Two Days to the Start of Cubs Camp

Two days until pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park

The Cubs organizational meetings began Wednesday. The annual meetings were pushed back from early November until this week due to the front office changes. The meetings are expected to conclude Thursday.

Players are making their way to Mesa and have been working out before camp officially begins Saturday. Pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals Friday and are slated to be on the field Saturday.

The Cubs have not made an official announcement about the signing of Gerardo Concepcion. If the reports are accurate, the Cubs will have to create a spot on the 40-man roster in order to sign Concepcion.

In other news, the compensation for Theo Epstein is expected to be announced this week … and if the Padres are going to receive a player as compensation for allowing Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod out of their contracts, that announcement should be made in the coming days as well.

Here’s the update …

Jorge Soler
With Yoenis Cespedes off the market, the next hot international prospect is Jorge Soler. The Cubs are in the mix but nowhere near signing Soler as the Tribune reported Monday night.

The Cubs are one of several teams interested in Jorge Soler. Reportedly the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Marlins, Orioles and Blue Jays have shown interest … and there are probably several unknown teams that will get involved once Soler establishes residency in the Dominican Republic.

Alex Anthopoulos, along with several other members of the Blue Jays’ front office, worked out Soler (and three other Cuban players) at their Dominican complex Wednesday morning. Soler is scheduled to work out for the Orioles this weekend.

Soler is expected to be expensive and could actually top the $27.5 million that the Tribune thought the Cubs had agreed to pay him.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, Jorge Soler might not sign for as much as Cespedes (four years, $36 million) but he is expected to top the $15.5 million that Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin received from the Texas Rangers … Martin signed a five-year contract worth $15.5 million in May of 2011.

Anthony Rizzo on XM Radio
Anthony Rizzo joined Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth during First Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) Wednesday morning. Rizzo sounded upbeat as he prepares for his first Spring Training with the Chicago Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo is leaving Sunday for Arizona.

The belief that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have shown in Rizzo has helped him a lot. Rizzo thinks he will be able to handle changing teams and the pressure associated with being a top prospect in an organization better than he did last year. He feels he is better prepared this spring after going through what he did with the Padres.

Rizzo said the key is to remember this is the same game that he played when he was a kid. No matter where he is (minors or majors) he has to prepare the same and go through the same daily routine. He has to slow the game down the best he can and remember to have fun.

Last year Rizzo put the pressure on himself to “be the man” and he admitted he tried to leave an impression on everyone that saw him play.

Rizzo plans on going to Spring Training and opening the eyes of the Cubs’ brass. He would like to make it hard for them to send him to minor league camp. He acknowledged that he must not get ahead of himself like he did last year and take it one day at a time.

As for his goals this spring, Rizzo would like to work the kinks out, concentrate on working counts and spend time on his defense.

The Cubs Convention left an impression on Rizzo. He admitted he now knows how important the Cubs are to a lot of people. Rizzo described the convention as “awesome” and he loves the city.

“The only big thing I want to do in that city is win a World Series, Anthony Rizzo said. I’m just going to go in, play my game and have fun.”

Anthony Rizzo was impressive to listen to once again. For a 22-year old to be as focused as he comes off is refreshing.

Building Through the Draft
FanGraphs ran an article that ranked all 30 big league teams at drafting and developing talent over the last decade starting with the 2002 draft.

FanGraphs ranked the teams by total accumulated WAR and included the average WAR per homegrown player.

The Boston Red Sox topped the list with the Chicago Cubs ranked 27th out of the 30 teams.

Here is what FanGraphs had to say about the Chicago Cubs:

If the Astros have only developed one stud player since the 2002 Draft, the Chicago Cubs have developed no one significant. They have been relatively successful at drafting and developing minor role players — Tony Campana, Rich Hill, Darwin Barney, Tyler Colvin, etc — but the homegrown talent is lacking star power. The best the Cubs have done is Sean Marshall, who found success as a dominant set-up man — which, while nice, has little overall value for creating a homegrown core to build around. Perhaps the 2005 Draft personifies the Cubs’ developmental success over the past decade. The 2005 Draft saw one Chicago Cub draftee make the big leagues (thus far), and that was left-handed reliever Donnie Veal, who pitched 16.1 innings for the Pirates in 2009 and compiled a 7.16 ERA. The system suffered yet another blow prior to the 2011 season, when they sent Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, and company to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza.

FanGraphs – Building Through the Draft: Best of the Best
FanGraphs – Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst

News and Notes
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs are waiting to see if Blake DeWitt clears waivers. DeWitt was DFA’d on February 6 and if he is unclaimed the Cubs could re-sign him to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp.

The Cubs released minor league right-handed pitcher Robinson Lopez. The Cubs acquired Lopez from the Atlanta Braves in the Derrek Lee deal back in 2010.

Tim Sheridan posted a good report on Jeff Beliveau … with pics of the southpaw from Fitch Park.

The Cubs were rumored to be interested in a reunion with Ramon Ortiz, but the veteran right-hander signed a minor league deal with Giants that was announced Wednesday. Ortiz received a non-roster invite to Giants camp.

Long-time Astros’ announcer Milo Hamilton has decided to call it a career after the 2012 season. Hamilton’s most famous call dates back to 1974 when Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 to pass Babe Ruth on the All-Time Home Run list. Hamilton called Cubs’ games from 1980-1984 and did not leave on the best terms with Harry Caray.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax