The Vine Line’s annual look at the Cubs’ farm system, with Brett Jackson on the cover, features twenty players in the Cubs organization to keep an eye on in the upcoming season.
The Cubs farm system has shown improvement in the last four years and the organization, as a whole, remains deep in talent. Even with the promotions of Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin to the big league team and sending four of the top prospects in the organization to Tampa for Matt Garza, the Cubs have players down on the farm that project as Major Leaguers. The Vine Line pointed out the hit the farm system took with what Jim Hendry described as a “good old-fashioned baseball trade” between the Cubs and Rays. The Cubs still have depth, athleticism and versatility throughout the system “with several top prospects knocking at the big league door.”
Most know the usual suspects but there are players outside of Trey McNutt, Brett Jackson, Jay Jackson, Chris Carpenter and Josh Vitters that could play a role for the Cubs down the road.
Here are the 20 players, in alphabetical order; all are linked to their page on Baseball-Reference.com with their date of birth in parenthesis, plus how the Cubs acquired them.
- Tony Campana, OF – (05/30/86) – 13th round pick in the 2008 draft
- Chris Carpenter, RHP – (12/26/85) – 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft
- Welington Castillo, C – (04/24/87) – Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2004
- Rafael Dolis, RHP – (01/10/88) – Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2004
- Ryan Flaherty, IF – (07/27/86) – Supplemental Pick (round between first and second) in the 2008 draft
- Micah Gibbs, C – (07/27/88) – 3rd round pick in the 2010 draft
- Reggie Golden, OF – (10/10/91) – 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft
- Brett Jackson, OF – (08/02/88) – 1st round pick in the 2009 draft
- Jay Jackson, RHP – (10/27/87) – 9th round pick in the 2008 draft
- Aaron Kurcz, RHP – (08/08/90) – 10th round pick in the 2010 draft
- Junior Lake, IF – (3/27/90) – Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2007
- D.J. LeMahieu, IF – (07/13/88) – 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft
- Marcos Mateo, RHP – (04/18/84) – Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in August of 2007 as the player to be named later for Buck Coats
- Trey McNutt, RHP – (08/02/89) – 32nd round pick in the 2009 draft
- Brooks Raley, LHP – (06/29/88) – 6th round pick in the 2009 draft
- Chris Rusin, LHP – (10/22/86) – 4th round pick in the 2009 draft
- Hayden Simpson, RHP (05/20/89) – 1st round pick in the 2010 draft
- Kyle Smit, RHP (10/14/87) – Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in July of 2010 in the Ted Lilly-Ryan Theriot trade
- Josh Vitters, 3B (08/27/89) – 1st round pick in the 2007 draft
- Logan Watkins, IF/OF (08/29/89) – 21st round pick in the 2008 draft
Of the 20 players mentioned by the Vine Line, four players are currently on the Cubs’ 40-man roster … Welington Castillo, Rafael Dolis, Marcos Mateo and Kyle Smit.
The two players the Vine Line expects to make a big splash in 2011 are Alberto Cabrera and Rob Whitenack. Cabrera is on the Cubs 40-man roster.
Alberto Cabrera turned 22 back in October (10/25/88) and was added to the Cubs’ big league roster this winter. Cabrera made strides last season with his secondary pitches and repeating his delivery. Cabrera is a power pitcher that throws a mid 90s fastball, a hard slider and a changeup. In 28 games in High Class-A and Double-A last season, the 6’4″, 170-pound right-hander showed improvement with his command. Click here for Alberto Cabrera’s page on Baseball-Reference.
The Cubs drafted Rob Whitenack in the eighth round of the 2009 draft. Whitenack throws a knuckle-curve that rates as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. The 6’5″, 180-pound right-hander features a smooth arm delivery with no recoil and throws his fastball in the upper 80s to lower 90s with an average slider and changeup. Click here for Rob Whitenack’s page on Baseball-Reference.
The Cubs big league camp will feature many of the players listed above (Brett Jackson, Jay Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Josh Vitters, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Marcos Mateo, Kyle Smit, Welington Castillo and Trey McNutt) so Mike Quade and his staff will get a first-hand look at many of the young Cubs moving up the ranks.
And just because players like D.J. LeMahieu and Ryan Flaherty did not receive non-roster invites to camp, it does not mean they will not get a chance to play with the big league club in the Cactus League. Several prospects get the call over from minor league camp during the exhibition season, especially on split-squad days.
There are players in the Cubs’ system that project as big leaguers but it is up to them to continue to put in the work and turn their projections into reality.
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