Will Cubs Eat Their Young in September?

Today's double-barreled day off for the Chicago and Iowa Cubs seems like a good time to assess how the two teams' fortunes intertwine as their respective seasons round third.

Like their parents the Iowa Cubs enjoy a five game bulge over their nearest divisional pursuers [the Cardinal proteges in Memphis]. Since the PCL regular season ends on Labor Day [Monday, September 1], the I-Cubs are only a couple dozen games away from a likely playoff spot. That likelihood makes the annual speculation about September call-ups a little less idle than in most years.

Here's a quick summary of guys who figure to get some consideration as extras in the claustrophobic dugout at Wrigley:

1. Micah Hoffpauir - What's there to say? The guy's hitting .350+ with 73 RBI's in 49 games! A question of when, not if.

2. Jason Dubois - 20 HR's in 179 AB's figure to get him a few shots when a late-inning PH with power from the right side is called for.

3. Koyie Hill - Got hot along with the weather to get the BA north of .280; also gunning down about a third of enemy base-stealers. A third catcher who switch-hits is a given.

4. Casey McGehee - Has steadily, quietly amassed 76 RBI's while primarily manning 3B; might spell Aramis a time or two if the Chicubs clinch with any room to spare.

5. Felix Pie - Still listed on the active roster but hasn't played in August since he retwisted his testicle or whatever.

6. Andres Torres - Can there be such a thing as a poor man's Angel Pagan? Torres is a switch-hitting OF @ .303 BA, .397 OBP & 17/20 SB's. Remember him in case Felix can't get his balls unknotted.

7. Michael Wuertz - His season has only Wuertzened since the demotion. Despite one gaudy outing of 3 perfect innings that included 7 K's, he's racked up a 6.30 ERA in 10 Iowa innings so far.

8. Mitch Atkins - Not likely, but just so you'll know, this guy is 5-0 with a 3.90 ERA since coming up from Tennessee. His last start read as follows: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K's.

At some point there will be decisions to make about how many battle fronts the organization wants to fight on simultaneously. Troops may have to be pulled from the PCL playoffs to enable a September surge in the NL Central or simply to give the frontliners some R&R before the REAL playoffs begin in October.

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Comments

Not to sound like a broken record, but what about the Guz? And that's a bit too many testicular - related expressions for a morning post, if you ask me. But thanks for the update, wasn't aware of a few of those player's progressions this season.

I didn't include 'the Guz' because he hasn't been in Des Moines [yet] this year, but he is active now & maybe the most likely extra pitcher for the stretch, especially given LP's penchant for young,'power arms', even surgically repaired ones...

We had a question in an earlier thread regarding Guz's options remaining, perhaps someone can fill us in on that status.

Check out the 40 Man roster info in the TCR Junk Drawer.

Guzman will have one option left, according to AZ Phil.

I imagine Kevin Hart will also be considered for a September call-up. He's been pitching exclusively in relief since being demoted and has done really well.

Of the I-Cubs, I imagine we'll see these guys in September (to fill these roles):

Hoffpauir (to be D. Ward)
K. Hill (3rd catcher)
Pie (if he's healthy-- defensive replacement, pinch-runner)

Wuertz (if he straightens out-- bullpen depth)
Hart (bullpen depth)

and perhaps Angel Guzman if he's healthy.

and maybe, just maybe Rich Hill if he straightens out, though I'm not optimistic about that.

Those are pretty decent reinforcements. And all of these guys are on the 40-man roster.

rock on,

ROMERO

Every single Kevin Hart 2008 appearance has been dogshit.

I've seen him twice in person, including the disasterous 7/12 affair in Rich Hill's debut.

He is great in AAA, and a head case in the majors.

No fucking way do I want him to pitch unless the team is leading by 10.

If the Cubs are going to experiment, I would personally prefer seeing other prospects than Hart this year, at least.

Koyie "5 MPH" Hill is not on the 40 man roster.

an easy fix with Adam Harben and Jake Fox still there, plus they'll have an open spot with Eyre gone.

Agreed... i was just pointing that they all were NOT on the 40 man roster.

I figure that we see Randy Wells and Donnie Veal in early September as well.

Veal is rule 5 eligible after this season if he isn't added to the 40 man.(and will 100% be taken.)

Wells is eligible for both rule 5 AND ML free agency if he isn't added to the 40 man.

September seems like a good time to get some real world evaluations on these two. I will be shocked if either guy isn't added to the 40 man. Justin Berg is in the same boat. He has an outside chance of being added.

I think you're going to be shocked.

Shocking!

By the way, FP is actually out w/ a sore hand, an injury not thought to be in any way related to the one jokingly referenced in the post. I'm feeling a bit wrong as one man making light of another's discomfort in that sensitive region...

Touche, Romero, re: Kevin Hart...

References about eating young and testicles in the same post are a little bit too much to swallow if you ask me.

Mike W-

Thanks for the Pie clarification. I can now uncross my legs.

Any idea when he will return?

Also -- it seems like Ascanio hasn't been doing too well (?). Hopefully, he can get things straightened out. He looked liek he had some potential.

Glad to see how well Hart's been doing so far - but not so enthused about his call - up. The guy seems to turn into a pumpkin every time he faces major league hitters - there must be better options available.

Wasn't Hart pretty good last year?

Other guys who may get Setember looksies:

Chad Fox is lurking... hard to believe there's room for him in the organization but not Eyre.
Piggy has pitched a little better than his ERA indicates.
Fuld can do some pinch running.
Jake Fox is hitting a bit better in AA. His defensive flexibility and the fact that he is on the 40 man already may give him the nod over Dubois.

Fuld has been pretty awful all year - I would be surprised if he gets called up.

Well, if he's working hard, it doesn't matter how bad he's playing. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets called up, because Lou may have one of his crushes on him, and he can be of some use, even if he doesn't bat.

Yep. Hart was pretty good LAST year. So was Rich Hill.

As MLB players THIS year: blech.

Eat their young? The Cubs will starve to death if they try that. The I-Cubs are a really old team loaded up with MLB retreads and AAAA geezers because the system had an admitted lack of prospects at the AA and AAA levels. They even went so far as demoting Sam Fuld, Jake Fox, and Matt Craig to AA in order to fill the vacuum down there.

Micah Hoffpauir tops my list as well. He's heir-apparent to the job currently held by this guy slug (.227 2HR 9RBI .346 .394) who is 0 for his last 10 games.

But Jason Dubois is just there to fill Hoffpauir's size AAA shoes when the Cubs call.

Not to quibble, but Koyie Hill isn't hot right now. He's cooled down considerably in the heat. Something like .219 in his last ten games. And he hasn't hit well at home all year. The road is another story. He's a .320 hitter out of town and a likely September call-up.

Not mentioned in your article, but on my list is Kevin Hart. He's being used as a reliever lately, adjusted well, and has a 2.57 ERA in that role.

Some good points navigator,
Last year's Icubs team was loaded with prospects. However as of right now. Trades,attrition and regression have thinned the prospect heard of the upper levels.
My hope is that the cubs pass on the AAAA types this offeason. Instead they need to aggressively promote the guys in the lower levels this year. Assuming good health next spring, hopefully we see:

Iowa:

Colvin
Veal
Lansford
Reynolds
Ceda
Castillo

Knoxville:

T Thomas
Barney
Marquez Smith
Clevenger
Papelbon
Canzler
Carter
Wright

Daytona:

Riding
Rosa
Guyer
Johnston
Flaherty
Cashner

In order to promote these guys. An upper level purge is going to be needed.

Again - beating a dead horse - Kevin Hart is a great AAA pitcher. In the majors, he is a head case that cracks at the slightest situational difficulty. Blech.

He's Rich Hill, without the back spasms.

If it were up to E-Man, Alex Rodriguez would have spent the last 12 years in Tacoma.

Isn't it possible for people to struggle a bit on the majors, go down to AAA, work on some things and then come back up to the majors and be successful?

why are you back?

Great comparison - Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Hart

There was a lack of Pinhead references.

Why are you still here?

Should I list every successful major leaguer who went down to AAA at some point? The list literally be thousands of players long. My point is, that when you try to judge a player's entire career based on three weeks of performance, you're going to be wrong more times than right. In this particular case, the player already has had some ML success.

So, being that you haven't seen him pitch in Iowa, what are you basing your black and white decision on? If the Cubs brass had used the same logic, they wouldn't have made the playoffs last year.

I agree.

Look, I hope he gets it together, Real Neal.

He has the "power arm", Lou likes.

I've only seen him this year in the "Bigs", and he has not done well (which is why Lou sent him packing right after the 7/12 game I referred to).

In a heated pennant race, it just seems like for this year, there may be other options that could be ahead of him. I was hoping Ascanio would get it together, but his MiLB stats aren't that pretty right now either.

IF anyone has seen him recently, it would be great to hear about him.

One more righty power arm, to replace Howry in the 7th would be great. If it's not going to be Hart or Wuertz... I don't really see any other potential candidates on the 40 man roster.

I'd like to see the Cubs try to make Edmonds next year's Ward -- a late-inning LH bat (who could get the same # of IBB that Ward does, which is the only thing he does well), but one who could actually play the field occasionally. Get him a 1B mitt, and he becomes a very valuable bench player. Probably an expensive one, but one who could contribute.

What say?

I expect Hoffpower to get a September showcase so he can traded this offseason. If he were to be in AAA again in 2009 ... well, can Hendry really make the same stupid mistake with yet another young prospect?

Hoffpaiur is 28, there's not going to be a lot of teams beating down the door to trade for him. I expect he'll replace Ward as Lee's backup next year, and if he continues to hit like he has, maybe work himself into a platoon in '10. Lee's contract could be an albatross by then and a $.75 million contract for a slugging 1st basement might be a good savings.

I wouldn't mind Edmonds coming back next year, but the fear is that he'd be Gary Gaetti Part 2.

All September Call-Ups must be added to or be already on the 40-man, correct? That will figure heavily into what the Cubs actually do.

I would expect to see Ascanio, Hart, Hoffpauir, and Felix, as they are on the 40-man, and would have a useful role to play, even if it's eating innings the final weekend, and staying sharp in case of injury.

We won't see DuBois or Torres or McGahee or anyone like that, as we shouldn't spend 40-space on fringy vets like that.

I do think the Cubs should add Koyie to the 40-man to give Soto some rest. Or, another alternative could be Wellington Castillo, but that seems like a reach.

The Cubs have room on the 40-man. Harben and Fuld look very droppable to me, and Scott Eyre will be cleared off shortly.

RE: Hoffpauir, he is NOT an ML-Starter. He is a ML bench player, and will make Daryl Ward expendible, and fill that role. He has trade value, but don't expect much more than a 23rd to 25th kind of guy in return, because that's what he is.

Ascanio is more of a demotion candidate. 22 hits and 14 earned runs in his last 14+ innings.

pheh~

Submitted by Dmac on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 9:26am.

We had a question in an earlier thread regarding Guz's options remaining, perhaps someone can fill us in on that status

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

DMAC: Angel Guzman used three minor league options prior to the 2008 season. He will likely not use a minor league option in 2008, and because he will not have completed five “full seasons” on an active minor league or major league roster through the 2008 season, he will (once again) be eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2009.

Guzman is presently on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL, so although he can spend as many as 30 days on a minor league rehab assignment, he has the right to terminate his minor league rehab at any time.

In order to preseve Guzman's 4th minor league option for 2009, the Cubs have to make sure that Gooz spends no more than 19 days on optional assignment in 2008. And if the Cubs plan to add him to their active roster on September 1st, they can't option him to the minors any earlier than August 13th.

So Guzman needs to remain on his minor league rehab assignment at least until 8/13, and then the Cubs can reactivate him from the DL and option him to Iowa until 9/1.

 

He's Back!!!!!

Nice piece, Mike. I think Matt Craig is a better hitter than McGehee, however.

Craig started the season injured. Then he tore it up at Tennessee: .333/.492/.511, 1.003 OPS. Not too bad a drop-off at Iowa: .300/.375/.600, for a .975 OPS.

McGehee's numbers (.289/.341/.430, .771 OPS) are pedestrian, except for RBI.

Dubois, Craig, Fox. I expect one (possibly two) of those three to get a call-up.

I'm not sure the Cubs have room for another lefty-hitting outfielder, but if something happened to Edmonds, they might think about moving Fukudome to center and bringing up Josh Kroeger, who has had a good season at Iowa, or Doug Deeds, who has had something of a breakout season (.337/.401/.534, .935 OPS) at Tenn. Both are right fielders (unlike Hoffpauir).

A "breakout season?" That's being VERY generous Virginia Phil. The Cubs DEMOTED him to AA. He played for AAA Rochester last year, .243 .306 .404 .710 .

This is Deeds' third season in AA dating back to 2005.

That's what I mean by breakout: he's hitting 45-50 BA points higher than he used to in AA. And he has good power. Sometimes things click with hitters--like Soto last year.

The Cubs didn't demote him. He's been raking almost from the first day the Cubs got him. He was a right fielder, and Kroeger was in line ahead of him.

If Tyler Colvin had Deeds's numbers, he'd be up here in a hurry.

I don't really know much about Deeds (except that he was Nick Swisher's college roommate). I just like his numbers and think he ought to be on the map somewhere.

I dunno what to say.. He spent the entire 2007 season playing for AAA Rochester in the Twins system. The Cubs picked him up in the Craig Monroe deal and placed him at Tennessee (along with several other AAA vets) this year. Is that not a demotion?

Besides activating Jon Lieber, Chad Fox, and Angel Guzman from the DL, I suspect the Cubs September call-ups will most-likely be RHPs Michael Wuertz and Kevin Hart, 1B-OF Micah Hoffpauir, and OF Felix Pie, with catcher Koyie Hill also brought up from Iowa (and added to the 40-man roster). 1B-OF Jason Dubois would be an outside possibility.

K. Hill will likely be carried on the 40-man roster post-2008 as well, since Henry Blanco is signed for 2009 for $3M, but can be bought out for $300K, and I doubt that the Cubs will pay Blanco $3M to back up Soto next year.

So the Cubs will likely buy-ouy Blanco after the season, and then try to re-sign him him for a lot less money for '09, but I predict K. Hill will be kept on the 40-man roster over the off-season and into Spring Training 2009 as insurance in case the Cubs do not re-sign Blanco or acquire another back-up catcher in the meantime.

Phil, they have to bring up someone who hits right-handed, or else their primary righty pinch hitter on days when R. Johnson starts is Cedeno or Blanco, take your pick.

Unless you need a HR, I don't think that Fox or Dubois are likely to be better hitters than Cedeno or Blanco. Zambrano should be their primary PH, and probably their DH.

I am pretty tired of Blanco. Save the $1 million and go with Hill next year. It's not like Hill will be looking for a starter job in MLB, and he switch hits, right?

VA PHIL: Then Jason Dubois would be that guy.

Assuming the Cubs haven't clinched by the end of August, there won't be too many call-ups. You bring up a third catcher, maybe 2-3 pitchers, a speed guy and maybe one more hitter. As Mike joked, they'll just clutter up the clubhouse and get in the way.

Koyie Hill, Felix Pie, Hoffpauir seem the most likely.....

If Marshall gets sent down when Lieber is activated, then I'd guess Marshall, Guzman and whoever the hottest pitcher is at the moment that is on the 40-man. I do believe, that you have to be on the 40-man prior to Sept. 1st, although there are ways to get around it.

Isn't the Sept 1st 40 man requirement just to be on the playoff roster? I would guess that you could be added to the 40 man whenever you want, other than the times it's locked for the Rule V. Luckily I am sure AZ Phil (welcome back) will set me straight.

Re: "Speed Guy" - Since E-Pat's departure, who IS said speed guy at AAA? I know most scouts say Leon Johnson is our fastest guy in the org., but is he at Iowa?

E-Man... read up on this guy named Pie.

I heard he was pretty fast.

HA! Doh!

Out of sight, out of mind!

Yep - I guess he's pretty fast. How's his stealing acumen in Iowa been this year?

Neifi Perez is the most notorious "speed guy" of recent cubs lore.

Red Sox negotiating for B. Giles:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3523657

He cleared waivers without Cubs interested?

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 11:19am.

I am pretty tired of Blanco. Save the $1 million and go with Hill next year. It's not like Hill will be looking for a starter job in MLB, and he switch hits, right?

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

REAL NEAL: Koyie Hill is indeed a switch-hitter, and a lot of people forget that he played 3B at Wichita State, 2B with Team USA, and occasionally 1B in the minors. So he can play other positions besides catcher in a pinch.

Also, the Cubs were VERY happy with the way K. Hill mentored Geovany Soto last year at Iowa, so if they don't re-sign Blanco for less money, I think the Cubs would be OK with Koyie Hill as the back-up to Soto in 2009, especially when the Cubs aleady have $103.5M committed to ten players in 2009, plus five more players (Reed Johnson, Chad Gaudin, Neal Cotts, Michael Wuertz, and Ronny Cedeno) eligible for arbitration, with probably at least $7M in payroll needed for those five if the Cubs choose to offer them arbtration.

So that's $110.5M in 2009 payroll for just 15 players. 

Figure another $4.5M for ten auto renewal players to fill out the roster, and you're looking at $115M in 2009 payroll BEFORE the Cubs even make offers to Ryan Dempster and/or Kerry Wood (presuming the Cubs want Demp and Woody back).

Therefore, besides buying-out Blanco, trading Jason Marquis and his 2009 $9.75M salary would probably be the #1 priority for Jim Hendry post-2008.

Also, Ronny Cedeno, Geovany Soto, Felix Pie, Chad Gaudin, Michael Wuertz, and Rich Hill will be out of minor league options as of Spring Training 2009, so the Cubs either keep Felix Pie and at least platoon him in CF, or they will probably have to trade him.

And while I suspect the Cubs will probably give Rich Hill one more chance in Spring Training 2009, I don't expect to see him in Chicago again in 2008.

trading Jason Marquis and his 2009 $9.75M salary would probably be the #1 priority for Jim Hendry post-2008

Let's move him now while some team with playoff hopes might actually want him.

Marquis is untradable in August. Everyone in the world knows he's a first-half pitcher. Spring training or bust...

maybe we luck out and someone makes a waiver claim on him. We can let him Randy Myers his way to some other sucker franchise.

Submitted by The E-Man on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 11:29am.

Re: "Speed Guy" - Since E-Pat's departure, who IS said speed guy at AAA? I know most scouts say Leon Johnson is our fastest guy in the org., but is he at Iowa?

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

E-MAN: Leon Johnson was converted to LHP at EXST and is presently with the AZL Cubs.

With Eric Patterson having been traded, Felix Pie and Andres Torres would presently be the fastest position players at Iowa, and Sam Fuld and Matt Camp are the fastest position players at Tennessee. 

Any idea why Johnson takes a year to convert to pitching and Harvey hasn't done it in 5 years?

Thanks PHIL.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 11:59am.

Any idea why Johnson takes a year to convert to pitching and Harvey hasn't done it in 5 years?

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

REAL NEAL: The Cubs won't convert a position player to pitcher unless the player agrees to do it, and Ryan Harvey still fancies himself a power-hitting RF.

Harvey will be a minor league FA after next season and he still hasn't "graduated" from Daytona, so don't be surprised if he gets released at the end Minor League Camp 2009, as happened with Harv's HS buddy Brian Dopirak this past March.

The Cubs are gunning for the World Series this year, so there's no need to check-out minor leaguers for the sake of their potential, or as a reward for hard work and minor league level performance. The only need for these guys is to give the vets a blow in September, getting them ready for the October run. And filling in spots like pinch runner and defensive substitute where the regular roster is thin. So my big opinion is:

1. Koyie Hill. You want a 3rd catcher in September, and Hill has a solid glove. If he gets even 10 ABs, I'd be shocked.
2. Felix Pie. Obvious value as a defensive replacement in the late innings; move Reed to LF and put Pie in CF.
3. Sam Fuld. He sucks, but he's on the 40-man and can be the designated pinch runner. He's as fast as Pie but a better base stealer. He can see game action any time Daryl Ward gets his lard butt on base. I like Fuld on the bases a lot more than Jason Marquis. I don't think Pie is accomplished enough on the bases for this job.
4. Micah Hoffpauir. The only minor league bat that truly merits a promotion, IMO. I dislike Ward a lot if you couldn't tell; I'd like to see Micah get many of his September at-bats. Unlike Ward, he's not a complete liability at 1B, either, so D Lee should get a blow a couple of games with Micah in town.
5. Jose Ceda. Why not? He's the hardest thrower in the minors and has the most upside of anyone down there. And Lou loves the hard throwers. Take Jake Fox off the 40-man to make room; no one will claim him.
6. Kevin Hart. I don't like him one bit, but he can do mop-up duty in blowouts, saving Gaudin and Marshall for more useful outings in other games.
7. Mike Wuertz. He hasn't earned the call-up, but he has experience. Meh. I wouldn't bring him back, but the Cubs almost surely will.
8. And finally, the Cubs have needed a RH power bat on their bench all season; Ronny Cedeno doesn't cut it. I want Dubois' HR power in September, and I'll gladly cut loose someone like Chad Fox (why??) or Adam Harben to make room.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 11:27am.

Isn't the Sept 1st 40 man requirement just to be on the playoff roster? I would guess that you could be added to the 40 man whenever you want, other than the times it's locked for the Rule V. Luckily I am sure AZ Phil (welcome back) will set me straight.

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

REAL NEAL: The 25 players on the active roster and any player on the 15-day or 60-day DL as of August 31st are eligible for the post-season, plus any player on the 15-day or 60-day DL can be replaced on the post-season roster by ANY PLAYER (regardless of position) who was in the organization (including players who are not on the 40-man roster).as of August 31st. 

The only caveat is that if the "replacement player" is not on the 40-man roster, he must be added to the 40 prior to the start of the post-season.

But can you add a man to the 40 Man after September 1st?

I'm going to go ahead and retract my statement. I was probably thinking about the playoff roster or something. Or still drunk...

 

 

There are presently two openings on the Cubs 40-man roster, but if Angel Guzman is (as expected) reactivated from the DL and placed on the active roster in September, he would have to take one of the slots because he is on the 60-day DL and so he presently does not count against the 40. So if Guzman is reactivated, the Cubs would then have only one open slot on the 40, and that spot would almost certainly go to Koyie Hill.

Chad Fox is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment at Fitch Park (AZL Cubs), but if he continues to have elbow soreness and can't come back, he could be transferred to the 60-day DL, and that would open up a slot on the 40-man roster. It would also allow the Cubs to "replace" Fox on the post-season roster with a player who was not on the 25-man roster as of August 31st (like Hoffpauir or Pie, if the Cubs want to go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players in the post-season).

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 12:18pm.

But can you add a man to the 40 Man after September 1st?

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

REAL NEAL: A player can be added to the 40-man roster any time during the year except the two-week period between November 20th and the Rule 5 Draft (when rosters are "frozen").

Also, post-season rosters can be "adjusted" before the start of each round of the playoffs, so if the Cubs are playing a team with a lot of left-handed hitters in the NLDS and then play a club with a mainly right-handed lineup in the NLCS, they could carry an extra lefty in the bullpen in the NLDS and then replace the lefty with a right-hander in the NLCS and/or World Series. However, to do this "adjustement,"  somebody has to be on the DL, in order to use the "replacement process." That's why it is important to make sure that at least one player is on the 15-day or 60-day DL going into the post-season.

Also, there was a new rule enacted a couple of years ago where if a player is injured DURING the LDS, LCS, or World Series, the player can be replaced before the end of the series by any player who was in the team's organization as of 8/31, but in this case, the replacement has to play the SAME POSITION as the injured player (pitcher must be replaced by a pitcher, catcher must be replaced by a catcher, infielder must be replaced by an infielder, etc), and the injured player is ineligible to return for the duration of the post-season.

Great info, thanks!

Great comments, AZ Phil. What is your top 10 Cub Prospect List as of this moment? How about these guys (my order is very fuzzy after the first couple, help me out):

1. Josh Vitters
2. Jose Ceda
3. Wellington Castillo
4. Andrew Cashner
5. Donald Veal
6. Randy Wells
7. Mitch Atkins
8. Tyler Colvin
9. Jose Ascanio
10. Dumas Garcia

I struggle to see any real hitting prospects emerging past A+, other than Castillo

I guess I am not counting Hoffpauir, Pie as prospects

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 12:20pm.

 I figure that we see Randy Wells and Donnie Veal in early September as well.

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

DR AARON B: I agree that Randy Wells is a possibility for a September call-up, but I doubt that Lou Piniella could stomach Donald Veal's control lapses in a September pennant race. But you are correct about both being added to the 40-man roster post-2008.

Because he is eligible to be a minor league FA, Wells must be added to the 40 by the day after the conclusion of the WS, and Veal would need to be added by November 20th.

Besides Wells and Veal, others likely to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2008 are RHPs Mitch Atkins (a lock), Justin Berg (probable), Gregory Reinhard (50/50), and Jesse Estrada (also 50/50), and LHP J. R. Mathes (another guy on the bubble). RHP Dumas Garcia could be another possibility, just because if the Cubs don't add him to the 40 he can be a minor league FA.

Also, don't be surprised if switch-hitting 1B-3B Matt Craig (who is also eligible to be a MiL FA) is re-signed to a 2009 minor league contract, gets a "Cubs slot" in the AFL, and an NRI to 2009 big league camp at Spring Training (as happened with Brandon Sing under similar circumstances a couple of years ago). Then if Craig puts up monster numbers in the AFL, the Cubs could still add him to the 40-man roster on 11/20 (if there's room), or Craig could get himself selected in the Rule 5 Draft. It would be a "win/win" arrangement for Craig. 

Submitted by Q-Ball on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 1:02pm.

Great comments, AZ Phil.

What is your top 10 Cub Prospect List as of this moment? How about these guys (my order is very fuzzy after the first couple, help me out):

1. Josh Vitters

2. Jose Ceda

3. Wellington Castillo

4. Andrew Cashner

5. Donald Veal

6. Randy Wells

7. Mitch Atkins

8. Tyler Colvin

9. Jose Ascanio

10. Dumas Garcia

I struggle to see any real hitting prospects emerging past A+, other than Castillo I guess I am not counting Hoffpauir, Pie as prospects

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

Q-BALL: Josh Vitters started to hit once he got past his hand problems at ST and EXST. He is a definite prospect, although it's not clear whether it will be at 3B or 1B. Hopefully he can make himself into a passable defensive third-baseman. He's only 18, so there is plenty of time for him to improve defensively and the Cubs can afford to move him at a reasonable pace without needing to rush him. When he's healthy, he can really hit, and he should develop big-time power as he matures, too.

Jose Ceda is a definite MLB relief prospect, and I expect him to be in the Cubs bullpen by this time next year. Lou Piniella loves power arms in his bullpen, and that's what Ceda's got (98 MPH fastball and power slider). He just needs to throw strikes. He also has had shoulder problems from time-to-time, and that is a concern.

While his bat may be ready for MLB in 2009, Welington Castillo has a ways to go with his defense. He has major receiving issues right now that need to be ironed out. But you can see he has talent defensively, so it's not like he doesn't have a future as a catcher. He just needs a lot of work.

Andrew Cashner is throwing 98 MPH (as advertised) at Boise with a mid-80's slider, just as he was at Fitch Park last month. But he has struggled with his command and has had difficulty throwing strikes, but he also hadn't pitched for a couple of months before signing with the Cubs, so he may still be slightly rusty. I hope to see him at the AZ Instructional League next month.

Donald Veal has great stuff, but he also has difficulty repeating his delivery from outing-to-outing. I believe his future is probably as a lefty reliever, where he can pitch more often (to stay sharp) and where his high per-inning pitch count isn't a big issue like it is when he starts.

Randy Wells should be a useful "12th man" (long reliever/spot starter) in the big leagues. He could get a September call-up, but at the very least he will get added to the 40-man roster post-2008.

Mitch Atkins has improved a lot this season, thanks to AA pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn teaching him to get some movement on his fastball (which used to be "straight"). Atkins has a starter's array of pitches, and he should be a back-of-the-rotation starter in MLB. He has really learned how to pitch.

Tyler Colvin was encouraged to be more selective at the plate in 2008, and while he has drawn more walks, it has apparently affected his hitting, although he has been hot lately (last ten game). I would describe Colvin as an EXTREME first-ball/fastball hitter, and sometimes it's best to just let a guy be what he is, especially if being more "selective" and taking more walks negatively impacts his slugging (which it has with Colvin, big-time). I expect Colvin to play in the AFL post-2008, and he might be able to get it together there and then move up to AAA in 2009. He's only 22.

Jose Ascanio's brother was killed in an accident in Venezuela a couple of months ago and he missed about two weeks, and he hasn't been right since he returned to the I-Cubs from the funeral. I doubt that he'll get a September call-up, but he has the arm to pitch in a big league bullpen next year.

Dumas Garcia has the stuff (94 MPH fastball and hard-slider) to be an MLB middle-reliever, and I would think there is a fairly good chance that the Cubs will add him to their 40-man roster after the season just so that he can't leave as a minor league FA.

Thanks AZ Phil! Maybe Atkins can replace Marquis next year, and Hendry can jettison that salary.

Guys who are honorable mention maybe are Casey Lambert, Greg Rhinehart, Blake Parker, Tony Thomas

If the Cubs want a lefty reliever, they can skip right over Pignatiello and Veal and go get Casey Lambert. At AA, Lambert has a .180 ERA with 4 walks and 16 strikeouts in 18 innings. He's just out of college last year, but he's already pitched well at four pro levels, Boise to Knoxville.

Since getting traded to OAK in the Rich Harden deal, catcher Josh Donaldson (2007 Supplemental 1st round pick the Cubs got when FA OF Juan Pierre signed with LAD) has gone 416/490/697 with six HR and 25 RBI in 23 games (101 PA) at Hi-A Stockton (California League).

Rather than just transfer Donaldson from one Lo-A MWL team (Peoria) to another (Kane County) after he was acquired, the A's immediately promoted Donaldson to Hi-A and he hasn't stopped hitting since he got there. He also is throwing out 48% opposing base-stealers (10-21 CS).

AZ Phil -- to what do you attribute Donaldson's turn-around: just the proverbial change of scenery, or did the A's see something wrong in his swing and correct it? Thanks.

This is in a forum on John Sickles site. Thought it was an interesting opine.

.................................................................................

Cubs Quickie - Just minor league infielders and catcher for now (P/OF later) Just doing my quick take with current level stats.

Catcher – One potential impact guy, 2-3 semi-intriguing pieces with questions

1. Wellington Castillo – 21 – AA – 129 AB’s – .310/.378/.481

Superb defensively, he is probably overachieving offensively as of now. That said, most expectations were that he would eventually hit a bit, so maybe he’s just adjusting sooner than later. He was our top catching prospect pre-Harden deal, and he is still our top guy now. I could see anywhere from a Henry Blanco-like backup to a quality starter.

2. Steve Clevenger – 22 – A+ – 212 AB’s – .292/.382/.358

I think Clevenger is 2nd, although there may be some debate on it as there are still questions if he can stick behind the plate. Former middle infielder that was moved there. Great eye, but defense behind the plate needs work. Bat won’t play anywhere else, but could be okay at catcher. Anywhere from a minor leaguer to a bench guy in the bigs.

3. Matt Cerda – 18 – Rookie – 74 AB’s – .270/.368/.365

A lot of players for consideration here, but the nod goes to Cerda as the kid who is being transitioned. Not much to report on yet, but considering the high pick used, he definitely ranks up there somewhere. I like that he can hold his own with his bat right now.

Honorable Mention: Luis Flores (defensive catcher, no offense), Carlos Perez (all-around decent right now, young so that’s not bad)

1st – Only Rosa feels like a potential impact player, but it is too early to tell.

1. Micah Hoffpauir – 28 – AAA – 176 AB’s – .347/.365/.705

I’m not a huge fan of Micah, but even I have to admit that he has developed and isn’t the same player of a few years ago. In saying all that, it is not a good thing when he is arguably our top first base prospect. That said, he still qualifies, and the other options all have big questions about them.

2. Jovan Rosa – 20 – Low A – 300 AB’s – .289/.352/.427

I was tempted to put Rosa first. I’m still hopeful that Rosa may be able to stick at 3rd, which would increase his value. That said, his glove is bad. First seems the likely route. Sweet swing, he should be able to hit for average and gap power. Can he develop a quality level of home run power? Not sure yet, and hence why Micah still edges him out.

3. Blake Lalli – 25 – AA – 48 AB’s – .292/.320/.542

Color me a fool, but I’m giving Blake his due. I actually think he might be able to stick as a backup catcher, but the betting money is against that. Sure, he was older in A ball this year … but this is his 2nd year of pro ball. Age is either over-utilized or under-utilized. He’s a good team player who does everything necessary (has pitched a couple innings this year) and I believe that he can hit.

Honorable Mention: Rebel Ridling (big time power, which is lacking in the system, but plate discipline is a big concern), Luis Bautista, Russ Canzler (nothing special, just a solid minor leaguer), Sean Hoorelbeke (seems more gap power than real power), Ryan Keedy (massive guy, but gap power)

2nd – Some depth, although a lot of questions

1. Tony Thomas – 22 – A+ – 370 AB’s – .265/.317/.408

I was superbly high on him entering the year and have been thoroughly disappointed. Here’s the big issue: K/BB – 89/27. Just doesn’t cut it for a guy that projects as a leadoff guy. Looking more and more like Eric Patterson the 2nd. Still intriguing, but a lot of work.

2. Josh Harrison – 21 – Low A – 23 AB’s – .217/.250/.217

I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with Tony Thomas this year and am hoping Josh can be my new hope. He’s supposedly a better glove. Here’s hoping his plate discipline doesn’t fall apart as he moves up.

3. Dwayne Kemp – 20 – Shortseason – 40 AB’s – .225/.279/.375

This Netherland signee makes me think a more athletic Mike Fontenot as he packs some pop in his 5’8” body. Raw and a lot of work, but the upside is higher than Spears so I gave that nod. I could put Spears ahead and not blink an eye.

Honorable Mention: Nate Spears (could be a solid utility player in the bigs)

SS – A mess … is anyone a legitimate possibility to start at short in the bigs?

1. Ryan Flaherty – 21 turning 22 soon – Shortseason – 87 AB’s – .264/.366/.391

Okay … I don’t honestly believe Flaherty sticks at short. That said, the system is weak so I’ll chalk this up to “he’s too far away so giving it the benefit of the doubt to fill the depth chart in even though I don’t anticipate it”. He’s been battling injuries, so I’m not too concerned with the bat just yet.

2. Darwin Barney – 22 – A+ – 328 AB’s – .247/.306/.345

Superbly athletic, but the bat was a question entering the draft, and it still is now. Maybe a utility glove?

3. Nate Samson – 20 – Low A – 381 AB’s – .312/.377/.375

Okay, this is like Flaherty as well, as I highly doubt Samson sticks at short, but I wanted to fill things out. I’d bundle him with Spears and Kemp if he was a 2nd base consideration. Big defensive concerns, but the bat intrigues. Here’s hoping that he can stick at short … but I’m not holding my breath.

3rd – 1 potential superstar, 1 semi-intriguing guy, and a whole bunch of eh.

1. Josh Vitters – Almost 19 – shortseason – 122 AB’s – .344/.386/.508

Battling injuries, Vitters bat isn’t a big cause for concern. His defense is improved, but still inconsistent. Should move to Low A sooner than later, but someone from Low A will have to move up or Vitters will have to force his way in with ridiculous numbers. It’s getting increasingly likely that he may finish the year at Boise, which isn’t a big issue.

2. Marquez Smith – 23 – A+ – 58 AB’s – .259/.338/.448

If Rosa was classified at 3rd, it’d be a tough call here. Without Rosa, Smith is the clear nod. Decent defensively, he was raking at Low A and needed the bump up. Somewhat intriguing to follow, but may simply be a system guy. Did play some 2nd this year when he was with Rosa at Low A, but better off at 3rd.

3. John Contreras – 22 – Rookie – 105 AB’s – .343/.423/.714

Bleh … ran out of options. Nothing personal against Contreras, but a 22 year old raking in rookie ball really doesn’t intrigue me that much yet, but Josh Lansford doesn’t have the bat, and Casey McGehee is a system guy. Contreras has some power, something this system needs.

Short of it is, not much really intriguing and not much depth.

by toonsterwu on Jul 31, 2008 6:46 PM EDT reply 0 recs

Flaherty is hitting .316/409/544 according to minors.basball-reference.com, not 264/.366/.391

,
http://minors.baseball-reference.com/players.cgi?p... 

That guy had him at 87 ab's and he's now at 114 ab's, but that would be one helluva 27 AB run.

Flaherty looks like he has been on a tear the last 9 games.

http://firstinning.com/players/Ryan-Flaherty-a/

Haven't seen a picture of him, but I am assuming Flaherty is white. It seems like SS is becoming the reverse QB position of MLB. People assume if a guy is white, he won't be able to stay at short.

It's like a White WR or CB.

Let's get Chad's opinion on the subject........

Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 2:17pm.

If the Cubs want a lefty reliever, they can skip right over Pignatiello and Veal and go get Casey Lambert. At AA, Lambert has a .180 ERA with 4 walks and 16 strikeouts in 18 innings. He's just out of college last year, but he's already pitched well at four pro levels, Boise to Knoxville.

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

VA PHIL: Yes, Casey Lambert would be the Cubs #1 LHRP prospect at the upper levels (AA/AAA). He has a REALLY good breaking ball..

Welcome back, AZ Phil!

I saw on the Mesa roster at MiLB.com that Francisco Acosta was suspended. Is that true? I hope it isn't something like PEDs!

Thanks for all the responses here, it's been a great read.

Thank you as well for responding to my earlier question re: Guzman, AZ Phil. Would love to see him once again up with the club come September.

Will someone explain to me why the Cubs keep messing around with Chad Fox? Honestly, what's the infatuation there, I just don't get it? He's never been good, he's always hurt, he has no Cubs track record, and there is zero possibility he would be a meaningful addition to the Cubs' bullpen--or any other big league team bullpen for that matter. So what gives? Is he just a charity case that for some reason the Cubs feel like giving him a lifeline? Thoroughly puzzled.

on the 10 days a year that he isn't hurt, he can strikeout hitters...

Submitted by Timmer on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 4:14pm.

AZ Phil -- to what do you attribute Donaldson's turn-around: just the proverbial change of scenery, or did the A's see something wrong in his swing and correct it? Thanks.

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

TIMMER: I am a big fan of the A's Player Development Dept. They are VERY good. Sometimes it pays to know what it was that got a player signed, drafted and/or noticed in the first place and then make sure that as the player develops you don't try to turn him into something he isn't.

There is always a bit of a disconnect between an MLB club's Scouting Dept. and its Player Development Dept, but in the case of the Cubs, the Scouting Dept is superior to its Player Development Dept.

Unfortunately.

Which is not to say that the Cubs minor league roving instructors and managers and coaches don't work hard. They work VERY hard. It's just that some of them are not very good at it, especially when compared to their counterparts in other organizations.

There are more than a couple of current Chicago Cubs who made it to the big leagues only AFTER they stopped listening to the Cubs minor league instructors and coaches and just decided to do it their own way.

I can tell you from having heard it first-hand from various sources that the Cubs Player Development Dept is not held in particularly high regard by other organizations, although the Cubs Scouting Dept is held in high regard.

That's about all I can say about it.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Thu, 08/07/2008 - 3:20pm.

Welcome back, AZ Phil! I saw on the Mesa roster at MiLB.com that Francisco Acosta was suspended. Is that true? I hope it isn't something like PEDs! Thanks for all the responses here, it's been a great read.

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

RAISIN: I haven't seen Francisco Acosta around for a while. I don't think he's at Fitch Park. I know he got suspended, but I am almost positive that it had nothing to do with a PED violation.

As you may recall, F. Acosta and Jose Severino were sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy during EXST after they got into an altercation (with each other), but both were later allowed to return to Mesa. Subsequently, Severino and Rogelio Carmona got sent back to the DSL, and then Severino got released.

A lot of times a player gets demoted or released for reasons totally unrelated to his performance on the field, but the reason isn't always made public.

Geez, once again we have problems with our farm system -hope Wilken gets around to fixing it, pronto.

If we can make every guy in the system

1. switch hit
2. play 5 or more positions
3. Shorten their swings
4. Adapt the exact cookie cutter mechanics

We should have no problems at all

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