Down on the Farm – Felix Pie

If you do a search for Felix Pie on the Internet you might see phrases such as “Cubs Top Prospect”, “Five Tool Player”, or “The Next Corey Patterson.” Oh yeah, Corey Patterson. Because of Corey, many Cubs fans are leery of Felix Pie and the talent he has. Corey and Felix are clearly not related but they are both five-tool players so when you talk about Pie, another player often mentioned is Patterson. Is it fair to compare Pie to Patterson? Obviously the answer is no but we cannot help ourselves, we thought we were at the Promised Land once before with Corey Patterson.

Patterson disappointed Cubs fans but I am here to say that Pie is not going to do the same. Let me quickly explain before ending the discussion about the Cubs former center fielder. Patterson was a #1 draft pick of the Cubs in 1998 and received a $3.7 million dollar signing bonus, second only to Mark Prior for largest bonuses paid by the Cubs. As a #1 draft pick, Patterson was heralded as the answer to the Cubs woes and all Cubs fans thought once he made it to Wrigley Field things would get better. I believe three things led to Patterson’s failure with the Cubs. First, as a top draft pick and with a big signing bonus he felt the pressure to succeed. Second, he was brought up through the minors too quickly and he did not have a chance to adjust. Third, Patterson suffered a torn ACL in 2003. That was not his fault but in 2003, he had a decent season going. He was back in 2004 and struggled and Cubs fans lost patience when it continued in 2005.

Pie was an undrafted free agent in 2001 and received no signing bonus. Pie has been brought up slowly through the Cubs system and he is getting every opportunity to work through his weaknesses in the minors and not with the big club. When Pie makes it to Chicago, he will be ready to perform and will better handle the pressure that comes with playing at Wrigley on a daily basis. When he does make it you will need to know how to say his name. You will not hear Chris Berman announce him as Felix “Hot Apple” Pie or anything like that. His name is pronounced Pee-Ay. Most of you know that but I wanted to add it for any that did not.

Now Pie has spent 5 seasons in the Cubs minor league system and he just turned 22 last month. After signing with the Cubs in 2001, his first experience was in the rookie league in 2002. He did not waste any time impressing the Cubs management by batting .321 in 55 games at the age of 17. He briefly played in Boise and started the 2003 season in Lansing. Most feel the Cubs would have rushed him to the majors if he had been healthy enough to do so in 2005. With the trade for Juan Pierre last season, the Cubs were able to give Pie time to develop at the AAA level in 2006. While his season totals are respectable, after a slow start (.248 with 7 home runs) he finished strong (.322 with 8 home runs). In 5 seasons in the minors, he has a .294 batting average, .353 on-base percentage, 42 home runs, and 98 stolen bases.

After spending like George Steinbrenner this year, the Cubs are not ready to bring Pie to Wrigley and he was cut from the spring roster on Monday. He will not get the playing time he needs to continue his development so he will be back at AAA-Iowa to start the season. He has been impressive this spring and I am excited to know he is getting close to changing his address from Iowa to Illinois but I want him to be ready when he comes to the big club. There is good reason to be excited about him being close to Chicago. When you look at the other top five-tool players you think of Carl Crawford, Carlos Beltran and Vladimir Guerrero. You could probably throw Alfonso Soriano into that group as well. With Pie likely to see Wrigley next year, it has to excite all Cubs fans when you imagine what that could be like. I know I cannot wait to see that outfield.

It is not a surprise that Baseball America has Pie rated as the Cubs #1 prospect. It is his 2nd year in the #1 spot. Just about any site that ranks prospects has Pie rated #1 for the Cubs. You might be wondering, if he is a #1 prospect then what does he need to do to get to the big club. Pie has a few areas where he needs to improve. His strikeout totals are high. Over the last three years he has struck out an average of 1 in 4 at-bats. He has low walk totals and that affects his on-base percentage. For a potential leadoff hitter he walks much less than he should be. His stolen base totals are impressive but he is caught stealing too often as well. Over the last three years he has 62 stolen bases but he has been caught 36 times. He has a tendency to chase pitches so once he reaches the big leagues and faces even better pitching, he could have some real problems. AAA is the best place for him to continue to improve.

Pie is a skilled player and there is a chance he will be called up to Chicago this year if he starts well in AAA. The areas he needs work on should not be too much trouble for him. Remember, he is still only 22 years old. Even if he does not see Wrigley until next year, he will have a long career ahead of him. I am excited at the prospect of seeing him soon. I also admit I selected him as a reserve on my fantasy baseball team so I think he is getting close but he is still very raw. I got him cheap so I will not have a problem stashing him away for a year.

If you would like to see Pie before he is called up to Chicago you can always make the trip to Des Moines to see the I-Cubs. For those that live close to Des Moines, there is a great alternative. An Iowa Cubs Fan Club membership is available for $15 and they have a couple dates where you can go on the field and meet the players. One day you can get a picture with any of the players and another day you can go on the field for autographs. This is all part of the $15 price which amazes me, I am getting one so if you want a chance to meet Felix Pie, you might give it a try. My dilemma is this, Photo Day is June 14, and Autograph Day is July 21. Will Pie still be in Iowa on one or both of those days? I would love to get a photo but if he is not at Iowa, he will be in Chicago and I like that option better. I cannot predict what will happen in 2007 but the “Felix Pie Show” should be coming to Chicago very soon and I cannot wait.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects

  1. Felix Pie, of
  2. Donald Veal, lhp
  3. Jeff Samardzija, rhp
  4. Tyler Colvin, of
  5. Sean Gallagher, rhp
  6. Eric Patterson, 2b
  7. Scott Moore, 3b
  8. Ryan Harvey, of
  9. Chris Huseby, rhp
  10. Mark Pawelek, lhp

Felix Pie’s Baseball Cube page

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon