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Minors Reports – Top Position Prospects Recap

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

All in all, it was a pretty good season for the position prospects in the Cubs organization. 8 of the top 9 had on-base percentages over .340 (Brett Jackson is the lone exception at .338), Javier Baez became one of the Top 25 prospects in all of baseball, Matt Szczur completely changed his approach, and Dan Vogelbach showed that he’s more than just power and his #4 pre-season ranking might not have been too aggressive after all.

It looks like the 2013 Cubs could have as many as four of these players in the opening day starting lineup; those being Anthony Rizzo, Welington Castillo, Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters. Jackson and Vitters are still pretty big question marks, in my opinion, but both Rizzo and Castillo look like they could be everyday contributors for a long time.

We’ve gotten a taste of Brett Jackson’s game. Strikeouts, walks, occasional hit. It’s the last part that will determine his future. I think if he can hit .220-.230, he’ll be a productive player. I’m just not sure he can hit .220.

The most important success story to the 2012 Cubs has to be Anthony Rizzo. His numbers in the big leagues are coming down and fans might be expecting a bit much from him because of his hot start, but I think the Cubs found their 1B of the future. I’m not sure he has any All Star years in him, but I think he’ll be a solid producer for the next 5 or 6 season.

Javier Baez killed the ball in Peoria, but struggled against more advanced pitchers in Daytona. He’ll be in most Top 25 lists in the 2013 rankings. His defense received good reviews and while the thinking is still that he’ll end up moving to 3B, there is a better chance to stick at shortstop than we thought in April. He has an aggressive approach, which is my one worry about him.

Dan Vogelbach is a full two levels behind Baez, so while his numbers were more impressive, the competition was not. I like the fact that he didn’t strike out too much, and was able to walk an above average amount of walks. Shows he’s got a good approach. He’s going to need to keep hitting at every level before he’s given much respect as a prospect, but I like what I see so far.

The biggest surprise to me was the year Matt Szczur had in High A Daytona. Yes, he was a bit old for the league, but the increase in walks was nice to see. I still think he’s a fourth outfielder, but he’s got an interesting skill set and a much higher ceiling than a Dave Sappelt (another guy I see as a fourth outfielder) because of his tools.

The most underrated player on this list is Welington Castillo. It’s not common to find a capable everyday catcher and I think the Cubs have one here. He has a good arm, he takes walks, he can hit some home runs.

A couple more surprises, Josh Vitters and Junior Lake. Neither player will give you much on defense, so the bats will have to hit for them to be productive. Neither player walks much, they swing a lot, and have pretty high ceilings, but the chances either of these guys reaching that ceiling is slim due to their approach. A year ago I wasn’t sure if either of these players would ever be a major leaguer, now, I’m thinking they are both at least utility players.

Although it was a step back from 2011, Jeimer Candelario’s season was pretty good for an 18 year old kid and will likely rise a little on next years list.
Marco Hernandez is probably the biggest disappointment on the season. The Cubs were aggressive with him by starting him in Peoria, but it didn’t work out.
Reggie Golden had a wasted year and will likely be back in Peoria (Kane County?) next year.
Ronald Torreyes started slow but turned it on in the second half, putting up an .811 OPS as one of the youngest players in the league….a personal favorite of mine.
Finally, Jedi’s favorite, Dave Sappelt. After two excellent seasons, he put up his worst in 2012. There was a dip in power, walk rate, and strikeout rate. His career will likely be a constant battle of trying to hang on to a reserve outfielder spot.

 

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Minors Leaders – BB/K for Hitters

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The walk is still, IMO, an underrated aspect of a position players offense. It is sometimes just as good as a single, and it is always better than an out. And strikeouts, IMO, aren’t a bad thing, but it is an indication of a lack of contact.

You can still be a good offensive player if you strikeout a lot and you can still be good when you walk a little. But if you do both at the same time, you’re going to be bad. If you can manage to walk a lot and strikeout a little? You’re probably going to be good.

For reference, if we looked at BB/K ratio for major leaguers, you would have to go all the way down to #20 to get to a guy with an OBP under .337. That’s a pretty good OBP. The bottom 30 guys in BB/K ratio all have an OBP worse than .337.
10 of the worst 15 are under a .300 OBP, while 5 of the best 11 are above .400 (there are only 10 players in baseball with an OBP over .400).

So, a high BB/K ratio is a good thing. A low one is bad. What minor leaguers have the best BB to K ratio?

I limited the list to those about a .6 BB/K ratio. If you can do that in the majors, that’s the top 25%. Only 11 major leaguers have more walks than strikeouts this year. The Cubs have 4 in their minor league system doing so.

I seem to like Adrian Cardenas more than most, mainly due to this number. Ronald Torreyes is another favorite of mine. Although they are close on this list, they are complete different hitters; one with high walk totals, one with low walk totals. We’ve already seen Cardenas in the majors and I think we’ll be seeing Torreyes in another two years.

The highest ceiling players on this list would have to be either Dan Vogelbach or Matt Szczur. One thing you’ll notice on this list is a lack of power, until you get to Vogelbomb’s .648 slugging percentage. Seeing him here makes me feel better about our pre-season ranking of #4 in the system. I was done on Szczur coming into the season, but he has me intrigued now that his approach has improved so much.

I wanted to mention a few other notes. Albert Almora is near the bottom of this and has the lowest walk rate in the system (minimum 100 plate apps). He also has the 2nd lowest strikeout rate, so if his numbers are indicative of anything (they’re not), he’s going to be quite the aggressive hitter.

Joining Almora in the .20 and below range (.20 is bottom 5% of players in MLB!) is stud SS prospect, Javier Baez. These low BB/K rates don’t worry me yet, but they are something to keep an eye on.

Dave Sappelt is 23rd on the list at .51.

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Farm Report – K/9 Leaders

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Carlos Marmol set a major league record back in 2010 when he struck out nearly 16 batters for every 9 innings (that record has since been broken by Kenley Jansen). He’s down to 11.5 K/9 this year, but that’s still good for best on the team; unless you want to include the 7 innings pitched by Alberto Cabrera. The Minors Leaders, not including the foreign rookie leagues and anyone under 20 innings pitched:

Seven of these pitchers we’ve already seen in the big leagues, so it’s going to be more of a “get to you know them” type writeup. The guys I think have the brightest future on here are, following the order of the above list:

Alberto Cabrera: I don’t think his seven career innings is enough for me to get on his case about walking too many hitters and implying he’s the next Carlos Marmol. His walk rate in the minors this year could be an aberration, as it’s a half of his career rate of 4BB/9, but he’s got a nasty fastball at 94-95 mph with a good slider. That’s a good combination for a relief pitcher.

Jeff Beliveau: Beliveau was in a similar place as Cabrera is now, although he did it as an older player in a lower level league. So I’m not as high on Beliveau as I am on most others here. But he’s got a career K/9 rate of over 11 and throws with the left hand, so I think we’ll be seeing him regularly over the next few seasons.

Lendy Castillo: I’m intrigued. As a Rule 5 pickup, I’m hoping The Front Office saw something in him and we can chalk this up as a win. He was used as a starter in his rehab stint, so maybe the Cubs are considering the move for next year, but I’m not sure he has the repertoire. He’s a converted shortstop, so he’s only been pitching since 2010, and in 131 career innings, he’s posted a 1.12 WHIP.

Tony Zych: The only one I’m mentioning without big league experience, Zych has shown solid strikeout numbers combined with a BB/9 under 3. A local kid (St. Rita High School), the Cubs took a flyer on him by taking him in the 46th round in the 2008 draft, Zych went to college at the University of Louisville and was taken again by the Cubs, this time in the 4th round in 2011, and Zych was considered a good value. He’s shown it so far and should be the first Cubs pick from 2011 to make it to the show. (Update: Pitched 2 innings and struck out all 6 on Tuesday).

Travis Wood: I think he’s a keeper and by next year, the people who still doubt the Sean Marshall trade today, will be eating crow simply because of Wood’s contributions (And because Dave Sappelt will be a 4th OF and Ronald Torreyes being a good 2nd piece in a trade for a pitcher). I’m surprised to see the spike in homers considering the move from Cinci to Chicago, so that number will need to drop if he’s to be anything more than a back of rotation pitcher. I think it will, there isn’t a qualifying pitcher in the league with a worse HR/9 rate, so I’ll bet that he isn’t among the worst next year.

No high ceiling players in the bunch, but the Cubs made every attempt to change that this year by drafting guys like Pierce Johnson (2 innings, 3 runs, 2K’s yesterday) and Duane Underwood (3 no-hit innings  yesterday) and acquiring Arodys Vizcaino, who would be my #1 Cubs pitching prospect right now.

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Farm Report – The Nine Most Interesting Cubs Minor Leaguers

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Today I thought I’d list the prospect  that interest me the most. May not be the best, just those that I like to follow  for some particular reason. The list, with nary a pitcher:

1) Javier Baez: The highest offensive ceiling in the system and he might even be able to stick at shortstop, Baez was recently ranked as the 15th best prospect in baseball by Kevin Goldstein. Good overall numbers on the year, but the BB/SO numbers show how aggressive he is.

2) Dan Vogelbach: How can a 19 year old, former 280 pound, power hitter not be interesting? I don’t think anyone knows his true weight these days; I’ve seen it written that he’s lost any where from 30-60 pounds since high school. But he’s still big, he’s still just a 1B (if that), and he’ll need to keep hitting to get any love in the Top 100 lists. 15 home runs  in under 200 plate appearances is a good start. Noah profiled him here yesterday.

3) Jorge Soler: The $30M man had a grand slam over the weekend while playing for the Peoria Chiefs. He makes a third straight player where power is his best tool. Soler is off to a good start with Peoria; 5-14, 1 homer, 6 RBI, 2 walks, 0 K’s.

4) Albert Almora: He will begin his Boise career on Wednesday after going on a hot streak down in Arizona. There is a chance next years Peoria team will have Vogelbach, Soler, and Almora in the lineup, unless Soler starts in Daytona, where I’m assuming Baez will begin. Either team will be fun to watch.

5) Matt Szczur: I was not his biggest fan coming into the season. He was coming off a terrible 2.7% walk rate in 2011 but completely shocked me by putting up a rate over 13%. He makes contact, he has good speed, he’s starting to walk….good progress, I think.

6) Ronald Torreyes: I feel like he’s underrated. He’s one of the youngest players in the league. He’s hitting 268/330/391. The league average is 252/333/375. He hit .370 and .356 the last two seasons. He’s hitting .323 in the 2nd half of the season. He has more extra-base hits than he does strikeouts. And he’s listed at 5’9″, 140 lbs in some places, so he’ll probably come off as “grindy” or something.

7) Gioskar Amaya: He’s got some speed, he’s got some power. He hit .377 last year and .311 this year. Peoria’s 2013 second baseman?

8) Junior Lake: Never been a big fan. But he started off with a pretty significant number of walks, so it seemed  he may  have pulled a Szczur. But that’s come falling steadily down. His 284/339/428 looks ok, but he still strikes out a lot, isn’t a very good infielder despite a cannon for an arm, and has struggled with base stealing. Still can’t love him like it seems many Cub fans do.

9) Jeimer Candelario: Loved him last year. A switch hitting 3B who drew more walks than K’s? Heck yeah. He went from having an excellent BB/K ratio to a decent one. I’m guessing he’s Peoria’s 3B next year. I’m going to have to get me some tickets.

 

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Minors Report – Top Sluggers

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

With a flurry of activity in recent weeks, 6 of the top 20 sluggers from the minors are currently on the big league team; Anthony Rizzo (1), Josh Vitters (5), Luis Valbuena!! (7), Adrian Cardenas (12), Brett Jackson (13), Welington Castillo (18).  This is a reminder of what minor league stats say about future MLB performance…not much. Not when Luis Valbuena is slugging .500.

The top 20 (minimum 150 PA):

For all the talk about the year Javier Baez is having, Dan Vogelbach is having a pretty successful season. He leads the organization in slugging and is on his way to a nice first year and a place in Peoria next season.

Javier Baez will be next year’s #1 Cub prospect and is one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.

Gioskar Amaya was a surprise to me. The second baseman’s slugging isn’t driven by power as much as it is by speed and his nine triples. It seems odd seeing a player with more triples than doubles and he’ll likely join Vogelbach in Peoria next season.

I went 20 players deep on this list so I can include 2012′s winner of the greatest name in all of minor league baseball, Rock Shoulders. He took 60% of the vote to beat the Texas Rangers Rougned Odor in the finals.

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Minors Report – New Additions

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

It wasn’t as much as we all hoped due to, let’s just call it, miscommunication between the Cubs and Dempster along with the injury to Matt Garza, but the Cubs added five players to the minor league system during this year’s non-waiver trade season.

The first hug went to Reed Johnson, who we later found out was sent to Atlanta with Paul Maholm for:

Arodys Vizcaino – A 21 year old right hander who hasn’t pitched this year due to Tommy John surgery, he was Keith Law’s #14 prospect coming into the season after posting solid numbers in 2011 as a 20 year old rookie. He was in line to compete for a spot in Atlanta’s rotation before being shut down. He also had an elbow issue in 2010, so the injury factor is a real concern.
But he’s also an electrifying pitcher; able to maintain a fastball in the 95-96 range according to Fangraphs 2011 numbers. Of course, that was in relief, so he may lose a tick or three. His next pitch is a hard curve ball that will help him succeed in short outings, but the third pitch will likely be the deciding factor in him being a starter or reliever….if it all clicks, Vizcaino has the potential to be a nasty top of the rotation pitcher. We’ll probably see him in 2013.

Jaye Chapman – Chapman is a 25 year old relief pitcher in AAA. He strikes guys out, walks a bit too many to be considered elite, and doesn’t have much upside. He is good against righties, so the Cubs may have gotten a useful bullpen piece for the next few seasons. He’ll likely compete for a bullpen spot next year.

Not so long later, Geovany Soto was shown hugging teammates because he found out he was moving to Texas. In return comes:

Jake Brigham: 24 year old starting pitcher currently in AA, he’s a back of the rotation candidate. Which is pretty poor return if this were 2010 Geovany Soto. But this is 2012 Geovany Soto, and he’s a guy that’s going to be non-tendered after the season, so getting a potential back of rotation arm, maybe even just a bullpen arm, at pre-arbitration pricing for 3 years is a solid return for 2012 Geovany Soto. I’d guess he’s in AAA for most of 2013 and a chance to see him regularly in 2014.

Then the Demspter craziness. All day long, Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers. Then in the last 15-20 minutes it’s the Yankees. Then the last 5 minutes it’s the Rangers that ninja their way in and get Dempster for:

Kyle Hendricks: An extreme control pitcher, Hendricks walks just 1.03 batters per 9 innings. He strikes out a decent amount, but he throws just 87-91 so might not be able to get that by more advanced hitters as often as he does in A ball. Barring some bizarre improvement, I’d think the earliest Hendricks make an appearance is 2014, more likely 2015.

Christian Villanueva: He’s got an interesting stat line  in 2011 for a 3B with over 15 homers and 30 stolen bases…and by all account he plays good defense at the hot corner. The scouts aren’t high on him and the numbers aren’t spectacular, but he seems like he’d be a fun guy to watch on the minor league level and there is some potential here as an everyday player. He’ll be ready to compete for a spot in 2015 if he progresses a level per season.

These guys aren’t Randal Delgado but this is the best The Front Office could do. I think it beats a supplemental draft pick in 2013 if Dempster were to reject the Cubs qualifying offer this offseason (although, I’m not sure the Cubs would put in a qualifying offer) and the Cubs simply had no leverage here.

It wasn’t the deadline day I was hoping for, but Vizcaino is probably still a top 100 prospect they obtained for about $4 million and Villanueva might sneak on the top 100 list as well. The more back of rotation/bullpen arms you throw in the system, the better your chance one breaks through.

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Top 20 Prospects Update

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

It’s about time for another update on VFTB’s Top 20 Prospects. The position prospects are doing pretty well while the results have been ugly on the pitching side. The past draft hopes to rectify that as the Cubs signed a number of high upside arms led by Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and Duane Underwood.

First, the hitters:

Despite all of Brett Jackson‘s strikeouts, he’s been producing in the PCL. I just don’t think he’ll be able to produce like that in the majors with a K rate so high. Shades of Dallas McPherson, if you’re familiar with him.

The top two picks of the Cubs 2011 draft, Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach, are both crushing the ball in the early stages of their careers. You’ll see Baez somewhere around the Top 25 Prospects in the game when next years Top 100′s come out. Kevin Goldstein recently said he’s become the top offensive prospect in the Midwest League with scouts putting a 70 on his hit and power tool.
Although Vogelbach is hitting, you won’t see him on any Top 100′s. As a 1B only player, likely a DH, you really need to hit and hit and hit some more. He’ll have to do this year in and year out for the pro’s to believe.

Ahhhhh….Matt Szczur. Cub fans love them some Szczur. I admit, he’s doing better than I thought he would thanks to a complete turnaround in his walk rate. Still doesn’t have much power and needs to be in AA, but his stock is slightly up in my book.

Josh Vitters is also doing much better than I had imagined he would…his approach has always been the issue with him, and his walk rate isn’t so terrible while keeping his K’s in check. His BABIP is on the high side for him, so there may be some good fortune involved, but we’ll see Vitters in Chicago by the end of the year.

Skipping down to Arismendy Alcantara…he’s a guy I brought up on the last update that’s really impressing. He’s one of the younger guys in the league and has a chance to stick at SS and is on his way to a .300 hitting, 10 homer, 30 stolen base season.

And the pitching….

I’ll start at the bottom with some pitchers who have jumped into the running for Top 20 for next year. Michael Jensen is one of the few Cub pitchers with a K rate over 7 per 9 innings. Not that impressive, but combined with a low home run rate and good walk rate, he’s showing that he’s someone to keep an eye on.

For everything I said about Jensen I can say about Nick Struck, but Struck is doing it in AA. The Cubs rushed him in 2011, giving him innings in High A, AA, and AAA where he struggled. Back to a more appropriate level in 2012, his numbers are promising.

Alberto Cabrera is a future bullpen guy; potentially in high leverage situations. Back in Spring Training he was throwing 95+ with good movement and he is just carving through hitters this season. Might see him this year and could be a fixture in the pen beginning in 2013.

In his 4th year in the organization, Jose Rosario is starting full time for the first time in his professional career and is not disappointing. We need to see what happens in higher levels, but he’s putting up numbers in line with both Jensen and Struck, except that he’s giving up a few more hits along the way.

Back to the top, Dillon Maples hasn’t pitched yet as he’s been nursing an injury. I believe he’ll be throwing at some point in the next couple weeks. Trey McNutt was recently moved to the bullpen which was the expected path for him. Dae-Eun Rhee was a favorite of mine that has struggled in AA. One thing I noticed with him, McNutt, and Eric Jokisch; once they hit AA their strikeout rates plummeted. Gerardo Concepcion looks to be a bust; but he’s young and I wouldn’t give up on anyone until they have to. Dolis looks like he’ll have a career as a RP so long as he can carry over those K’s to the big leagues. Ben Wells was in the running as my top Cubs pitching prospect, but Tommy John ended his season.

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Farm Report – Leading candidates for a call-up

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Instead of looking at some minor league leaders today, let’s take a look at the players likely in the lead for a call up in 2012. First, we’ll start with players that are currently on the 40-man roster. These guys have an easier chance of a call up than players not on the 40-man:

Jeff Beliveau - LH RP – Age 25 – AAA
Beliveau has always been interesting to me. I prefer pitchers that can strike guys out so they don’t have to rely on the defense as much. Beliveau has not had a season where he’s struck out less than 10 batters per 9 innings pitched. He gets his K’s more with deception than with velocity, as his fastball will touch 90, but not much higher than that. He still walks more than you’d like, but he will probably be an asset in the bullpen for a couple seasons.

Alberto Cabrera - RH RP – Age 23 – AA
He’s only in AA, but he is on the 40 man, so there is a chance we see him. Back in Spring Training, Keith Law tweeted:
Cubs RHP Alberto Cabrera just threw two fastballs at 96 and 97 with plus sinking life
Moved to relief this year, Cabrera may have found his calling. As a starter, he was more a 6 – 8K’s/9 kind of pitcher, but this year that’s jumped to nearly 12 K/9 and a career best walk rate.

Welington Castillo - C – Age 25 – AAA
We’ve already seen Castillo and we’ll probably see him again when rosters expand, unless the Cubs find a trade partner for Geovanny Soto. Castillo now has 156 career games played at AAA with this line:
270/344/494, 30 doubles, 30 homers, 105 RBI.

Adrian Cardenas - IF – Age 24 – AAA
Another guy we’ve seen and one we’ll likely see again, Cardenas has never hit worse than .295 in any of his 7 minor league seasons. He doesn’t have any power and he’s not good defensively, which is probably a reason Sveum didn’t play him too much, but he can make contact. Future utility player.

Junior Lake - IF – Age 22 – AA
Lake is one of the more polarizing players in the Cubs system. The optimistic see a shortstop that can hit 15 homers, steal 40 bases, and remind people of Shawon Dunston’s arm. The pessimistic see a player with no clue on defense and a terrible approach at the plate which may lead to a move to the pitchers mound where they will try to utilize that arm.
I don’t think we’ll see him this year as he’s still got too many holes in his game; in particular defense and his baserunning has taken a step back from 2011.

Josh Vitters - 3B – Age 22 – AAA
Seems like Vitters has been around forever, but he is just 22 years old and is enjoying the best season of his minor league career. Recently named to the PCL All Star team, Vitters is hitting 301/353/512 and has a chance to crack the 20 homer mark for the first time. Word is that his defense has improved enough to be passable at third until something better comes along. Vitters developing into an everyday player will be a boon to the organization. We should see him when rosters expand and there is an outside chance he is the Cubs everyday 3B in 2013.

Dave Sappelt - OF – Age 25 – AAA
Sappelt came over in the Sean Marshall trade and looked to be a solid player after hitting 342/395/507 in 2010 and 313/377/458 in 2011. He’s struggling in 2012, and some people even want to write him off because of this bad half-season. But he’s still walking a good amount, not striking out a lot, and has a low BABIP that is keeping his numbers down. I still see a good  4th outfielder in the mold of Reed Johnson, and everyone seems to love them some Reed Johnson.

 

Those are the players that are on the 40-man roster. You’ll notice there is no Brett Jackson, so let’s take a look at three others that may make an appearance in Chicago, but there will have to be some roster shuffling to get them on the 40 man.

Chris Rusin - LH SP – Age 25 – AAA
Rusin was briefly rumored to get a spot start for Ryan Dempster before the Cubs decided on giving Randy Wells one last chance. He’s a control pitcher, but he’s walking a career high and striking out a career low so far in AAA. I really don’t see Rusin as all that good of an option. He seems to be in the Casey Coleman and Randy Wells league and I’d still prefer to give Chris Volstad the opportunities in the future.

Jay Jackson - RH RP – Age 24 – AAA
Jay Jackson is another guy that seems to have been around forever. Drafted in the 9th round in 2008, he looked like a steal by making it to AAA in his second season while posting ERA’s under 3.00. But it was a big step back in 2010, another step back in 2011, and yet again this year before moving to the bullpen and finding his strikeouts again. In 26 innings in relief, Jackson has struck out 32 and walked 9 while putting up a 1.73 ERA.

Brett Jackson - CF – Age 23 – AAA
I’m growing more pessimistic by the day with Brett Jackson. I just don’t see how a guy that strikes out in 1/3 of his plate appearances against AAA pitching is ever going to make enough contact against Major League pitching. Even the players everyone likes to make fun of for striking out so much, like Adam Dunn or Drew Stubbs or Mark Reynolds, have had MUCH better strikeout rates in AAA than Jackson does. A serious adjustment is needed and him being a bust would be as big a hit to the organization as Vitters succeeding would be a boon.

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Pitching on the Farm

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Anthony Rizzo had a good Cub debut, knocking in the game winning run with a couple of hits. Randy Wells wasn’t so good and I wouldn’t be shocked if last night was the last time we’ll see Randy Wells make a start for the Cubs this season, if not forever. So who will take that spot until Ryan Dempster comes back (then take it again when Ryan Dempster is traded)? While the Cubs have a handful of good position prospects, the pitching side of the farm is severely lacking. Here are the pitchers in the upper levels with at least 40 innings thrown:

There are a few young guys that the Cubs won’t rush. Erick Jokisch is having a good year and was recently promoted to AA. He joins Nicholas Struck, Dallas Beeler, Dae-Eun Rhee, and the pre-season top pitching prospect Trey McNutt in the Tennessee rotation. McNutt has taken a step back since his breakout 2010 season with a career low in K/9 and a career high in BB/9. Beeler and Rhee don’t aren’t missing enough bats to warrant any excitement either. Stuck might be the best of the starters in AA going forward.

In Iowa, Chris Rusin was rumored to be in the running for a start this week and may be the next farmhand we see in the rotation. I think I’d prefer to see Brooks Raley as he appears to have a bit more swing and miss in his pitching. Jay Jackson seems to have been around forever. He is striking out the most batters but he’s also giving up a lot of hits and home runs, leading to an ERA of 6.50. De La Cruz is just organization filler, which leaves us with the familiar in Chris Volstad and 36 year old Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez may get some time in Chicago because the Cubs simply have no good options.

The pitching cupboard is bare my friends. Theo/Jed and company made an effort to remedy this by drafting pitcher after pitcher after Almora earlier this month and I think they’ll add more when a trade or three is made in the next month. We’ll likely see the Cubs 2013 top pitching prospect arrive in a deal for Matt Garza. Until then, we get to look forward to Chris Rusin and maybe Rodrigo Lopez.

Maybe Anthony Rizzo can pitch….

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