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November 2009

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State of the System: Catcher

Written by , Posted in General

We ran this series earlier in the year and it seems fitting to run it again as we head into the free agency period. This is designed to let you know what we’ve got in the system at each position to help give us a big picture when evaluating potential moves. For example, you might look at a position a little differently if you knew we had a stud in AAA or even AA that could be ready to contribute at some point next year. We’ll start our series with the catcher position, where I highlighted the stats from nine guys in the system that had a decent amount of plate appearances. Here were the results, sorted by plate appearances.

Rk Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Soto, Geovany 26 403 29 20 1 13 53 52 82 .222 .325 .399 .724
2 Brenly, Michael 22 374 36 18 0 5 38 20 56 .265 .306 .362 .668
3 Chirinos, Robinson 25 360 53 20 5 14 63 47 52 .309 .407 .548 .955
4 Castillo, Welington 22 355 28 16 0 12 41 17 76 .237 .282 .393 .676
5 *Clevenger, Steve 23 340 33 16 4 1 36 25 39 .290 .344 .378 .722
6 Robinson, Chris 25 331 37 22 3 2 48 13 44 .326 .345 .435 .781
7 #Hill, Koyie 30 284 26 12 2 2 24 27 78 .237 .312 .324 .636
8 *Reed, Mark 23 266 18 7 2 0 22 13 70 .181 .230 .226 .456
9 Flores, Luis 22 230 16 11 0 2 16 28 42 .179 .293 .268 .562

System Summary

Looking at the system, we see Geo and Hill as the major players for the big league team. Neither impressed with the bat, and you gotta wonder if perhaps the Cubs will decline the arbitration offer on Hill in an effort to see what they have with a guy like Steven Clevenger. He’s played well at each level he’s been at since being drafted in the 7th round in 2006 and could probably do as well if not better than Hill did offensively last year.

Robinson Chirinos is eligible to become a minor league free agent, so there is a chance he might leave for a chance to get a shot in the Majors after his good year with the bat. Chris Robinson, who is rule 5 draft eligible, would mean the Cubs would need to add him to the 40-man roster to protect him from being exposed. Either would be average options as a backup plan to Geo for 2010, assuming the Cubs would want to cut costs slightly at the position. Neither excite me all that much, but I’d rather roll the dice on one of them than give Hill a raise, which is mandatory if a player goes to arbitration if the Cubs feel Clevenger needs more time in AAA.

I was a dissappointed this year in what we saw from Wellington Castillo. The 22 year old was very good in AA last year and completely bombed at that level in 2009. Here are the numbers from 2008 over three levels and 2009 at AA.

Year Lev G PA R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2008 AA-A_adv-AAA 91 352 40 93 19 4 37 18 74 .287 .337 .383 .720
2009 AA 95 339 27 74 16 11 39 15 71 .232 .275 .386 .661

Comparing the two years we still see the low walk and high strikeout numbers, but the drop in BA, OBP and OPS as a whole concern me. We did see a slight increase in SLG, but only due to the surge of power we saw from in this year. Take that away or tone it down a little and we’d see a decrease across the board in those last stats. Arizona Phil over at the Cub Reporter had this to say about Castillo as he ranked him the # 5 prospect in the system (too high in my opinion, despite his hot finish to the year.)

Castillo’s defense has mostly been more projection than performance so far. He has a strong arm and is fairly athletic behind the plate, 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 in 2008. However, he cut his passed balls in half and improved his fielding % this past season (both still need further upgrade, however), while leading all catchers in the Cubs organization with a 44% CS rate (he threw out 36% opposing base-stealers in ’08). Concentrating on improving his defense apparently affected his hitting in 2009, as he struggled at the plate pre-All-Star Break after hitting 287/337/383 at Daytona and Tennessee (combined) in 2008. But he caught-fire post-ASB at Tennessee, hitting 319/357/519 while clubbing 11 HR. He was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (AFL) post-2009 (he’s currently hitting 357/438/571 in the AFL), and will almost certainly get added to the Cubs 40-man roster later this month. Since he is only 22 years old and still somewhat raw, he could start the 2010 season back at AA Tennessee, especially if that’s where he would get the most playing-time. If Geovany Soto has another year in 2010 like he did in 2009, and if Castillo can build on his 2009 second-half at the plate and continue to improve his defense, he could be the Cubs #1 catcher by 2011. – (Source)

Overall System Grade: C –


Daily Webtopia

  • Can’t say I dig the Freshlook Colorblend Hazel contact lens on Sammy pictured in May 2009 & Nov 2009 or his Casper the Friendly ghost look of Nov 2009. He may of stuck some needles in his fanny in order to entertain us all with 550 foot HR’s at a rate of 60 + a season but I hope all that juice hasn’t given himJackOitis.

    The Physicians Desk Reference defines JackOitis as: An inherent loathing of oneself coupled with extreme wealth inwhich one can afford to brutalize ones own body searching for perfection.

    This is similar to Liberalitis which is simply the loathing of oneself and country but not necessarily with extreme wealth so self brutalizing may or may not be observed.

  • I thought maybe Chirinos should get a look, but then I remembered that he was playing in AA when I was still in Knoxville. That was 2007, everyone, so if he’s just now dominating AA in his second full trip around plus his advanced age, maybe he’s best to go into FA. Plus, didn’t he just convert to catcher? I wanna say he was at SS every time I saw him play late that summer. I could be wrong, though.

    Hill’s not good enough with the bat to get paid more than $1 million, so a non-tender is the best option. I say give Robinson a shot unless someone’s still out there on Feb. 1 that would be a great upgrade.

    And Joe, mind adding the level these guys played at last year in these breakdowns in the rest of the series? That’d help out tremendously in trying to see what we’ve got there.

  • MJ

    The three way deal Rosenthal mentioned has already been debunked.

  • This is similar to Liberalitis which is simply the loathing of oneself and country but not necessarily with extreme wealth so self brutalizing may or may not be observed.

    I love how people can attack liberals around here (even when completely unrelated to anything in the post), but as soon as someone makes a joke about conservatives they get attacked for stereotyping.

    Robinson Chirinos … might leave for a chance to get a shot in the Majors after his good year with the bat.

    Really? So he hit well in A ball. And then got a brief chance at AA and struggled. The guy has had several chances in A-ball, and has hit well there, but has never hit above that level.

    He won’t be playing in the Majors next year.

  • BuckeyeCub

    Harden is a type B FA and Gregg is a type A FA!? In the words of Homer Simpson: Shimatta Baka Ni! (Fukudome would know what that means, or maybe not, if he doesn’t watch the Simpsons).

    Another screw-up by Jimmy Boy. We could have had a couple of prospects from the Twinkies, get rid of some dough, give Sasuckzidja a chance to develop maybe, and make things harder on the White Sox.

  • We could have had a couple of prospects from the Twinkies

    Wrong… Hendry has said that the Twins never made an offer.

  • Seymour Butts

    I love how people can attack liberals around here (even when completely unrelated to anything in the post), but as soon as someone makes a joke about conservatives they get attacked for stereotyping.

    What the hell, it’s an off day… lets talk about conservative vs liberal values.
    If you look at definitions, conservative implies staying the course, resistance to change,and liberalism more freedom in thoughts and actions. Kind of a no brain-er that liberal is good and conservative is bad. But of course it isn’t that simple. While conservatives are more likely to wave the flag of freedom, liberals are more likely to live it. Victimless “crimes” (drugs, prostitution, gambling) are freedoms of choice, but not to conservatives. Morality is another way of saying “do what I want you to do”.
    I advocate more of a libertarian outlook. Do what ever you want, don’t hurt others, and don’t expect me to pay for it. Feel free to attack this viewpoint, but all of us who make decent money are not of the same cloth.
    Let’s talk religion next week, that should be a hoot.

  • MJ

    How about the DH versus the the pitcher hitting? We can use those as placeholders for every argument we have here. 😛

    SI says the best Free Agent fits for the Cubs are Felipe Lopez (HELLO, I said this last year!), and Jon Garland. Felipe could then move Baker to the supersub, which I think he’d accel at. Garland returns to the team that drafted, and is an inning eater.

  • Doc Raker

    Seymour
    I agree with the libertarian outlook. Your descriptions academic and not accurate to todays political reality. Politically liberals are pro government control which put in practice becomes, “do what the government wants you to do” which is the opposite of freedom, it is tyrany.

  • Mastrick

    Where’s Sammy’s white glove?

  • Doc Raker

    I did read that Sammy did the moon walk at the Vegas Award show, he brought down the house.