Cubs Minor League Recaps; CF'ers step up; Almora, Hannemann, Martin continue to play well

The Cubs did not get a strong season from any of their CF prospects last season and while it is only April, the starts so far this season from their starting CF’ers at all 4 levels is encouraging.

The only one who did not play today was Matt Szczur, as the Iowa game was postponed.

Tennessee 5 – Chattanooga 2

  • Frank Batista the organizational relief prospect has become Frank Batista the emergency AA starter.  And he is making the most of it.  Batista has a a high effort delivery and is undersized (5’10”, 170 lbs), so he is going to get pegged as a reliever off the bat.  The stuff is average. The slider is his best pitch and he pitches in the low 90s.  The change gives him a solid 3rd pitch.  The command….average.  Yet Batista has pitched well throughout his minor league career.  What he lacks in prospect pedigree, the 26 year old RHP has made up for in productive seasons.  This latest start may have been his best.  Batista went 7 innings, allowed just 3 hits — one of which was a solo HR that accounted for the only run he gave up.  He walked 2 and struck out 8.  Batista moved to 2-o with a 1.04 ERA.
  • Albert Almora went 2 for 4 with an RBI and run scored,  He also stole his second base.  Almora bumped his average over the .300 mark at .306.
  • Kyle Schwarber went 1 for 4 with a run and an RBI.  Schwarber is hitting .349/.463/.581 over his first 13 games.  He was the DH today.
  • A ho-hum day for Dan Vogelbach in that he went 1 for 4 with an RBI, dropping his average to a paltry .444.
  • Willson Contreras went 1 for 4 with an RBI and he continued his own solid start.  Contreras also threw out the only runner who attempted to steal.
  • 2B Stephen Bruno doubled, singled and scored a run.
  • LF Bijan Rademacher went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI.  Rademacher has held his own in his first month at AA.  The Smokies lineup is highly productive so that relegates Rademacher to the 7th spot…but it doesn’t get a whole lot easier.  Rademacher is hitting .275 with a .403 OBP.

Winston-Salem 6 – Myrtle Beach 1

  • Tyler Skulina has struggled since injuring his knee last year.  He lost velocity and has always struggled with command.  He gave up all 6 runs on 8 hits in just 4 innings  to fall to 0-2 with a 7.07 ERA.  With South Bend pitchers dominating the MWL and just one level down, Skulina is going to have to pick it up if he wants to keep his rotation spot.  Our friend Scott at Chasing the Dream was at the game and gave us a nice report on Skulina and Conway.  Here are the goods on Skulina.

Fastball:  Skulina threw 81 pitches during his four innings of work. He threw his fastball about 70% of the time, sitting between 87-92 MPH. The Dash hitters (White Sox Org) were able to square up the fastball including a 4th inning triple off an 89 MPH fastball by outfielder Keenyn Walker.

Slider: Skulina mixed in his slider and change-up when he was ahead in the count but rarely started off an at bat with either pitch. The slider sat in the 76-80 MPH range throughout his four innings of work. In the second inning outfielder Nick Basto, who came into the game hitting .074, laced a 79 MPH slider down the left field line and later scored.

Change Up: Like the slider, Skulina’s change up hit the 76-80 MPH range throughout his outing. Dash hitters were able to square up his fastball and off-speed offerings as 6 of the 8 base hits were hit fairly hard.

Overall: Skulina threw 81 pitches with 50 of them being called strikes. He worked a quick first inning but did take a comebacker off his foot. He stayed in the game and it’s unknown if it affected the rest of his start. Skulina did show the ability to set hitters up with his off-speed offerings when he got ahead in the count. He did strike out five batters over his four innings while walking two.

  • Josh Conway finished up with 2 scoreless innings in what turned out to be a rain-shortened game.  He walked 2 and struck out 1 while lowering his ERA to 3.52.  Here is Scott’s report on Conway, whom he also interviewed two years ago.

Fastball: Conway flashed a consistent fastball in his two innings of work for the Pelicans. His fastball sat in the 90-92 range but it did hit 93 once. Conway only allowed one hit during his outing and induced weak contact during his stint out of the bullpen.

Change-Up: Conway used his off-speed pitches well when ahead in the count. His change-up sat consistently in the 82-84 range.

Slider: Like the change-up, Conway used his slider mostly when he was ahead in the count and this offering was also in the 82-84 range.  He got his only strike out of the game on an 82 mph slider.

Overall: Conway pitched two innings keeping the opposition off the scoreboard. He struck out one and worked quickly during his two innings of work. If there was one negative he did walk two but they did not cause any damage. Conway’s pick-off move to first was impressive in the 6th inning.  He was able to catch the speedy Keenyn Walker too far off the first base bag.

  • OF Jacob Hannemann has been on a bit of a roll, hitting .438 in his last 8 games after another multi-hit game (2 for 3).  Hannemann is now hitting .328/.388/.393.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers went 2 for 3 with a double and drove in Hannemann for the only Pelicans run.

South Bend 7 – Fort Wayne 1

  • Ryan Williams, who was seemingly an afterthought as an underslot pick in the 10th round, has turned out to be a pretty nice find.  He has an average fastball in the 89-92 range but his slider is his best pitch.  What makes it work for him is good command.  Williams didn’t walk a batter and struck out 3.  He is 2-0 with 0.46 ERA and 2 walks in 19.2 IP this season.
  • Trey Martin has been up and down with his offense but had a big day, going 2 for 4 with a walk,, run, 2 RBI, and 2 SBs, giving him 6 on the year.  He is at .250/.275/..375 overall for the season.
  • Gleyber Torres went 3 for 4 with a walk, run, and 2 SBs of his own.  Torres also has 6 steals on the year to go with .305/.414/.322 line.  The only thing missing right now is power (1 double this season) but that is getting nitpicky, we’re talking about an 18 year old SS playing in a tough hitters league in the cold — and he is still hitting well.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer drove in 2 runs and went 1 for 4 with a walk.
  • 3B Jesse Hodges went 1 for 3 with a double, walk, RBI, and run scored.



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  • The only thing that popped out to me was Ryan Williams being an "afterthought." I think of it as we have an awesome scouting staff and got him an underslot. Props to the scouting staff for the find while being able to save money.

  • In reply to SpencerGoCubs:

    I think they carefully choose who they pick as underslots. Guys like Heesch, Godfrey, and now Williams have surprised. May not make it, but I wouldn't call them non-prospects. Fringe guys, yes, but they've got a shot. Godfrey is with AZ now, of course.

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    Fear Hannemann's .065 ISO.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm more worried about Albert Almora's .052 ISO, since he is someone we need in the long-run. A slick fielding CF that hits for average without power or SB still has value, but it would be nice if he could show more pop

    With Hanneman's age, ISO, and K-Rates, he still seems fringy

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It's early...not a lot of power in the minors in April in general. He hit for some power last year in the FSL, I am not worried about it at this point.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Can minor leaguers like Hannemann and Almora improve their ISO over time? I've heard that, for minor league pitchers, command is often the last skill to develop. Is there a parallel for hitters -- does power come late?

  • In reply to October:

    Yes, a lot of times guys simply get physically stronger, but they also can make mechanical tweaks and also learn in what situations they can attempt to drive the ball.

  • In reply to October:

    Billy McKinney is a good example of what mjvz is referring to. He doesn't always use his lower half to drive the ball. If he learns to do that consistently he could generate respectable power. Not saying he will, or won't. But he's a guy I could see with some potential power spike as he matures.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks, mjvz and HoosierDaddy. That makes sense. Szczur may also be an example of adding at least a small bit of power.

  • In reply to October:

    Szczur is a perfect example of that so far this year.

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    Ryan Williams is already 23, won't the Cubs move him aggressively if they think he has a chance? He clearly is advanced for South Bend (and he was at Boise last year).

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He is a long shot and the best chance is probably as a middle reliever, but he is starting, so the Cubs must like him to some degree. I'd be surprised if he isn't at Myrtle Beach at some point this season, perhaps very soon, maybe as soon as they can get someone to fill in for him in the South Bend rotation.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    They are already moving him aggressively. He is pitching in full season ball less than a year after he was drafted.

    But at 23, he is not old for the league, and he could probably move up to Myrtle Beach. Except for the fact that Myrtle Beach is already crowded with last year's outstanding Kane County staff. There is really no place to put him until someone get's promoted to Tennessee.

    Another factor to consider. I think that the Cubs want both South Bend and Myrtle Beach to have really good teams this year, just to get their new affiliates off to a good start. Especially at South Bend, success could result in additional Cub fans within driving distance of Wrigley Field. I remember the Tribune once reporting that they averaged almost 30 thousand fans per year coming in from Iowa due to the interest generated by having a team in Des Moines.

  • What do you think the ETA is for guys like Almora, Schwarber, and Vogelbach? I always felt that Almora would be 2016 but I wasn't sure about the others. Considering the position block for vogelbach, I feel as though a big trade could be in the works, potentially to get pitching. Thoughts?

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    In reply to Kmac Cubs:

    I think they are going to take their time with Almora. I think he spends the entire year at AA no matter what and they will want to get him a lot of PAs in AAA. Maybe late 2016 (Aug-Sept) at the earliest. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs offer Fowler a 1 year contract and see if he bites and, if not, plan on Szczur or a "1-year rental" next year.

    As for Vogelbach my gut still says he is worth more in trade for whta the organization needs than he is as a Cub but if he keeps hitting like this establishing his value might be difficult. He already has an advanced approach at the plate and has demonstrated power. It might be really hard to let him go.

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    Who do you see as the leadoff man in the next several years? I know with Maddon it really only comes into play in the first inning, but we do need someone to get on base, run well and give the pitcher two players to concentrate on.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    comes down to what we do with Fowler.. I think we would like to sign him for 2 yrs or so maybe.. but he wants more and goes to free agency.. who knows.. it might not be from someone in the org

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think you need to pick what you want from lead off. We have several guys that run the bases well though none of them will be mistaken for Billy Hamilton in the 40-yard dash. I think for Maddon it will come down to match-ups on a game by game basis and OBP. If you want to know who bats lead off if Fowler leaves I think the best place to look is who he has batting 9th. There has been talk of moving Russell "up" in the order but I wonder if they might move him "down" to 1 if that makes any sense.

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    I'm looking beyond Fowler for now. I think there are players in the lower minors but does anyone stand out?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Imo Almora makes it. I can easily see him develop into a Starlin Castro-esqe hitter. There's definitely more in there but that's the conservative outlook.

    That kind of hitter with his defense in CF projects to a good to all-star-level player. We can live with that for 5+ years.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    If he develops 20hr power like some think he will along with a more selective approach his projection increases to perennial all-star caliber player.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Almora becoming Castro-esque is a conservative outlook? What's the optimistic outlook?

    Almora has a lot to prove right now. At this point, it is very unlikely he'll ever be a 20 HR guy consistently in the pros. If he hits 20 HRs in AA this season, he'll have knocked that down to just unlikely. I haven't given up on him by any stretch, he's too young and too talented to do that, but I'm definitely skeptical right now. This is a big year for him. He's got great bat-to-ball skills, but he still needs to show he can make the pitcher throw strikes in order to get something he can drive. Without becoming more selective, and I mean a lot more selective, he'll never be that 20 HR guy we all would like him to be.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    I will admit to being higher on Almora than most. I see no reason Almora cant maintain a career line in the Castro mold. He may not be quite THAT good but I do not see. 280/.330/.420 as overly aggressive(still an above average player). Especially considering his potential upside in tandem with exceptional mental makeup. I could easily be wrong but that's my thought process as of today.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think calling Almora a Castro-Esque hotter conservatively is pretty aggressive.

    I'd be thrilled if he ended up as a .280/.330/.420 guy, with his defense, which is right on Castro's career slash line

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    In reply to Mjtharp2:

    That still an above average - > borderline all-star level player so I'll take it. :)

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    At this point, I think we'd all take that kind of production from Almora and that definitely would make him a borderline all-star player.

    The thing is there are things about his game that he'll need to improve in order to be Castro-esque, and 3 weeks into the season, he hasn't convinced me that he has made said improvement. I'm still hoping and waiting. One good sign is that he's gotten off to a decent start. With a strong, relatively injury-free season at AA as a 21-year-old, I'll be back on board. And by strong, I mean a batting average around or north of .300, at LEAST 30 walks, 30 doubles and 10 HRs.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Agreed. Nowhere near a make or break season for Almora but it is a big one.

  • As much excitement as there is around the big league club with the promotions of Bryant and, at least temporarily, Russell, the developments of a certain key prospect is equally exciting to me.

    While Bryant's transition to the majors looks fairly seamless at the moment, several questions remain about Soler, Russell, Alcantara and Baez. Confidence is still high for guys like Soler and Russell, but Alcantara and Baez will have to reprove themselves in Iowa. Much to watch and hope for amongst that group.

    But for me, the Cub prospect with the biggest possible impact on the team's future is Kyle Schwarber. As impressive as the numbers Kris Bryant put up in his minor league career were, Schwarber has thus far matched them. In Bryant's first season he hit .336/.390/.688. Schwarber hit .344/.428/.634. Bryant amazingly duplicated those numbers at the higher levels the following year hitting .325/.438/.661. Thru the first 3 weeks of his 2nd campaign, Schwarber is hitting .349/.463/.581. The AA level hasn't posed much of a challenge for him yet.

    During spring training this year, Cubs director of pro scouting Joe Bohringer said he'd rank Schwarber as the Cubs #1 prospect ahead of Bryant given one caveat: he has to stick at catcher. That is the number one thing I'm looking for this season. Can Schwarber develop as a catcher? If he can, and if he continues to hit like he has since signing, it will be a game changer in the Cubs quest to win the world series.

    That said, thank you John for including as much information on how Schwarber has been doing behind the plate as you can in your recaps. It's stuff you simply can't get from the box scores. Keep it coming.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I really wish I believed Schwarber was a catcher but there is simply no one outside the Cubs organization that believes he is. His bat will be ready next year almost certainly but even in the best scenario he'd need at least a year after that to make it as a catcher and that's a long shot. I'd hope for the best, prepare for the worst and realize that a left handed power hitting left fielder is not a bad thing.

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    In reply to TC154:

    My first thought is that the Cubs probably have more information on his development as catcher than anyone else. But somehow that explanation sounds flimsy to me.

    I think it comes down to: How "bad" of a catcher are you willing to tolerate to get that bat into the line-up WITH someone else, presumably also very good, in LF.

    I'll give an extreme example to illustrate this. Let's say that Almora makes it as a solid CF and Baez, Alcantara and Russell all do well and the Cubs decide that Rizzo and Castro are just too valuable to lose and Soler is tearing up RF. So we have to decide: are we better off trading one of them or tolerating someone not very good at Catching. Or, put another way, was Albert Belle's (or Dave Kingman or Manny Ramirez...) offense enough to off-set his less impressive defense. I realize that LF is very different in defensive value than catching but it is the same question.

    That and the Cubs seem to believe that Schwarber has the make-up and work-ethic to do whatever it takes to stay at catcher.

    My point is that he doesn't need to become Yadier Molina to be a catcher. I would settle for Mike Piazza.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Here's the thing though. Nobody outside of the Cubs organization thought he was worthy of a #2 overall ranking behind only B Aiken.

    Our FO is pretty good at this stuff. If they see something no one outside the organization does. We have to trust them. After all, they're the ones working with him everyday. Maybe he will stick at Catcher, maybe he won't. I haven't seen enough of him in person to have an opinion either way. But even if he's decent enough to play catcher p/t at the MLB level, that increases his value vs strictly LF.

    The way Contreras has been playing the last six months, we may have a lethal Catching platoon headed to wrigley in 2017.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I get that, I really do, and I'm impressed with the fact that Schwarber thinks he can do it. That's not nothing. I guess they're going to have to take a long hard look at the the end of this year and see where he is because the bat will most likely be ready next year with the catching a year behind if he makes it there. The elephant in teh room is that someone is eventually going to get traded out of the group of young stud prospects, and I'm not talking about the ones that might not make it. It's likely that one of Schwarber, Soler or Russell gets moved for better "fit" pieces as this team gets closer to being a World Series threat. As has been discussed here a lot the mix of all these young guys could be improved upon. That's in addition to the needed pitching. It's going to be fascinationg to watch but I'm guessing there will be a move or two that are not going to be very popular initially.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't disagree with any of that, except I'd expand those three to include pretty much anyone; given the right return. I might be wrong, but I don't think they decide "okay we're going to move this guy for pitching, etc". I think it's more of deciding between which offers present the best return. Similar to what they did with Shark. Everyone assumed we'd get itching in return.

    Anyways, my point about Schwarber is almost everyone outside of the Cubs FO that says he CANT stay at Catcher hasn't seen as much of him as the guys within the org, working with him everyday, that say he CAN. We'll see who's right.

    Even if he's as bad as Travis D'Arnaud at throwing out base runners (which seems to be his biggest issue), that bat still provides premium value for the position.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think that's the puzzle piece that will really define what this team looks like for the next few years. In my perfect world

    1. Schwarber sticks at catcher and we see him up with the big league club mid/late 2016.

    2. Javy figures it out at AAA this year and takes over 3B in late 2015/ out of spring training , pushing Bryant to LF

    3. Szczur continues to rake at AAA and positions himself as next year's CF/leadoff man. I think this is a more realistic scenario than many believe. AS much as we talk about Almora as the CF of the future, Szczur has a career .345 obp, significantly better than Almora's .323 mark, has top end speed, and was rated by baseball america as the best defensive outfielder in the PCL by Baseball America last year. Career 16% K rate vs 8.6% walk rate, and has played at a higher level than Almora. To me, he's the better prospect for at least for the next 2-3 years.

    Of course if schwarber can't stay behind the plate, Szczur struggles, and Baez never figures it out, Schwarber to LF 9 days into 2016 with montero staying behind the plate and a 2 year extension for fowler still is an upgrade from the current lineup. The future is rosy!

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    In reply to Mjtharp2:

    While Szczur is a solid player and a starter on a decent team I think Almora is better. First off he is almost 5 years younger. So he is younger than league average by over 2 years and throughout his minor league career he has been 2-5 years young for his league. Currently Szczur is younger by closer to a year. When in a similar age situation relative to the rest of the league:
    2012 AA 158 PAs .285 OBP 8.9% BB%
    2014 AAA 457 PAs .315 OBP 6.5% BB%

    In fact, Szczur's slash line in 2012 at AA (age 22) of .210/.285/.357 158 PAs looks a lot like Almora's from last year (Age 20) .234/.250/.355 144 PAs.

    Now there can be other factors and I haven't dug into whether Szczur was injured or something like that and I like Szczur as a player and think he has a future in the major leagues. However I don't think it is quite comparing apples-to-apples to point out Szczur's stat line as better than Almora. Those 2 years are HUGE in AA production (And A-ball production as well). If Almora does flame-out, however, Szczur is not a bad fallback position for CF defensively and offensively.

  • Do much for hoping for the DH rule in the NL....Vogelbach is now slumping....just 1 hit in his last 4 at bats :p

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    hypothetical, NL adds the DH for next season...won't happen, but fun anyway. Could this be the cubs batting order september 2016?

    Sczuzr/Almora/Fowler CF
    Soler RF
    Rizzo 1B
    Bryant LF
    Schwarber C
    Vogelbach DH
    Castro SS
    Baez 3B
    Russell 2B

    fun to dream about

  • In reply to Mjtharp2:

    Balance and power. BTW, guess Wainwright got scared of our hitters and has decided he needs time off(sarc).

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    I am amazed at the production that Torres has put up. Someone pointed out a week or two ago that most of his "age-mates" are in their senior year of high school. I just have a hypothetical to throw out. IF he were a senior in high school where would he fall on the list of draftable hitting prospects. What kind of "grades" would he be getting on the field. The same thing for Jimenez. Are either of them Top-10 draft talents?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    A true SS with a plus hit tool? He would be a top ten pick.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Is he a true MLB SS though? Lots of questions remain there.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think he is a true SS right now but a lot of things can happen when you are 18. He can outgrow it, he can lose some athleticism, he can have a hard time adjusting to the speed of the game as we've even seen shortstops who are very athletic. It was once said that neither Javier Baez or Addison Russell were true SS's, now both have a chance to be above average at the position if they get the chance.

    We don't have a crystal ball, so for now I am calling him a SS, because that is what he is.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think he is if he maintains his athleticism. There is certainly the possibility he outgrows the position, but right now I think there is a good chance he can stay there.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    So factoring in that possibility of outgrowing the SS position, do you still think a team would select him in the top 10? If so, nice job Cubs scouting staff!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I do. Russell had way more questions about outgrowing the position and he went 11th. Torres is also extremely polished for his age, kind of like Almora was, so he would get a bump for that too.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Russell also had a much better bat at 18 than Torres does now, but this is a weaker draft than the one in 2012.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    He had more power maybe, but I doubt he had a better hit tool (I assume anyway, I never scouted Russell).

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Power counts. But I trust your opinion and I'm glad you think that highly of Gleyber! He signed for a lot less than a top ten pick in this draft will. :-)

  • I see zero reason why Schwarber can't master catching. He's simply green and learning the craft. You want to get to the playoffs, put him in left. You want a title, trust Schwarber's leadership behind the dish.

  • I think that Schwarber will end up playing LF but being an emergency or 3rd catcher ala Keith Moreland or Lloyd McClendon. If he were on this team, of course he'd be the 4th catcher haha! Schwarber intrigues me the most. He's gonna be the Ruth in our Murderers Row.

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    According to Arizona Phil, Mark Malave and Jae Hoon Ha are in EXST, converting to PITCHER. Malave was knocked around yesterday by the Rockies EXST club.

    A little surprising on Ha since he made it to the high minors. Probably doesn't work for either, but who knows......every once in a while you have a Carlos Marmol or Randy Wells who makes that switch

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Ha could have been decent utility OF'r to play all 3 positions. But he was worse than Tony Campana or even Darwin Barney with the stick. His conversion is a little surprising since he will be 25 this year. At least Malave is only 20 so maybe he has time to figure it out.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He was not worse than Campana or Barney. Ha broke his wrist in AA and never regained any semblance of power once he returned. I think AZ Phil even mentioned at one point that Ha was visibly wincing in pain on many swings during his comeback. Hand/wrist injuries are the absolute worst for hitters, especially guys with fringy talent to begin with.

  • I see him as a potentially excellent catcher, not just a passable one. Hope he's working on learning Spanish as well as framing. We shall see.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I'm curious what your reasoning is. He does not possess great athleticism, nor a plus arm, and from the little I've seen of him he doesn't have very soft hands either. Now, I certainly have no insight into his game calling or leadership, so maybe he possesses plus abilities there. I am in no way writing him off, and my limited viewings are hardly enough to draw any of my own conclusions, but I certainly have not seen anything that makes me believe he will ever be excellent.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think they could live with the limited arm but the hands are likely going to be a problem. I keep hoping I'm wrong on Schwarber, I mean he's a likable kid who really wants to be a catcher, but I have a hard time seeing it. The bat on the other hand looks like something close to can't miss. One way or another he's going to either be a valuable player for the Cubs or a valuable trade piece.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree that physically it is unlikely he will be great at the position. He probably won't be Welington Castillo. But he can be closer to Montero, who doesn't block pitches or throw particularly well, but is still considered an asset defensively. They just need Schwarber to be an adequate defender from a physical standpoint if he can frame, lead, and handle a staff like Montero.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here's the question of the day: how do we track the progress of a player's pitch-framing, leadership and staff-handling abilities?

    Answer: John Arguello moves to Mesa, AZ and makes contacts otherwise impossible from the suburbs of Chicago. He wines. He dines. And soon enough is getting information John Sickels would only have dreamed of. Go get 'em, John!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Ha! It is such a difficult thing to measure for an outsider -- but Montero is a good example of how a catcher can have an impact on the team with less than stellar abilities from a physical standpoint.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Just a quick hypothetical. Let's say Baez and Russell "figure it out" and become our 2nd and 3rd basemen (I don't really care which plays which spot). And we had to choose between trading Bryant for LESS than his true value because we "have to" trade him OR keep him and have Schwarber as our catcher even though he is (hypothetically) bottom 1/3 in MLB. Further--because this is a hypothetical I can do this--other teams have made it clear they are not willing to trade for any of our guys at true value.

    Would we be willing to have him at C (even if he is not particularly adept) simply to get his bat in the line-up or is C defense just too important?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Mike Piazza's rep during his career was definitely that of a bottom 1/3 defensive catcher. I think I could live with it...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would take that, even if he doesn't end up being a top notch framer like Montero. If he can handle a staff, with the pitcher's developing faith that he is going to call the right pitch and work with them on a game plan, that would be enough in my book even if he is just average in the other facets.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    That is probably the best we can hope for.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Piazza was considered good at receiving and handling pitchers, but poor defensively at throwing and blocking.

    The Cubs will need to be careful about Fowler and not having a good leadoff man. If you look at recent post season teams in 84 it was Dennier, 89 Walton, and the 2003 the team didn't jell until Lofton arrived, and 07&8 Soriano.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think the only way they let him go is if they are sure they can find another one.

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