Where Are They Now: Checking in on former Cub prospects

Where Are They Now: Checking in on former Cub prospects

By now you've probably heard about the newest edition to the Cubs' roster: Rodrigo Lopez is 35 years old, had a 5.00 ERA with Arizona last year, and will add much-needed depth to the back end of Chicago's rotation.

To make room for Lopez on the big league club, the Cubs sent Justin Berg -- he of the three consecutive four-pitch walks -- to Iowa. The team also needed to move someone off of its 40-man roster for Lopez, and did so by designating Robert Coello for assignment.
Even though he hasn't pitched in the majors this year, you may feel like you've seen Coello's name recently... that's because the Cubs just acquired him, sending second baseman Tony Thomas to the Red Sox earlier this year to get him.
And now he's been DFA'd. My first reaction was to check on how ol' TT is doing with the Red Sox. Then I thought: why not do a longer post on the standing of all the prospects the Cubs have recently traded away?

First, Thomas: Tony had a hot start to his season with the Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League, but has since cooled off considerably. His line for the year: .219/.304/.401, with 40 strikeouts against 14 walks. That level of hacking is probably not going to cut it at the major league level, but the Red Sox probably knew that when they moved Coello. 

Who else is there to mention? I've got a short list of the best prospects we've moved in the past little while, but before I get into that, here's a list of former Cub prospects that have failed to put up eye-popping numbers since being traded away: 
- Jose Ceda, who was moved for Kevin Gregg; 
- Robinson Chirinos, with a .587 OPS in AAA at age 27;
- The Legend of Sam Fuld, who even after his torrid start, is down all the way to .224/.273/.339 line; 
- Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, and Josh Donaldson, three of the four pieces sent to Oakland for Rich Harden -- the fourth, Matt Murton, now holds the record for most hits in a single season in Japan;
- Felix Pie and Jake Fox, both now Orioles, each with an OPS around .600.
So those are the guys we don't really miss. Here are the players that have managed to be pretty valuable since leaving the Friendly Confines, loosely ranked in order of goodness:
- Al Alburquerque. He is striking people out on a regular basis for the Detroit Tigers these days: 26 strikeouts in 15.1 IP, in fact, which is nutty. He has issues with the base on balls -- 11 allowed so far this year -- and only pitched about 34 innings in AA last year. Still, a good player.
- Michael Wuertz. Between 2009 and 2011: 131 IP, 156 K, 42 unintentional walks, and a 3.09 ERA. His 2010 (4.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) wasn't nearly as good as his 2009 (2.63 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), but still, obviously a talented pitcher. The players we got back for MW were trash, and I never really understood why we dealt him instead of, say, Chad Gaudin.
- Chris Archer. To be honest, this is really a reputation pick for this list at this point. Archer is having a tough time with walks as a Montgomery Biscuit, with 22 free passes issued in 43.2 innings pitched for Tampa's AA team. His ERA has suffered as a result, and is now just a hair below 6.00. Of course, this is a 22 year old pitching in AA, so he deserves some slack, but check out that career BB/9 number: 5.1.
- Brandon Guyer. What's not to like about a 25-year-old hitting .333/.411/.569 in AAA? Guyer also homered in his major league debut this year, but that was the only major league game he played in. Do not be shocked if this is the most valuable piece the Rays ended up getting for Garza; having said that, there's one guy I like even more than him and Chris Archer.  
- Angel Pagan. I've written about this dude before: he had his shot at the bigs with the Cubs, but failed to stick with the team, possibly because of a literal lack of intestinal fortitude (the man hit the DL with colitis at one point -- Google it at your own risk). He's about to come off the 15-day DL for the Mets following an oblique strain, but check out his numbers since joining New York: .286/.338/.429 with 59 total steals, i.e., 30+ every 160 games. And he plays center field. If he can stay healthy, Pagan could be due for a pretty nice paycheck when he hits free agency in 2013.
- Hak-Ju Lee. When the Cubs traded away Lee, the Korean had already established himself as a four-out-of-five tool player: 70+ speed, great hitting, a good glove, and an arm that plays at short. The organization's main issue with his development -- aside from the fact that they already have a player they love at short in the majors -- was power. And now, as a 20 year old in High-A, Lee is slugging .510, with five doubles, two homers, and five (!) triples in 147 at-bats. I'm not the world's greatest analyzer of baseball prospects, but I don't see any reason why this kid won't be an All-Star caliber shortstop at some point for the Tampa Bay Rays.
That was a lot of words; thanks for sticking around this long. And if I left anybody out, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for playing.


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  • Ricky Nolasco has 13.1 career WAR and he's only 28. That was a terrible trade for Juan F'in Pierre.

  • If you want to go way back there's Kyle Lohse who was once traded to the Twins for a washed up Rick Aguilera. Lohse is having a nice season with the St. Louis Cardinals -- which just adds insult to injury.

  • Corey Patterson is also having a decent year with Toronto (.301/.333/.477)...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We don't get to cite CPat. He's had several chances. He'll kill the Jays by the time all is said and done.

  • In reply to rletterly:

    Probably...but he didn't do too badly with the Cubs. He had a 5 WAR in 2004 and 2.4 the year before in just half a season. That's a pretty good player. He struggled the next year, the Cubs got rid of him and then he had another decent year with the Orioles (3.6 WAR).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    When you are calling Corey Patterson a pretty good player you are failing to see the forest from the trees. His career on-base percentage is .294. Yes, he is uber-toolsy, and Fangraphs appears to love his defense in center field. But he has no patience, and has played for five different teams in the past six years; if he were so great, why would anyone let him go?

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