Here are my “2011 Cubs Top 15 Prospects.”
GM Jim Hendry, Player Personnel & Player Development Director Oneri Fleita, all of the Cubs minor league hitting & outfield coaches, and any Cubs scout anywhere near Mesa, Arizona, were at Fitch Park today, personally scouting & evaluating OF Wagner Mateo, who stopped by for some pre-game BP, and then stuck around and played RF for AA Tennessee in a Minor League Spring Training game played on Field #2.
Some of you may remember Mateo as the 16-year old Dominican left-handed hitting (and throwing) right-fielder who got a $3.1M bonus from the St. Louis Cardinals during the International Signing Period in 2009, only to have the contract voided a couple of months later when Cardinals team doctors discovered what they believed was a career-limiting vision problem during a routine physical.
Well, based upon what I saw today, Mateo can see just fine. He hit ropes all over the place in BP, and then went 1-5 in the game, including a line-drive single to left and two hard-hit line-drive outs to LF, one requiring a spectactular diving catch by the Angels LF. The one big negative was a throw from RF that missed the cut-off man by a mile, but otherwise he looked pretty good for a 16-year old. I got the impression the Cubs are VERY interested in signing Mateo, although other clubs probably are as well (like maybe the Angels for instance, who got a good look at him today, too).
Justin Bour walked, doubled, and crushed a two-run HR, Matt Cerda tripled twice and scored three runs, and Chris Rusin threw three innings of perfect baseball, but it wasn't enough, as the Angels edged the Cubs 6-5 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.
Richard Jones slammed a pinch-hit tie-breaking home run over the RF fence with one out in the top of the 9th, and the Cubs held-on to defeat the Angels 2-1 in AZ Instructional League action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning.
Hak-Ju Lee used his blazing speed to beat-out a routine grounder to second with the game tied, bases-loaded, and two outs in the bottom of the 9th, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the Brewers in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in Mesa.
The Giants battered four Cubs pitchers to the tune of 12 runs on 17 hits, en route to a 12-6 victory in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.
The weekly radio baseball gabfest known as "Talking Baseball" (ESPN AM 1000, Chicago) hosted by Bruce Levine (and frequently Chet Coppock, in the role of sidekick) is a nice source of Cub information. Of course you have to wade through lengthy questions that often take minutes to unfold. Interviews with management are usually cloaked in generalizations, clichés and unrequited hope.
This saturday's show featured an interview with Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel, Oneri Fleita, as well as some discussion on the management's thinking behind the recent Mark DeRosa for prospects trade.
Fleita was not going to short change us on clichés like "You've got to play the games" and "Everybody starts in first place." Still it was good to hear about prospects in the news like Josh Vitters and the 3 newest pitching prospects acquired from Cleveland.
Bruce Levine updated and opined about the state of the Cubs roster changes including keeping the roster flexible as well as the progress on acquiring a sense of left handedness with attitude (feisty Milton Bradley, scrappy Aaron Miles and the even scrappier Mike Fontenot).
He also has an opinion about Jake da Ace, aka he-who-must-not-be-named.
The incredibly wordy play by play after the jump...