Three Cubs Prospects Named to Baseball America’s Minor League All-Star Team

Three of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system were named to Baseball America’s 2013 Minor League All-Star team on Thursday. Javier Baez and C.J. Edwards received first team honors while Kyle Hendricks was named to the second team.

Baseball America named Javier Baez as the first team’s designated hitter. The Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts received the nod as the first team’s shortstop. Baseball America pointed out that Baez “stands by himself with minor league-leading totals for extra basehits (75) and RBI (111)” after hitting 37 home runs with Daytona and Tennessee as a 20-year old. Baez hit 19 of his 37 home runs, while putting together a .325/.384/.654 slash line, with runners on base.

C.J. Edwards appeared to take his game up a notch after he was added to Daytona’s rotation in late July. Edwards finished his season with a minor league best 12 strikeouts per nine innings and finished fourth in ERA (1.86). Edwards and the ‘Gang of Four’ helped Daytona win the Florida State League championship and he should be ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system, along with teammate Pierce Johnson, this off-season.

Kyle Hendricks, the CCO’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year, was named to Baseball America’s second team after a tremendous season. Hendricks has put himself into a position to make his Major League debut next year and should spend his first spring in big league camp.

Jeff Samardzija

Is Jeff Samardzija out of gas? Samardzija made his 30th start of the year on Wednesday against the Reds and inched closer to the 200-inning mark that he said he wanted to reach at the beginning of the year. The Cubs are not shutting Samardzija down early like they did last season despite the fact that he has already exceeded his career-high in innings pitched this year (194 2/3 innings).

Samardzija admitted he is in “uncharted waters” but said he feels good and has “no complaints or excuses.”

Following his third bad start in a row, Dale Sveum said that Samardzija probably wouldn’t admit it, but he feels that Samardzija is dealing with a combination of physical fatigue while “getting a little mentally wore out right now.”

Samardzija is not only racing toward 200 innings for the first time in his career, he is among the league leaders in pitches thrown this season. After 30 starts, Samardzija has thrown 3,167 pitches this year. Clayton Kershaw (3,141), Adam Wainwright (3,114) and Cole Hamels (3,105) have each thrown more than 3,100 pitches this season as well. And not only will Samardzija pass the 200-inning plateau, but he will also strikeout 200 batters for the first time. Samardzija has 195 strikeouts in 194 2/3 innings this year.

The addition of Scott Baker to the rotation should help Samardzija finish on a better note than he has pitched of late. Samardzija will receive an extra day of rest before each of his next two outings then his final start of the season will be on regular rest in St. Louis.

Kris Bryant and the Future at Third Base

Kris Bryant will garner quite a bit of attention when the Arizona Fall League gets underway in less than a month. Bryant, along with three of the top minor leaguers in the Cubs’ system, will compete with other top prospects in the game. Bryant is expected to see time in the outfield in the AFL, and that is where many of the experts feel he will end up playing.

The Cubs think Kris Bryant has a chance to stick at third base, and according to a report from the Sun-Times, some evaluators think Bryant “could push for a big league job late next season.”

Bryant has a lot of work to do in the field and at the plate before he makes his big league debut. But the Cubs have several legitimate third base prospects in the system as well that could force the Cubs to move Bryant to the outfield.

The Cubs acquired the Rangers’ top two third base prospects in July deals the last two seasons. Christian Villanueva put together an excellent season at the Double-A level and will continue to push Mike Olt in the Cubs’ system.

The Cubs feel Mike Olt will bounce back from his rough season. Jason McLeod said Wednesday that Olt will not play ball this winter and he will be evaluated further to see if the concussion he received last winter when he was beaned affected him more than was originally diagnosed.

Javier Baez is expected to see time at third base, as well as second base, this fall. Most have felt for a longtime that Baez projects better as a third baseman and that is where he would eventually end up. The Cubs have maintained that Baez is a shortstop and they feel he can handle the position at the Major League level.

Another third base prospect to keep an eye on is Jeimer Candelario. On numerous occasions, Theo Epstein has spoken highly of Candelario and the front office’s desire to leave Candelario at third base for the entire season at Kane County was one of the reasons given publically as to why Kris Bryant skipped Kane County and finished his season in Daytona. Candelario is only 19 years old and is further behind the Villanuevas, Olts and Bryants in the system but he is still a player that gives the organization depth at third base.

News and Notes

The Cubs have 82 quality starts this season, nine more than a year ago (73).

Anthony Rizzo is looking for positives according to a report from Cubs.com as his first full season in the majors comes to an end.

Starlin Castro could hit leadoff for the Cubs’ next season according to a report from Cubs.com. Dale Sveum said with what Castro has learned and with the way he has been hitting, he could hit at the top of the lineup. Entering play on Thursday, Castro was a career .303/.350/.439 hitter in 97 games in the leadoff spot with 21 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs for a .789 OPS. According to a report from the Sun-Times, a leadoff man is at the top of Sveum’s wish list this winter, along with a five-hole hitter.

Chris Rusin has put himself in a position to have every opportunity to make the rotation next year according to a report from ESPN Chicago.

Dan Vogelbach is thinking big according to the Sun-Times.

And, clubs are contacting Dave Duncan about hiring him to be in their organization in some capacity, other than coaching. Duncan is not sure if he could coach again right now, but according to Ken Rosenthal, Duncan would “listen to whatever they’re thinking about.” If Duncan is listening, the Cubs’ front office should pick up the phone and see if they could pair him with Derek Johnson.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors 

Quote of the Day

"And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I'll take the pennant every time." - Carl Yastrzemski
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  • coachdon

    My personal thought is that Sveum has his 5 hole hitter. His name is Anthony Rizzo. What the Cubs really need is a good 3 hole guy, but that is hard to find, unless one of the young guns man the spot. I could see Baez or Bryant batting third by the end of 2014.

    • Tony_Hall

      I usually think more 6 hole with Castro and Castillo behind him.

      Call it the future A, B, C’s of the Cubs

      1. Alcantara 2B
      2. Almora CF
      3. Bryant 3B
      4. Baez LF
      5. Soler RF
      6. Rizzo 1B
      7. Castro SS
      8. Castillo C

      DISCLAIMER – This is just for fun and in no way do I expect all of these players to make it to the Hall of Fame and for this to be the future NL All-Star lineup year after year……I am sure one of these guys won’t make it!

      But this is DH dreaming…..

      1. Alcantara 2B
      2. Almora CF
      3. Bryant 3B
      4. Baez LF
      5 Vogelbach DH
      6. Soler RF
      7. Rizzo 1B
      8. Castro SS
      9. Castillo C

      • cubtex

        Yanks 1 game out of WC. What were you saying about their postseason chances again? :))

        • texcubnut

          The same thing he said about Cleveland and the same thing Rip said about the Pirates.
          Tony, I absolutely love the lineup (lineups) you listed. If only they were all ready to start the 2014 season.

          • cubtex

            that’s right…he did say the same about Cleveland. Let’s hope Mr. Hall gets a little more positive when the Cubs are finally at the point of fighting for a WC spot.

          • Tony_Hall

            Hey, and you are trying to tell me to be more positive…please!

          • cubtex

            I would never say a team will not make the playoffs if they are 1,2,3,4 games out with 20 to play. I just don’t get all warm and fuzzy about the on pace stats of a player in May or watching a AAAA player have a good month….but I will not say a team will not make the playoffs when they are this close.

          • Tony_Hall

            Take a bow and step down from your soap box!

            You said the Cubs would not make the playoffs, far, far before they were mathematically eliminated, so only teams you are a fan of can you say won’t make the playoffs….

        • Tony_Hall

          There are 2 Wild Card spots 6 teams within 2.5 games of those spots. That gives them a 33% chance of making the 1 game Wild Card game, which gives them a 50% of winning that game, which breaks down to a 16.5% of chance of getting into a playoff series.

          They have always had a chance, I don’t believe they will make it. Please repost where they are at after they lose a few and not right after they win a few.

          • cubtex

            Yanks 1 game out and Cleveland right there with a cupcake schedule. C’mon Mr. Glass Half Full. That’s pretty glum.

          • Tony_Hall

            6 teams fighting for 2 spots at a chance for a 1 game playoff….it is a chance though.

            Not to bring it back up, but Cleveland is not getting much out of CF production or they would be in the lead.

          • cubtex

            have you seen there schedule? they should make it with the patsies they are playing.

          • Tony_Hall

            Not high on my list of things to look up, but I will take your word for it. But I have seen teams who had hard schedules over come that and teams with easy schedules (I believe our own Chicago Cubs) blow a lead with an easy schedule. It will be fun to follow the race, as I feel it will come down to the final weekend.

      • texcubnut

        Tony, let’s keep the dream going!! What does your dream say about our future pitching staff?

        • cubtex

          pitching is even more difficult to predict. Jim Callis is saying that CJ Edwards is the best starting pitching prospect that the Cubs have in the minors but he is still in A ball.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Better than having nobody…

          • cubtex

            why did you take this as a dig? I am just saying he is still a couple of years away.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I take everything you say as a dig. :)

          • texcubnut

            I love CJ Edwards and he would be third in the rotation behind Vizcaino (after being worked in slowly) and Japan’s Tanaka (If we can get him) with the fourth and fifth spots going to T. Wood and Paul Blackburn.

          • cubtex

            don’t overlook Pierce Johnson

          • texcubnut

            You’re right. I did overlook him. A lot of the others, in my mind, have too many question marks right now, including Rusin, Hendricks, Maples and Arrieta.

          • Brp921

            The pitching will sort itself out. It’s just nice to finally have some young promising pitchers to speculate about.

          • Eugene Debs

            Edwards weighs 47 pounds.

          • cubtex

            cmon now. He is at least 80 pounds.

        • Tony_Hall

          That will take more time to look at then I have now, but when you look at the names people list below, we have many options of good young arms to be able to have waves and waves of pitching coming soon.

      • 07GreyDigger

        If Vogelbach can be passable at first and continues to hit, do we see Rizzo shipped out of town?

        • texcubnut

          I would hate to see that happen because I believe Rizzo is a strong and talented player and a stud defensive first baseman who is having a tough second year. My eyes and my heart tell me he’ll be our first baseman for a long, long time.
          I, too, am coming around to the DH and would love to see Mr. Vogelbach break some windows on Sheffield.

          • Brp921

            I agree, both leagues need to have the same rules to be on a level playing field.

          • Tony_Hall

            Absolutely!!

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I agree very much….

        • Tony_Hall

          I don’t think so, his defense is top notch and by defensive metrics he is number 1 this year and should win the Gold Glove, but it will likely go to AGon or Goldsmidt as offense always seems to be a part of Gold Glove voting.

          • cubtex

            He’s got to hit a lot better than this year though.

          • Tony_Hall

            Agreed, and think he will, but not to win a Gold Glove. And to be fair Barney won a gold glove with his bat, so maybe Rizzo will as well….but that toss to 1st didn’t help his case.

          • cubtex

            wasn’t really talking about GG. More about Vogelbach taking his spot down the road.

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t think that will happen. Vogelbach is a DH waiting for the latest MLBPA deal to expire in 2016 so that the NL can have a DH.

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  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I know people will say “the FO won’t rush these guys!” but how/why was Junior Lake allowed to come up, and then play positions he never really played before (he was an IF and they put him in OF).
    Why wouldn’t you put Bryant in the OF this Spring training and put him in the starting lineup? Throw Vitters in the other corner while you are at it! Might as well see if you have something there already.
    If it was ok to do with Junior Lake, why are the others to be more protected?
    The other question I have is why we never talk about moving any of these SS prospects to 2B? Second base never seems to get a lot of love in baseball. From a Cubs perspective, it has been a hodge-podge of misc-to-mediocre talents since Ryno manned the position. Maybe Alcantara is the guy, but why if Castro is going to stick at SS at the mlb level (no guarantee, but possible for sure) then why not slot Baez at 2B?

    • cubtex

      I agree. If they aren’t going to try and compete next year….let some of the young kids learn at the mlb level.

    • 07GreyDigger

      When you’re talking about highly regarded guys like Baez, Bryant and Alcantara, the most important thing over development is $$$.

      Considering these guys are close in when they’re coming up, why bring them up early and start the clock on how long you can control them? Right when they start producing and the team starts winning, they’ll get expensive. So I’m assuming the FO wants as much pieces in place as possible so when they do bring them up, they have the best chance to succeed and they can reap the benefits while they’re all cheap.

      As for position changes, check out Neil’s article from the other day.
      http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2013/09/cubs-go-six-man-rotation-tentative-schedule-news-notes.php#.UjM29tLkvTo

      • Eugene Debs

        It’s always about “service time” and “too long a contract” and “he’ll be 30+.” Can we ever juST field a good team? For the love of all that is holy, the Cubs s-u-c-k. Some hope please?

        • 07GreyDigger

          The service time thing bugs me too, but that’s what it’s all about in the baseball game. How long can you get elite productivity out of an elite talent for cheap. You watch, the moment Giancarlo Stanton gets expensive, the Marlins will trade him.

          We forget that sports is ultimately a business. Championships are nice, but the bottom line is more important.

      • Brp921

        I agree if you mean “other than development” but if you mean dollars are more important than development then I disagree. I say bring them up when they’re ready to play in the major leagues period. Besides, in a few years when they get more expensive there will be more dollars available anyway.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Disagree or not, but dollars trump development. How many minor leaguers are ready in spring training and teams wait until June to bring them up to delay the service clock?

          • Brp921

            I’m not arguing with you I just disagree with the concept.

    • texcubnut

      Is it possible (just a possibility) that the FO might have a plan to make their first BIG free agent splash Robinson Cano? That would certainly render future prospective second basemen moot.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I hope not. I like the guy, but is he the kind of guy that can play 2B effectively well into his late 30’s? It’s going to take a 6-8 year deal which puts him at 39 at the end. With no DH, is he going to be guy who stays consistent or breaks down ala Pujols? And if the Cubs aren’t really competitive until 15/16, is he worth the money tying up the payroll?

      • Tony_Hall

        No

    • John_CC

      Lake had a really good full season at AA and 40 games at AAA.

  • cubtex

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes
    that Joe Girardi will be a hot free agent this offseason and will
    likely be able to choose his destination if he wishes. Girardi could
    return to the Yankees, or seeing the opportunity to jump to his hometown, could pursue an opportunity with the Cubs even
    though Dale Sveum is still under contract. He could also look to fill
    Johnson’s role in Washington — a position for which he applied in 2006.
    Within his piece, Rosenthal reports that Girardi’s expiring three-year
    contract was worth a total of $9MM.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

    • texcubnut

      Girardi is clearly one of the best in the business and that he would be a great addition to any team.

    • Tony_Hall

      I would very much like to see Girardi as manager.