View From The Bleachers

September 12, 2012

Minors Reports – Top Pitching Prospects Recap

Filed under: Featured,General — Norm @ 12:00 pm

Here is the post I’ve been dreading. The pitching prospects in the system just aren’t exciting. We all know there isn’t an elite arm down there, but there isn’t even a pitcher that started 10 games that maintained a strikeout rate of at least one per inning (unless you want to include 12 starts for SIXTEEN year old Carlos Rodriguez in the Dominican Summer League). No pitcher in the system where you just can’t wait to check the box score. So yeah, I’ve been dreading to write this because the organization’s pitching is just so darn boring.

Without further adieu, our Top Pitching Prospects:

We have yet to see why most prospect rankings had Dillon Maples as the top Cubs pitching prospect to begin the season. Injury has caused a very slow start to the 20 year old’s career. Have to hope 2013 is a year we can see what he’s all about.

A couple years back, Trey McNutt was neck and neck with Chris Archer as best pitching prospect in the Cubs system. I preferred McNutt because he had a lower walk rate. But he hasn’t been the same pitcher that last two seasons, with his K/9 dropping from 10.2 in 2010, to 6.2 and 6.3 in 2011 and 2012. He was moved to the bullpen after 17 starts this year, and while his K rate went back up to just under one per inning, his walks were high with 14 in 28 innings. He’s a reliever at best and may see Wrigley next year.

Dae-Eun Rhee was a personal favorite of mine heading into the year. But like most other Cub pitchers, his K rate saw a significant drop once he hit AA. He might be another one of the 6th starter types the Cubs are filled with these days.

The biggest bust of the year may belong to Gerardo Concepcion, depending on what you thought of him. Some saw the $6 million price tag and thought the high dollars meant a high quality pitcher. It doesn’t look that way. I’ve heard a few excuses, like the Cubs were holding back on his secondary stuff so he can work on his mediocre fastball, but that doesn’t seem very believable to me. I don’t expect him to ever see the majors, but, he’s only 2o years old, he’s left handed, and has the skills. He just needs to learn how to pitch.

Rafael Dolis has an average fastball of 95. I think that’s the only thing good I can say about what I’ve seen from him. He walks too many and doesn’t strike out enough. I thought he was closer material, but he just doesn’t appear to have the stuff.

I bought into some of what I read on Zach Cates. He came over with Anthony Rizzo from the Padres as a throw-in lottery ticket. It didn’t pay off in 2012, but there is plenty of time. He’s a converted position player, so he doesn’t have much time on the mound, but he regressed from a solid 2011.

So nothing to get excited about so far, but alas, I bring you some hope from Hendry holdover Ben Wells. He’s not an ace, but I think he’s got the best chance of any pre-Theo/Jed pitcher to make an impact. He was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League and demonstrated good control before being shut down with an injury for nearly three months. Delays his progress and I’m guessing would start 2013 in the Midwest League again.

In conclusion, not a single one had an impressive year. There were a few pitchers in the system that weren’t in our Top 20 that had good years; like Alberto Cabrera, who will probably be a fixture in the bullpen, and Nick Struck, who put together a second good year, and Michael Jensen and Erik Jokisch and Starlin Peralta, but they are the same as the group above. Boring.

The silver lining? It can only get better in 2013.

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  • Dusty_Baylor

    I’m pretty excited about Nick Struck and Eric Jockisch.
    Projectability is awesome, but at some point starting pitching prospects need to learn to go deeper into games, and seeing some type of success is good too.
    Struck and Jockisch each threw 150 innings, and hit double digit wins.  Neither projects to be Doc Gooden or Roger Clemens, but I’d settle for Jeff Suppan or Woody Williams types…that are solid 4th/5th starters, who will pitch decently, keep the team in games, etc.   It’s not exciting, but it’s better than the crap we’ve seen over the last 5 years from the minors.

  • Noah_I

    The one interesting thing is that I don’t think any of the pitchers on this list (and I know you limited it to pitchers in our pre-season Top 20) will be in my review of the top pitchers in the system next week (which will be a three person list).  My guess is that list will be Vizcaino, Pierce Johnson and Juan Carlos Paniagua. 

  • Noah_I

    The problem is that too many guys who come up as 4th or 5th starters need every ounce of their stuff to stay that way.  Look at what happened to Randy Wells once his velocity dipped at all.  A lot of the guys who end up as long term 4th or 5th starters tend to be guys who had higher expectations but failed to meet them. 

  • Cubs Future

    One person who still has something to prove, but could be someone to keep an eye out for next year is Yao-Lin Wang.  He got roughed up last couple of starts, but is a converted closer this year middle in.  His starts were decent until last 2, but was getting stretched out as well, so didn’t see hitters for a 3rd or even sometimes 2nd time around.  As a starter struck out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, so that qualifies as over 1 an inning.  He however is 21 and played for Peoria.  Matt Loosen of Daytona was a shy under 1 an inning at 110 K’s in 112 2/3 innings, but is 23 for Daytona.  Austin Kirk 22 ended at AA (ERA was good both spots, but bad K/BB for AA for little bit that was there).  He has managed to be alright through each of the levels, but unfortunately as mentioned not star material.  So looking forward to a new year as surely someone (prospects of old and new and other group Norm mentioned and whom I mentioned) can step up to provide some excitement hopefully.  So no aces or probably even top of the rotation starters, but maybe late bloomers who would be middle of rotation with some good to great years sprinkled in there.

  • Jedi

    Are we even going to get to keep Paniagua?

  • Cubs Future

     I was thinking that too as took me awhile to create my post with lots of things going on.  Otherwise would have also pointed out their information and interest.  There always will be busts as not everyone can succeed and yes it is not desirable to have several back end of the rotation starters for championship teams, but we are building towards that.  Some of these guys will surprise well and also allow to not overspend in free agency.  But we are still rebuilding and still have to field a team at all levels, so need some excitement everywhere even if it is watered down.  I am so excited to see another year roll around in the minors with some more trades and another draft.  Newly acquired pitchers getting a full year under their belts or proving what they can do on the next level like a Tayler Scott, etc.

  • Lizzie

    Eric Jokisch. I’ve not heard how it’s pronounced but it appears in writing to be an unfortunate name, especially when jock straps and damp locker rooms are big components of your career. poor guy.

  • Cubs Future

     If we don’t it is because Paniagua was so stupid to have yet another deal voided.  There really isn’t too much risk on the Cubs part.  If the deal gets voided, no harm no foul.  I think it would be a nice addition, but still all hope and no sustained results with these prospects.  At least it is an avenue other than the waiver claim process.  How many of those guys did we pick up?

  • Dusty_Baylor

    Decent point.  But with the lack of even 4th/5th starter types the Cubs are producing this last decade…I’ll take it. Dillon Maples might have electric stuff, but I can’t get excited about him until I see him pitching and having some kind of success at least in A ball or AA.

  • Cubs Future

     He should have been included in the moniker madness afterall they had someone odor.  Maybe he was along with someone who faced the boise team for the championship Bambino Fuenmayor.  Who wouldn’t want a fun Mayor who’s first name is bambino

  • jswanson

    New favorite pitching prospect…C-Rod.  

  • Noah_I

    My understanding is that the Cubs signed off on the fact that MLB could not verify Paniagua’s age.  As such, the contract cannot be voided on the terms that his age may or may not be what it represents.  In his prior contracts, the team did not sign such a waiver. 

  • sprocket

    Remember when Jay Jackson was supposed to be good.

  • charley

    I still like Concepcion.  I think he at least has a chance to me a mid rotation starter.  No, he’s not going to be a star but i think there may be something there.  You have to remember that he’s coming over from Cuba and he’s still has things to learn outside of baseball.  I’m hoping once he gets a bit more comfortable in the US his pitching will improve.  Maybe i’m just dreaming here.

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