We’ve waited and waited and waited some more. We even saw notes from Dale Sveum that there was a 100% chance that Matt Garza would make his slated start on Monday against the Diamondbacks. Even Ken Rosenthal speculated that Garza would make the deal. In the end, just a few hours before the start, the Cubs and Rangers confirmed a deal to send Garza to Texas in exchange for five prospects. Let’s talk a little bit about the new names in the system.
Mike Olt - The Rangers looked to make a deal last season for a starting pitcher at the deadline and settled on Zach Greinke. Many people asked at the time about Olt and his availability. The Rangers, in turn, balked at the idea of trading their highly touted 3B prospect. He had a tremendous year in 2012 hitting .288 / .398 / .579 with 28 home runs in just 420 plate appearances. He participated in winter ball and suffered a concussion and then had some vision problems to begin the season this year. He came into the season ranked 22nd in baseball by both Baseball America and MLB.com. Rumor has it that the vision is slowly getting back to normal so we should see his numbers develop. He’s got raw power and a good glove at third base. Keith Law said “if he can hit enough to get to that power, he has 25-30 homer potential.” He’s definitely the potential gem in the deal. Expect him to be assigned to AAA Iowa to continue his development, which could push Josh Vitters to full time DH or outfield. The to watch as you follow his development is his ability to make contact. If he can focus on putting the ball in play and limiting the strikeouts, we should see that power manifest itself and coupled with his good defense, make him a viable call up very soon at third. I was on Twitter a little after the deal and one of the things I saw in the #Cubs feed was people complaining about the fact that Theo and Jed dealt for a player with “vision problems” or complaints that we drafted a third baseman and then traded for one. It’s incredibly important to remember that when you’re building a farm system, you don’t simply put all your eggs in one basket on one player at each position and expect each to develop into the player you project for them. You stockpile as many talented players at each position and let them develop. As they do, if multiple guys develop well, then you have a good problem on your hands and the ability to use those assets accordingly. Third base is a position that I wouldn’t necessarily describe as weak in the system, but it certainly wasn’t as strong as it has gotten over the last month. Looking at the system now you can easily see five guys that have potential to make an impact at the major league level at the third base position in the coming years in Luis Valbuena, Junior Lake, Vitters, and now Kris Bryant and Olt. The more talent we have, the better chance we have of finding the long term solution, and I believe it’s Olt. He slots in at # 2 in the system according to MiLB.com after the trade behind Javier Baez.
CJ Edwards and Justin Grimm – In these two, the Cubs continued their quest to stockpile young arms in hopes of building a surplus very similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays have done over the last 6-7 years. It keeps with the theme of amassing as much as you can at a position and seeing what shakes out. It’s easy to look at Grimm and get disappointed when people are pointing to his Major League stats and saying they are so so, but what it’s important to look at is that his numbers in the minors were good. What I’ve read is that he projects as a potential swing man / bottom of the rotation started due to the fact that his repertoire is mainly two pitches. If he can develop further, then you can see him in the bottom of the rotation. Law states “Moving to the NL may help a little, but the biggest key will be finding a usable changeup for him.”
Edwards is a guy who is further from the Majors and a little younger than Grimm. He wasn’t looked at as a highly touted guy in the amateur draft, taken in the 48th round, but he seems to be developing into one of those late round gems that are mined and found to be rather sparkly. In his first full season last year, he put up good numbers between rookie ball and low A. This year he’s done very well again in low A and I’d expect that he’ll be sent to Daytona to try his hand at High A since he seems to have proven all he needs to at the Low A level. According to scouts he has good velocity on his fastball and an above average curve ball. The changeup is a work in progress and seems to be coming along nicely. The knock on him is his limited time in the minors to fully show that what he’s done is not just a product of being under slotted in the minors as well as a concern about his size. He is listed at 6’2″ and just over 150lbs. I suppose if he asked really nicely, I could give him a few of my extra pounds. At any rate, Edwards slots in as the #10 prospect in the system.
PTBNL – This is the most traded commodity in the majors. It stands for player to be named later and the way it works is basically that the two teams agree to a pool of players and the team that receives the players has a deadline for when those players must make their decision by that time. There are reports that the deal includes one and potentially two players to be named later. The name I hear is Neal Ramirez as the main name with him being the only name should the Cubs choose him. If not, they’d select two names from a pre-set pool. Ramirez is apparently the name that held the deal up due to questions on his medicals. If Ramirez is legit in the deal and is healthy, this was a heck of a haul for Garza as he currently sits as the #13 prospect in the Ranger system. I used to look at the PTBNL tag and simply write that off, but it’s important to note that any name has potential to develop. There have been a few notable ones in the past that have gone on to be very productive ML players. Jason Schmidt, David Ortiz, and former Cub, Moises Alou all come to mind in this category.
Overall, I love the deal. When you look at the fact that we added two top 10 prospects in our system in exchange for roughly two months of Garza starts plus whatever, if anything, we get out of Grimm and the PTBNL and I think it’s a huge boost to the system. How you can come away from the first part of the Theo and Jed regime and not be excited about how they are building from the ground up is beyond me.
- #Lakesanity is in full effect. He continued his role of stealing the hearts of Cub fans all over the globe with another great performance that included two bunt hits, a home run to left center, a late RBI single and a cannon throw to the cutoff man late in the game. On the downside, he was caught stealing again, running his success rate to just 1-for-3. He’s on fire.
- Chris Rusin got the late starting assignment after the Garza trade and really did well given the situation. My guess is he was on standby early in the day if not late last night so it wasn’t like he had to start on a moment’s notice, but he did throw well and got the win as a result.
- Really nice catch early in the game by Cole Gillespie, who will probably be the front runner to be removed from the active roster when David DeJesus returns from the DL.
- The men in blue were out in full force tonight. Thankfully neither of the main instances came back to bite us. Between the unnecessary warning to Tyler Skaggs when he hit Dianor Navarro in his at bat after his home run and the missed call on a steal by Paul Goldschmidt in the 8th, our boys in blue obviously did not get the memo that this is Lake’s world and we’re just living in it.
- Pedro Strop continued to pitch lights out since being acquired with a scoreless 8th and Kevin Gregg came on to close it out in the 9th. With the news that Jason Grilli left the Pirates game with an injury, perhaps they come calling.
- Now that Garza is gone, which is so much of a relief that it got done this year, it’s time to focus on other players to move to continue boosting the system, the first of which is Gregg, who was quoted in an interview with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun Times as saying “Garza’s a headline piece, but I think that in the baseball world, people are looking for relievers. I hope I’m on that list” I hope there is interest in him and that he can draw a top 20 guy. On an unrelated note, Wittenmyer is my favorite Cubs beat writer.
- Also on the potential trade market are Alfonso Soriano and Nate Schierholtz, both who have recently been linked to the Yankees. I could see them making a move for Soriano in August if they can keep themselves in the race enough over the next three weeks. The Cubs have said they will eat the majority of the remaining year and a half of salary, but my fear is that the Yankee system is not really brimming with top notch prospects.
- John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com had a nice piece on Lake and his development through the system since being signed out of the Dominican Republic. My favorite quote is “The tools stand out, particularly an outstanding throwing arm. He has a genuine cannon, reminding me of Shawon Dunston.” You can read the whole piece here.
- Ervin Santana, of the Royals, is now following me on Twitter. I’m not sure why, but I’m not gonna complain.
- The Mayor is pushing to get the final OK’s needed on the Wrigley renovation deal finalized this week. As usual, Tom Tunney is being a tool and holding up the process.
by Rob Willer
The Iowa Cubs gained two new additions today in the Garza trade with the additions of Olt and Grimm after he recovers from his forearm injury. According to a tweet from Des Moines Register’s Tommy Birch we should see Grimm with the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday and Olt very soon. Back to the game it was a rain shortened contest as Nick Struck struggled all night giving up 10 hits seven runs (seven earned). Brad Nelson gave us something to cheer about going 2 for 3 with a double.
Kyle Hendricks has been something to watch this season and tonight was no different as he went seven strong innings giving up four hits and two runs (none earned). If Hendricks keeps up this dominant pitching we could see him at Iowa some time in September when the Chicago Cubs make their September call ups. Javy Baez once again struggled going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts lowering his batting average to .200 at Tennessee. With Baez its going to be about making adjustments this summer from the pitching in High A to Double A. Zac Rosscup struggled out of the pen as he gave up three runs in two thirds of an inning a minor speed bump in Rosscup’s season.
The Daytona Cubs were rained out Monday night and will play a double header Tuesday against the St. Lucie Mets. Some players to keep an eye on are Second Baseman Dustin Geiger whose hitting an impressive .281 with 10 home-runs and 68 runs batted in and pitcher Zach Cates who has turned in a solid season so far going 8-7 with a 3.91 earned run average to go along with 68 strikeouts in 94 innings pitched.
Pitching prospect and international signing Juan Paniagua struggled again on the mound lasting 3 1/3 innings giving up five hits and three runs (2 earned). The Cougars couldn’t muster much offense as they only had six total hits while Albert Almora went 0 for 4 on the night with a walk.
David DeJesus continued his rehab stint with the Mesa Cubs in the Arizona Fall League by going 2 for 4 with a double to raise his batting average to .375. Although, the big story of the day was first round pick Kris Bryant who recorded not only his first professional hit but added two runs batted in on the night as well. Cubs fan @EricLPauly gets video of Kris Bryant’s First Professional Hit. Look for DeJesus to play a few more weeks on his rehab assignment before he is back with the Cubs.
Follow me @Rob_Willer for the latest on Cubs Minor League News.
A note on Minor League RHP C.J. Edwards, whom #Cubs acquired in Garza deal: He has not given up a HR in 160 1/3 innings in last 2 years
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 23, 2013