Obligatory Thread Overflow Post
Blah, blah, blah...I've been swamped and despite the recent not terrible baseball being played, the Cubs don't give me enough reasons to make sure I watch a game.
So I have little to offer today other than a quick recap of Baseball America's recent chat about their midseason Top 50 list which includes one Cub at #25 - Javier Baez (and one former Cub in Hak-Ju Lee at #47).
First Cub-related question was in regards to signing 2nd round pick Duane Underwood, which already happened to the tune of $1.05M. The Cubs can now pay Albert Amora up to $3,922,895 without forfeiting a draft pick and Boras will certainly demand every last dollar of that for his client. 25th rounder Rhett Wiseman is also still out there unsigned, but it's almost a sure thing he's going to Vanderbilt.
Re: Josh Vitters missing the list
Jim Callis: As someone who does our Cubs Top 30 for the Prospect Handbook every year, I talk to people incessantly about Vitters. He has made some progress, but his ceiling is solid regular and the guys on this list have higher ceilings than that. I'm also not sold Vitters could be an everyday third baseman at the big league level. I think you'd want a better defender than that. So no, I can't tell you he even received consideration for the Top 50.
Re: Jorge Soler
Jim Callis: We didn't include this summer's draft and international signees on the list, in keeping with our past tradition (Although he does make it sound in other comments like Soler would have made it).
Re: Brett Jackson making it into the top 50 by the end of the year
J.J. Cooper: My best guess on the end of season rankings is no. Jackson never wowed scouts with any plus-plus tool, now he's got a significant wart in a strikeout rate that is baffling.
Re: Jackson, Szczur or Vitters being in the top 50
J.J. Cooper: Not that close, further away and not that close to making the list. Jackson's K-rate is a major concern for a guy who doesn't have a lot of 65s on his scouting report. Szczur is a solid prospect, but didn't really compare yet to the guys at the back end of the 50 and Vitters is having a much better season, but there still doesn't appear to be a whole lot of ceiling there.
J.J. Cooper: A whole lot to like, still has some growing up to do.
Now we're all Theo-believers, where were you when he signed Edwin Jackson? Or how about trading away DJ Lemehaiu? And not signing Samardzija to an extension? Or not pursuing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols? Or signing Lester? Or trading away Cashner, Dempster, Feldman, etc?...I think I'm losing the narrative here.
So his deal runs through 2021? Which pretty much coincides when all these guys are due to hit free agency.
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?