2011 Cubs Top 15 Prospects
Here are my “2011 Cubs Top 15 Prospects.”
This is just my opinion based mostly on my own observations of the players, and I'm sure many of you have your own idea of who should be where. All things being equal, I probably tend to give more props to players at the higher levels of the minor leagues because I believe it means something to actually prove yourself by performance on the field against better and/or more-advanced competition, and I also sometimes consider a player to still be a prospect after others have written him off. However, I do consider talented players from further down the pipeline as well.
I use the same criteria Baseball America uses to rate their Top Ten prospects (maximum 50 MLB IP or 130 MLB AB, but not concerned with MLB service time), so Andrew Cashner, Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Casey Coleman are no longer eligible for consideration.
As was the case last year, the Cubs have more position-player prospects than pitchers among my Top 15, although my Top Two and three of my Top Six are pitchers.
2010 CUBS TOP 15 PROSPECTS:
1. Chris Archer, RHP (2006 5th Round by Cleveland Indians - Clayton HS - Clayton, NC) - age 22 - 6‘3 185
COMMENT: A 5th round pick of the Cleveland Indians out of a North Carolina HS in 2006, Archer opted to turn pro ($161K bonus) instead of playing college baseball at NC State. He was one of three pitchers acquired by the Cubs from the Tribe for IF-OF Mark DeRosa in January 2009, and was considered a high risk/high reward type of prospect at the time. Archer was actually a raw talent from the gitgo, with three mediocre seasons in the Indians farm system 2006-08. He had major control issues even before he was acquired by the Cubs, leading the South Atlantic League in walks with 84 in 2008. He repeated Lo-A (at Peoria) in 2009 and continued to struggle with walks, issuing 66 free passes in 108 IP. Archer was then assigned to the Cubs AZ Instructional League squad post-2009 to work on improving his command & control, and he definitely benefited from the instruction, as the young Carolinian was named the Cubs 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA and 1.17 WHIP and a Cubs minor league leading 149 K in 142.1 IP combined at Daytona and Tennessee. While he still issues too many walks (66 in 2010), he did improve his BB/IP rate significantly this past season (all the way down to 3.24 in 15 games at A+ Daytona, before going up to a 5.01 BB/IP rate in 13 GS after a promotion to AA Tennessee). The 6’3 185 Archer throws a mid-90’s fastball, a wipe-out slider, and a decent change-up, and projects as a top of the rotation starter at the big league level IF he can keep his walks and pitch count under control. He was supposed to pitch for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League post-2010, but plans were changed when he was named to the Team USA squad that has been playing in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Archer is a lock to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by the 11/20 roster-filing deadline, and he will likely be the 2011 Opening Day starter at Tennessee after experiencing his first big league Spring Training.
2. Trey McNutt, RHP (2009 32nd Round - Shelton State CC) - age 21 - 6‘4 205
COMMENT: McNutt was signed by the Cubs out of an Alabama JC in 2009, getting an “over-slot” bonus of $115K (“7th Round money“) to go pro. Over the course of one month of the 2009 season and one full season (2010), McNutt has gone 13-2 with a 2.19 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, allowing just 107 hits and 52/160 BB/K in 144 IP, rocketing through the Cubs system all the way to AA Tennessee by the end of his first full season in pro ball at the ripe old age of 21. He finished 2nd among the Cubs minor league pitchers in strikeouts in 2010 with 132, behind only Minor League Pitcher of the Year Chris Archer. The 6’4 205 McNutt features a fastball that tops out at 98, a hard-breaking slider, and a change-up. He will likely begin the 2011 season back at AA Tennessee, and he projects as a top of the rotation starter or closer at the MLB level.
3. Brett Jackson, OF (2009 1st Round – Cal) – age 22 - 6‘2 210
COMMENT: Jackson hit the ground running after signing with the Cubs in July 2009, hitting 318/418/488 with 8 HR in just 53 games and 249 PA at three stops (Mesa, Boise, and Peoria). Jackson was on fire at Peoria (7 HR in 26 games) when he developed tendonitis in his wrist that shut him down for a month, causing him to miss the Midwest League playoffs. He didn’t show any ill effects in 2010, however, getting an NRI with the big club to Spring Training, before hitting 297/395/493 with 32 doubles, 14 triples, and 12 HR, with 73/126 BB/K in 580 PA, and 30/11 SB/CS (combined) at Daytona and Tennessee. He just recently joined the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League after playing for Team USA in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Jackson has a funky swing that involves a big leg kick, but he makes up for it with plus-bat speed. He is a hyper-aggressive defender and an outstanding ball-hawk--a “natural” CF, but with (at best) an average arm. He has above-average speed and is an aggressive base-runner who likes to take chances. He has HR power, hits LHP and RHP about equally-well, and is fairly patient at the plate (104 BB in 829 career PA 2009-10), although he does strike out a lot (182 K in 181 minor league games). Right now he projects as a top of the order hitter (probably a lead-off man), although that could certainly change depending on the roster and lineup construction when he arrives in Chicago. Jackson will almost certainly get another NRI to big league camp in 2011, and then will probably begin the season back at AA Tennessee. Like Starlin Castro in 2010, B. Jackson could get called up to Chicago from AA at any time next season, although at present there does not appear to be a spot for him on the Cubs 25-man roster. He does not have to be added to an MLB 40-man roster until after the 2012 season.
4. Brandon Guyer, OF (2007 5th Round – Virginia) – age 24 - 6‘1 220
COMMENT: After spending the first two months of the 2008 season rehabbing from elbow surgery at Fitch Park, Guyer was assigned to Peoria where he hit 269/331/498 with 14 HR and 19/63 BB/K in 88 games. A strong AZ Instructional League season post-2008 earned him a “challenge” promotion to AA Tennessee to start the 2009 season, but he struggled there (190/236/291 in 57 games and 205 PA) and was demoted to Daytona, where caught-fire and hit 347/407/453, with 34/67 BB/K in 73 games and 305 PA. He was assigned to Tennessee out of Minor League Camp in 2010, and hit 344/398/588 with 39 doubles, six triples, and 12 HR in 410 PA, with 30/3 SB/CS, earning him the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year Award. He is presently playing winter ball with Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he is hitting 357/449/476. Guyer is built like an NFL running back, and plays a “no fear” crash & burn outfield defense in the tradition of Eric Byrnes and Reed Johnson, laying his body on the line to make a play. He has above-average speed and is an aggressive base-runner and a good base-stealer. He played 3B in HS, but was moved to LF when he arrived at the University of Virginia, mainly because Ryan Zimmerman was already firmly ensconced at 3B for the Cavaliers, but also to take greater advantage of his speed & athleticism. Guyer saw action at all three OF positions for Tennessee in 2010, although it would not surprise me if the Cubs move him around the field a bit more next season at AAA Iowa, maybe getting him some PT at 3B and 1B. Guyer (like Archer) is a lock to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 11/20 roster-filing deadline. Prior to 2010 I would have said that Guyer‘s future would probably be as an MLB “4th OF“ (and given the Cubs roster construction, that might still be the case), but I now believe he can be an everyday MLB outfielder, possibly as the eventual roster replacement for Marlon Byrd.
5. Josh Vitters, 3B (2007 1st Round - Cypress, HS - Cypress, CA) - age 21 - 6‘2 200
COMMENT: Vitters was the Cubs #1 draft pick in 2007 (3rd overall pick), and the Cubs signed him just prior to the 8/15 deadline (Vitters had signed an NCAA NLI to attend Arizona State). He was sick the latter part of his senior year in high school, and reported to Fitch Park in August 2007 weak and out of shape. He didn't look much better in the 2007 AZ Instructional League, and then he had a sore hand in Spring Training 2008 that delayed the start of his season. But once he got healthy, Vitters showed what he could do with the bat. He hit 328/365/498 in 61 games at Boise, and was named the Northwest League's #1 prospect by Baseball America. He began the 2009 season at Peoria, where he hit 316/351/535 while going on a mid-May HR binge (he hit 15 HR in 70 games at Peoria). That got him a promotion to Daytona, where he struggled (hitting 238/260/344 in 50 games). He went to the Arizona Fall League (AFL) post-2009 and hit 360/385/460, and then he got an NRI to Spring Training with the big club this past February. He returned to Daytona on Opening Day 2010, hitting 291/350/445 before receiving a mid-season promotion to AA Tennessee, where he struggled, hitting just 223/292/383. However, he hit 303/395/636 over his final ten games at Tennessee before suffering a season-ending injury (broken hand after getting hit by a pitch) on July 25th. He returned to action (three games) with the Cubs AZ Instructional League team in October, and then joined the Mesa Solar Sox (AFL), where he is presently hitting 242/278/394 while playing both 3B and 1B. Vitters is an aggressive hitter, walking only 49 times in 1178 career minor league PA, although he hasn’t struck out all that much for a power-hitting prospect, either (192 K spread over four seasons). Only 21 years old, Vitters is just an average runner, but he has outstanding bat speed and plus-power and should develop into a 25+ HR guy. He has the actions of a third-baseman and he looks like a third-baseman, but he needs to spend as much time working on his defensive play at 3B as he does working on his hitting (nobody enjoys BP more than he does). It’s possible that Vitters could eventually end up at 1B (he played 1B for the first time in his career at Instructs, and now is playing both 1B and 3B in the AFL), and if it wasn’t that Alfonso Soriano is signed through 2014, I would think that the Cubs might seriously consider moving Vitters to LF. Vitters will probably get another NRI to Spring Training next February, and then will begin the 2011 season back at Tennessee, playing mostly 3B (and probably some 1B, too), while hitting 3rd in the Smokies batting order.
6. Jay Jackson, RHP (2008 9th Round - Furman) - age 23 - 6‘1 195
COMMENT: Jackson is an advanced pitcher who throws four or five different pitches for strikes, with a 94 MPH fastball and a curve being his two main "out" pitches (he also throws a slider and a change-up). He projects as a middle-of-the rotation starter at the MLB level. Jackson was drafted by the Cubs in 2008, and was promoted all the way up to Daytona (Florida State League) in August of that season, starting a game in the ’08 FSL playoffs. He began the 2009 season at AA Tennessee, before getting a disciplinary demotion back to Daytona in July. He didn’t pout or sulk, though, and got a September bump up to AAA Iowa. Combined at three stops, the 6’1 195 Jackson went 8-7 with a 2.98 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP, allowing 109 hits (11 HR) in 127 IP, with a 46/127 BB/K (he was second among Cubs minor leaguers in strikeouts). Jackson spent the 2010 season at Iowa where he went 11-8 with a 4.63 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, allowing 153 hits (20 HR) and 48/119 BB/K in 157.1 IP in what was just his second full-season in pro ball. The 6’1 right-hander was 4th among Cubs minor league pitchers in strikeouts (trailing only Archer, McNutt, and Alberto Cabrera) in 2010. He was moved to the bullpen for a while early in the season before finally settling in as an I-Cubs rotation starter in May. He really struggled in the second-half of the season, though, putting up a 6.20 ERA and 1.57 WHIP with a .293 Opponents BA and nine HR allowed in 61 IP post-ASB. Jackson was a #1 starter (“Friday Night Starter”) in college at Furman, but he also played CF when he wasn't pitching. He is an excellent all-around athlete (he was also an outstanding basketball player in HS), and being able to hit (255/283/431 with four doubles, a triple, and a HR in 57 minor league PA) and field should help him win a few more games than the average pitcher. With his basketball background, cool self-confidence, and the ability to hit (with power), he almost reminds me a bit of Bob Gibson. Jackson should get an NRI to Spring Training in 2011, and then depending on the needs of the big club and how he is throwing at AAA, he could get called up to Chicago at any time in 2011, but he most-likely will spend most or all of the season in the starting rotation at AAA.
7. Welington Castillo, C (2004 NDFA - Dominican Republic) - age 23 - 5‘10 210+
COMMENT: Castillo’s defense has mostly been more projection than performance so far. He has a strong arm, but too often he is careless and foolish with his throws and inconsistent with his receiving, resulting in a ton of errors and passed balls over the years. However, he cut his passed balls in half and improved his receiving at AA Tennessee in 2009, and held his own defensively at AAA Iowa this past season, too (although his receiving skills still need further upgrade), throwing out 39% of opposing base-stealers in 2010 (career 40% CS). He struggled at the plate pre-All Star Break at Tennessee in 2009 after hitting 287/337/383 at Daytona and Tennessee (combined) in 2008, but then he caught-fire post-ASB at Tennessee in ‘09, hitting 319/357/519 while clubbing 11 HR. He was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (Arizona Fall League) post-2009 (he hit 357/438/571 in the AFL), and then hit 255/317/498 with 17 doubles and 13 HR in just 272 PA (69 games) at AAA Iowa in 2010, before getting a September call-up to Chicago. Since he is only 23 years old and still somewhat raw, he could start the 2011 season back at AAA, but if he can build on his 2010 season at the plate and continue to improve his defense, he could be up with the Cubs to stay by the end of next season.
8. Hak-Ju Lee, SS (2007 NDFA – South Korea) - age 19 - 6‘2 170
COMMENT: Lee got a $700K+ bonus (equivalent to “2nd round money”) from the Cubs in 2007, when he was considered the best HS player in South Korea. Named the #1 prospect in the Northwest League (NWL) post-2009 by Baseball America after hitting 330/399/420 at Boise, Lee followed that by hitting 282/364/351 with 22 doubles in 551 PA at Peoria in 2010 and 294/368/383 in AZ Instructional League play post-2010. He is one of the fastest players in the Cubs organization and can out-run a throw to 1st base if an infielder doesn’t play a ground ball aggressively. He also is a big-time base-stealer who led the NWL in stolen bases in 2009 (25 SB in just 61 games), before heisting 32 more at Peoria in 2010. A “natural” shortstop with plus-range and a decent arm (he had TJS post-2008), Lee is still raw defensively (61 errors in 183 career minor league games), but he has shown improvement as of late (he did not commit an error in 11 AZ Instructional League games post-2010, while making several outstanding plays in the field). Lee was a scrawny 17-year old when he first arrived at Fitch Park for Instructs post-2008, but he has put on some muscle over the past couple of seasons and now hits the ball with more authority. A left-handed hitter, Lee’s stroke is somewhat similar to Ichiro’s. He waits until the last second and then sprays the ball all over the field while cheating out of the box toward 1st base with most every swing. As he continues to mature physically he could develop some incidental HR power. He will likely spend the 2010 season at Daytona, playing SS and hitting lead-off. If he continues to progress, Lee could eventually force Starlin Castro to move to 2B.
9. Chris Carpenter, RHP (2008 3rd Round – Kent State) - age 24 - 6‘4 220
COMMENT: A 6’4 220 RHP, Carpenter had TJS in college, and began his pro career somewhat unimpressively in 2008, going 4-2 with a 4.64 ERA while allowing 34 hits (although only two HR) and 23/25 BB/K in 33 IP (combined) at Mesa (AZL Cubs) and Boise. However, he had a solid AZ Instructional League post-2008 and opened the 2009 season at Peoria, where he went 4-3 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, with only 55 hits allowed and a 33/60 BB/Kin 73.2 IP. He then got a mid-season promotion to Daytona, going 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in five starts. That got him another promotion, this time to AA Tennessee, where he was 0-3 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in seven starts. Overall, he fanned 118 hitters, putting him 4th among Cubs minor league pitchers in strikeouts in ’09. He had a sore arm at Minor League Camp 2010 and was left at Extended Spring Training at the start of the season, before getting moved-up to AA Tennessee at the end of April. He was promoted to AAA Iowa in August, and went a combined 8-6 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, allowing eight HR with 57/112 BB/K in 134.2 IP (combined) between AA and AAA He was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL post-2010, and has been used exclusively out of the bullpen for the Solar Sox so far. Carpenter features a 92-94 MPH fastball, a curve, and a change-up. He probably will get an NRI to Spring Training in 2011, and he will almost certainly begin the 2011 regular season back at Iowa. Whether the recent move to the bullpen is temporary or permanent is still TBD.
10. Ryan Flaherty, IF-OF (2008 Supplemental 1st Round - Vanderbilt) - age 24 - 6‘5 220
COMMENT: Selected with the compensation draft pick the Cubs got for losing FA catcher Jason Kendall to MIL after the 2007 season, Flaherty played SS at Vanderbilt, 2B with Team USA, SS at Boise in 2008, SS, 2B, and 3B at Peoria in 2009, 3B and 2B at Daytona and Tennessee in 2010, and 1B-2B-3B-LF for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL post-2010. So his future is probably as an offensive-first multi-positional IF-OF. He hit 276/344/470 with 20 HR in 131 games at Peoria in 2009 (309/372/498 post-ASB), and then hit 271/339/418 with 36 doubles, 10 HR and 72 RBI, and 51/86 BB/K in 559 PA combined between Daytona and Tennessee in 2010. He is presently hitting 310/429/379 for the Solar Sox (AFL). At 6’5 220, Flaherty does have HR power, and if he can learn to play a passable corner-OF, he could morph into a left-handed hitting version of Mark DeRosa. While he mashes right-handed pitching, he struggles big-time against lefties, and so he could end-up as a LH platoon guy if and when he reaches the big leagues. Son of a college baseball coach, Flaherty is a savvy and mature player who understands how to play the game the right way. I would expect Flaherty to begin the 2011 season at Tennessee and play various positions (1B-2B-3B-LF) for the Smokies.
11. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF (2008 NDFA - South Korea) - age 20 - 6‘1 185
COMMENT: Ha was a catcher in HS, but was moved to the outfield after he signed with the Cubs in 2008 ($225K bonus). Then the Cubs moved him back to catcher at Instructs post-2009 and the experiment continued at Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training (EXST) 2010, but it just didn’t work. Ha was moved back to OF and was promoted to Peoria at mid-season 2010 after hitting 350/376/575 at EXST. Moving from behind the plate to the outfield was like getting out of jail for Ha, as the Korean teenager hit 317/334/468 for the Chiefs while playing a stellar RF. He has a plus-arm and plus-bat speed with HR power, he has above-average speed and is a good base stealer, and (like Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer) he plays an athletic outfield with absolutely no fear. He was moved to CF at Instructs post-2010 and made several outstanding catches as he displayed the range and defensive skills necessary to man the position. One area of concern with Ha is a tendency to double-clutch throws from the outfield (he had the same problem as a catcher), and the other is that he is a “hacker“ (a hyper-aggressive hitter who rarely walks). Ha will probably play CF at Daytona in 2011 and hit somewhere in the middle of the D-Cubs order.
12. Aaron Kurcz, RHP (2010 10th Round - College of Southern Nevada) - age 20 - 6‘0 175
COMMENT: Kurcz started his college career at the Air Force Academy, but resigned and transferred to the College of Southern Nevada back in his hometown (Las Vegas) for his sophomore season, where he was a teammate of 2010 overall #1 draft pick Bryce Harper on a CSN team that advanced to the JUCO World Series. Kurcz combines a 94 MPH fastball with a killer slider, and projects as an MLB closer or 8th inning set-up guy. He has been virtually unhittable so far in pro ball, racking up a 1.98 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and .156 Opp BA with 11/48 BB/K in 27.1 IP (combined) at AZL Cubs and Boise during the regular season, and then a 0.77 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, and .079 Opp BA with 2/20 BB/K in 11.2 IP in the AZ Instructional League post-2010. He could very well be the closer at Daytona in 2011, and if he continues to progress the way he has so far he could advance very quickly through the system.
13. D. J. LeMahieu, INF (2008 2nd Round – LSU) - age 22 - 6‘4 200
COMMENT: LeMahieu spent two seasons as the starting shortstop at LSU, including the 2009 season when the Tigers won the CWS. He was selected by the Cubs as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2009, and hit 323/376/384 in 41 games (combined) at AZL Cubs and Peoria, and then was the best hitter at AZ Instructs post-2009. He spent the 2010 season at Daytona (Florida State League), where he hit 314/346/386 with 73 RBI and 15 SB in 135 FSL games, before receiving a late-season promotion to AA Tennessee just in time for the Southern League playoffs. Even though he has an opposite-field stroke, LeMahieu is a strong kid and can really put the hammer on the ball, ripping line drives back through the middle and into the right-centerfield alley. He hits right-handed pitchers OK, but he really crushes lefties. He’s also a good base-runner with above-average speed for a big guy (6’4 185). LeMahieu is a natural shortstop who was moved to 2B at Daytona in 2010, and he could end up at 3B if he can (at least occasionally) alter his natural opposite-field line-drive stroke into more of a pull-power elevated-approach. He will likely begin the 2011 season at Tennessee, playing 2B, SS, and 3B, while the Cubs wait to see if he can develop some HR power. If he can‘t, his ceiling will probably be as an MLB utility infielder.
14. Reggie Golden, OF (2010 2nd Round - Wetumpka HS - Wetumpka, AL) - age 19 - 5‘10 225
COMMENT: Golden gave up a chance to play college ball at the University of Alabama when he signed with the Cubs in July ($720K bonus), and then he missed most of the AZL season rehabbing a hamstring pull and a sore hand. He attended Instructs post-2010 where he finally got a chance at some regular playing time (hitting 263/364/500 with two HR and three doubles in 14 games), at least up until the last week when he suffered what appeared to be a right oblique strain. The stocky Golden is as strong as a bull and has as much power as any player in the organization (and he has HR power to all fields), he is a patient/choosy hitter who isn’t afraid to take a walk, and he has a plus-arm that plays in RF. However, he is a poor defensive outfielder, he has (at best) average speed, and he is an erratic base-runner who relies too much on instinct. Golden oozes self-confidence that borders on cockiness, and I’m not sure how coachable he is or will be, but if he can somehow smooth out the rough edges (outfield play and base-running), he should develop into a big-time middle-of-the-order run producer with 30+ HR power potential. If he can stay healthy through Minor League Camp, he has a reasonable chance of starting the 2011 season at Peoria.
15. Darwin Barney, SS (2007 3rd Round – Oregon State) - age 24 - 5‘10 180
COMMENT: Although other shortstops in the Cubs organization may be more highly-regarded, Darwin Barney is no slouch. Playing college ball at two-time CWS champion Oregon State, Barney rocketed through the Cubs system after getting drafted out of OSU in 2007, jumping up to Daytona in 2008 where he hit 262/325/357 with 22 doubles in 123 games, and then playing in the Arizona Fall League (and holding his own) post-2008. Barney hit 293/339/369 with 24 doubles in 513 PA (combined) at Tennessee and Iowa in 2009, and then 299/333/378 with 24 doubles in 510 PA at Iowa in 2010, before getting an August call-up to Chicago after Ryan Theriot was traded to the Dodgers. While he may not have the “ceiling” of a Starlin Castro or a Hak-Ju Lee, Barney is nevertheless a legitimate MLB prospect. He is a polished player, a solid hitter with above-average speed (33/10 SB/CS in 423 career minor league games), he can make all the plays at shortstop, and he showed that he can play 2B and 3B as well. Barney will likely be the Cubs #1 utility middle-infielder in 2011, but he could be a starting shortstop on some MLB clubs, so he could be used as trade bait at some point. Barney looks a bit like Derek Jeter and has some of Jeter’s mannerisms in the field, although (obviously) he certainly isn’t as talented as the Yankee shortstop.
JUST MISSED THE CUT:
16. Alberto Cabrera, RHP (2005 NDFA - Dominican Republic) - age 22 - 6‘4 210
17. Marquez Smith, 3B (2007 8th Round - Clemson) - age 25 - 5‘10 200
18. Chris Rusin, LHP (2009 4th Round - U. of Kentuicky) - age 24 - 6‘2 190
19. Robinson Chirinos, C (2000 NDFA - Venezuela) - age 26 - 6‘1 195
20. Junior Lake, SS (2007 NDFA - Dominican Republic) - age 20 - 6‘2 200
LAST YEAR’S TOP 15 PROSPECTS (PLUS FIVE):
1. Andrew Cashner, RHP (no longer qualifies)
2. Jay Jackson, RHP
3. Starlin Castro, SS (no longer qualifies)
4. Josh Vitters, 3B
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. D. J. LeMahieu, INF
7. Brett Jackson, OF
8. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
9. Chris Carpenter, RHP
10. Kyler Burke, RF
11. Ryan Flaherty, INF
12. Sam Fuld, OF (no longer qualifies)
13. Tyler Colvin, OF (no longer qualifies)
14. Darwin Barney, SS
15. Brandon Guyer, OF
16. Rebel Ridling, 1B
17. Logan Watkins, 2B
18. Chris Archer, RHP
19. Marquez Smith, 3B
20. Casey Coleman, RHP (no longer qualifies)
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.