Not So Minor Matters

The Tribune reported last weekend that Felix Pie, the undisputed number one prospect in the organisation, would be back playing for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Double-A) as of Tuesday. But it's now Saturday, and as yet Pie has still not returned. It appears not that Pie's situation has worsened, but that Paul Sullivan had some pretty poor sources, and that Pie was never slated to return this week at all. Instead, he's still in Mesa, and remains a ways away, as the deep bone bruise to the inside of his sprained right ankle is taking its time healing. Pie sustained the injury trying to stretch out a triple on June 16th. The injury has so far cost him the chance to go to the Futures Game and the Southern League All-Star Game. That said, Pie would have attended neither had he been called up to Chicago in early July, as was Jim Hendry's crazy plan. The injury got in the way of that, thank God, because Pie is nowhere near close to being ready, and Greenberg got the call instead. Speaking of Greenberg, he has still not fully recovered from his first major league pitch, July 9th, which of course hit him in the head. Greenberg returned to play a few games for West Tennessee, but, suffering from dizziness and headaches when he plays, he's been sent to Mesa for further tests. His only consolation is a career major league on-base percentage of 1.000. Greenberg projects as a very useful fourth outfielder, for he can hit for average, draw walks, run the bases well and play defence at all three outfield positions. At least Adam Greenberg has had a taste of the majors, even if it was a short and very painful one. Angel Guzman tore the labrum in his right shoulder in 2003 in what was supposed to be one of his final minor league appearances before promotion to the big leagues. Fully healthy again in Spring Training this year, and expected to be up for good by May or June, Guzman then went down with a strained right forearm and later developed inflammation in his elbow. The injuries had kept him sidelined all year, but on Thursday Guzman was finally back. He started for the Arizona League Cubs in Rookie Ball, throwing 2 innings and 25 pitches, allowing one single and striking out four, his power-sinker of a fastball averaging 94mph, just a tick or two down on his velocity before the injuries. Guzman will now pitch every fifth day the rest of the year, and then head to the Arizona Fall League. If he can stay healthy, his three plus pitches (fastball, curve, changeup), his superb control and his well-regarded makeup on the mound make him an extremely good bet to be an above average major leaguer.
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Comments

Thanks for clearing up that Pie sitution. I guess this means no September call-up or making the team out of ST next year. With Guzman do you think there is a chance he could get a call-up in September to work in the pen if he does well in the next few weeks.

Pie's injury could be a blessing in disguise. Too many ledge-dwellers in Cubs Nation were ready to just hand Pie the CF job once the team's fortunes went south this season. His injury keeps his mythical status as the Great Unseen Future Cubs Superstar intact, since it meant that we won't see the reality -- a badly-overmatched kid still struggling to learn selectivity at the plate -- destroy that myth in Wrigley Field this season.

ChiFan, I think Guzman is possible for otherwise-worthless-last-week-of-season action. The Cubs are virtually forced to carry Guzman on the 25-man roster next year, as he will be out of options and would not clear waivers. So Hendry might want to see him pitch a few major league innings this Fall if only to be able to have more data points for next Spring.

Who else do the Cubs plan to send to the Arizona Fall League -- does anyone know?

Who else do the Cubs plan to send to the Arizona Fall League -- does anyone know?

How about the 2005 team?

If he's healthy again, Pie probably almost certainly be up in September, but only after the Jaxx are finished with the Southern League playoffs, for which they've already qualified as first half champions of their division. The earliest the Jaxx will be done is the 9th, but I believe that their playoff run could go on as late as the 18th.

As for Angel Guzman, there's absolutely no chance of him being up this year. The Cubs want him to start every fifth day, because he needs to gradually rebuild up his arm strength, rediscover his game, and stay healthy. Asking him to do that at a level he's never before faced would be ludicrous.

"As for Angel Guzman, there's absolutely no chance of him being up this year. The Cubs want him to start every fifth day, because he needs to gradually rebuild up his arm strength, rediscover his game, and stay healthy. Asking him to do that at a level he's never before faced would be ludicrous."

I was not saying as a starter I agree that would be stupid. I was talking about the pen where he will most likely be because 2/5 of your rotation being Guzman and Wood is not a good thing with their injury pasts because you will have to overpay for a quality 6th starter.

I'm glad to see Angel Guzman pitching again. He's the Cub version of Rex Grossman.

John Hill: where do you rank Guzman at this moment in terms of Cub prospects, particularly pitching prospects. I recall baseball america ranked Dopirak #1 with Pie, Harvey at 2/3 and Guzman down to #4 from being #1 the previous year.

The 5-10 BA rankings were: Petrick, Pinto, Marshall, Leister, Johnson and Dubois.

Obviously 8, 9 and 10 were iffy calls and I think TCR preseason roundtable pantsed the BA staff on the prospect calls.

So we've seen virtually none of the ranked prospects (except Dubois) although I'm interested to see if Rich Hill in in the top ten list now.

and as as aside-- The Braves top ten list from BA this year was:
Francoeur, Marte, McCann, Davies, Lerew, Stevens, Hernandez, Johnson, Saltalamacchia and Boyer. So three of these have played key roles...Jeff Francoeur, Kyle Davies and Kelly Johnson.

Sigh...why can't the Cub organization be so productive?

Dopirek has had an off year from what I've heard. What's the word on Harvey's season? I'm sure he's a long way from the majors but the Cubs could use a player with Adam Dunn potential in a corner outfield.

also updates on your take on Petrick, Pinto and Marshall seasons would be nice.

JH:
"The injury got in the way of that, thank God, because Pie is nowhere near close to being ready, and Greenberg got the call instead."

Hendry did the same thing with Hill and look at how disasterous that was:

Hill: 21 IP, 24 hits, 13 BB, 21 K, 1.76 WHIP and 8.57 ERA

He has the 2nd worst ERA on the team this year and Koronka actually had better numbers...scary!!

Yeah his curve looked killer at times, but these MLB'ers have rarely seen a curve like that and still they caught on to him. he still has lots of work to do and hoepfully we don't see him till end of 2006 at earliest. Liek I posted when he got called up it was a mistake to rush him up after never playing above A ball coming into this year. Hopefully Hendry doesn't keep continue making these mistakes with the minor leaguers. I know he and many Cubs fans fall in love with these guys and think they are WAY better than they are (Hill, Dubois, Choi), but let them develop to the capacity and then move them up if there is a spot, or trade them.

Of course, Manny, you're trying to make the case that Hill got shelled everytime he pitched because he wasn't ready. And we both know those inflated numbers come from 2 innings of bad pitching that overshadow everything else when your sample size is 21 innings.

Get rid of Hill's second inning vs. the Mets and the 4th inning of his last outing and his ERA falls from 8.57 to a respectable 3.48.

If that's not a sign a guy can get people out once through the order, but struggles the second time around, I don't know what is.

The problem isn't that Hill isn't ready, its that he was impropery used. He's not a MLB starter, and will never be, but he's certainly got the stuff right now to be a quality reliever.

Cubster, if healthy, Guzman is comfortably the best pitching prospect in the organisation. Despite for all intents and purposes having missed two and a half seasons by the time Spring Training next year roles around, Guzman will still be just 24. And no-one else in the organisation has his combination of stuff, control and makeup. He projects as a top of the rotation starter, and all that's stood in the way of him achieving that so far have been injuries. But those injuries are a very big concern. The fact that he's had shoulder, elbow and forearm problems already in his career is extremely troubling. The Cubs will be taking things easy with him for a while.

I've heard a lot of talk that Angel Guzman will be out of options next year, and therefore will need to make the major league roster or pass through waivers. This is not true. Guzman was added to the 40-man roster on 29th October 2003 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft that winter. Since he was optioned in 2004 and 2005, his third and final option year will be 2006.

Regarding Rich Hill, that in the majors he's been strictly fastball and curve really makes me wonder just how good his cutter and change-up really are. Without one of them as a third pitch, he definately doesn't have a major league future as a starter. It doesn't need to be a great pitch, just good enough that he's able to throw it when he wants and where he wants to keep hitters off balance. That in turn will improve the effectiveness of his fastball, which isn't anything special.

What is special though is his curveball, obviously. It's easily an above average major league pitch. His curveball's good enough that he should be able to fashion a career for himself in the bullpen even without a third pitch. The key will always be getting that curveball across for strikes. He can't rely just on hitters chasing it outside the zone. If he gets behind in counts and has to revert to the unspectacular fastball too much, he'll get in trouble both in terms of hits and walks. And if that happens, he may not even be that great a lefty reliever.

Hill really has to be to refine a third pitch to the extent that he's comfortable throwing it in the major leagues. But time isn't on his side, he's already 25. Developing and improving pitches and control of them takes time. All of that is why despite the strikeout numbers, he really isn't a great prospect. Top ten? Maybe, but probably towards the back end of it.

Brian Dopirak has had an awful year, hitting .245/.301/.392 in 471 plate appearances at Daytona (High-A). He's hit 21 doubles and 14 home runs, so the power hasn't completely disappeared, but 89 strikeouts to 34 walks have really dampened his average and on-base percentage. He has big problems hitting breaking balls, his defence at first base is poor, and, oh, he's 1-for-5 in stealing bases this year. He's still only 21, so it's too early to write his entire career off, but let's just say that he's not going to be featuring at the top of any prospect lists any time soon. His star, which was mainly attributable to his 40 home run major league potential, has really fallen.

I am really down on Ryan Harvey too. His season line reads .270/.318/.511 in 426 plate appearances at Peoria (Low-A), with 21 home runs, 21 walks (4 intentional) and 108 strikeouts. Yes, he has enormous power - he puts on shows in batting practice, he can absolutely crush a fastball, and he also won the Midwest League home run derby this year - but besides a sensational arm in right field and good athleticism, that's literally all there is to his hitting. 17 non-intentional walks and 108 strikeouts, in Low-A for crying out loud, that really says it all about his impatience and the fact he can't hit breaking balls at all. If I were the Cubs, I'd be peddling Harvey to anyone that would listen right now, because while if he makes the major leagues he's likely to have a real impact, I rate his chances of reaching the bigs as extremely small.

Guys, before you lament the lack of major league products that the Cubs' farm system has generated, don't forget that besides Zambrano and Prior (and don't forget Wood and Maddux, sort of), Derrek Lee and Aramiz Ramirez (and Nomar, sort of) are, in reality, products of the farm system as well. A prospect's value lies in his ability to contribute to the major league team either as a player or as part of a trade package, and Bobby Hill, Hee Seop Choi, F. Beltran and others did their job by being good enough prospects to allow us to bring in these other guys via trade. The Cubs' farm system has performed pretty well, taking everything into acount, in recent years.

You guys are silly. you really think that a GM calling a guy up to the ML is disastrous to that player's production or future productivity? INSANE.

Furthermore, anyone who thinks the Cubs have any OF in their system at all that is better than Pie is equally insane. He's easily the best OF we have anywhere in the system. If you think the Cubs can go out and sign 3 OF's for next year who are better then that's fine that they keep Pie down in the minors, but you're living in a dream world if you think that will happen.

Besides, the Cubs chances of winning next year are equally as bad, probably even worse, than they were this year. Give the kids the playing time and let them develop. Take your chances in 2008 or 2009 because anything before that is actually as laughable as those who still think the Cubs have a chance this year (or ever thought they had a chance this year for that matter).

Cubs fans crack me up. There is no wonder that so many team's fans around say that Cubs fans are the most ignorant fans in the world. After reading some of this, I have to agree.

"Pie's injury could be a blessing in disguise"

absolutely...imo...

hendry's pretty dead set on getting this kid up for a taste...honestly, i'd rather see him come up in sept. if anything...save those options and service time, imo...

he's obviously not mlb-ready, though for his age he's quite advanced.

i have nothing against him getting a taste since its obvious we're gonna see him on/off in 06/07, but no need to rush a raw product just to pay him big early.

MLB FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2005 SEASON:
** Jeromy Burnitz (mutual option, with club buy-out)
Chad Fox
Nomar Garciaparra
Ben Grieve
Ryan Dempster
Todd Hollandsworth
Matt Lawton
**** Greg Maddux (vesting option for 2006 at 187.1 IP)
Neifi Perez
*** Glendon Rusch (player option)
* Todd Walker (club option, or possible vesting option)
* Scott Williamson (club option)

SIGNED FOR 2006:
Michael Barrett - $4m
Henry Blanco - $1.5m
** Jermoy Burnitz - $6m (mutual option, with $500,000 buy-out)
Derrek Lee - $8.67m
**** Greg Maddux - $9m
Aramis Ramirez - $10.5m
*** Glendon Rusch - $2m +$1.2m in bonuses for games started (player option)
* Todd Walker - $2.5m (club option, or vesting option based on ??? minimum plate appearances)
* Scott Williamson - $2m (club option)
Kerry Wood - $12m
TOTAL FOR PLAYERS SIGNED FOR 2006 ñ $60m (approximate)

FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2006 SEASON:
Henry Blanco
Jeromy Burnitz
Jerry Hairston, Jr
Derrek Lee
Jose Macias
Greg Maddux
Aramis Ramirez (player option for 2007)
Glendon Rusch
Todd Walker
Scott Williamson
Kerry Wood (club option for 2007 with $300,000 buy-out, or vesting option for 2007 if 400 IP in 2005-06)

ELIGIBLE FOR ARBITRATION AFTER 2005 SEASON: :
Jerry Hairston, Jr - $1.8m (+$300,000 in incentives) salary in 2005
Jose Macias - $830,000 salary in 2005
Will Ohman - $325,000 salary in 2005
Corey Patterson - $2.8m 2005
Mark Prior - $3.55m salary in 2005
Carlos Zambrano - $3.76m salary in 2005
NOTE: Jerome Williams could qualify for arbitration as ìSuper Twoî ñ TBD

AUTO-RENEWAL FOR 2006 (PRE-ARBITRATION)
Davis Aardsma
Ronny Cedeno
Mike Fontenot
Adam Greenberg
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
John Koronka
# Jon Leicester
Richard Lewis
# Sergio Mitre
Matt Murton
Roberto Novoa
Renyel Pinto
Russ Rohlicek
Geovany Soto
# Todd Wellemeyer
Jerome Williams (or could qualify for arbitraion as ìSuper Twoî- TBD)
Michael Wuertz

# OUT OFMINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS AS OF SPRING TRAINING 2006:
Jon Leicester
Sergio Mitre
Todd Wellemeyer

ONE OPTION YEAR LEFT AS OF SPRING TRAINING 2006:
David Aardsma
Ronny Cedeno
Angel Guzman
Richard Lewis
Roberto Novoa
Will Ohman (must clear waivers to be optioned)
Corey Patterson (must clear waivers to be optioned)
Renyel Pinto

TWO OPTION YEARS LEFT AS OF SPRING TRAINING 2006:
Mike Fontenot
Rich Hill
John Koronka
Mark Prior (must clear waivers to be optioned)
Russ Rohlicek
Geovany Soto
Michael Wuertz (ONE OPTION YEAR LEFT if he is optioned to minors prior to 9-1-05)
Carlos Zambrano (must clear waivers tro be optioned

THREE OPTION YEARS LEFT AS OF NEXT SPRING TRAINING
Adam Greenberg (TWO OPTION YEARS LEFT if he is optioned to minors prior to 9-1-05)
Matt Murton (TWO OPTION YEARS LEFT if he is optioned to minors prior to 9-1-05)

PLAYERS ON 25-MAN ROSTER MOST LIKELY TO BE DROPPED PRIOR TO 2005 RULE 5 DRAFT:
John Koronka
Jon Leicester
Richard Lewis
Russ Rohlicek

PLAYERS MOST LIKELY TO BE ADDED TO 40-MAN ROSTER PRIOR TO RULE 5 DRAFT:
Bobby Brownlie
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Ricky Nolasco
Felix Pie
Jae-kuk Ryu
Brandon Sing (or else six-year minor league free-agent)
Jermaine Van Buren (or else six-year minor league free-agent

OTHERS WHO COULD BE ADDED TO 40-MAN ROSTER:
Brian Dopirak
Scott Moore
Andy Shipman

SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS (10 DAYS AFTER CLOSE OF MLB REGULAR SEASON):
Cliff Bartosh
Enrique Cruz
Nate Frese
Talley Haines
Mark Johnson
David Kelton
Casey Kopitzke
Tim Lavery
Michael Mallory
Scott McClain
Kevin McGlinchy
Calvin Murray
Phil Norton
Cody Ransom
Brandon Sing
Jermaine Van Buren
Aron Weston
Enrique Wilson

ELIGIBLE FOR RULE 5 DRAFT (DECEMBER 2005):
Josh Arteaga
Thomas Atlee
Dwaine Bacon
Federico Baez
Chadd Blasko
Bobby Brownlie
Rocky Cherry
Robinson Chirinos
Matt Clanton
Buck Coats
Kevin Collins
Jon Connolly
Matt Craig
Matt Creighton
Brian Dopirak
Yorkin Ferreras
Jacob Fox
Jordan Gerk
Lee Gwaltney
Luke Hagerty
Micah Hoffpauir
Nic Jackson
J.. J. Johnson
Aaron Krawiec
Drew Larsen
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Juan Mateo
Casey McGehee
Luis Montanez
Scott Moore
Ricky Nolasco
Sean OíMalley
Paul OíToole
Billy Petrick
Felix Pie
Carmen Pignatiello
Victor Ramos
Robert Ransom
Clay Rapada
Jose Reyes
Alan Rick
Carlos Rojas
Jae-kuk Ryu
Jonathan Searles
Andy Shipman
Aaron Sisk
Jemel Spearman
Jason Szuminski
Anderson Tavarez
Ryan Theriot
Raul Valdez
Carlos Vazquez
Chris Walker
Randy Wells
Jason Wylie

CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS MOST LIKELY TO BE LOST IN 2005 RULE 5 DRAFT:
1. RHP Andy Shipman (AA) - AA closers with potential are always popular among the have-nots.
2. C-3B Casey McGehee (AA) - versatile player with smooth line-drive stroke
3. OF Luis Montanez (AA) - former #1 pick finally starting to hit in his 6th season in system

NOTE: It's also possible that (if left unprotected) Brian Dopirak or Scott Moore could be lost in Rule 5 Draft, but with both of them coming out of Hi-A (FSL), it's unlikely either will be ready to hit major league pitching next season (see Jason Dubois Spring Training with Toronto Blue Jays in 2003), and since neither can pinch-run or play late-inning defense, they would be unlikely to stick with drafting team for an entire season.

phil...that was kinda vauge...can you explain further?

hehe...thanks for the trouble/list/etc.

Rock, what exactly is to be gained from promoting a player to a level where he is going to be overmatched?

minorleaguebaseball.com came out with a new Top 50 prospect list for the entire minors.

http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/milb/n...

Felix Pie #22
Brian Dopirak #46
Ryan Harvey #50

Pie (somehow) and Harvey weren't ranked in their pre-season rankings, Dopirak was #40. I'm not sure what games the scouts have been watching this year.

What a weird list. Just as one of many examples, Zach Duke 14th but Chad Billingsley 38th?

Anyone that thinks Dopirak or Harvey are the "real deal" are fools. I've seen them both play, have you?

Guzman. Healthy. Hah.

I was yelling and screaming this summer to trade Hill when his value was so high, he'll never amount to much in the bigs. But once again, the Cubs hold on too long, and now he has little value. He has a big curve, big deal. Until this season, he's never shown the ability to throw strikes consistently, and now, that tendency is back. Oh yeah, he's also OLDER than Carlos Zambrano, you think he's much of a prospect now??

I think the only legit prospect in the ENTIRE organization is Felix Pie, MAYBE David Aardsma, MAYBE Eric Patterson. I do like the Cubs 1st round pick this year though, Pawelek, Let's see how long it takes the Cubs to screw up his mechanics and get him injured!!

I think you'll find Pawelek's mechanics were a mess even before he was drafted, Eric.

I don't think their is a HS kid in the country who has sound mechanics. I think or hope the Cubs are working with him on that because he is in the top five of our pitching prosecpts. Along with Marshall, Gallager, Pinto, and Nolasco. Guzman in their too when healthy and let's hope he stays healthy from now on.

harvey's a very young guy with insane power...his numbers may look ordinary, and in the case of k/bb not very pretty...but the power is huge and his D supposedly isnt too bad.

even if he's a guy that dont get a taste for another 3/4 years, he's still got a high ceiling and already showing the power part...hopefully he can get the rest of his game more rounded. his age and relative power is where his rank/value lies currently, not cuz he's anywhere near mlb-ready.

Huh? Is Morgan smoking crack? Looked totally fair to me? Am I alone? Looked totally fair...?!

Boo......!!!

Remember . . . the scouting report on Dopirak the day he was drafted also included the remark that he "could flame out at Double A."

His 2004 season made most of us forget that was still a possibility.

The Marlin's Jason Stokes also had huge power numbers in the Midwest League and then a much more difficult time at higher levels.

We ought to view sluggers in the MWL with greater skepticism. After all, it's still just Low A.

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