries to Montero, Fowler, Soler, Heyward and La Stella - the team has fired on all cylinders most of the season. Last week's slide is probably an aberration we won't seen often this season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I don't know that we have seen the team fire on all cylinders yet. Usually there is one guy in the line-up that is in the middle of a horrific slump. For the first two months that was Heyward. Lately Montero has struggled. Almora started out red-hot and then significantly cooled down (probably mostly a "regression to the mean"). I don't think we have had more than 4-5 guys playing really well at any given time. Then 1-2 just doing what they usually do, and 1-2 that are struggling. What makes this team exciting is that it seems like this year Maddon is able to identify the "hot hand" and get him a ton of PAs quickly and, when he cools, is able to remove him from the line-up and get in another hot hand. To make this work he needs 1-3 guys able to play multiple positions at a reasonable level. That is where the true "value" of Bryant and Baez lies. Most teams, when they need to give one of their stars a "rest" or have someone with a day-to-day injury would really struggle. But the ability of Bryant and Baez to play multiple positions really makes things work.

  • I have been touting a trade for Doolittle, but I see he has another arm issue. Thanks for this great scouting report Jon.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    That is unfortunate. Watson and Abad are other options beyond the Yankees duo.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    You're welcome. I think the Cubs will get an impact guy one way or another. They have the talent to do that right now.

  • Great stuff as always John.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks, Michael.

  • Nice recap on all the top players, John.

    thanks for putting this list together, yet again.

    Just curious. you mentioned that you have seen all these players since February. Do you get to some of the far away locations like South Bend / Myrtle Beach / Sevierville TN / Iowa / Eugene to see the players live? If so, you are a serious road warrior!

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Not this year, but all of these guys were here since the spring for minor league camp and many of them were also here for fall instructs. It really does make a difference getting to see these guys play live multiple times -- the more I am here in AZ, the more I realize that.

  • Nice and extremely exhaustive list there John,.... and good to see the guy (pitcher anyway) that I thought we would see a breakout season for on the list in Stinnett. Would love to see him progress to the point where he plays AA later this season, and gets a chance to start out starting in Iowa for next season.

    And as an aside,... remember a few years back when the 'best' prospects in the Cubs system included Javier Baez (but way down in the lower levels at the time), Brett Jackson, Junior Lake and Josh Vitters? And when our best pitching prospects were guys named McNutt, Maples, and Carpenter?

    This is a solidly stocked minor league system now,.... They should be able to keep a solid and steady flow of talent running for years now.

    Only thing really 'missing' in the system now is advanced pitching prospects,.... and judging by the rotation in Eugene now,.... that's a problem that should start taking care of itself as well over the next few years.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I love looking at the mlbpipeline.com list of top Cubs prospects for 2011. Or even the roster in 2011-2012. Man, that seems a lifetime ago.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed,.... and it appears to be a combination of just being more effective in finding more 'complete' players in the making than was the Hendry group,... and in doing a better job in helping those guys fix whatever flaws they actually had to help them develop into more complete players.

    For example - Junior Lake,.... had all the tools one wants to see - speed, power, but with issues in making consistent contact. Brett Jackson,... speed, power, fine guy in the OF defensively,... but who has issues making consistent contact,....

    If Junior Lake had been given the same coaching early as the guys down in the DL and AZ are being given now,... how good might he have ended up being rather than as a guy barely hanging onto a roster spot for the Jays. Same with Jackson,... if they could have 'fixed' at least some of his contact issues early on,.... he might have been a useful MLB OF.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Stinnett had a nice spring and he's continued it into the season. For me, he's a solid bet because of the two potential plus pitches, those guys have potential fallbacks as high leverage RPs, which is why that every pitcher on this list except for Hudson can be that kind of guy if they don't make it as starters. There is good upside this time around and plus FBs give guys higher floors.

  • Great write-up John. It's great to see so many young pitchers on the list. The unfortunate part is that they are so far away from the majors and so many things can happen. At some point attrition will set in so it's nice to see the so many on the list. How long before they move Pierce Johnson to the bullpen in an effort to keep him healthy?

  • In reply to rockey20:

    Thanks,, The pitchers are always the bigger risk on these kinds of lists but there is more upside this time than they've had in the past.

  • Wow, that was some compilation of information. Thanks much John!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • What is everyones guess on who goes down once fowler lastella and soler come back?

    Here is my take:
    Almora goes to AAA for fowler.
    Lastella stays at AAA until szczur is part of a trade for a reliever.
    Soler is the question would they send contreras down? I think by then someone else is on the DL if not you might release couglan or who knows? I just can't imagine them sending contreras back down.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I don't think they're going to trade Szczur, not much trade value, but he has value for them off the bench right now.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    LaStella and Fowler could return before the break, plus Warren was supposed to get a spot start before his uninspiring AAA outing. I'm guessing Richard also returns after the break if he can get AAA outs with consistency. Might bury Soler with an extended rehab until late-August when planning playoff eligible roster.
    Almora first to go, back September 1 for sure.
    Couglan next. He's been the LH pinch hitter that LaStella fulfills.
    Peralta is keeping Richard's seat warm due to his reverse splits.
    Patton likely swaps with Warren, who could go up and down after spot start unless there is a six man rotation in the second half.
    I agree that Contreras is going anywhere until the league catches up with him.
    Miggy to DL is another option if they want Soler's bat for post-season, or if we rent an arm prior to August 1.

  • On relievers I think they will go after chapman. I could see szczur and and someone like blackburn and a young starter like castillo. I think the yankees would be interested in exchange for 2 months of chapman?

  • If chapman is the guy then I try for an extension with him. Yanks would want more than what you are proposing but starting price is always more then what is settled for in the end.

  • Thank you for this, John. We used to talk about wave after wave. With my obsessive focus on the big league team and reveling in their success every minute of the season, I miss my prior obsessive focus on the minors and our prospects, which has been the hallmark of Cubs Den. Exciting to read your take on these top guys and good to know there's a -- what are we on? -- third, or is it, fourth and fifth and maybe sixth wave of talent coming through the system.

    Only problem is I want to keep them all and see them as Cubs, although we know that won't happen. Worse yet, we have been generally assuming that these prospects will be moved to fill holes, but in the next two years or so we might see some of our beloved starters (Russell? Baez?) moved to make room for one of more of these studs (Torres? Happy? Jimenez?)

  • In reply to TTP:

    It'd be nice. It's been so fun following guys like Contreras, Almora, etc. all the way up the system. We know that won't happen with nearly all of these guys, but there should be a few who do -- and there are a lot of solid arms (Zastryzny, Sands, Blackburn, Markey, Leal, Tseng, etc) whom we did not profile who have a chance too, same with corner players such as Galindo.

  • I wonder with the pitchers that have projection left, what is the realistic goals for their bodies and what that will translate too in terms of offering. Take Eugene. With Bryan Hudson, he just turned 19. He is 6'8" and 220lbs. His body is not fully mature by any stretch. What is his realistic weight and what do you think that will mean to his Fastball? How about with Castillo and Paulino? Where should Cease end up? Even Justin Steele?

    Take their time and get it right.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Adding strength and weight does not always translate to added velocity. The hope is more that as they fill out it helps them stay healthy by using less effort to achieve the same effect and also to be able to withstand the long grind of the season, especially as starters.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Hudson could throw harder, but I honestly don't think he needs to be a mid or upper 90s guys to have one of the best fastballs on the team. Right now, his command and movement on the two seamer are making it a very good pitch at 89-92.

  • fb_avatar

    As I said earlier, thank you John for all these extensive reviews of these prospects. Truly a lot of work went into this and we all are so appreciative.
    One of the reasons that the Cubs are where they are is that just about all the prospects that have been brought up have been able to adjust to the majors with very little struggle. drkazmd65 mentioned a number of other prospects--Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, etc that were touted but couldn't make it once they got up. Look now at ours--KB, Russell, Baez, Scwarber, Castillo, Almora, Hendricks, Carl Edwards (very sss, but promising). All these have thrived up here. The odds are long that this would have happened but it did, and thus we are 51-26.
    Way to go Theo and the other FO personnel to have recognized and drafted/traded for these players.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks It really shows how important development is. Vitters, Jackson both had such good numbers at times in the minors but neither were prepared for the majors. I do think the Cubs have scouted better -- at least in terms of the kinds of players they want but they do a lot of hard work once they're here too.

  • I've had the good fortune to see all of these players since February...

    And I've had the good fortune to read about it all here. Thanks for all your hard work!

  • In reply to Peredonov:

    You're welcome! Thanks for reading!

  • Great read John I love it!!!

  • In reply to Ozzie24:

    Thanks, Ozzie!

  • Long before the Cubs were a great team many of us stumbled across and and locked onto this website because of information like this that gave us a true indicator of the depth of the Cubs org.

    Now that we're junkies I can't tell you how much fun it is to read about these prospects knowing that our favorite "scout" gets to see many of these kids in person every day. John, your opinions and projections of these prospects have proven to be as accurate as anyone out there.

    The combination of the eyewitness reports from Arizona and Michael's monthly breakdown of the numbers showing strengths and weaknesses of our upper level players is very much appreciated. Thanks, guys.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Thank you very much for the kind words. I have a lot of admiration for scouts, it takes a lot of work, focus, and imagination -- I think that part is underrated. Many people can see what players are now, but to see what a talented but struggling, raw hitter or pitcher can become is probably one of the hardest things to do in this game.

    And I agree. Michael adds a nice complement here with his statistical work and on field observations as well.

  • John, thank you for this exhaustive list and discussion. Your work here never fails to disappoint and this is just the latest example of great features on this site.

  • In reply to springs:

    Thanks, springs! Appreciate the kind words.

Leave a comment