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Wednesday

16

May 2012

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Top 20 Prospects Update

Written by , Posted in General

We are well over a month into the baseball season and most full time players have at least 100 plate appearances under their belts. With the Cubs in a rebuilding year, I was pretty excited to watch the development of the young players in the farm system. While preparing this post and seeing the performances of VFTB’s pre-season Top 20, all I can say is “Thank God for Anthony Rizzo.”

It’s not pretty. First, the hitters (all stats through games of 5/14/12):

Ugly. Ugly ugly UGLY!

Rizzo is the only prospect that looks like he can handle the level he is at. Welington Castillo was doing pretty good in AAA before Steve Clevenger’s injury, but not a lot to be excited about down on the farm.

Except, maybe….Junior Lake. He  just came back from an injury, and is honestly, shocking me, with his patience at the plate. Last year he drew 19 walks all year long…this year he’s already at 8 in only 8 games. I was one of his biggest detractors, but this extremely small sample is a complete 180 from his 2011 approach, and outside of Rizzo, is now the most exciting guy that I follow.

It isn’t any better on the pitching side:

Trey McNutt has been successful when he’s pitched, but has only gotten through the 4th inning one time.

Gerardo Concepcion had a good outing on Tuesday that does not show up in these stats, and has his ERA under 10.00. YAY! He’s going to need some time to learn how to pitch.

Rafael Dolis has had the best season so far, but that’s not going to continue if he keeps on walking more than he strikes out.

Overall, a very disappointing 2012 so far for at least 11 of the 16 prospects that have played in a full season league. Next week I’ll dig a little deeper in the minors and see if we can find a few more players to get excited about.

  • Jedi

    Maybe we can finally put a fork in Dave Sappelt – the guy who will never be an MLB utility outfielder. .338 SLG in the PCL means you really can’t worth a crap.

    • Norm Bothwell

       I tend not to ignore history in favor of 148 plate appearances.

  • Jedi

    Maybe we can finally put a fork in Dave Sappelt – the guy who will never be an MLB utility outfielder. .338 SLG in the PCL means you really can’t worth a crap.

  • Verncrowe5

    What is our best option for Rizzo? He is making a name for himself in AAA, but I’m all for keeping him in the minors until at least the All-Star Break. However, when he does come to the majors, what do we do with him? Do we put Lahair in LF and sit Soriano? Do we start Rizzo over Lahair against left-handed pitching? Lahair is batting fairly similar numbers at 1B and seemingly will keep above average numbers all season, so I would hate for him to sit out games.

    • Joe Aiello

      Rizzo will not be coming up until a spot is made. Soriano will not be benched.

      • Jedi

        Maybe we just need to slap it as a banner on the VFTB homepage “Rizzo will not come up until someone is injured, traded, or LaHair suffers through an ugly and prolonged slump.  Maybe not even then.  Patience.”

      • Cubs Future

         Some solace with Soriano, he has the same homers as Albert and a higher batting average.  Won’t last, but at least he has something.  Now if he can find some of the youth/better times buried deep to get us some trade value, any at all.  Probably won’t happen until next year or at least the offseason unless really steps it up.  So Rizzo will be down there for awhile.  I think it will also help LaHair to prepare the offseason for playing outfield instead of mid year at major league level.  Just a thought though.  Just hoping everything plays out well as we got rid of Byrd but could have more if played better to start the year.

      • Cubs Future

         P.S. Soriano is starting to find doubles instead of just singles as he is up to 7.  Not great, but 5 in the past 10 games sounds much better.  And getting a couple of key hits as well.

      • BLPCB

        We ought to just give him his dough and tell him to pack his bags.

    • Norm Bothwell

       Like Joe said, a spot will need to be made. Perhaps DeJesus tries to slide to CF with LaHair moved to right.
      Rizzo is also a lefty and hitting left handed pitching is his biggest weakness, so a platoon with LaHair wouldn’t make sense.

      • Dusty Baylor

        This might work, although I’d like to see them wait until Campana cools off.  If Soriano is still putting up .258/.295/.342 in a month, we’ll see.

      • Joe Aiello

        Norm,

        I’ve heard you suggest that a few times now. Where does that leave Campana in the picture? Just curious on your thoughts on him.

      • Norm Bothwell

        On the bench and used as a pinch runner.
        I think his 2011 numbers are a more accurate representation of his talent.

      • Joe Aiello

        So with that said, what if his 2012 numbers are a more accurate represenentation. What if he just doesn’t stop hitting? What would you do with him?

      • Norm Bothwell

        Well that’s quite a hypothetical…are you asking what if he really is a
        333/370 hitter? I guess I sign him to an extension and get ready to
        have him and Castro combining for nearly 450 hits a year.

        If you mean, what if he keeps this up through July, I shop him and sell high, because a 410 BABIP is unsustainable and that 333/370 won’t last.
        If I can’t find any takers, than Rizzo stays down a little longer, assuming Soriano still can’t be moved.

      • Jedi

        What if it’s somewhere in the middle (more likely than any other scenario, in my opinion anyway). Something like .285/.345 – to me that’s plenty good to keep him in CF everyday.

      • Norm Bothwell

        That OBP with that AVG would require about a 60% increase in his walks…possible, but not likely IMO

      • Jedi

        200 MLB ABs and we have an established walk rate.  Cute.  Small sample when it’s convenient for you; trending proof when it’s not.

        Campana was a .300+ hitter in the minors; I guess that’s not relevant in assessing whether 2011 or 2012 is his true ability.

      • BLPCB

        Woohoo! Entertainment tonight!

      • Norm Bothwell
  • Verncrowe5

    What is our best option for Rizzo? He is making a name for himself in AAA, but I’m all for keeping him in the minors until at least the All-Star Break. However, when he does come to the majors, what do we do with him? Do we put Lahair in LF and sit Soriano? Do we start Rizzo over Lahair against left-handed pitching? Lahair is batting fairly similar numbers at 1B and seemingly will keep above average numbers all season, so I would hate for him to sit out games.

    • Joe Aiello

      Rizzo will not be coming up until a spot is made. Soriano will not be benched.

      • Jedi

        Maybe we just need to slap it as a banner on the VFTB homepage “Rizzo will not come up until someone is injured, traded, or LaHair suffers through an ugly and prolonged slump.  Maybe not even then.  Patience.”

      • Cubs Future

         Some solace with Soriano, he has the same homers as Albert and a higher batting average.  Won’t last, but at least he has something.  Now if he can find some of the youth/better times buried deep to get us some trade value, any at all.  Probably won’t happen until next year or at least the offseason unless really steps it up.  So Rizzo will be down there for awhile.  I think it will also help LaHair to prepare the offseason for playing outfield instead of mid year at major league level.  Just a thought though.  Just hoping everything plays out well as we got rid of Byrd but could have more if played better to start the year.

      • AC0000000

        We ought to just give him his dough and tell him to pack his bags.

    • Norm Bothwell

       Like Joe said, a spot will need to be made. Perhaps DeJesus tries to slide to CF with LaHair moved to right.
      Rizzo is also a lefty and hitting left handed pitching is his biggest weakness, so a platoon with LaHair wouldn’t make sense.

      • Dusty Baylor

        This might work, although I’d like to see them wait until Campana cools off.  If Soriano is still putting up .258/.295/.342 in a month, we’ll see.

      • Joe Aiello

        Norm,

        I’ve heard you suggest that a few times now. Where does that leave Campana in the picture? Just curious on your thoughts on him.

      • Norm Bothwell

        On the bench and used as a pinch runner.
        I think his 2011 numbers are a more accurate representation of his talent.

      • Joe Aiello

        So with that said, what if his 2012 numbers are a more accurate represenentation. What if he just doesn’t stop hitting? What would you do with him?

      • Norm Bothwell

        Well that’s quite a hypothetical…are you asking what if he really is a
        333/370 hitter? I guess I sign him to an extension and get ready to
        have him and Castro combining for nearly 450 hits a year.

        If you mean, what if he keeps this up through July, I shop him and sell high, because a 410 BABIP is unsustainable and that 333/370 won’t last.
        If I can’t find any takers, than Rizzo stays down a little longer, assuming Soriano still can’t be moved.

      • Jedi

        What if it’s somewhere in the middle (more likely than any other scenario, in my opinion anyway). Something like .285/.345 – to me that’s plenty good to keep him in CF everyday.

      • Norm Bothwell

        That OBP with that AVG would require about a 60% increase in his walks…possible, but not likely IMO

      • Jedi

        200 MLB ABs and we have an established walk rate.  Cute.  Small sample when it’s convenient for you; trending proof when it’s not.

        Campana was a .300+ hitter in the minors; I guess that’s not relevant in assessing whether 2011 or 2012 is his true ability.

      • AC0000000

        Woohoo! Entertainment tonight!

      • Norm Bothwell
  • Cubs Future

    I know this is from the list to start the year.  I’m sure I am jumping the gun of an updated list of some others in the minors that have stepped up as I am far far from an expert.  Hard to tell because minors are well minors.  But some that look alright numbers wise (have no scouting info or advanced numbers or even seeing them play) that aren’t on that list just in AAA since I can look there are Luis Valbuena and hoping Cardenas can step it up in the majors as was doing fine in AAA and also Amezaga.  They are all listed as 2nd basemen or play there some as I can’t tell, but a definite weak link for the Cubs.  

    As for pitchers, I know Rodrigo is not a prospect, but he has been stepping up somewhat.  Blake Parker has been having a couple of bad performances lately.  Chris Rusin was named PCL pitcher recently.  Frankie De La Cruz is walking too many.  Casey Coleman had been improving lately in AAA, so we’ll see how well it holds in the majors.  Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine have been slipping as well of late.  Travis Wood and Randy Wells are stinking it up, but hoping they can turn things around even with AAA being more for hitters.

    • Norm Bothwell

       Yeah I think I’m going to look into some of the better performers who were left off the prospect lists next week. Guys like Zeke DeVoss, but not so much the minor leaguers like Rodrigo, because he’s just not a prospect.
      Anyone who isn’t eligible to be Rookie of the Year will most likely be left out.

      • Cubs Future

         No problem on that as I figured somebody would.  I just was hoping we could do something with Rodrigo like trade or even bring up to build up trade value.  I know it won’t be much of anything, but he is doing decent and obviously not in the long term plans as to why I brought his name up.

  • Cubs Future

    I know this is from the list to start the year.  I’m sure I am jumping the gun of an updated list of some others in the minors that have stepped up as I am far far from an expert.  Hard to tell because minors are well minors.  But some that look alright numbers wise (have no scouting info or advanced numbers or even seeing them play) that aren’t on that list just in AAA since I can look there are Luis Valbuena and hoping Cardenas can step it up in the majors as was doing fine in AAA and also Amezaga.  They are all listed as 2nd basemen or play there some as I can’t tell, but a definite weak link for the Cubs.  

    As for pitchers, I know Rodrigo is not a prospect, but he has been stepping up somewhat.  Blake Parker has been having a couple of bad performances lately.  Chris Rusin was named PCL pitcher recently.  Frankie De La Cruz is walking too many.  Casey Coleman had been improving lately in AAA, so we’ll see how well it holds in the majors.  Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine have been slipping as well of late.  Travis Wood and Randy Wells are stinking it up, but hoping they can turn things around even with AAA being more for hitters.

    • Norm Bothwell

       Yeah I think I’m going to look into some of the better performers who were left off the prospect lists next week. Guys like Zeke DeVoss, but not so much the minor leaguers like Rodrigo, because he’s just not a prospect.
      Anyone who isn’t eligible to be Rookie of the Year will most likely be left out.

      • Cubs Future

         No problem on that as I figured somebody would.  I just was hoping we could do something with Rodrigo like trade or even bring up to build up trade value.  I know it won’t be much of anything, but he is doing decent and obviously not in the long term plans as to why I brought his name up.

  • Chuck

    I have been saying this for years now, but Soriano is a sunk cost.  I would pay the Cards 150% of his salary to play every day there.  He is just a very bad player at this point and you can make an argument that he is impeding the development of a young player (Rizzo) that is part of the future.  You really could not make that argument last season because he was still useful against LHP.
    My only concern with Lake is that he seems sort of old for AA.  Unless he had some long-term injury where he lost a lot of playing time, 22 is oldish for AA.  Same with Szczur.  Almost all of the good players are in MLB by the age of 25 or so.

    • BLPCB

      Stop right there. I would not pay the Cardinals for him to play there. Because with Cardinals luck, he’ll rediscover his 40-40-40 form.

      • (HR-SB-funny putout attempts)

    • Cubs Future

      Lake was injured and Vitters is the 3B for AAA and Lake was also SS, but moving to 3B I believe as since Castro at SS, no chance to break through.  So he is taking his time to prove he can succeed at AA.  Not sure about Szcur, but yes the real good ones are up by 25, but look at LaHair (upper 20’s and doing quite well at the moment).  Sometimes it is about chances and all of that.  Vitters has been working slowly through the ranks.  We are just hoping to see more quality talent coming into the farm system, but it is taking chances sometimes as not everyone will pan out.

  • Chuck

    I have been saying this for years now, but Soriano is a sunk cost.  I would pay the Cards 150% of his salary to play every day there.  He is just a very bad player at this point and you can make an argument that he is impeding the development of a young player (Rizzo) that is part of the future.  You really could not make that argument last season because he was still useful against LHP.
    My only concern with Lake is that he seems sort of old for AA.  Unless he had some long-term injury where he lost a lot of playing time, 22 is oldish for AA.  Same with Szczur.  Almost all of the good players are in MLB by the age of 25 or so.

    • AC0000000

      Stop right there. I would not pay the Cardinals for him to play there. Because with Cardinals luck, he’ll rediscover his 40-40-40 form.

    • Cubs Future

      Lake was injured and Vitters is the 3B for AAA and Lake was also SS, but moving to 3B I believe as since Castro at SS, no chance to break through.  So he is taking his time to prove he can succeed at AA.  Not sure about Szcur, but yes the real good ones are up by 25, but look at LaHair (upper 20’s and doing quite well at the moment).  Sometimes it is about chances and all of that.  Vitters has been working slowly through the ranks.  We are just hoping to see more quality talent coming into the farm system, but it is taking chances sometimes as not everyone will pan out.

  • Cubs Future

    Funny how Soriano is actually starting to turn things around.  I mentioned earlier about 5 doubles in the past 10 days and just hit his 2nd homer and some of these hits are quite big.  He still won’t live up to his contract, but can provide some use and can build up some trade value hopefully.  Overall terrible, but looking better of late, keep it up.

    • wisconsinjpc

       I wouldn’t term what Soriano is doing as “turning things around.” He used to be a good hitter. He’s currently hitting .295 with a .260 OBP. Considering the term most often applied to his defensive play is “liability,” and those numbers don’t reflect anything close to a slugger, I would say Soriano is simply preying on the law of averages at this point.

      Simply put, Soriano isn’t consistent enough to bat .192 with zero HRs for the entire season.

  • Cubs Future

    Funny how Soriano is actually starting to turn things around.  I mentioned earlier about 5 doubles in the past 10 days and just hit his 2nd homer and some of these hits are quite big.  He still won’t live up to his contract, but can provide some use and can build up some trade value hopefully.  Overall terrible, but looking better of late, keep it up.