Baseball America’s Top Cubs Prospects 2005 – 2010

Baseball America is viewed as the leader in ranking prospects and minor league systems. While publications like Baseball Prospectus have garnered a lot more respect in recent years, Baseball America remains the industry leader.

A good ranking by Baseball America can increase a player’s value overnight and that alone can be worth it’s weight in gold … or at least on the trade market. A well-stocked Minor League system with high praise from Baseball America can end up being the difference in general managers being able to land that missing piece or pieces that can put the big league team over the top.

The Cubs’ system has shown a lot of improvement since the hiring of Tim Wilken in December of 2005. Several prospects have either made it to Wrigley to help out the big league club or used in trades to acquire proven Major League talent.

Here is a look back at how Baseball America ranked the Cubs’ system from 2005-2010, with a top 10 list from each pre-season ranking …

One of the many aspects of the game that has changed over the last decade is the value put on prospects and the importance of the First Year Player Draft. A bad draft or two can hurt an organization for years.

Organizations, as well as the so-called experts, can be wrong on “the can’t miss prospect” and sometimes players taken in the later rounds can end up being superstars. The bottom line is prospects are suspects, as the cliche goes, until they prove otherwise on the field, under the bright lights on the biggest stage.

The Cubs organization had an extremely up and down decade … especially since 2002. The Cubs went from having the best system in the game according to Baseball America in 2002 to dropping as low as 27th in 2009. And the impact talent they promoted to the majors was few and far between several years in a row.

Here are the Cubs top 10 prospects, along with a few notables that BA ranked in the top 30, for every season since 2005. Beside the year in parenthesis is how the Cubs talent stacked up in Baseball America’s pre-season rankings against the rest of the league. The players that made it all the way to Wrigley are linked (names in red) to their page on Baseball-Reference.com.

2005 (10)
1. Brian Dopirak, 1B
2. Felix Pie, OF
3. Ryan Harvey, OF
4. Angel Guzman, RHP
5. Billy Petrick, RHP
6. Renyel Pinto, LHP
7. Sean Marshall, LHP
8. Jon Leicester, RHP
9. Grant Johnson, RHP
10. Jason Dubois, OF/1B

2006 (15)
1. Felix Pie, OF
2. Mark Pawelek, LHP
3. Ronny Cedeno, SS
4. Angel Guzman, RHP
5. Rich Hill, LHP
6. Sean Marshall, LHP
7. Ryan Harvey, OF
8. Brian Dopirak, 1B
8. Eric Patterson, 2B
10. Carlos Marmol, RHP

2006 Notables in Top 20 – Donald Veal, LHP (11), Sean Gallagher, RHP (12), Jae-Kuk Ryu, RHP (14), Brandon Sing, 1B/OF (15), Geovany Soto, C (16), Billy Petrick, RHP (18)

2007 (18)
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

2007 Notables in Top 30 - Juan Mateo, RHP (11), Jae-Kuk Ryu, RHP (13), Rocky Cherry, RHP (16), Geovany Soto, C (17), Billy Petrick, RHP (18), Jake Fox, C (24), Sam Fuld, OF (27), Mitch Atkins, RHP (29), Mike Fontenot, 2B (30)

2008 (18)
1. Josh Vitters, 3B
2. Geovany Soto, C
3. Tyler Colvin, OF
4. Jose Ceda, RHP
5. Sean Gallagher, RHP
6. Donald Veal, LHP
7. Josh Donaldson, C
8. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
9. Tony Thomas, 2B
10. Kevin Hart, RHP

2008 Notables in Top 30 – Billy Petrick, RHP (11), Eric Patterson, 2B/OF (12), Kyler Burke, OF (13), Welington Castillo, C (15), Sam Fuld, OF (18), Jake Fox, OF/1B/C (19), James Russell, LHP (22), Darwin Barney, SS (24), Jose Ascanio, RHP (25), Steve Clevenger, C/1B (29)

2009 (27)
1. Josh Vitters, 3B
2. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
3. Andrew Cashner, RHP
4. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. Kevin Hart, RHP
7. Starlin Castro, SS/2B
8. Ryan Flaherty, SS
9. Jay Jackson, RHP
10. Hak-Ju Lee, SS

2009 Notables in Top 30 – Steve Clevenger, C/1B (11), Micah Hoffpauir, 1B/OF (12), Brandon Guyer, OF (13), Junior Lake, SS (14), Tyler Colvin, OF (16), Marcos Mateo, RHP (17), Chris Carpenter, RHP (18), Darwin Barney, SS (19), Marquez Smith, 3B (20), Mitch Atkins, RHP (21), Esmailin Caridad, RHP (22), Tony Thomas, 2B (23) Jake Fox, 1B/OF (24), Logan Watkins, 2B (28)

2010 (15)
1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Brett Jackson, OF
3. Josh Vitters, 3B
4. Andrew Cashner, RHP
5. Jay Jackson, RHP
6. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
7. Logan Watkins, 2B
8. Chris Carpenter, RHP
9. Ryan Flaherty, IF
10. D.J. LeMahieu, SS/2B

2010 Notables in Top 30 - Rafael Dolis, RHP (13), Chris Archer, RHP (15), Trey McNutt, RHP (16), Tyler Colvin, OF (17), Darwin Barney, SS (18), Esmailin Caridad, RHP (22), Sam Fuld, OF (23), Marcos Mateo, RHP (24), Casey Coleman, RHP (25), Robinson Chirinos, C (26), Welington Castillo, C (27), Junior Lake, SS (29), James Adduci, OF (30)

It is easy to see the Cubs’ system has turned out Major League talent but clearly the names that stick out are Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot.

Marmol, Marshall and Soto were signed and developed by the Cubs while Fontenot came over from the Orioles in the Sammy Sosa deal. Players such as Andrew Cashner, Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin had solid first years … but the book is still out on the soon-to-be second year players.

A prospect’s perceived value sometimes ends up bringing more to the big league club than wins, strikeouts, RBI or home runs produced between the lines. Every off-season the prospects are ranked. Some end up being overvalued and some end up being undervalued but the bottom line is a player must perform on the field. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t and sometimes they get traded away … but that’s why they play the game.

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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Excellent, report Neil! It really puts things into perspective.
    Thank You!

  • Slamdog sadowski

    1st of all well done!! Two notes of intrest, you could see BA turn the page on Colvin quickly after 2008, most would say it was due to the Tommy John injury, but BA never liked him and wanted to prove their point going all the way back to when he was drafted! The 2nd point, is the notable list has really expanded the last three years which shows the depth and the incline the system has made, this coming despite 11 rookies going to Chicago and with the most recent trade to Tampa.

    • studio179

      I agree. Colvin was Wilken’s first draft selection after being hired by the Cubs. He drafted Colvin 1st round, 13th overall in ’06. Colvin was ranked low…over 100 coming out of college. Everyone thought Wilken was nuts for drafting Colvin that high. He had injuries. Like you said, I think BA was trying to make their point.

  • Ripsnorter1

    This is really a great article, Neil. You always do good work, but this one is magnificient. Thank you.

    Billy Petrick: out of baseball. Playing for the Joliet Jackhammers/Slammers for 2011, a team not affliated with MLB.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Talk about prospects being just suspects–they really are.
    Look at 2005 prospects for the Cubs (quotes are from BA):
    1. BRIAN DOPIRAK–ranked the #21 best prospect in all of MLB for 2005.
    “When the ball comes off his bat, it’s like hitting a golf ball with an aluminum bat.”
    –Kane County manager Dave Joppie

    Once he got that ranking, he was done. He was only in A ball when he received such glowing accolades. He immediately turned from a .307 39 HR 120 RBI guy into a .235 16 HR 76 RBI. He’s done. Toronto has Micah . .. er, Brian now. 2010–11 hr, 53 RBI, .274. FORGETABOUTIT.

    2. Felix Pie: #31 in BA’s rankings for all of MLB. “He’s got five tools and all of them have a chance to be above-average. The sky is the limit.”
    –Sarasota manager Todd Claus
    He has the tools. He passes the eyeball test. But . . . .
    He’s just a spare OF. .255 career BA, .394 slugging, .305 on base. .699 OPS. What’s wrong with Felix? He’s a career .196 hitter vs. LHP. He slugs a mere .284 vs. LHP, and his on base is just .258. His OPS is .541.

    Question: if the Cubs had traded this five tool guy in 2005, would you have screamed? I know Aaron would have, and I think he’ll freely admit it. This suspect, unfortunately, couldn’t make the adjustment.

    3. Ryan Harvey. Ranked #66 by BA in 2005. “He hit two home runs off us that went about 900 feet combined.” Hit 24 HR, 100 RBI and .257 that year–but hey, it was just A ball. Colorado has him in their system now, and they are using him to train players that may make it to the major. Ryan hit .236 11 HR and 36 RBI with their AA team in Tulsa. He’s only 25. He hit .216 for AA Tennessee in 2008. Doesn’t look too good for Ryan.

    4. Angel Guzman. #88 for 2005. “He just needs to get healthy. He’ll show you three plus-plus pitches at times.”
    –NL scout
    –Vancouver manager Dennis Rogers
    “Just get healthy.” Ain’t that the truth. His career is quite possibly over now. 29 years old. He should have been the closer over Marmol, and certainly over Gregg, if he were healthy in 2009. Career stats are awful:
    3-10 4.82 ERA, 1.4027 WHIP. 2009 was special: 3-3, 2.95, 61 IP, 41 H, walks too many (23 BB, 47 K). I hope he comes back, but I doubt it.

    Just a note: Greg Miller was BA’s #100 best prospect in 2005. He’s done. Out of baseball entirely after 2009’s 25 games, 9.26 ERA. And he was ranked ahead of the rest of your 2005 Cub’s prospects, most notably, Sean Marshall.

    SSSSSSSSUUUUUSSPECTS!
    THEY ARE ALL N.I.V. SUSPECTS!

    MLB is one mentally tough business. Five tools doesn’t mean a thing, Eugene. Santo said, “Ability gets you here, and confidence is what keeps you here.”

    • Gary J

      I’m with ya Rip – just in the last couple of years there have been numerous trades we haven’t made for proven MLB level talent because we had “untouchable” prospects that were all someday going to be stars… and to this point they haven’t panned out. They’re young, there’s still time, but wouldn’t Roberts at 2b and Peavy in the rotation seem good right about now?

      • daverj

        Can you imagine how upset Cub fans would have been if we traded Dopirak in the 2004-2005 offseason when he was coming off a .307, 39 HR year at age 20? And each of them would be 100% sure of how Dopirak was going to be a future star. See H Lee. There’s a chance Lee may be a major league star … but the odds are against him.

      • studio179

        Hmm…I agree and I disagree here. At the time, Roberts would have a good deal. Especially, the first two years. After that, his 10 MM per year contract looks expensive for the performance. Keep in mind when that contract was signed, 1) It was considered a decent deal…slight hometown discount for the face of the Orioles franchise. 2) The Cubs were spending and overpaying. There is a good chance his contract with the Cubs would have been slightly higher. However, when the window of winning was there, you have do do it. Roberts with the Cubs back then would not have been a difference maker, but would have helped. Roberts with the Cubs going into 2011 would be in the same conversation as the other overpaid contracts. He would have filled a 2B/leadoff need. Even though the back end of his deal looks bad for an aging guy basing his game on speed. Looking back, the Cubs still do not win with Roberts back then. Now, fans would be complaining about money spent. Still, I do that deal.

        Peavy’s contract of 10:$15M, 11:$16M, 12:$17M, 13:$22M club option ($4M buyout) does not scare people? Especially when ’10 & ’11 are on the disabled list/rehab. Peavy was an injury risk when the Sox got him. I’m fine with the White Sox having Peavy.

      • Aaron

        Yes, it would seem great….especially since Peavy’s career is likely over, and Roberts is on the decline, but otherwise I’m with you….LOL

    • paulcatanese

      Absolutly correct.The quote by Santo is also correct.Just one addition, long term contracts also keep you there.

    • Aaron

      What?!? You gotta be kidding me RE: Pie

      First of all, with the Cubs, he barely got a chance….87 games in 2007 and 43 games in 2008.

      Then, he was traded to the O’s, and got 101 games in 2009 and 82 in an injury-riddled 2010.

      He’s basically improved every damn season since he first got in the league:
      2007-.215/.271/.333, 9 doubles, 3 triples, 2 hr, 20 RBI
      2008-.241/.312/.325, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 hr, 10 RBI
      2009-.266/.326/.437, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 9 hr, 29 RBI
      2010-.274/.305/.413, 15 doubles, 5 triples, 5 hr, 31 RBI

      *He was just 25 yrs old last year as well….same age as Colvin.

      Face it, he was/is NOT Corey Patterson, even in the minors. His stats were superior to those of Patterson, and I’ve already gone over this many times before about Pie.

      The Cubs screwed with him, and you know it. Piniella was NOT the guy to bring him along with…no patience.

      Pie is a solid talent, just needed better coaching, and time. From what I understand, he didn’t even start playing baseball until he was 16 or something. But when you have the success that he had in the minors….there’s clearly talent there.

      Let’s try not to over-exaggerate just to try to prove your point.

      The jury is still out on Dopirak as well. He had a couple great seasons in Toronto’s system before he got hurt again last year, playing in only 86 games but still netting 11 hr, 53 RBI. His two prior seasons?
      .304/.368/.550, 29 hr, 101 RBI
      .317/.371/.549, 27 hr, 102 RBI

      He was also just 21 yrs old when he was added to our 40-man roster. With that comes huge expectations. Unfortunately, after that time, he started getting injured (this is comparable to what happened with Guyer, only Dopirak was younger).

      *Dopirak has an invite to the Astros Spring Training, and will be just 27 years old….which, by Cubs standards, isn’t all that old for a prospect making his MLB debut with us…LOL…he actually has a legitimate shot to back-up Wallace at 1B, and playing at their park…he could really surprise the hell out of a lot of people.

      As for Guzman…you can’t really call him a bust, as he’s had success with us at the MLB level, and has simply had bad luck with injuries. Prior to 2009, he was used primarily as a starter in the minors and MLB, but he got 55 games in relief, and had a 2.95 ERA in 61 IP with just 41 hits and 23 walks allowed for a 1.049 WHIP…..Bust?!? Are you serious?!?? You really want to go down that road? Yes, he’s been injured, and that’s a huge disappointment, but he is NOT a bust. That was his first full season in relief. What more were you asking for? If he had an ERA under 1, would that have been considered a success by your standards?

      Harvey you can label a bust….However, with his 95 mph fastball, the Rockies are letting him try to make it as a pitcher. I doubt he’ll amount to anything with that, but he’s got the size (6’5″) and velocity to do it, and he’s still relatively young at 26 yrs old. Either way though, he’s a bust, because he was drafted as a power hitting OF, and never made it.

      He’s basically a taller version of Reggie Golden, who could end up being a huge success or colossal bust. Those type of high school power hitters are high risk, high reward.

      Here’s what I like about Neil’s lists above….Do you guys realize that the only guys that never made it to the bigs out of that list are:
      Harvey *jury still out as pitcher
      Dopirak *could make it this year with Astros as back-up to Wallace
      Johnson
      Pawelek
      Huseby
      Tony Thomas *could make it this year if he has a good spring, or good start to his minor league season. Most lists have him as a sleeper

      The 2009 and 2010 lists have players too young to consider busts at this point. But you love to point out that prospects are suspects until they reach the bigs…well…..I just listed the ones that haven’t, and feel free to label them busts, but we’ve had plenty make it either with us or other teams, that you can’t write off our entire system like you seem to be doing. All these guys need is a chance, and the Cubs, historically have NOT given it to them, especially position players.

      And if you look at 2009 and 2010, the only guys I would say probably won’t make it at all are Watkins and Rhee (who ditched his split/slider combo after TJ surgery…if he adds it back, then there’s a chance he’d make it, but mid-to-high 80’s for a righty isn’t very good)

      Prior to Lee’s trade, I would’ve said we could realistically expect a roster full of organizational talent, like this:

      Archer
      McNutt
      Cashner
      Jay Jackson
      Carpenter

      C-Soto/Castillo/Chirinos
      1B-FA
      2B-Castro
      SS-Lee
      3B-Vitters
      LF-Golden
      CF-Jackson
      RF-Colvin

      Now….we can still fill it out, it’ll just be a little less talent:

      McNutt
      Cashner
      Jay Jackson
      Carpenter
      Simpson/Kirk/etc.

      C-Soto, Castillo
      1B-FA
      2B-Flaherty, LeMahieu
      SS-Castro
      3B-Vitters
      LF-Golden
      CF-Jackson (or Jackson in LF, Sczur in CF if you believe Hendry)
      RF-Colvin

      There is still a load of potential from within our system, at least with my estimation…it just hurts us so much with depth by losing Lee and Archer. Archer had a moving fastball, similar to Zambrano, and an unhittable slider. That’s a pretty lethal combination, and he was expected to be no less than a 3 and a potential Ace. Lee, on the other hand, was expected to be our lead-off hitter of the future, and talk about a prototypical lead-off man. Excellent speed, gets on base, and most importantly, gets a lot of hits. His frame also allows him to add a few extra pounds in hopes of developing more power. I would not be shocked at all if he became a Kenny Lofton-type of hitter, where he can hit 10 or so bombs, and swipe 50 or more bases, hitting in the .300’s
      On the same token, I also wouldn’t be shocked if he bombed completely…but given his body of work thus far, it does not appear to be the case. But the fact is, he’s more likely to have success outside of the Cubs organization than inside, and I think recent history shows that, dating back to the 80’s when we dealt several of our young players who would never have been given a full opportunity, and they flourished.

      I believe Guyer, Lee, Pie, and even Flaherty (who I think will be dealt) will flourish elsewhere

      I truly believe my forecasting formula works with hitters. There will be anomalies from time to time, but for the most part, if you’re a power hitter in the minors, and you have near or above a .300 average, a .375+OBP, and .500+SLG, the chances of you succeeding at the MLB level go up exponentially, and if you’re not a power hitter, and you’re somewhere in the .310+avg, .350+OBP range, you should be just fine.

      Some guys are late bloomers, and make it to the show, get better coaching, and you see their stats take off, but if you want sustained success, that appears to be the right formula to look out for.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Aaron,

        I never called Guzman a bust–show me the quote. I can’t find it. If I ever said it, it must have been a typo.

        My point in all of this: it would not have hurt the Cubs if they had dealt any of the aforementioned talent for a proven major league.

        Remember the expression: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

        I do agree with your forecasting formula. I think it is right on, esp. at the higher levels. Class A success does not always mean class AA success, much less MLB success.

        If we had dealt them all away for Brian Roberts, we would not have a missed A THING.

        • Aaron

          The 4 guys being discussed for Roberts at the time were Pie, Murton, Gallagher, and Rich Hill. Roberts was 29 at the time, and coming off accusations (which were later substantiated) that he used HGH and other PEDs.

          Hill, 27 yrs old, was coming off a 11-8, 3.92 ERA, 1.195 WHIP season

          Murton, 25 yrs old, was coming off part-time duty as an OF with a .281/.352/.438 line with 13 doubles, 8 hr, 22 RBI

          Pie, 22 yrs old, was coming off a season of part-time duty as an extra OF, just like Murton, with a disappointing .215/.271/.333 line with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 2 hr, 20 RBI. Meaning, his value, even at just 22 yrs old, was at an all-time low, considering his minor league stats

          Gallagher, 21 yrs old, was coming off a 10-3, 3.10 ERA, 1.220 WHIP minor league season with 8 games in the bigs with limited success there.He also had no higher than a 3.12 ERA in any season up to that point.

          Hindsight’s always 20/20 (with Hill flaming out, Murton going to Japan, and Gallagher being injured), but to me, that’s an enormous amount to give up for a player you might’ve gotten 1-2 good years out of before the declining phase of his career. I just don’t think it’s worth it to do that sort of thing. Might he have pushed us over the top in 2008? While we could’ve used a solid lead-off man, where would that have left DeRosa? Our positions were pretty set:
          C-Soto
          1B-Lee
          2B-DeRosa
          SS-Theriot
          3B-ARAM
          LF-Soriano
          CF-Pie started there, then they added Edmonds early on and had Johnson as well
          RF-Fukudome (keep in mind, this was his 1st season for the Cubs)

          So…….yes, it would’ve given us a lead-off man we desperately needed, but at that point, you’re taking DeRosa’s bat out of the lineup, and he doesn’t hit .285/.376/.481, 30 doubles, 2 triples, 21 hr, 87 RBI in part-time duty…no way in hell that happens. Roberts ended up with:
          .296/.378/.450, 51 doubles, 8 triples, 9 hr, 57 RBI, 40 SB

          Maybe that makes a difference….I don’t know, but it seems like a wash to me.

          We’d later use Murton and Gallagher to obtain Harden, which likely helped push us into the playoffs, especially after the Brewers made a late surge after their acquisition of Sabathia.

          The only trade where you can look at it, and say, “what the hell were the Cubs thinking?!?” was the one in which the Yankees offered the Cubs a 4-for-1 swap of Ricky Ledee, Jackson Melian, Jake Westbrook, and Alfonso Soriano for Sammy Sosa.

          Sosa, at the time was already known as a bad teammate, and clubhouse cancer, but Ed Lynch refused to deal him because of the PR nightmare that might ensue, and wanted the Yankees to include another pitcher, Alex Graman too, but they wouldn’t. I would’ve thought a 4-for-1 trade would’ve been very fair. We would’ve had Westbrook and Soriano in their primes, and would’ve been far better off…but, whatever.

          Like I said….hindsight’s always 20/20. The Garza trade might go down as a steal for the Cubs in 3-4 years, or it might go down as Brock for Broglio with Lee included in the deal. Only time will tell. But I can assure you that at face value, and looking at the other trades in the league, it appears the Cubs drastically overpaid for a #3 starter. Teams pay that much for current Aces, NOT current #3’s…sorry, but at face value, we got hosed. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see that too, because the trade was essentially:
          Archer, Lee, and Chirinos for Garza: What if I told you it was Archer, Lee, and Chris Davis (because that’s what the Rangers were offering us for Chirinos) for Garza. I think at that point, you’d say we overpaid, and I still think, for a #3, including Archer and Lee in the same deal was a HUGE overpayment. If it had been Archer and Flaherty, or Jay Jackson/Carpenter, and Lee, I think it would’ve been just fine…but not both those guys
          Guyer for Perez: we lost on this one
          Fuld for Rosscup: we won this

          I love trades we make like the Gorzelanny one, and the Derrek Lee one, where Hendry finally realizes that he has to make a deal, or risk cutting one (Gorzelanny), or losing one (Lee) to free agency. Those are the trades he seems to excel at. Like the Todd Walker for Jose Ceda deal, or the trade of Barrett for Bowen (who turned into Kendall) and a young OF in Kyler Burke.

          But when he’s forced to make a trade to keep up with the rest of the division, or he’s forced to make a trade when his hands are tied due to depth chart (meaning options, etc. can’t be used), he often makes dumb-ass moves like trading Pie and Rich Hill for practically nothing because his hands were tied, and other teams knew it. Conversely, when other teams hands are tied (Marlins wanting to non-tender Gregg), Hendry will still overpay to get his guy……Overall, I can’t stand Hendry, as I think there are plenty of other very good GMs out there that could EASILY win a championship on the North Side with the Cubs’ resources.

          Time will tell on Pie, whom I think has a good future ahead of him
          Time will tell on Lee, Archer, Guyer, Chirinos, etc., whom I think have very good futures ahead of them….

          But we already know Heilman failed miserably, so we lost the Pie deal
          If Garza bombs next year, this very well might be Hendry’s last trade he’ll ever make on the North Side….and it should be.

          Also, if Lorick, Harris, Lopez, Burgess, Morris, Hicks, Perez, and Rosscup never amount to anything, or even make it to the majors with us, then Hendry should be fired, because out of Lee and Gorzelanny (both quality MLB players), plus the prospects dealt for Garza, we should at least have a couple make it to the majors…otherwise, why the hell would you trade them, especially Gorzelanny, our lone lefty.

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,great article.The one pointI would make is the prospects were good enough to make it the the top to show whether or not they had it to stick. Just to get there is a feather in the Cub system’s hat. The drafts they made were really good ones and they advanced well,not sticking is beside the point,because they made it as far as they did and that is the first priority,to get there.

  • Tony_Hall

    You can always pick out prospects that don’t make it. There are alot of them. But you need lots of them to get the ones that can play at the major league level.

    Good teams, develop their own and use other teams FA’s and trades to fill in the team. Teams that are good one year and fall off the next and ride a rollercoaster, usually are the teams, that try to buy their players, because they can’t develop their own.

    If you look at these lists, the level of talent is getting better, since Wilken has been doing the drafting. They should be able to internally fill, all but 1B and 3B, that is where they will need to spend the money. Not that they don’t have options at 1B or 3B, they just don’t have enough players in the system, to ensure they can fill those spots.

  • Dorasaga

    We need this overall view with all talents listed out to learn a hard reality. It’s really sad that after all these years (since 2005) with T.Wilken a contributor to the draft, the Cubs is showing no improvement. How come?

    I’m looking at the “pre-season rankings against the rest of the league,” the club was ranked 10 in 2005, then 15, 18, 18 in following years, before they hit 27 in 2009, and 15 last year.

    We average out these rankings, we got… Mediocracy. Not bad, but not outperforming the major 60% of the league, either.

    I’m also thinking from the other angle, did the farm produced enough talents for Major teams to keep? The Cubs might have improved, but the league as a whole has improved as well. Comparably, the Cubs is not producing enough talents to stay.

    There are two notable prospects ever since the Wilken service: One, Carlos Marmol, before his rookie year in 2007, ranked 10 in 2006, below the likes of Pawelek (released for good), Cedeno (traded as spare part and never a good season again), Guzman, Hill, Harvey, Dopirak (just forget about them).

    Two, Soto: rank 17 in 2007, had a nice early call-up that year and stayed. Those ranked above him fared better than their counterpart in that 2006 group, but likes of Pawelek (released) and EPat (came in late his first day of Major League call-up, demoted, then never better than a replacement level), sad.

    There were interesting cases like S.Gallagher, who was serviceable as a 5th man of a weak rotation for two years, then ready to retire as if he misreported his age by 10 years younger. Then there was Samardzija who had the stuff and praised by Wilken, but never learned the control and mentality to pitch against higher levels.

    Those who stayed in the Big and shone, guys like Angel Pagan, were never seriously considered as potential regulars by either the BA or Jim Hendry and company.

    I don’t think either Hendry or Wilken is the blame for any of these, since a draft choice is a collective and team decision. But they are not building a champion as far as I’m concerned. For this sole reason, I ask for a change, and will rather see some new regime comes in and clean the house.

    Change might result into worse, or it can get better. At least it can’t be now the self-complacent, goold ol’ Cubbie.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I’m for change–I want Jim CLueless out the door as fast as possible–but please, PLEASE, do not rehire Ed Lynch!

    • Ripsnorter1

      That Tim Wilkin is a savior, ain’t he?

    • Aaron

      YOu know…it’s funny, because I never really thought about that. Just look around the league, and you see the results of good farm teams, like the Phillies, Rays, Rangers, Braves, Rockies, etc.

      Here are some of the players on their 2010 rosters that came up through the system or are expected to be on their 2011 rosters:

      Braves-McCann, Prado, Escobar (now with Jays), Chipper Jones, Heyward

      Rays-Jaso, Brignac, Bartlett (now with Padres), Longoria, Crawford (now with Red Sox), Upton, Zobrist

      Phillies-Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, Brown

      Rangers-Teagarden, Moreland, Kinsler, Andrus (though originally developed by Braves), Borbon

      Rockies-Ianetta, Helton, EY Jr., Tulo, Stewart, Fowler, Smith, Spilbourghs

      The Cubs have…….-Soto, Castro, Colvin……………ouch!

      Even in our own division, we have the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers with far more homegrown talent entrenched at their respective positions:
      Cardinals-Molina, Pujols, Shumaker, Freese, Rasmus
      Reds-Hanigan, Votto, Janish, Stubbs, Bruce
      Brewers-Fielder, Weeks, (Escobar, though he was traded), Braun, Hart

      That’s some pretty imposing talent, compared to what we have. I still wonder what would’ve happened if Dopirak was still with us. Yes, he’s been injured a lot, but you just don’t see a lot of young guys hitting nearly 40 hr, 120+RBI, and then have a couple seasons of 20+hr, 100+RBI consecutively. Anyways….we need power, and I sincerely hope Soto is healthy enough to provide that, Colvin doesn’t experience a sophomore slump, Castro can put on weight and develop it, and guys like Jackson, Burgess, Vitters, and Golden can produce it later on for us.

      Next season, the Cubs need to go all out and get Fielder for 1B and Weeks for 2B. The only way I wouldn’t go after Weeks is if LeMahieu adds power next year, and Flaherty reverts to his 2009 form with 20+hr, 80+RBI.

      If we are prepared to go after Fielder and we’re out of the race in July (which I suspect we will be), then we can afford to trade ARAM if he’s having a good year, or just let him walk after the season and offer arbitration to get a pick, and go with Vitters or Smith at 3B. At that point, we could also look at trading Byrd, and seeing if anyone will take Soriano off our hands if he’s having a good year, and offer to pick up about half of his remaining deal.

      But, like I said, guys like Vitters, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Jackson, Burgess, Golden, have to pull through next year for us, or we’ll be looking at HUGE free agent deals for Fielder or Weeks to get us back on track. Still…think of the potential if the latter happens:

      Weeks-2B
      Castro-SS
      Fielder-1B
      Vitters-3B
      Colvin-RF
      Soto-C
      Jackson-CF
      Burgess-LF

      With the addition of Weeks and Fielder, you could afford to give Vitters and Burgess a shot. That’s how a lot of these up-and-coming teams are doing it now…they’ll have a few young, proven hitters, then take a chance on one of their top prospects, promoting them a bit earlier than expected, and if they fail, they’ll keep churning through prospects until they get it right, or they’ll make a trade with their system to solidify the position in question.

      • studio179

        What, no love for Cashner? He came up through the Cubs system and will be on the Cubs 2011 roster, too.

        • Aaron

          in case you didn’t notice, I was only including position players

          • studio179

            I see. Pitching is part of good farms. I also noticed you are using examples of players on teams that were drafted well before Wilken’s time with the Cubs. Wilken has only had 5 drafts. I’m not saying he is some baseball God, but at least Wilken has a good track record. For years the Cubs have had a poor history of drafting and developing position players. We are slowly getting some results.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Randy Wells came up through the Cubs System, but I guess he never made any of BA’s Lists.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Yes, Randy Wells came through the Cubs’ system. They left Wells unprotected and the Blue Jays took him in the Rule 5 draft. To the best of my memory, Wells never ranked high (and in most cases was never on) any of the prospect lists.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Yeah, the Blue Jays picked him up, and he pitched a grand total of one inning for them, I just find it interesting that despite not making any prospect lists he made it to the show and has put up decent 5th starter numbers.
        Casey Coleman ranked 25th last year, He doesnt bring the heat but I think could be a very servicable 5th starter.
        I just think that some of the prospect list over value 95-98mph fastball guys with little control and undervalue some of the more polished command and location type guys.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          And Wells gave a lot of credit to his time with the Blue Jays for his success during the 2009 season.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Rich Hill gave us one solid season, and he is still around on a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox, trying to make a comeback as a reliever. I think he is trying to be a LOOGY!

    • Dorasaga

      Trying or not, Hill never became serviceable since 2008. I doubt he can pitch consistently ever again, not to even think as far as stepping up as a lefty specialist.

      Aaron found a new proof why this interesting thought of mixing unproven prospects for more positions could work with one or two additions. (I believe the Cardinals should be the anti-thesis; Schumi is really below average as a second baseman.)

      Teams need to find the best mix of rookies AND veterans by playing them together under different circumstances. Some talents need more time to develop and form a team. If the Cubs can anchor at least two more positions such as the first base and second base with proven veterans, it won’t hurt playing an outfield full of rookies and sophomores. Start that lineup at least half a season, we might see a new Yankees team, or maybe just a Pirates. At least we can figure out by now if Colvin or Castro was an one-year wonder.

      As history proved, most of the time management won’t dare developing a team like that. They fear a losing team, which as a consequence, means fanning away the fans from their gate receipts and ballpark expenditure.

      Now, the Yankees played Cano and Gardner, and let Girardi lost 2008. The media and the fans bashed them. How about a new team next year? 2008 didn’t matter anymore. In 2009, Gardner only hit.270 and got on-base around league-average with .345, 284 PA with a second call-up in September, but he was a vital part of the team that delivered the Yanks to where they have been proudly been. The rest was history.

  • The Maven

    Great article Neil! I’d like to look at another list that many at CCO would be interested in. The number of rooie postion players opening the deason as starters for the Cubs. They include:

    Geovany Soto – 2008

    THAT’S IT! THAT’S ALL! One stinking starter to open the season in 5 years. Now, let’s look at the list of the rookies that SHOULD have started over the past 5 seasons:

    2005 – Jason Dubois (over Todd Hollinsworth)
    Matt Murton (over Jeromy Burnitz)
    Ronny Cedeno (over Neifi Perez or Todd Walker)

    2006 – Angel Pagan (over Jacque Jones)
    Ryan Theriot (over Todd Walker)

    2007 – Felix Pie (over Jacque Jones)

    2008 – Sam Fuld (over Koske Fukudome)

    2009 – Micah Hoffpauir (over Milton Bradley)

    2010 – Starlin Castro (over Mike Fontenot)
    Tyler Colvin (over Marlon Byrd or Koske Fukudome)

    With the exception of Castro and Colvin, these were all players who had their confidence crushed by the likes of Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, and Jim Hendry (and Piniella and Hendry tried to do their best to crush Colvin).

    • The Maven

      I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Sam Fuld wasn’t the rookie that should have started in 2008. The rookie I was thinking of would go on to bat .306 with 11 Home Runs, 51 RBI and 29 steals for Iowa that season. Anyone remember Andres Torres? Oh yeah, he’s the starting center fielder for the World Champion San Francisco Giants!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Brett Jackson was named the 46th best prospect in the game by MLB.com. The MLB Network is unveiling their list of the top 50 prospects in the game.

    Chris Archer was ranked 47th.