The Cubs Off-Season Report – 01/24/06

Chicago Cubs Prospects, Minor League Coaching Changes and Spring Training is Around the Corner

With 22 days until Pitcher and Catchers report to Spring Training and the recent signing of Wade Miller by the Cubs, the old phrase ‘Baseball Fever – Catch It!’ is running through my head. Jim Hendry made a win-win move on Monday by signing free agent pitcher Wade Miller to a 1-year contract (scroll down for details). I hope Miller can pitch like the guy that used to dominate the Cubs. Also, the Atlanta Braves signed former Cub and former Brave, Mike Remlinger, to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training on Monday.

The Cubs prospects and Minor League system have made a lot of news in the past week, so I thought the CCO should take a look.

The Cubs announced on January 17th, staff changes to their Minor League system. Bobby Dickerson, the former West Tenn (AA) manager, was promoted to Infield/Bunting Coordinator. Buddy Bailey will be the new Catching/Base Running Coordinator. Several managerial changes were also announced. Mike Quade will manage Iowa (AAA), Pat Listach will manage West Tenn (AA), Don Buford will manage Daytona (A) and Jody Davis will manage Peoria (A).

Dayn Perry, our favorite off-season grader, from FoxSports.com has released two more reports on his ‘Top 100 MLB Prospects for ’06′ and several Cubs have made his lists. In his report for prospects 81-90, he mentioned Ronny Cedeno, Eric Patterson and Jake Fox.

Ronny Cedeno is #82 according to Perry. Cedeno is 22 years old (will be 23 when the season starts) and was an undrafted free agent in 1999 from Venezuela. Perry mentions Cedeno’s improvement in 2005, but is not convinced of his abilities. Perry said, “A conservative ranking is prudent at this juncture.”

Eric Patterson, Corey’s little brother, clocked in at #86. Patterson is 22 years old and was an 8th round pick out of Georgia Tech. Perry said, “Here’s one to watch.” Patterson hit .333/.405/.535 in Midwest League in 2005 and won the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year Honors. Perry mentioned Eric has a better idea of the strike zone than Corey.

Jake Fox, the 23-year old catcher, came in at #90. Fox was taken in the 3rd round in 2003 out of Michigan. Fox hit .281/.357/.456 in the Florida State League during the 2005 season.

In Perry’s report for prospects 71-80, again there were two Cubs that made his list: Rich Hill and Ricky Nolasco.

Perry ranked Rich Hill #71. Hill is 25 years old and was taken in the 4th round of the 2002 draft out of Michigan. Hill has one of the best curve balls in the Minors and should fair better in 2006. Hill pitched at four different levels in 2005. Hill struck out 215 while only walking 52 in 155 innings. Perry, like most critics of Hill, said he needs to add a changeup and learn how to place his fastball better.

Ricky Nolasco placed 74th on Perry’s list. The 23-year old pitcher was drafted in the 4th round in 2001 out of Rialto High School. Nolasco led the AA Southern League in strikeouts in 2005 and had a 2.89 ERA Hopefully Nolasco will fair better in his second attempt at AAA Iowa in 2006.
UPDATE: Perry still has Nolasco listed as a member of the Cubs Organization – he was actually traded to Florida as a part of the Juan Pierre deal in December.

As Perry posts his other reports, I will provide links to them as well.

Yahoo Sports ran a report from Scout.com that I found in ‘Cubs News from the Wire’ entitled ‘Spring Training Invites in Focus’. The reports talks about the Cubs’ Prospects that will be at Spring Training and the odds of them making the Cubs’ 25-man roster. The report mentions Bobby Brownlie (RHP), Randy Wells a converted catcher (RHP), Carmen Pignatiello (LHP), Raul Valdes (LHP), Dennis Anderson (C) and Jake Fox (C). The entire report is very informative and if you have an interest in the Cubs’ Prospects….I would suggest taking the time to read it. The Cubs will have extra catchers in Spring Training this year. With Michael Barrett and Henry Blanco participating in the WBC, Geovany Sosa and Jose Reyes will get extra playing time along with Anderson and Fox. According to the report, the Cubs are very high on Reyes and are anticipating him being the catcher of the future.

With all of the change of the Cubs’ Minor League System maybe the development of the prospects will improve.

Quote of the Day

"It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not." - James Gordon
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