Prospect List-mania

Baseball America released their top 10 prospects from the Chicago Cubs farm system which sort of culminates the prospect ranking season. Most lists exclude players who played enough to qualify for Rookie of the Year honors, thus the Cubs system becomes a bit difficult to analyze since players like Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Juan Mateo would all probably get top 10 mentions (or close to it) but are disregarded although they'll most certainly start their seasons in the minors. Each list has their way own of weighing the players and if known, I'll give it a brief mention. To the lists:

Baseball America Top 30 (The Top 30 are published in their prospect handbook)

Criteria: Stress tools and ceiling over stats, speak to a lot of scouts, can be guilty of relying on reputation over substance on occassion.

1. Felix Pie
2. Donald Veal
3. Tyler Colvin
4. Jeff Samardzija
5. Sean Gallagher
6. Eric Patterson
7. Scott Moore
8. Ryan Harvey
9. Chris Huseby
10. Mark Pawelek
11. Juan Mateo
12. Brian Dopirak
13. Jae-kuk Ryu
14. Mark Reed
15. Drew Rundle
16. Rocky Cherry
17. Geovany Soto
18. Billy Petrick
19. Dylan Johnston
20. Josh Lansford
21. Sammy Baez
22. Chris Robinson
23. Mark Holliman
24. Jake Fox
25. Larry Suarez
26. Rocky Roquet
27. Sam Fuld
28. Scott Taylor
29. Mitch Atkins
30. Mike Fontentot What They Say: Not much, I guess you have to pay to join the chat to get analysis. What I Say: Mark Reed, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontentot make appearances which are all very odd. I want Fontenot to succeed as much as the next guy but his own team won't even put him on their 40-man roster, he wasn't selected in the Rule V draft by any other team and he didn't even get a spring training invite. They also seem rather low on Pawelek. Baseball Prospectus Top 10

Criteria: Once upon a time it was all stat-based (or at least it seemed so), but since hiring Kevin Goldstein to be their minor league guy, I think he actually bothers to watch some of these guys and certainly talks to a scout or two.

Excellent Prospects
None Very Good Prospects
1. Donald Veal
2. Felix Pie
Good Prospects
3. Sean Gallagher
4. Eric Patterson
5. Tyler Colvin
6. Mark Pawelek
7. Jeff Samardzija
8. Chris Huseby
Average Prospects
9. Scott Moore
10. Ryan Harvey

What They Say: The Cubs system ain't what it used to be, and it's not because they graduated a lot of players to the big leagues. Unfortunately, what was seen as one of the most pitching-rich systems in baseball has yielded few results, and homemade hitters have been hard to come by.

What I Say: The same top 10 as Baseball America (big shock, Goldstein use to work there) although in a slightly different order. Goldstein's claim on Eric Patterson is that he's a "Fundamentally sound defender with dependable hands and arm". Arizona Phil respectufully disagrees Mr. Goldstein, I think a duel to the death is in order.

Top Prospect Alert

Criteria: Who knows?

1. Felix Pie
2. Donald Veal
3. Sean Gallagher
4. Tyler Colvin
5. Eric Patterson
6. Jeff Samardzija
7. Mark Pawelek
8. Ryan Harvey
9. Andrew Rundle (aka Drew Rundle)
10. Scott Moore

What They Say: Absolutely Nothing. It's just a list with no explanations.

What I Say: Really, Drew Rundle at 9th? A line of 230/376/373 in the Arizona Rookie League shouldn't get you a top 10 spot, no matter what tools you may possess.

Diamond Futures

Criteria: It's a cool looking site and the author(s) seem to have a very statistical approach using something called the OPES system. On the other hand, the one guy claims to be a former scout and pals with John Sickels. They also seem to ignore the rookie disqualifications that most lists use.

1. Rich Hill (A-)
2. Jacob Fox (B+)
3. Scott Moore (B)
4. Donald Veal (B-)
5. Felix Pie (B-)
6. Angel Guzman (B-)
7. Jae-kuk Ryu (B-)
8. Eric Patterson (B-)
9. Sean Gallagher (C+)
10. Robinson Chirinos (C+)

What They Say: Nothing, it's also just a list.

What I Say: I'd love to hear their thoughts on Robinson Chirinos.

Minor League Ball Featuring John Sickels

Criteria: I have yet to pick up a copy of his annual prospect book (which I really should do), but he did spend some time as Bill James's assistant so he definitely has a mind for statistics. That being said he actually makes it a point to watch every single team and player I believe over the course of the season which is an impressive amount of traveling.

1 . Felix Pie (B+)
2. Donald Veal (B+)
3. Eric Patterson (B+)
4. Sean Gallagher (B)
5. Mark Pawelek (B)
6. Jeff Samardzija (B-)
7. Tyler Colvin (B-)
8. Jae-kuk Ryu (B-)
9. Scott Moore (C+)
10. Ryan Theriot (C+)
11. Juan Mateo (C+)
12. Adam Harben (C+)
13. Mitch Atkins (C+)
14. Jake Fox (C+)
15. Chris Huseby (C)
16. Jose Ceda (C)
17. Ryan Harvey (C)
18. Clay Rapada (C)
19. Rocky Cherry (C)
20. Chris Shaver (C)

What They Say: The Cubs In One Sentence: This system has some quality at the top, but it thins out very quickly.

What I Say: No major bones of contention on my part, glad to see he's not as high on Colvin as I am.

Scout.com

Criteria: Very similar to Baseball America in emphasizing tools and ceiling. Very intimate with the Cubs personal though so they get a lot of inside info from their coaches and staff, which should help on matters of makeup and such not.

1. Felix Pie
2. Donald Veal
3. Mark Pawelek
4. Eric Patterson
5. Sean Gallagher/Jeff Samardzija
6. Tyler Colvin
7. Scott Moore
8. Ryan Harvey
9. Jae-kuk Ryu
10. Clay Rapada
11. Brian Dopirak
12. Chris Shaver
13. Jake Fox
14. Randy Wells
15. Mitch Atkins
16. Adam Harben
17. Billy Petrick
18. Carmen Pignatiello
19. Rocky Cherry
20. Chris Walker/Casey Mcgehee
21. Jose Ceda
22. Mark Holliman
23. Grant Johnson
24. Sam Fuld
25. J.R. Mathes
26. Michael Phelps
27. Mark Reed
28. Michael Cooper
29. Steve Clevenger
30. Matt Camp
31. Scott Taylor
32. Jeremy Papelbon
33. Micah Hoffpauir
34. Dylan Johnston
35. Ryan Norwood
36. Josh Lansford
37. Matt Avery
38. Tim Layden
39. Ruzz Canzler
40. Joe Simokaitis
41. Billy Muldowney
42. Bobby Brownlie
43. Chris Huseby
44. Chris Robinson
45. Justin Rayborn
46. Jake Muyco
47. Thomas Atlee
48. Justin Berg
49. Jesse Estrada
50. Paul Schappert

1 - 5| 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46 -50

What They Say: ...if the Cubs and manager Lou Piniella want to cast out the many demons that have haunted the North Side over the years and embark on a new tradition for years to come, the successful and long-lasting development of a five-tool talent such as Felix Pie would be a good way to start.

What I Say: As good a list as any, and probably a lot more accurate on what the Cubs feel about their players than any other list.

Rob G's Top 15 List Criteria:

Other than what I can catch on a free feed once in awhile, it's pretty much based on what I read and the numbers, but I read a lot. I'm sure Arizona Phil will be along with his own ideas as well. I'm ignoring the rookie of the year qualifications though, my cutoff being likely destined for the minors this season and haven't played a full season of major league ball yet.

1. Felix Pie He's been young for every league he's played in, already has the defensive chops and most importantly has gotten better with each promotion, i.e he's NOT Corey Patterson. He may never be the superstar we're all hoping for, but I would be shocked if he's not a solid everyday major leaguer for a long time.

2. Angel Guzman The forgotten man in the Cubs system but his stuff is electric. His big problem in the majors was dancing around the plate early in the count and falling behind hitters and then grooving a fastball on a 3-1 or 3-0 count to avoid the walk. A tactic that I'm sure worked in the minors, but we'll get you killed in the majors, although I appreciate the desire not to walk the hitter. Once he figures out how to get ahead of the hitters or rely on his offspeed stuff later in the count, we'll see the Angel we've been promised over the years.

3. Mark Pawelek Mark my words, this kid will be better than Donald Veal. He's being knocked on most lists only because he came into camp out of shape last season and still put up good numbers in a half season of ball in which the organiztion had him working on only 2-3 of his 5 pitch repetoire.

4. Donald Veal Everyone loves this kid, so I might as well too. He sounds like a sharp fella though with good stuff that just needs to find more consistent control.

5. Sean Gallagher A rise in velocity and good command on his breaking stuff got the scouts drooling last year, but he did struggle in his promotion to AA.

6. Sean Marshall I'm still amazed he got anyone out in the majors last year after (once again with feeling) only 10 starts above Hi-A ball. The kid commands three pitches pretty well and knows how to mix them up. A 6-7" frame makes me think he could even add a few muppah's (mph's) on that fastball before it's all said and done.

7. Eric Patterson I guess I should be higher on him, but he seems to strike out a lot for a guy with nothing more than gap power. Gap power to me says lots of flyball outs in the majors that were dropping for doubles and triples in the minors. The second half of AA season wasn't all that impressive and makes me worry that the Patterson's inherited the "inability to adjust" gene.

8. Scott Moore I go back and forth on Moore all the time, I like the power, I like the walks but his glovework is sketchy and the K's will just rise as he goes up through the system. He's also a man without a position because third base is covered for the next five years or so. That being said, he's a good guy to have around the upper levels in case of an injury at a corner spot.

9. Clay Rapada This is what AAA pitching coach Alan Dunn had to say about Rapada and his somewhat funky 3/4 lefty delivery:

"Suddenly, you throw this guy and his delivery in the middle and it’s almost like when you face a knuckleball pitcher. It throws everything out of whack for the hitters."

I'm sold.

10. Juan Mateo Anyone with that kind of K:BB ratio (3.34 for his minor league career) gets my attention and if the Cardinals see something in him, there's probably something there.

11. Jae-kuk Ryu The changeup is the great equalizer in baseball and Ryu throws a good one. Ryu wants to start, but he seems like he could excel in the swingman role.

12. Jeff Samardzija Visions of Kyle Farnsworth dancing in my head. Not only because he looks like he'd be able to take down a Reds pitcher if a brawl breaks out, but the girls of Wrigleyville will never be safe again.

13. Tyler Colvin See Eric Patterson about the gap power. I'm also not sure how a line of 275/318/457 for a kid out of college in short season A-ball gets anyone that excited. He did manage a better line against lefties [304/348/658] than righties [263/305/416], which seems rare for a left-handed hitter. Some think he'll grow into a 20, possibly 30 homer threat and end up at one of the corners. At best, he seems like a solid major leaguer, but doubtful he'll ever be a superstar.

14. Rocky Cherry Honestly, I'm just rooting for him because of his name. Him and Samardzija could make a lethal duo at the Wrigleyville bar scene.

15. Carlos Marmol I don't like the kid, there I said it. The word is his "stuff" is great, but he got out of enough high-wire acts last year to make Houdini proud. Personally I'd trade him for the first warm body that could help the team and let some other team go through the growing pains.

I sort of approach these lists as nothing more than a guideline, the difference between #8 and #6 doesn't matter a whole lot, neither does the difference between #8 and #15 probably. In the end, it just gives people something to argue about and cheap programming for VH-1 and the E! network.

Tomorrow we have a Q&A with Inside the Ivy's Steve Holley talking about Scout.com and their take on the farm system. Depending on his schedule tomorrow, he may have some time to answer your questions as well in the comments, but don't hold me to that quite yet.

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Comments

Fantastic post. Thanks for the prospect fix we all needed.

Eight days 'til pitchers and catchers!

BTW, Dopirak at #12? Really, Baseball America?

Nice job getting all that info together Rob. Good read.

Great summary - On the BA podcast, John Manuel said that the Samardzia ranking was based on splitting his time between baseball and football. Now that he is 100% baseball, he would rank #2 (loves the guy). Said the top 5 are strong, but system very weak after that. FWIW, they did not like any of the other National Central farm systems very much either.

BTW, Dopirak at #12? Really, Baseball America?

He's still got power, that will always get you noticed.

As for Samardzija, his tools and potential might be off the charts, but I just can't get over the free 40-man spot and crazy money for a very unpolished pitcher that was a mid to late 1st round pick EVEN IF he was dedicated to football last June.

*Deleted by editor*

Please do not post full articles, especially those of premium/paid content. Thank you.

Wow, Ryan Harvey is #8... if that tells you anything. Really, the only guy on there I'm too excited about is Veal or Rapada. I don't know a lot about Samajizz or Colvin, though.

had almost forgotten about huseby...suprised he got ranked so highly for a guy who's "buzz" started in 03 and ended in 05.

I appreciate trying to get us the info Barry Foote, but BA has the right to charge for their info. If you want to just highlight a few things you feel are important, go for it, but I don't want to get in the business of posting the full contents of premium/paid articles.

When does BA come out with their organizational rankings? I am interested to see if they think the Cubs have gotten worse in the minors...

I was glad to see the favorable notices of Felix Pie in the scouting reports. All winter it's been, "He's not ready; when is he going to be ready?"

I looked at some minor league stats recently and compared Pie with three other fairly recent toolsy centerfield prospects, Carlos Beltran, Vernon Wells and Carl Crawford.

Beltran:
1995 (18), GCL (Rk), 52 g, 180 ab, 50 h, 9 2b, 0 3b, 0 hr, 5 sb, 30 so, .278/.332/.328
1996 (19), Spokane (A-), 59 g, 215 ab, 58 h, 8 2b, 3 3b, 7 hr, 10 sb, 65 so, .270/.359/.433
Lansing (A), 11 g, 42 ab, 6 h, 2 2b, 0 3b, 0 hr, 1 sb, 11 so, .143/.163/.190
1997 (20), Wilmington (A+), 120 g, 419 ab, 96 h, 15 2b, 4 3b, 11 hr, 17 sb, 96 so, .229/.311/.363
1998 (21), Wilmington (A+), 52 g, 192 ab, 53 h, 14 2b, 0 3b, 5 hr, 11 sb, 39 so, .276/.364/.427
Wichita (AA), 47 g, 182 ab, 64 h, 13 2b, 3 3b, 14 hr, 7 sb, 30 so, .352/.427/.687
2000 (23), GCL (Rk), 1 g, 4 ab, 2 h, 1 2b, 0 3b, 1 hr, 0 sb, 0 so, .500/.600/1.500
Wilmington (A+), 3 g, 13 ab, 4 h, 0 2b, 1 3b, 2 hr, 0 sb, 5 so, .308/.308/.923
Omaha (AAA), 5 g, 18 ab, 6 h, 1 2b, 0 3b, 2 hr, 1 sb, 3 so, .333/.455/.722
Totals, 6 Seasons: 353 g, 1274 ab, 342 h, 65 2b, 11 3b, 42 hr, 53 sb, 282 so, .268/.347/.436

Wells:
1997 (18), St. Cath (A-),66 g, 264 ab, 81 h, 20 2b, 1 3b, 10 hr, 8 sb, 44 so, .307/.377/.504
1998 (19), Hagerstown (A), 134 g, 509 ab, 145 h, 35 2b, 2 3b, 11 hr, 13 sb, 84 so, .285/.348/.426
1999 (20), Dunedin ( A+), 70 g, 265 ab, 91 h, 16 2b, 2 3b, 11 hr, 13 sb, 34 so, .343/.403/.543
Knoxville (AA), 26 g, 106 ab, 36 h, 6 2b, 2 3b, 3 hr, 6 sb, 15 so, .340/.400/.519
Syracuse (AAA), 33 g, 129 ab, 40 h, 8 2b, 1 3b, 4 hr, 5 sb, 22 so, .310/.357/.481
2000 (21), Syracuse (AAA), 127 g, 493 ab, 120 h, 31 2b, 7 3b, 16 hr, 23 sb, 88 so, .243/.313/.432
2001 (22), Syracuse (AAA), 107 g, 413 ab, 116 h, 27 2b, 4 3b, 12 hr, 15 sb, 68 so, .281/.333/.453
Totals, 5 Seasons: 563 g, 2179 ab, 629 h, 143 2b, 19 3b, 67 hr, 83 sb, 355 so, .289/.350/.464

Crawford:
1999 (18), Princeton (Rk), 60 g, 260 ab, 83 h, 14 2b, 4 3b, 0 hr, 17 sb, 47 so, .319/.350/.404
2000 (19), Charlst-sc (A), 135 g, 564 ab, 170 h, 21 2b, 11 3b, 6 hr, 55 sb, 102 so, .301/.342/.410
2001 (20), Orlando (AA), 132 g, 537 ab, 147 h, 24 2b, 3 3b, 4 hr, 36 sb, 90 so, .274/.323/.352
2002 (21), Durham (AAA), 85 g, 353 ab, 105 h, 17 2b, 9 3b, 7 hr, 26 sb, 69 so, .297/.335/.456
Totals, 4 Seasons: 412 g, 1714 ab, 505 h, 76 2b, 27 3b, 17 hr, 134 sb, 308 so, .295/.336/.400

Pie:
2002 (17), Az Cubs (Rk), 55 g, 218 ab, 70 h, 16 2b, 13 3b, 4 hr, 17 sb, 47 so, .321/.385/.569
Boise (A-), 2 g, 8 ab, 1 h, 1 2b, 0 3b, 0 hr, 0 sb, 1 so, .125/.222/.250
2003 (18), Lansing (A), 124 g, 505 ab, 144 h, 22 2b, 9 3b, 4 hr, 19 sb, 98 so, .285/.346/.388
2004 (19), Daytona (A+), 106 g, 415 ab, 125 h, 17 2b, 10 3b, 8 hr, 32 sb, 113 so, .301/.364/.448
2005 (20), W. Tenn (AA), 59 g, 240 ab, 73 h, 17 2b, 5 3b, 11 hr, 13 sb, 53 so, .304/.349/.554
2006 (21), Iowa (AAA), 141 g, 559 ab, 158 h, 33 2b, 8 3b, 15 hr, 17 sb, 126 so, .283/.341/.451
Totals, 5 Seasons: 487 g, 1945 ab, 571 h, 106 2b, 45 3b, 42 hr, 98 sb, 438 so, .294/.353/.459
[source: thebaseballcube.com]

Some observations:

Only Wells played in more minor-league games than Pie. Wells was made to repeat triple-A after hitting sub-.250 the first time.

Beltran's six seasons is misleading. He actually spent four in the minors. He played for KC in 1999, and then it looks like he started 2000 on a brief rehab assignment. Beltran basically skipped triple-A. Crawford spent less than a season there.

In this group, Pie is at the top in OBP and near the top in average and slugging. He had a good season in triple-A, relatively, and was second in the PCL in hits. He does strike out a lot. He also drives the ball: his 33 doubles and 56 extra-base hits at Iowa are tops in this group.

Beltran put up splashy numbers in half a season in AA, as did Wells in a season split between single and double A.

But none of these guys tore up the league at every level. Their numbers are just okay. That's what is interesting about them. Five-tool players have a large skillset to work on and do not put up big offensive numbers at age 21. To understand why they are top prospects, you have to go to the ballpark and see them play, see the package.

Pie turns 22 on Thursday.

I saw Veal pitch once in 2006 and outside of some wildness, he looks like a pitcher with real potential. In my opinion, he can become much more of a future asset than Pie. I realize that I saw them at much different levels of competion, but Pie remained an undisiciplined player from beginning to end last season.

When Hendry spent over $300 million on FA's this winter, he not only bought some ballplayers (quality to be determined), he also bought some time.

By stocking the ML roster, he gained some time to evaluate his prospects, and hopefully won't have to rush or trade any of them to fill holes in Chicago.

I think comparing position players and pitchers is an "apples and oranges" thing, so I prefer to separate them into two groups.

POSITION PLAYERS:

1. Felix Pie -
Definitely the best position-player prospect in the Cubs organization, I would agree with BA when they compare Pie's tools with Carlos Beltran's. Comparing Pie with Beltran at a similar point in his career is a far better comparison than comparing Pie with Corey Patterson (for example).

Pie is an excellent ball-hawking defensive outfielder (CF or RF) with a plus-arm, and (unlike a former Cub outfielder who shall remain a former Cub) he IS coachable and he IS eager to improve.

After working with Bob Dernier at Iowa last Summer, Pie developed the skill to steal bases, something that was a problem for him up until this past season. Pie also has the "it" quality you see in athletes like Michael Jordan and Ladanian Tomlinson. Pie is a champion. He just is. He knows how to win, because he measures his opponent, and then responds with the appropriate lethal injection.

Although he struggled in 32 games at Licey (DWL), I believe the Felix Pie of the last 64 games at Iowa in 2006 is the Felix Pie we will eventually see in Chicago...

Pie in his final 64 games at AAA Iowa in 2006:

86-267 (.322)
.372 OBP
.509 SLG
.881 OPS
47 RUNS SCORED
8 HR
20 RBI
20 2B
3 3B
21 BB
48 K (one in every 6.0 PA)
13 SB (and 3 CS)
8 OF ASSISTS (18 OF ASSISTS for the year - leads Cubs organization)
2 E

Those numbers prorated over 162 games:

Same BA, OBP, SLG, and OPS
118 RUNS SCORED
20 HR
50 RBI
50 2B
9 3B
53 BB
120 K
33 SB (7 CS)
20 OF ASSISTS
5 E

If the Cubs send him to the minors for at least 20 days in 2007, they buy another year of Pie. (In other words, if he spends at least 20 days on option to the minors in 07, Pie can't be a FA until after the 2013 season... if he breaks camp with the big club and doesn't go back to the minors, he's a FA after the 2012 season). So even if Pie hits .700 in ST, I would expect him to spend at least the month of April at Iowa. It actually probably wouldn't hurt him to spend the entire 2007 season at AAA, but he might be MLB-ready well before that.

2. Eric Patterson -
I saw Patterson play quite a bit in the Arizona Fall League, and if he was a CF instead of a 2B, I would say he could quite possibly play in the big leagues right now. Unlike his brother, E-Pat actually is a true top-of-the-order guy (lead-off or #2) who can work the count, bunt for a hit, or drive the ball into the gaps. He is a good base-runner and base-stealer, too. I like Patterson a LOT offensively. But although he has good range and a strong arm for a second-baseman, he is a "shaky jake" in the field. He's like a two-guard trying to play point guard. He has lousy ball-handling skills. He is a LF or CF, in my opinion, and the sooner he is moved to the outfield, the better. (Although it sure would be nice if he could play 2B, because the Cubs do NOT need a another outfielder, they need a middle infielder!).

3. Tyler Colvin -
I finally got a chance to see Colvin in person in the Arizona Instructional League, and he does indeed remind one of Shawn Green. The ball fires off his bat like a cue ball in a game of pool. And he is a smooth outfielder, maybe not quite the defender Pie is, but like Pie, Colvin carries himself with the kind of quiet confidence you see in champions. I had read somewhere that Colvin had only a LF arm, but he played CF in the AIL, and he looked just fine out there. He made all the plays and made all the throws he needed to make, and had plenty on 'em, too.

4. Scott Moore -
If he remains with the Cubs, Moore will never be an everyday player, but he could become a valuable IF-OF supersub, like a Rob Mackowiak or a Geoff Blum. He needs at least one year of AAA (maybe two), but he has plus-power and he is an above-average runner. He strikes out a LOT, though.

5. Sam Fuld -
Fuld has had his career derailed by injuries (shoulder, broken wrist, and sports hernia), which has made him appear to be "too old" for his league, but the fact is Fuld has only two seasons of pro experience under his belt. He played college ball at Stanford and was a member of Team USA before that. He reminds me most of Lenny Dykstra, or like a Ryan Theriot, Ryan Freel, or Eric Byrnes. At the plate, Fuld is a royal pain-in-the-ass. He's a pest. If Fuld and Theriot were to hit 1-2 in the order, certain pitchers would probably have to be institutionalized. Fuld is a very good defensive CF, and is an outstanding lead-off hitter and base-stealer. He can work a count like nobody's business, and he can hit with two strikes. And he hustles.

PITCHERS:

I haven't seen Jeff Samardzija pitch, and I only saw Huseby throw once, so I can't really say much about them. And I would say Rich Hill has too much time in the big leagues to still be rated as a "prospect." But just speaking about the pitching prospects I have seen, I'd rate them this way:

1. Angel Guzman -
Nobody in the Cubs organization has better pure stuff (four pitches worth) than Guzman. If he can stay healthy (big IF), he's a top-of-the-rotation guy. Mixing a 96 MPH four-seam fastball and a 92 MPH sinker with an outstanding change-up and a plus-curve, Guzman is the cream of the crop. But he can't afford another injury set-back. He needs to get a lot of work at AAA in 2007 so he can be ready for MLB in 2008 when he will be out of minor league options.

2. Donald Veal -
The few times I saw Veal pitch at Fitch last ST, I was reminded of Vida Blue. He really pops the fastball and he has a decent change-up to go with it, but he is (so far) VERY inconsistent with his breaking ball. At the very least he will be a smokin' late-inning reliever, but if he can get his breaking ball refined, he is (like Guzman) another potential top-of-the-rotation starter.

3. Sean Gallagher -
Gallagher reminds me of Ricky Nolasco, but with the advanced smarts of a Greg Maddux. I don't know if he will ever be better than Nolasco, but even if he's only just as good, that's good enough to be a solid MLB rotation starter. And he could be even better than that.

4. Sean Marshall -
Although he's probably not a top-of-the-rotation guy, I think Marshall can be an effective MLB rotation starter. He has that really good lollipop curve, and when he locates his fastball where he wants to put it, he is an effective big league starter.

5. Clay Rapada -
I saw Rapada pitch in the AFL, and he was THE best reliever in the league. He has a funky side-arm motion he uses against left-handed hitters that would make him an ideal MLB LOOGY, but he also can get right-handers out with a 3/4 motion. And Rapada can pitch in the big leagues right now.

Wow very nice post Rob, its this kind of material that keeps Cub fans coming back to TCR.

I do have a question, in terms of the rankings especially BA how good are they. In other words, has anyone ever monitored or tracked how well their player grading ever work out to the MLB?

I've often wondered why Fuld gets no love.

BTW, in his on-line chat this afternoon, Jim Callis said if they had been eligible for the list, BA would have rated both Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman in the 8-10 range, and Carlos Marmol would have been rated somewhere 11-15.

fuld's a short (5'8" to 5'10" depending on who you ask) low-power guy who's speed+power+arm probably wont let him get a big gig right out of the box.

he'll get a chance to raise his worth in AA, its not like his power is non-existent or he's reached his ceiling of tallent.

in a non-baseball realm...some people question whether he even wants to play at all, his spirit, rather.

he wants to play of course, but he's stretching himself thin making sure he covers his ass with his education. a good idea, but not what people who judge baseball men are looking for other than the fact the kid has the brains to do it at all.

he has a nice college pedigree, but he did play all 4 years (including his freshman year because of how highly rated he was out of highschool). still, his power never showed itself and he's not kenny lofton out there in CF.

But he's got a name that I can spell. And that makes him A-OK in my book.

post Super Bowl lull today I guess...

man we're quiet.

Sam Fuld is 107 years old and people are talking about him like he's a legitimate prospect. Maybe for the local beer league, but not for the major leagues for crying out loud.

The fact that Ryan Harvey and Scott Moore are ranked in the top 10 tells you all you need to know for how pathetic the Cub farm system really is. Thanks Jim Hendry and Oneri Fleita.

fuld isnt that old for a guy who's had his injury past...he should be in AA already and would probably be if it wasnt for the injuries.

he would have been in the bigs...
1- right after highschool (ranked highschooler)
2- in 03 insted of 05 (decided to finish school and even refused to leave in 04 so he could finish his degree...btw, he's working on his master's in his spare time)

his big flaw is his power never developed and as far as prospecting goes his height is a big minus. no matter what anyone wants to think, height is a matter of prospect status when it comes to projection.

it'd be nice if fuld had an arm that would let him play RF, but right now he's a solid CF who could probably play some decent LF.

harvey's worth is coming from way more than his bat...its his arm, the fact he plays RF, and has projectable power. if he doesnt make better contact none of that will matter, but he's not washed up yet.

"he would have been in the bigs…"

oops..."he would have been higher in the system" that should read.

Silent Towel,

well as Sickels said, a couple of very good prospects but it thins out quickly. You got to give Wilkins some time to refresh the system.

That being said, I'd love to do a study on orginzational prospect rankings over the last 10-20 years. How many teams constantly stay near the top? There's got to be some ebb and flow to it. Sure, a lot would do with graduating guys which for the most part we haven't, but as I also mentioned, we have 3-4 good pitchers that don't get accounted for in most of these lists this year.

I know the Braves are constantly up there, but there's no organization quite like the Braves.

Besides the Braves, the Dodgers are an organization that has consistently produced quality talent. They've had some dry spells, but more years than not since the late 60's the Dodger system has produced.

It is beyond pathetic that Mark Grace and Rafael Palmiero are the last two decent everyday position players produced by the Cubs. A colossal failure in scouting AND instruction.

And while I know this won't be popular, truth be told I'm not all that wild about Felix Pie. To me, he is a guy with big holes to his swing. And his swing never is the same year-to-year. Big league pitchers invariably eat guys like this alive, unless they have overwhelming power that helps offset this type limitation (good example is Adam Dunn, another in a whole different light is Sam-me Steroid). To compare Pie to Carlos Beltran is an insult to Carlos Beltran. HOPEFULLY Pie starts to develop consistency and learns how to handle the diversity of pitches and approaches major league pitchers will throw at him. Right now, all I see is a poor man's Juan Encarnacion. Sure hope I'm wrong.

Can't get this amount and quality of information anywhere else. That's why I read TCR. Thanks

yeah, we rule!!!

thanks for all the kind words, we do appreciate it. This wouldn't nearly be as fun without your guys involvement.

I do have a question, in terms of the rankings especially BA how good are they. In other words, has anyone ever monitored or tracked how well their player grading ever work out to the MLB?

It would be a great study, but until recently they didn't have any competition. I'm sure someone has...somewhere, but I haven't come across anything.

http://athletics.scout.com/2/611811.html

a mock 2007 draft about 2 weeks old, has the Cubs picking Wieters

has Brackman all the way down to #24 but probably a top 10 pick if he shows he's healthy all year. Has Cole St. Clair as the 2nd pick, Price the first...

Comment and Question:

It seems Baseball America is trying to have it's cake and eat it too. Here's what I mean. In essence the goal of the minor leagues is to create viable major league players that can either help the big club or be assets in trading. Last season with the Cubs multiple injuries and poor record, they had a chance to give a lot of minor leaguers some major league experience. I'm talking about guys like Theriot, Cedeno, Guzman, Mateo, Marshall, Marmol, and Pagan (who was obtained I believe from the Mets).

Now if Baseball America is counting these guys as all major leaguers, then they should rate the Cubs overall farm system as one of the best since it has apparently promoted all those guys to the major leagues (excepting Pagan of course). But instead BA says that the Cubs farm system is substandard.

The question is... Which is it? These players have to be counted somewhere. If they count them as MLB players, then they HAVE to consider the Cubs farm system lights out. If they count them as minor leaguers (where most of them are going to start the season), then they have to give the Cubs credit for having quality guys on the farm ready to call up.

It's can't see how people are letting BA get away with essentially saying that these guys "don't exist anymore." That's bullhockey.

Ryan Theriot and a choice of either Ronnie Cedeno OR Angel Pagan will probabaly make this team. The rest will probably start the season in the minors.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

One small addendum. I forgot to mention the guys that the Cubs sent to Florida in exchange for Juan Pierre. They count as well in my argument.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

And we sent Aardsma + a minor leaguer to the Black Sox for Cotts. That is yet again another example of the minor leagues helping add major league talent based on last year.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

And how can I forget to mention the jewel of last years call-ups, Rich Hill, who will start the season in our rotation (probably as the #4 starter).

The more I look at this, I can't see my BA would berate the Cubs minor league system in any way.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/P/Bill...

umm...WHO is sponsoring his site?

weird...

Tehmpus,

I thought along similar lines, the Cubs get 'punished' by promoting Marshall and Guzman, when it comes to their prospect rankings. Had the ML staff not had so many injuries and unexpected poor performance, Marshall and Guzman remain in the minors and all of the sudden an 'average' prospect doesn't even make their BP top 10.

Everyone else,

As to the actual prospect lists themselves - and except for the guys who have played in the bigs and a few You-Tube views I have no eyes on experience.

Hitters

Pie: He needs a half a season at AAA to consolidate his learning, rushing him at this point could put him into the mindset that he 'deserves' to be in the ML, and he may never address his plate discipline issues. Expectation: Andy VanSlyke

Patterson: I am not as quick to move him to the OF as AZ Phil is, simply because he can't hit with enough power to play left. There's no room for him in center, so he has to stay at 2nd. Can his yips be fixed? Let's hope so. As to Rob G's comments about the genes, there are plenty of examples in baseball of one brother being a vastly superior player than his sibling, and I think CP is going to flirt with being an All-Star this year, anyway. Expecation: Eric Young

Harvey: He still has the 'tools', and showed in the 2nd half that he may be able to make changes necessary to become a big leaguer.
Expectation: Never makes it, Joe Carter if he does.

Colvin: Not a lot of 'data' to go on, but he should be afforeded plenty of time due to Soriano, Pie and Murton being under team control for a long time. Expectation: Kevin McReynolds

Jake Fox:
He had extremely good numbers in the FSL last year, which didn't carry over so well to the SL. It makes me wonder at what point the Cubs ML coaches start beating the ability to take a walk out of hitters, is it AA? Have never seen him even swing a bat, but he could become the backup for a Brad Ausmus type catcher.
Expecation: Failure, but Todd Greene if he makes it.

I don't think Moore will become a 25 man roster guy, most likely a career AAAA backing up the Aramis Ramirezes of the world. Just too many K's at low minors.

Fuld: Too old for his numbers. If he can do the same in the SL this year, that would move him onto my prospect monitor.

If they draft Wieters (and he signs) he becomes the number two positional prospect that day.

Pitchers

Guzman:
He just needs to figure it out, like Hill did. All the pitches, all the stuff, all the control, competiveness, everything is there.
Expectation: Kevin Tapani

Gallagher:
He's an adjustment guy, so he is not going to burst on the scene and win a RoY, but he's been very successful and not too old for his levels. Very DIPS friendly until his AA promotion, there's nothing 'wrong with him' just not anything great either.
Expecation: Jeff Suppan

Veal:
You have to like the K numbers he's put up. Obviously he has some control issues as well, and I'll defer to AZ Phil's judgement on the source of those. I'd expect him to be in Iowa by July and forcing Marquis and Lilly to prove they're better pitchers than he is by ST 2008.
Expectation: Sid Fernandez

Rapada: I love his numbers! No reason for him to be in the minors anymore, except there's no room for him on the ML roster. He should be the AAA closer this year, and allow us to trade from our ML depth at the deadline to get whatever we may need, or a nice position prospect.
Expecation: Kent Tekulve (if he can pitch that often)

Nice job on the collecting of the various lists, Rob G.

[...] Once upon a time, Baseball America was the only game in town when it came to covering the minor leagues and prospectdom in general. As one can tell from yesterday’s post, there are quite a few new kids on the block and the one making the most noise these days is Scout.com. Their team-specific approach has been a rather rousing success, and MVN can only hope they’re bought out by Rupert Murdoch one day as well. [...]

A little more breakdown on Harvey:

From June 1st on he hit:
.290 .317 .508

Though the ISOOBP is bad, the other numbers are quite nice. .509 slugging would have ranked him 2nd in the league and .290 average would be 11th.

I think he should start 2007 back in Daytona, though, again to let him know he needs to work on his flaws, or rather one flaw.

Manny T./Rob G.

BA has the Cubs farm system ranked 18th in this year's Prospect Book. Again, they rate each ML system based on prospects who haven't reached ML rookie AB/IP. Analysis: slightly below average.

Also, they usually have a section at the front of the book that shows each teams farm system rank the last 3 years. I don't know how long AZ Phil has been following BA, but if he has the books from the last few years we might be able to show ranks over the last 8-10 years.

George,

Quite frankly, I don't care what BA ranks the Cubs minor league system. If they completely ignore minor leaguers that have gotten some MLB experience along the way (YET STILL ARE IN THE MINOR LEAGUES) then their evaluation is flawed.

And yet, I believe that the true test of a minor league system is to see how it can help the big club either with players or trades. In both cases, the Cubs minor leagues have stepped up last season.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospect...

BA rankings over the last 6 years....

For the Cubs that would be then..
2007: 18
2006: 15
2005: 10
2004: 7
2003: 3
2002: 1
2001: 2

but as I mentioned in the first paragraph, tough to assess our system when we have 3-5 good players that aren't even considered.

I don't have all the 2007 rankings but from that 2006 list, the Braves are the only mid to big market team who have been in the top 10 all 6 years (we'll see how they do this year).

"If they completely ignore minor leaguers that have gotten some MLB experience along the way (YET STILL ARE IN THE MINOR LEAGUES) then their evaluation is flawed."

the entire scope of available talent isnt apparent in the rankings, but every team gets treated the same.

yeah, the cubs take a hit by having guys like guzman, marshall, etc. not ranked...there's some top10 talent ignored based on ineligibility and the rankings miss some talent that's helped cuz of how they sneaked into the bigs and compiled their innings/games before they got a chance to be considered...a guy like wuertz, for instance.

its not entirely fair assessment of the talent coming in/out of the system, but it mostly works. you just gotta take a step back and figure out what non-eligable guys that we would consider youngsters also factor into what isnt considered based on the flat by-the-rules assessment.

I was just trying to provide some information that Manny and Rob G. were mentioning. I think Rob's prospect list article shows there's a lot of ways to evaluate farm systems and BA's is just one of many.

yeah, im just tacking on some blah blah blah for the sake of wasting bandwidth.

the prospect system by the rules provided to evaluate at BA take away from the 07 reality that guzman/marshall/etc. exist though they probably will be practically treated as prospects in the cubs system, though not on paper.

[...] Reader “Virginia Phil” recently brought up an interesting comparision of some recent “5-tool” prospects in the comments last week on our “Prospect List-mania” article. He’s expanded a bit on his original effort and we hope you enjoy…. “If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.” –Hamlet [...]

[...] A couple months back, I put together as many of the Cubs prospect lists as I can find. But those all focused on how the Cubs ranked amongst each other. Now it’s time to see how the Cubs prospects rank in the grand scheme of baseball heading into 2007. Top Prospect Alert [...]

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