Guzman Extends Pitch Count At Fitch Park

While the EXST Cubs were losing 8-3 to the EXST Giants this morning on Fitch Park Field #3, Angel Guzman continued his rehab from September 2007 TJ surgery, throwing 20 pitches in a "simulated game" on Field #2.

Facing five EXST Cubs who were not in the starting lineup on Field #3 (Junior Lake, George Matheus, Nelson Perez, Kevin Soto, and Josh Vitters), the 26-year old Guzman once again had good velocity (consistently throwing his fastball 92-94 MPH, same as last Thursday), but also once again struggled with his control, (throwing ten balls and ten strikes in his one inning of work). But at least nobody hit the ball hard off him.

The same could not be said of Guzman's "simulated opponent," Daytona RHP Jon Mueller, who is also rehabbing at Fitch Park.

Mueller threw one real ringer-dinger, as Nelson Perez unloaded a bomb over the RF fence onto 8th Street to put an exclamation point on Mueller's two innings (30 pitches) of mostly subpar work.

Meanwhile, in the EXST game versus Giants on Field #3, RHP Jose Pina (2007 TJ surgery) got his first game action of 2008, throwing one shutout inning (one hit, no walks, and one K). He threw strikes and with decent velocity, and had no control problems at all.

The 22-year old Dominican spent most of the 2007 season in the starting rotation at  Peoria, going 5-8 with a 4.29 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 23 games (19 GS), with a 37/71 BB/K and 107 hits allowed in 107 IP, before getting shut-down with a sore elbow that eventually resulted in season-ending surgery.   

17-year old Dominican Jeffrey Antigua followed Pina to the mound and got clobbered, easily Antigua's worst outing of EXST 2008. The young left-hander allowed six runs on a triple, two doubles, four singles, and three walks, in just two innings of work.

19-year oldn Dominican RHP Miguel Sierra followed Antigua to the hill, and allowed two runs on five hits over four innings, and then ex-catcher (now RHP) Jake Muyco made his EXST Cactus League debut, throwing one inning, while allowing one hit but no runs.

Muyco had good velocity on his fastball, but the one hit he allowed was a hanging breaking ball. (I'll bet he didn't throw too many of those when he was behind the plate!).

Muyco has the typical look of a catcher-turned-pitcher, throwing with a cocky "bulldog" short-arm motion that is completely artless and totally lacking in style points. But he attacks the opposing hitters with an aggressive, sneering demeanor, and rapid-fire pace. 

In EXST roster moves, infielder Gian Guzman was promoted to Peoria, replacing 2B Jeffrey Rea, who has returned to Fitch Park (he is injured again).  Also, Tennessee infielder Robinson Chirinos has been sent to EXST at Fitch Park to learn to be a catcher.

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):

LINEUP:
1. Cesar Salazar, CF: 1-2 (RBI, BB, HBP, SB)
2. Kyler Burke, RF: 0-3 (BB)
3. Carlos Perez, DH #1: 0-4 (GIDP)
4. Drew Rundle, DH #2: 1-4
5a. John Contreras, 3B: 0-2 (K, GIDP)
5b. Junior Lake, 3B: 0-2
6a. Marwin Gonzalez, SS: 0-2 (R, BB)
6b. Roberto Sabates, PH: 0-1 (K)
7. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-3 (R, BB, K)
8. Alvaro Sosa, C: 2-2 (RBI, R, BB)
9. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2 (BB, K, GIDP)
10. Jose Made, LF: 0-2 (RBI, HBP, K)

PITCHERS:
1. Jose Pina - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (2/0 GO/FO)
2. Jeffry Antigua - 2.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 1 K (3/1 GO/FO)
3. Miguel Sierra - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP (4/4 GO/FO)
4. Jake Muyco - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (1/2 GO/FO)
5. Israel Camacaro - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2/1 GO/FO)

ERRORS: NONE!

CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Alvaro Sosa: 1-1 CS

WEATHER: Cloudless, sunny, and hot, temperature over 100 degrees (headed for an expected mid-afternoon high of 110).

ATTENDANCE: 16

And here is the updated 2008 CUBS EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING ROSTER (as of 5/19)

53 PLAYERS (41 ACTIVE)
37 ON ACTIVE ROSTER 
3 ON ACTIVE REHAB
1 ON RESTRICTED LIST – ACTIVE 
12 ON DISABLED LIST - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY

* bats or throws left

# bats both

ACTIVE players in BOLD

PITCHERS (31 TOTAL – 24 ACTIVE):
Alberto Alburquerque (SHOULDER SURGERY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Jeffry Antigua
* Michael Bunton (INJURY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Israel Camacaro
Rogelio Carmona
Rafael Dolis (TJ SURGERY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Eduardo Figueroa
Yohan Gonzalez
Angel Guzman (ACTIVE REHAB)
* Cody Hams
Marcus Hatley
* Arik Hempy 
Robert Hernandez (RESTRICTED LIST - ACTIVE)
Chris Huseby
Kitt Kopach (SHOULDER SURGERY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Oswaldo Martinez (TJ SURGERY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Jon Mueller (ACTIVE REHAB)
John Muller
Jake Muyco (ex-catcher - POSITION CHANGE)
Dionis Nunez
* Mark Pawelek
Julio Pena
Jose Pina
(ACTIVE REHAB)
Andres Quezada (ex-OF - POSITION CHANGE)
Cedric Redmond (LABRUM INJURY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Carlos Rojas
Ryan Searle
Miguel Sierra
Larry Suarez (TJ SURGERY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Luke Sommer (ex-OF - POSITION CHANGE)
Harol Tolentino

CATCHERS (5 TOTAL – 4 ACTIVE):
Robinson Chirinos (ex-2B - POSITION CHANGE)
Jose Guevara (HAND INJURY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Carlos Perez
Roberto Sabates
# Alvaro Sosa

INFIELDERS (10 TOTAL – 8 ACTIVE):
Starlin Castro (FINGER INJURY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
John Contreras
# Marwin Gonzalez
Dwayne Kemp
* Bryan Jost 
Junior Lake
Jose Made
George Matheus

* Jeffrey Rea (LEG INJURY REHAB - LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Josh Vitters

OUTFIELDERS (7 TOTAL – 5 ACTIVE):
* Kyler Burke
* Jeff Culpepper (SHOULDER SURGERY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Clark Hardman (INJURY REHAB – LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Nelson Perez
* Drew Rundle
# Cesar Salazar
Kevin Soto

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Comments

Good stuff, AZ Phil! Keep it coming. You're our only voice out of Mesa.

Thanks AZ PHIL!

So, what do you think is the sudden bump in attendance?

So why the move to catcher? I was under the impression that he was a decent 2B prospect. Is he blocked, or did he just reach his ceiling?

Submitted by garsky on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:30am.

So why the move to catcher? I was under the impression that he was a decent 2B prospect. Is he blocked, or did he just reach his ceiling?

=============================

GARSKY: I was surprised that the Cubs decided to send Robinson Chirinos to Mesa to make him a catcher because...

1. He is going to be a minor league FA after the season.

2. He is a below-average hitter with below-average power.

3. His arm is just average, certainly not what you look for in a catcher.

The only reasons I can think of that might explain the move are:

1. Chirinos probably knows his future will likely be as a AA or AAA utility player, and being able to catch in a pinch might give him an edge over another player who can't, especially with the "short bench" caused by the 24-man rosters used at AAA and AA. So being able to catch could help to prolong his career.

2. The Cubs have had some success converting infielders to catchers recently, most notably Steve Clevenger and Casey McGehee. The difference, though, is that McGehee and Clevenger have above-avewrage throwing arms and are better hitters than Chirinos, and both Clev and McGehee are potential MLB bench guys. Chirinos probably is not.

3. With Jose Guevara out with a hand injury and with Luis Bautista having been promoted to Peoria, the EXST Cubs were down to just three catchers, and they really needed a fourth one to catch bullpen sessions, "live" BP sessions, and pitchers warming up in the bullpen, what with 20+ pitchers in EXST camp.

I do know for a fact that beyond his game skills, the Cubs Player Development people really like Chirinos, and I believe they will want to keep him in the organization even after his playing career is over as a manager or player-coach, so learning the art of catching (at least intellectually) will help Chirinos understand the game better, in case he becomes a coach or manager.

Submitted by The E-Man on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 7:41am.

Thanks AZ PHIL!

So, what do you think is the sudden bump in attendance?

============================

E-MAN: It was AZ Phil bobblehead day.

LOL!

Thanks PHIL!

Seriously, can you explain the perceived level difference in the two "A" Ball teams - Daytona and Peoria.

What is the criteria used to send players to either squad? IS there a potential niche that each is known for (i.e. the Daytona is a great hitters tutorial system, while Peoria is better for total fundamentals)?

In looking at the rosters of both teams, it seems as if Peoria may have a couple more advanced pitching prospects - but Daytona has "pedigreed" kids of former Major leaguers (such as Lansford and Russell).

What say ye, AZ PHIL?

Submitted by The E-Man on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 10:39am.

LOL!

Thanks PHIL!

Seriously, can you explain the perceived level difference in the two "A" Ball teams - Daytona and Peoria. What is the criteria used to send players to either squad?

IS there a potential niche that each is known for (i.e. the Daytona is a great hitters tutorial system, while Peoria is better for total fundamentals)?

In looking at the rosters of both teams, it seems as if Peoria may have a couple more advanced pitching prospects - but Daytona has "pedigreed" kids of former Major leaguers (such as Lansford and Russell).

What say ye, AZ PHIL?

===========================

E-MAN: There really is not a whole lot of difference between "A" (Peoria) and Advanced "A" (Daytona). Basically, it's all about a player's age and level of experience.

The pitchers and the hitters at Daytona are (generally speaking) slightly older and more advanced (experienced) than their compatriots at Peoria. But the talent level really isn't that much different.

For instance, RHP Mark Holliman signed too late to play in the minors in the 2005 season, but if he had signed earlier, he almost certainly would have been sent to Short Season Boise (Northwest League), which is designed primarily for college players selected in the June draft, to help them transition into pro baseball from college baseball.

The difference between college baseball and pro baseball goes well beyond the play on the field. The players have to learn how to be "professionals," meaning they play more often, go on extended road trips, and have to learn how to handle disapointment and criticism not usually experienced in college.There also are no athletic department flunkies (assistants) around to keep them from getting into (and help them get out of) jams, and there suddenly there aren't any cheerleaders available for dates, either.

Holliman made his pro debut in Minor League Camp (Spring Training) in 2006 and then was assigned directly to Daytona (not Peoria) in April 2006. The Cubs did not feel he needed to stay at Extended Spring Training, and with his age and level of experience, they saw Daytona as the more appropriate starting point rather than Peoria.

The Cubs felt comfortable "skipping" Holliman over Peoria because Holliman was a "Friday Night Starter" (#1 starter)) at Ole Miss in the SEC, and the transition from that role to being a starter at Daytona is fairly seamless ON THE FIELD. So the Cubs had to measure Holliman's level of maturity at Minor League Camp that first season (2006), and obviously they felt comfortable assigning him to Advanced "A" from the gitgo.

Likewise, 2007 draft picks LF Ty Wright (Oklahoma State), CF Jonathan Wyatt (Georgia), SS Darwin Barney (Oregon State), and 2B Tony Thomas (Florida State) went from Boise in 2007 to Daytona this season, skipping Peoria. Same goes for LHP James Russell (Texas), who pitched so weel at Daytona in April that he is already in the starting rotation at AA Tennessee. 

These "jump" promotions were possible because none of the players were blocked at Daytona by other players, and because all came to pro ball from top-flight NCAA Division 1 baseball programs and conferences, so they had the experience, confidence, and maturity needed for a bigger challenge.

Catcher Josh Donaldson (Auburn), LF Brandon Guyer (Virginia), 3B Marquez Smith (Clemson), CF Leon Johnson (BYU), and 2B Jeffrey Rea (Mississippi State) could easily have skipped Peoria, too, but in each of their cases they were blocked by prospects at Daytona (Welington Castillo, Ty Wright, Josh Lansford, Jonathan Wyatt, and Tony Thomas) who happen to play the same position they play.

Conversely, a position player with less experience (like Jovan Rosa out of a JC progtram, or HS kids like Cliff Andersen, Dylan Johnston, Drew Rundle, and Nathan Samson, or Latin players like Marwin Gonzalez, Mario Mercedes, or Elvis Lara) or a pitcher who was not a #1 guy in college (like Craig Muschko, Chris Siegfried, or Zach Ashwood), or a JC pitcher like Jordan Latham or Stephen Vento, or a HS kid like Ryan Acosta, or a teenaged Latin or Korean pitcher (like Alberto Cabrera, Robert Hernandez, or Dae-Eun Rhee) would almost certainly need to pass through Peoria before getting moved up to Daytona.

It's just a different matter with high school players, JC guys, and teenaged Latin players (and other international players). In those cases, the maturity level of the player is EXTREMELY important, and rushing the kid too fast could hurt him more than it would hurt a player with extensive experience in a Big Time college baseball program. Latin, Korean, and Taiwanese players also must learn to deal with language barriers they will encounter when they are out on their own in Peoria or Daytona.

Players assigned to Fitch Park (EXST Cubs April-May and AZL Cubs June-August) stay in the same motel (two to a room) and are subject to bed checks and room inspections. It's like Summer Camp. They have to be at Fitch Park at 6 AM or they get fined or suspended. The "road trips" are 15 or 30 minute runs in a maxi-van to Scottsdale, Tempe, Papago Park, Maryvale, Peoria or Surprise.

Players assigned to Boise stay with "host families" (who are compensated by receiving season tickets to Boise Hawks games) and have much more freedom. They do have to report to the ballpark at a certain time, but the Hawks play mostly all night games so the players have to be at the ballpark around 5 PM in the afternoon rather than at 6 AM in the morning. The Boise Hawks also have very long bus rides (all-nighters) when on the road, and the players live on Dominoes Pizza (because they're the only places open late in most of the towns in the Northwest League) and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. The fact that the typical salary for a player at Boise is around $1,000 per month also limits their options.

Players at Peoria and Daytona are totally on their own. They live in apartments, usually with one or more other players. The cost of living is important because most "A" ball players make less than $8,000 per year. (The ones who got big bonuses are usually very popular, because they are the ones with cars, big-screen TVs, and money to spend at restaurants and the movies). 

Most of the players at Fitch Park (EXST and AZL Cubs) dream of getting to Boise. It's like trying to get a "Letter of Transit" out of Casablanca. The ones who have been to Boise dream of getting to Peoria. And Daytona is the Promised Land because the players can live right down at beach and the Florida State League has more "advanced" (older and more experienced) players.

The best is when a "big leaguer" rehabs at Fitch Park. When Scott Eyre threw a "live" BP session on Field #2 last month, or when Angel Guzman is throwing a "simulated game," the EXST pitchers all come running out of the clubhouse to watch them pitch, hoping to maybe learn something from the experiencre.

Guys like Eyre and Guzman are very popular with the younger guys, because they talk to them and joke with them and maybe buy them lunch or dinner, and will sometimes even stick around and watch their games, when they could be in the clubhouse watching TV. Some are jerks, but most of the "big leaguers" (and AA and AAA guys, too) who rehab at Fitch remember what it was like to be stuck at a place like Fitch Park. 

Wow. That was almost lyrical. GREAT picture of the culture in the lower minor league system.

AZ Phil, I can't express how much I appreciate your reports and insight. You have succeeded in sucking me into the world of developing talent for the big leagues. What spare time? ~sigh~

Your the man Phil!

Many Thanks PHIL!

I will try to ask a question that does not require such a wonderful detailed reply next time.

But can't promise.

This stemmed from the fact that I purchased one ticket to see the Peoria Chiefs at Wrigley, and a couple of the youngsters I was hoping to see (Jose Ceda, for one, and maybe one of the above named) are not on the roster anymore.

The prospects as you have been discussing these many months that I recall, Johnson, Donaldson, and Burke, do not seem to be lighting it up yet there - at least from the recent stats. In fact Donaldson apparently is right at the Mendoza line @ a .203 BA in 116 AB's...

Of the pitchers, it looks like Brian Muldowney is the class of the bunch right now...But that's it.

E-MAN:

SOME OF THE POSITION PLAYERS AT PEORIA:

OF Cliff Andersen has been hot lately. He's a very good prospect, a Jim Edmonds clone. He strikes out a lot, but he also walks a lot, and he has good--albeit only occasional (at this point in his career)--power. (I saw him hit a 440 ft HR over the CF batter's eye at Fitch Park last year). He signed an NLI to attend Oklahoma State, but the Cubs "bought him out" by giving him an over-slot bonus in 2006. He can play all three OF positions, but he's best in CF where he can use his athleticism to make big plays defensively. He plays OF like a free safety in football (which he played in HS). 

Catcher Josh Donaldson (2007 compensation pick for losing Type "B" FA Juan Pierre) started out very slow at bat in 2007 (as did the entire Peoria Chiefs team), but he has started to hit lately. I still rate Donaldson as the Cubs #1 position player prospect. He has outstanding power, and reminds me of Paul Konerko. Donaldson received an NRI to ST with the Cubs this past February. While slumping at the plate in April, he still managed to throw out nearly 50% of the opposing base-runners who tried to steal against him. Donaldson played 3B in HS and in his freshman year at Auburn, before being moved to catcher. He needs to improve his "receiving skills" (way too many passed balls, and he needs to work on framing pitches and blocking balls in the dirt) but he is (IMO) a top prospect.

1B-3B Jovan Rosa was a SS in college, but the Cubs moved him to 3B after they signed him as a "Draft & Follow" (DNF) last May. He made some really fine stops at 3B when playing for the AZL Cubs last Summer, although he also made some really terrible throws. Then after they drafted and signed Josh Vitters and Marquez Smith in June, the Cubs moved Rosa to 1B at the AZ Instructional League last Fall, although he continues to play 3B, too. Rosa was originally a 22nd round draft pick in 2006, but the Cubs gave him 5th round money to sign as a DNF last May after he was projected as a Top 5 round pick in the '07 draft. He was born in Puerto Rico, but attended JC in Florida. He speaks fluent Spanish and fluent English and is used as a Spanish translator on the field. He has put up a 1.000+ OPS over his last 20 games at Peoria and is unquestionably the Chiefs best hitter right now, although he has NOT made a smooth transition to 1B defensively. He might end up back at 3B, especially if the Cubs eventually move Josh Vitters to RF, which I think is possible if Vitters continues to struggle defensively at 3B (it could be affecting his hitting). Rosa is (right now) morphing into a Top 15 prospect.

Marquez Smith was a teammate of Tyler Colvin at Clemson, and he played 3B in college. But because of the glut of 3B in the system, the Cubs have tried him at 2B and he has looked OK there, although 3B is definitely his best position. He is a stocky kid with a quick bat who should develop into a 20+ HR man eventually, although he might not hit for average. He really should be at Daytona, but he's blocked there by Josh Lansford at 3B and by Tony Thomas at 2B.  

SS Nathan Samson was another 2006 HS draft pick who got above slot money to sign, and he initially struggled with the bat and in the field last season. He played in the Hawaiian Winter League post-2007 with RF Kyler Burke (who was demoted from Peoria to EXST last week). Samson has played a lot better the past few weeks, after being moved back to SS (his "natural" position) from 2B.

CF Leon Johnson attended BYU (2007 10th round pick) and is the younger brother of Tampa Bay 3B Elliot Johnson. Another brother (Cedric) was drafted by the Phillies last June, but did not sign. (I believe Cedric is presently on an LDS mission, but I don't know for sure). Leon (also known as "Leo") was a state hurdles champion while attending HS in Arizona, and he runs with a longish stride. As I've mentioned before, Leon (Leo) spent two years on an LDS mission in Siberia that set his career back a bit, but he is one of the fastest players in the Cubs organization. He is an outstanding defensive outfielder with a plus-arm (he leads the Cubs organization in OF assists in 2008), is the best bunter in the organization, and a good base-stealer and baserunner. He also takes a lot of walks. A VERY fundamentally sound player. The one and only thing he has yet to solve is hitting, where he has a LOT of trouble making contact. Lots and lots of swings & misses. And he is prone to lengthy slumps, too, where he appears totally clueless at the plate. He would probably be better off bunting on every AB, although he actually has some surprising power when he does make contact.

LF-RF Dylan Johnston was a 2005 4th round pick as a shortstop out of Hamilton HS in Chandler, AZ, and the Cubs pushed him WAY too fast. Like with Luis Montanez, the Cubs finally decided to move Johnston to the outfield and early returns show the move to be a success. He has finally started to hit. He has always had outstanding power potential, and he certainly has the arm strength necessary to play RF. His big problem throughout his career has been strikeouts and throwing errors (while playing SS). Lots of strikeouts and lots of errors. He has put on some weight since last season, and no longer runs as well as he did in years previous, which is another reason the Cubs moved him to the outfield.

LF-DH Brandon Guyer (2007 5th round pick out of U. of Virginia) was at EXST until just last week, rehabbing from a fractured elbow. He wears a black pressure-sleeve on his right arm. He played one game in LF in an intrasquad game at Fitch Park last Thursday, and the Cubs immediately promoted him to Peoria after the game. Offensively, Guyer is a Matt Murton clone, and (like Murton) Guyer really needs to play LF (or DH).  

Gian Guzman is an 18-year old (turns 19 next week) Dominican infielder who can play 2B, SS, or 3B. He was signed by the Cubs after the 2006 season and (unlike most Dominican players) went directly to the U. S. without playing in the Dominican Summer League (DSL Cubs). Guzman has a line drive stroke but could very well develop HR power as he matures physically. He is a solid defender no matter where he plays, and he is also a good base-runner with slightly above-average speed. He plays smarter than his years, and facially resembles a young Aramis Ramirez. He is tall and lanky, not at all the prototypical middle infielder, and as long as he doesn't outgrow SS, he could move quickly through the Cubs system.

Elvis Lara was MVP of the DSL Cubs in 2006 and played for the AZL Cubs (Mesa) last Summer. He was originally a 2B, but was moved to LF this season. He is a good hitter but with minimal power, and he is just an average runner. He is below average defensively no matter where he plays. He is a very gregarious fellow, and spent a lot of time learning English at Fitch Park (Latin players have the opportinuity to take English classes, although it's not required). Some think he got promoted to Peoria last month as much for his willingness to "get with the program" as anything he does on the field, but he IS a good hitter. He loves to yell baseball cliches (in English) from the dugout. You can hear Lara all over the field. "Atta baby!"

1B-C Luis Bautista (Florida International) is the younger brother of Pirates 3B Jose Bautista, but Luis looks more like Lurch from the Addams Family than his older brother. He is a big lug, and a terrible defensive player. Totally clueless. You would think he would have more power than he does, but he is more of a line drive hitter than a power hitter (although he does hit the ball hard). He needs to hit home runs if he wants to make it in pro ball. Did I mention he is a slow runner?

A FEW OF THE PITCHERS:

By the time you see the Chiefs play at Wrigley, the pitching staff might look different than it is now. For instance, I expect former #1 draft pick LHP Mark Pawelek to get promoted to Peoria pretty soon. He has looked VERY good in his last several outings at EXST, after he apparently decided to stop listening to the coaches and went back to doing things his way. Lately he has started to resemble the Mark Pawelek I saw in 2005 when he first signed with the Cubs, although the Mohawk haircut is a new look for him.  

As for the pitchers presently at Peoria, RHP Hung-Wen Chen is a 22-year old advanced-polished pitcher who may or may not pitch for Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) in the Summer Olympics. If he does not, he should get moved up to Daytona pretty soon, although he might still be at Peoria when the Chiefs play at Wrigley.

18-year old South Korean RHP Dae-Eun Rhee got a big bonus last Summer, and he looks like he's worth every penny of it. He is presently sidelined with biceps tendinitis, but he has a slider that moves like a splitter. Virtually an unhittable pitch. His other pitches (fastball, curve, and change) are very good, too. I would rate him as probably the Cubs #3 pitching prospect right now (behind only Gallagher and Ceda).

19-year old Venezuelan RHP Robert Hernandez is another one of the Cubs top pitching prospects (Top 5 among the pitchers). He is presently serving a 50-game prohibited substance suspension, but he will be eligible for reinstatement next week. He is throwing the ball VERY well at EXST. He somewhat resembles former Cubs OF David Martinez.

RHP Blake Parker (U. of Arkansas) is a former C-1B-3B who was converted to pitcher at EXST a year ago. (His last day as a position player he hit a game-winning grand slam!). The conversion has progresed very well (although he was a pitcher in HS), and he is presently probably the most-reliable of the Peoria relievers. Last time I saw him he was throwing a 93 MPH fastball with a very good breaking ball, although he needs to throw strikes.  

RHP Jordan Latham was another Draft & Follow signed by the Cubs a year ago, back when you could still sign a DNF. Latham throws about 93-94, and was pitching at a JC baseball factory known as the College of Southern Idaho (where Scott Eyre once played) and had signed an NLI to transfer to Arizona State before the Cubs threw money at him to get him to turn pro.

RHP Billy Muldowney (2006 8th round pick out of Pitt) had TJ surgery last July, but he has completed his rehab and is once again in the starting rotation at Peoria and has thrown the ball well (so far). I had him rated as the Cubs overall #10 prospect a year ago (before he got hurt). He has a solid fastball, breaking ball, and curve, and he is a very smart pitcher.

RHP Stephen Vento was drafted & signed out of Palm Beach JC in Florida last June, and (other than Rhee and Hernandez) may have the best pure stuff on the Peoria staff. High velocity gas and a power slider. He just needs to refine his delivery and be more consistent. He could develop into a closer at some point if he can find some polish. 

Wow, thank you for all the detail AZ Phil!

THANKS AGAIN PHIL!

I am taking the printout to the game, and it will go in my binocular case (right next to the radar gun).

Just kidding.

About the gun!

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