The Verdict

Here are BP's and BA's take on the prospects the Cubs acquired over the last 2 days ranked by potential awesomeness.

Arodys Vizcaino (RHP) - 21 year old

Baseball America:

Vizcaino possesses the raw stuff to justify the hype, but also the injury history to explain why the Yankees and Braves were willing to trade him. He had Tommy John surgery toward the end of spring training and could be ready to resume throwing in earnest during spring training 2013. When right, Vizcaino sits 94-97 mph out of the bullpen and leans on a big-breaking, low-80s curveball as an out-pitch. He won't need his fringy changeup much if the Cubs continue to deploy him as a reliever. Assuming he regains his velocity, Vizcaino has closer stuff, and only fastball command stands in the way of him becoming a great reliever instead of a merely good one.

Baseball Prospectus:

Vizcaino entered the year as the no. 3 prospect in the Atlanta system and the no. 62 on the Top 101. He was expected to break camp with the Braves after an impressive late-season showing in 2011, but he suffered an elbow injury that has cost him the entire season; he should be ready to pitch sometime in early 2013. Despite being just six feet tall, Vizcaino has a lightening quick arm and sat at 96 mph in short stints while touching 98. His power curveball sits in the low-80s, features heavy late break, and gives him a second outpitch that he'll use at any point in the count. He has a rarely used below-average changeup, and the effort in his delivery creates some command issues. Originally developed as a starter, Vizcaino had a history of arm problems before the surgery and has never thrown more than 120 innings in a season. Now an undersized pitcher with an injury history and far from a pretty delivery, everything points to Vizcaino becoming a permanent reliever, but if his stuff comes all the way back, he's potentially closer-worthy.

Christian Villanueva (3B) - 21 year old 

Baseball America: 

The Rangers are loaded at third base with Adrian Beltre in the majors and stud prospect Mike Olt in the minors, which made the well-regarded Villanueva expendable. Signed out of Mexico, he ranked No. 100 on our Top 100 Prospects list entering the season. Villanueva has a broad base of tools that include a solid bat, potential average power, fringe to average speed with good instincts on the bases and standout defense with soft hands and a strong arm at third base. He's just 21 and in high Class A, so he still needs time to develop. He'll have to tighten his strike zone, and some scouts question if he'll grow into enough power to be a big league regular at third base.

Baseball Prospectus:

Signed out of Mexico in 2008, the 21-year-old Villanueva is one of those players whose greatest strength might be a lack of weaknesses. He has a good idea at the plate and a quick bat; he uses all fields and projects as a .280 hitter in the big leagues. He has gap power now, and scouts believe that will turn into solid average power down the road as he fills out, with 15-20 home run potential. He's a good athlete and an average runner, and an easy plus defender with a strong arm. He's a bit on the small side at 5-foot-11, which hurts his projection, but he looks like he should be a solid-average everyday third baseman if his development stays on track.

Jacob Brigham (RHP) - 24 year old

Baseball America:

Brigham had tied for the Texas League lead with 116 strikeouts at the time of the trade, but he stood alone in first place with 19 home runs allowed thanks to a severe platoon split. Lefthanded batters get a good look at the ball because of Brigham's overhand arm slot, and they have batted .287/.369/.544 with 10 homers in 171 at-bats against him. He made up for that deficiency by fanning a quarter of the righthanded batters to oppose him with a solid fastball/curveball mix. Brigham topped out near 97 mph a couple years ago but sits more comfortably at 88-92 these days.

Baseball Prospectus:

While hardly a top prospect, the Cubs got a surprisingly solid arm in return for Soto. A sixth-round pick in 2006 out of a Florida high school, Brigham has been slow to develop in a career that includes a 2008 Tommy John surgery. Repeating Double-A this year, Brigham has better peripherals than his 4.28 ERA suggests, giving up less than a hit per inning with 116 strikeouts and 46 walks in 124 innings. He has a solid fastball that ranges from 91-95 mph, but he can get loose with the pitch up in the zone and gives up too many home runs as a result. His primary secondary pitch is a low-80s slider that rates as average, and while he has a changeup, it's a below-average pitch. He projects as an innings-eating no. 4 or 5 starter or a solid middle reliever. He looks like a big leaguer, just not an impact one.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP) - 21 year old 

Baseball America:

Hendricks has had a fine season with Myrtle Beach, as detailed in a recent BA Prospects Blog post. He throws an upper-80s two-seam fastball, a four-seamer that bumps 92 mph and mid-80s cutter to go with a curveball, slider and changeup. None of the pitches grades as plus, but he has feel for his craft and for the strike zone. He ranked second in the Carolina League in ERA, WHIP and innings as well as third in strikeouts, while leading the league in walk ratio (1.0 per nine innings). At a listed 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, he has room to get bigger and stronger.

Baseball Prospectus:

An eighth-round pick in 2011 out of Dartmouth, Hendricks has had a successful full-season debut, with a 2.82 ERA and a remarkable 112-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130.2 innings for High-A Myrtle Beach. Based on those numbers, it's no surprise that some feel he has the best control in the system. That's also his best asset, as his below-average fastball sits at 86-90 mph with a bit of life, and his arsenal is no more than average across the board. He succeeds by throwing strikes and changing speeds, and it will be a challenge for him to find the same success at the upper levels while lacking an out pitch.

Jaye Chapman (RHP) - 25 year old

Baseball America:

Chapman is the rare righthander whose changeup functions as his out-pitch, but it's so good—many scouts grade it as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale—that he could carve out a big league career in middle relief. He ranked fifth among International League relievers with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings at the time of the trade. Chapman scrapes 90 mph with a fringe fastball and typically sits 87-89, doing a good job locating the ball down in the strike zone. His lack of velocity disallows him from working above the knees. Chapman works in on lefty batters with a fringy, low-80s slider, but they actually hit him hard in Triple-A this season (.298/.394/.457 in 94 at-bats) after managing just a .636 OPS at the same level last year. A member of Atlanta's 40-man roster, Chapman has two option years remaining after this season.

Baseball Prospectus:

A 16th-round pick in 2005, Chapman is an undersized right-hander who is in his seventh minor league season while being developed solely as a reliever. He has an average fastball that sits at 89-92 mph and a fringy breaking ball, but he has a true plus changeup that he uses as an outpitch. Already 25 years old and lacking anything in the way of projection, his best chance is as an up-and-down reliever.




Rankings are a rather arbitrary thing anyway, so you can probably flop Vizcaino and Villanueva at the top and Chapman and Hendricks at the bottom and won't get into much of a quarrel. Regardless, the Cubs kept to the plan of trading short term assets into long term ones. So that's good. I hopefully never have to see Dempster's Harry Caray impression, that's also good. The bad is that they didn't seem to add any potential starting pitchers to the minor league void. Project 2015 carries on!!!

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Comments

nice draft deadline coverage this year. thnx.

But how was the trade deadline coverage?

it's been a long day/evening.

i'm looking forward to opening day this october...to hell with 2012.

Agreed. This was fun reading this year.

For some reason, and I don't have much to base it on, but I get a feeling Hendricks could end up being the prize catch in all this. A sleeper. I like his numbers and his inability to walk people, and the article posted by I believe AZ showed he already has an idea on how to pitch.

"Fringy" being the key word.

Free Reed Johnson!

Keith Law's take on the Dempster trade:

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog?name=law_...

Villanueva was hopelessly blocked in the Rangers' organization...but he does have major league potential as a plus defender with doubles power. He's a below-average runner and is not patient, which means he'll fit right in with most of the Cubs' other offensive prospects. He turned 21 in June and put up a .285/.356/.421 line this year for high Class A Myrtle Beach, which has one of the toughest parks for hitters in the minors.

Hendricks is more of an organizational starter, 87-89 mph with an average cutter and changeup and below-average curveball but good command and a repeatable delivery and arm action. The right-hander could surface as a fifth starter, but his stuff is probably too fringy for that.

and some of the Q&A from that Keith Law writeup:

Q: Would you rather have Randall Delgado than Vizciaino? Obviously we couldn't get both as the braves only needed one of our starters.

K_Law
Vizcaino, by a mile.
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Q: I assume Soler, Almora, & Vizcaino slide right up near the top (if not the top) of the Cubs prospects. Would Villanueva crack the top 10? Thanks

K_Law
He was not a top ten prospect in the Rangers' system. No way.
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Q: What does Arodys Vizcaino project to be eventually? Bullpen or Starter?

kageydan8
Depends who you ask. Most evaluators have questioned his durability because he's never thrown more than 114 innings in any season. But that could have been because of the elbow issue,which has now been surgically repaired.

K_Law
That sums it up fairly well. I think questions about his durability miss the point - the cause of his low innings totals is now resolved.

I appreciate that Cubs management is fearless enough to admit the team is not going to contend this year and willing to give up players to get SOMEthing in return.

To me Theo has been very consistent from Day 1 that this is the plan and has completely stuck with the plan. Not everything he went for worked obviously, but people who wanted more from this team sort of missed the whole point or wanted to believe something different.

Now whether these prospects work out, that's a whole other ball game and this is the kind of thing on which Theo will eventually be judged.

There were people who thought this team could get into contention this year?

That possibility existed, yes. Baseball is a quirky game.

Sorry, I realized my question was poorly phrased. I had unwarranted hope at the start of the season like probably half the people here, but what I meant was, at the trading deadline - people thought the team had a shot last week? Either way, I suppose you're right.

Ah, I see what you are saying and no, they were clearly out of contention last week.. The only thing I can think of- the only reason why you would wait to back up the truck is, when you trade away most of your big leaguers, you'll probably sell a lot less tickets. And even if it isn't true, it may be the belief and rationale behind waiting until the last minute. Shrug.

They had a chance to win *games* last week, but it was far too late to do anything for the season. At this point in a lost season, winning games is only incidental to progress.

I keep reading that Villanueva has below average or "fringe to average" speed, but apparently he was fast enough last year to steal 32 bases in 38 attempts.

He probably added some muscle in the offseason--since 3Bs are supposed to hit for power, not steal bases--and got bigger and slower.

It's hard to get bigger and continue to steal bases (see Junior Lake, maybe), which is one of the ways Brett Jackson is unusual.

I don't know much about scouting prospects, so please just tell me Christian Villanueva is related to Hector and I'll be happy.

Hector "The Calorie Collector" Villanueva. One of my all-time favorite nicknames.

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