Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 11/21/13

Pitching Analysis

The CCO’s off-season look at the Cubs’ minor league system continues today. After viewing the possible pitching staff for Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee, it is time to take a look at the pitching prospects for High-A Daytona.

High-A Daytona Starters and Relievers

Daytona Cubs:

The Florida State League Champions stand a good chance in defending their crown in part because of the top flight pitching staff it looks to have, starting with C.J. Edwards. Despite the accolades garnered by Edwards this off-season Daytona looks like his first stop for 2014. One of several players acquired from the Texas Rangers as part of the Matt Garza deal, Edwards was a 48th round selection in the 2011 draft. Edwards began his pro career in 2012 and appeared in both the rookie league and Short-Season A Spokane. Edwards went a combined 5-3 with a 1.48 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP that included 85 strikeouts in 67 innings. Edwards showed that 2012 was no fluke in 2013. Edwards began the season with Low-A Hickory and was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 1.03 WHIP before the trade. Edwards was assigned to Daytona and did not post a record in six starts (23 innings), but had a 1.96 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. Edwards was a combined 8-2 in 2013 with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP (155 strikeouts in 116.1 innings). It is because of his lack of experience at the High-A level, along with putting some strength on his 6-foot-2, 155 pound frame, that he is expected back in Daytona, at least to start the season. Turning 22 years old just after the end of the season, Edwards throws a mid-90s fastball with cutting action that is considered a plus-plus pitch. Edwards also has a 12-6 curve that is considered a plus pitch, along with a slider and change-up. Mechanics are also considered a plus for Edwards, but his velocity tends to drop as the innings progress due to his slight frame.

Following Edwards in the order should be the Cubs’ 2013 second round pick, left-hander Rob Zastryzny. The 21-year old was considered a surprise by some, but with the lack of left handed pitching in the organization, Zastryzny could become a needed boost in that area. A junior at the University of Missouri, Zastryzny may have been flying under the radar after posting a 2-9 record in which the Tigers supported him with only 2.5 runs per game. However he did post a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts and struck out 82 batters in 90.2 innings. Zastryzny struck out 228 batters over three seasons at the University of Missouri. Zastryzny made 11 appearances between the Boise Hawks and Low-A Kane County after signing with the Cubs. Zastryzny went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP that included 22 strikeouts in 24 innings. Zastryzny has excellent command of a low-90s fastball that he is able to change speeds on which gives the hitters different looks. Zastryzny is also said to have an above average change-up and slider, along with a curve.

Another 2013 draft choice that looks to also be a part of the D-Cubs’ rotation is fourth round pick Tyler Skulina. Skulina went 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 93.2 innings at Kent State University. Skulina was assigned to Boise where he made eight appearances and was 0-0 with a 1.20 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP (19 strikeouts in 15 innings). Skulina was promoted to Low-A Kane County and was hammered around in his four starts (0-2 with a 9.31 ERA and a 2.07 WHIP with nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings). A big man at 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, Skulina has the size you look for in a starter. However, his frame contributes to a breakdown in mechanics which causes him to lose control of his pitches. The 21-year old features a mid-90s fastball and a power slider, with a change-up that needs work. While some see Skulina as a reliever, he is in need of quality innings and will probably be used as a starter for now.

Lining up as a solid number four in the rotation appears to be 2010 seventh round pick Ben Wells.  A high school pitcher from Bryant, Arizona, Wells was assigned to Short-Season A Boise to begin the 2011 season. Wells responded the way one would expect a teenager in his first professional assignment. Wells was 4-4 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP that included 53 strikeouts in 77.1 innings in 16 appearances (15 starts). Wells dealt with arm trouble in 2012 and did not pitch until well after the mid-season point. Wells made 12 appearances, eight starts, for Low-A Peoria and posted a 3-2 record with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP (36 strikeouts in 44 innings). It was somewhat of a surprise that Wells was placed on the High-A Daytona squad to start the 2013 season, and rumors surfaced that his contract predicated the move. Whatever the case, Wells appeared to be up for the challenge as he went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP (69 strikeouts in 112.1 innings). The 21-year old is a sinkerball pitcher, with a heavy fastball clocked in the low-mid 90s range with a slider and change. His age suggests that a return to this level shouldn’t be out of the question, but with the uncertainty surrounding his contract it’s unclear as to where Wells will be assigned next season.

Rounding out the rotation should be 23-year old Starling Peralta. Signed as an international free agent in 2008, Peralta bounced around the system before garnering some attention when the Arizona Diamondbacks selected him in the Rule 5 Draft last December. Peralta was returned to the Cubs after he failed to make the D-Backs squad out of Spring Training. Peralta pitched for three years in the Cubs’ Dominican Academy before finally receiving a promotion to the AZL Cubs in 2011. After appearing in three games in the rookie league and going 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA, Peralta was promoted to Low-A Peoria for the remainder of the season. Peralta was a combined 5-6 in 2011 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP that included 58 strikeouts in 70 innings. Peralta battled some injuries in 2012, but when he was available, he established himself as a pitcher with a possible future. Peralta was 5-8 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP (86 strikeouts in 99.1 innings) with Peoria. Returning to the Cubs’ system in 2013, Peralta did not seem right physically. Peralta was 0-1 with a 12.86 ERA in five appearances at High-A Daytona before going on the disabled list. Peralta then worked his way back through the rookie league and Low-A Kane County and was 2-4 with a 6.60 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP that included 53 strikeouts in 60 innings (17 appearances, nine starts). While Peralta brings a mid-upper 90s fastball to the table, his secondary pitches are lacking and need work. This is why some speculate that Peralta could eventually be moved to closer.

Should any of the above falter, the system will not be lacking in options with Jose Arias, Michael Heesch, Felix Pena, Jose Rosario, Ryan Searle, and Yao-Lin Wang available.

Of the above candidates, Jose Arias seems to be the closest to cracking the rotation, despite a lack of experience. The Cubs brought Arias in as an international free agent in 2010 and assigned him to the Dominican Academy. Arias pitched for two years in the Dominican Summer League and then was promoted to Short-Season A Boise in 2012. As the Hawks’ Opening Day starter, Arias went 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP that included 46 strikeouts in 63.2 innings (14 appearances, 13 starts). Arias was the Opening Day starter for Low-A Kane County in 2013, but things were not right with Arias. He made only four appearances (two starts) before landing on the disabled list for the season. The numbers Arias put up were in no way indicative of his ability (0-0 with an 8.68 ERA, 2.89 WHIP, nine strikeouts in 9.1 innings). Arias recently competed in the Fall Instructional League and demonstrated he was physically sound. At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Arias has the build of a top of the rotation starter. The 22-year old features a mid-90s four seam fastball, along with a slider and a change-up.

A dearth of left handed pitching may give Michael Heesch an edge, even if most observers feel he is best suited for the bullpen. Selected in the eighth round of the 2012 draft, Heesch was quickly assigned to Short-Season A Boise after a couple of innings with the AZL Cubs. Heesch was handled gingerly and never pitched more than two innings per outing. Heesch was 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP that included 19 strikeouts in 23.2 innings (14 appearances). Heesch opened the 2013 season with Low-A Kane County and moved into the rotation. Heesch was able to pitch 119 innings in 22 appearances (20 starts). However, he wasn’t as successful as he was in 2012 and posted a 3-9 record with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP (60 strikeouts). Heesch’s splits suggest a lefty specialist role could be in his future. Heesch has a low-90s fastball, a slider, and a change-up. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound southpaw is built to absorb innings, but the question is whether it will be as a starter or reliever.

The chances may be slipping away for 23-year old Jose Rosario, who has tantalized scouts with his stuff but has not been able to stay healthy. Signed in 2008 as an international free agent, Rosario drew attention as an 18-year old in 2009 when he jumped from the Dominican Summer League, to the AZL Cubs, to High-A Daytona and compiled a 4-3 record with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP (52 strikeouts in 41.2 innings). However, Rosario was back in the rookie league in 2010 and made only 11 appearances as he battled injuries. Rosario made it back in 2011 and was assigned to Short-Season A Boise. In a piggy-back system, Rosario was 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP that included 50 strikeouts in 63.2 innings over 15 appearances (seven games started, five games finished). Rosario was promoted to Low-A Peoria for the 2012 season, and injuries played havoc again. Despite being able to pitch a career high 111 innings, Rosario posted a 6-8 record with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP (95 strikeouts). Things went from bad to worse in 2013 as Rosario continued to battle injuries. And he saw his career take a couple of steps backward. With Low-A Kane County, Rosario was 0-7 with a 7.38 ERA before he was sent back down to Boise. Rosario was a combined 2-8 with a 6.88 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP (53 strikeouts in 67.2 innings). Even when Rosario was injury-free, he didn’t seem to get a lot of production out of his mid-90s fastball since the 2009 season. The organization may not wait for Rosario to shake the injury bug.

Felix Pena, Ryan Searle, and Yao-Lin Wang are all somewhat similar in that they are all right-handers in their early 20s that the organization hasn’t quite figured out how to use. Searle, the oldest of the three at 24 years old, was a reliable starter for the 2011 Tennessee Smokies … and actually made it to Triple-A Iowa in 2012. In six seasons Searle has made 72 starts and posted a 33-35 record with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP (395 strikeouts in 511.1 innings). Searle dealt with arm injuries in 2013 and has yet to pitch in the Australian Baseball League this winter.

Twenty-three year old Felix Pena has been an innings-eater (312 innings while starting only 30 games over the past five seasons) and has a career 13-17 record with a 3.75 ERA with 237 strikeouts, and a very good WHIP of 1.28. The youngest at 22 years old, Wang has bounced between starting and closing in his career. Wang owns one of the best curveballs in the organization. Wang has made 36 starts while posting 16 saves in 28 games finished over his four year career. Wang has a career record of 12-16 with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP that includes 252 strikeouts in 247 innings. While Wang has moved up the chain, he hasn’t been given the opportunity to establish himself as either a starter or reliever. Expect Wang to return to Daytona for 2013 in order to further define his role.

With the lack of a reliable closer at Kane County last season, the position is wide open for Daytona in 2013. The first pitcher to possibly get a crack at the job is Zach Cates. A third round pick by the Padres in the 2010, Cates was included in the deal the brought first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. After a 2011 season in which Cates was 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP that included 111 strikeouts in 118 innings (25 starts) for Low-A Fort Wayne, he was assigned to High-A Daytona for the start of the 2012 season. However, Cates was overmatched and after going 0-6 with a 10.50 ERA was sent to Low-A Peoria. After nine appearances for the Chiefs, Cates developed arm issues and spent the majority of the rest of the season on the disabled list. For the year, Cates was 0-9 with a 7.16 ERA and a 1.87 WHIP (46 strikeouts in 65.1 innings). Cates returned to Daytona last season healthy and continued as a starter. But with the acquisitions of C.J. Edwards, Ivan Pineyro, and Corey Black as well as the promotion of Pierce Johnson, Cates moved to the bullpen. He was tested out as a closer in the final weeks of the season and posted three saves to go along with a 9-9 record, a 4.12 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 87 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. The 23-year old has a big fastball, clocking in the mid-upper 90s, but his change-up and breaking ball need work. Control has always been an issue for Cates as he seems to get himself in as much trouble as he gets the team out of.


Also getting a shot at closer could be Lendy Castillo. By now, most are familiar with the story of the former infielder and Rule 5 Draft selection. Castillo began last season as a starter with Kane County and struggled. Castillo was 2-5 with a 6.58 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP (55 strikeouts in 64.1 innings). Castillo was promoted to Daytona were he fared a little better, and was 2-0 with 21 strikeouts, a 3.60 ERA, and a 1.40 WHIP out of the bullpen. Castillo throws an “easy” fastball in the upper-90’s range. The only other pitch Castillo has in his arsenal is a curve, which he cannot consistently throw for strikes.

Cates and Castillo may end up taking a back seat to Juan Carlos Paniagua. The story of Paniagua is fraught with aliases, fraudulent paperwork, and visa issues which hide the fact that the 23-year old has an upper 90s fastball and plus slider. Because of his legal issues, Paniagua’s start to last season and it showed on the field. The Cubs tried to get Paniagua ready for 2013 in the Dominican Summer League and the rookie league after his visa problems were resolved, but he clearly wasn’t ready. Paniagua was 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP (41 strikeouts in 37 innings). Paniagua is in desperate need of meaningful innings, which may have the organization look at him as a starter until he sharpens his game.

A pitcher that has an outside chance at the closer role would be the CCO’s 2013 Short Season Co-Pitcher of the Year Michael Hamann. The Cubs selected Hamann in the 16th round of the 2012 draft, and he made only eight appearances before going down with a severe ankle injury. Hamann worked his way back slowly in 2013 and was ready for action when Short-Season A Boise began their season. Hamann was effective in six appearances for the Hawks and allowed only an unearned run while striking out nine in 7.2 innings with three saves.  He was promoted to Low-A Kane County where he made 16 more appearances and went 3-4 with four more saves. For the season Hamann posted a 1.84 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP that included 26 strikeouts in 29.1 innings. Hamann turns 23 years old on Jan. 1 and brings a lot of poise along with a mid-90s fastball, slider, and curve. However, he will have to slap some muscle on his 6-foot-3, 165-pound frame in order to last a full season.

Where all these closer candidates leave Austin Reed is uncertain at this point. The Cubs selected Reed in the 12th round of the 2010 draft and he is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he may have been promoted a little hastily, but he was starting to adapt as the season came to a close. Reed pitched for the AZL Cubs shortly after he was drafted and was 3-2 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP that included 34 strikeouts in 33.2 innings (12 appearances, five starts). Reed was promoted to Short-Season A Boise in 2011 and continued working as a starter. Reed was 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP (36 strikeouts in 63.2 innings). Reed was then used exclusively as a reliever in 2012 for Low-A Peoria and made 38 appearances. Reed was 5-8 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP (49 strikeouts in 61.2 innings). Reed was promoted to High-A Daytona for the 2013 season and was hit pretty hard. Reed made the right adjustments and ended up at 4-2 with four saves, a 4.07 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP that included 40 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. The 22-year old throws a low-90s fastball and a breaking ball. A little more time at Low-A Kane County to work as the Cougars’ closer might be the right developmental plan for Reed.

Righty Steve Perakslis and lefty Nathan Dorris should provide support in the pen. After being selected in the 21st round of the 2012 draft, the 22-year old Perakslis has put together two quality seasons. Perakslis was a combined 4-0 with two saves, a 3.42 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 26.1 innings (16 appearances) in his first year. Perakslis became the de-facto closer for Low-A Kane County in 2013 as several others relievers could not fill the role. Perakslis went 1-3 with seven saves in 37 appearances (2.93 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 44 strikeouts in 58.1 innings). Perakslis combines a low-90s fastball with a curve and a slider. Dorris, the Cubs 17th round pick in the 2012 draft, was a workhorse for Kane County last season. The 22-year old began his career splitting his time between the AZL Cubs and Short-Season A Boise and posted a combined 2-1 record with four saves, a 1.88 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP (21 strikeouts in 24 innings).  Dorris made 36 appearances for the Cougars last season and was 7-3 with three saves, a 2.87 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP (25 strikeouts in 69 innings). Dorris mixes a low-90s fastball with a curve.

The Cubs also have a bevy of slightly over-aged prospects in order to fill out the pen that includes 24-year old lefty Sheldon McDonald, and 23-year old Justin Amlung along with left-handers Matt Iannazzo, Andrew McKirahan, and Al Yevoli.

A wild card for the Daytona staff could be the Cubs 26th round pick from the 2011 draft, Michael Jensen. The soon-to-be 23 year old (December 10) is currently missing in action, and it is not clear whether he has been injured or has just stopped playing baseball.  Jensen signed late in 2011 and made four appearances between the AZL Cubs and Boise (0-0 with no earned runs and five strikeouts in 4.2 innings). An unknown commodity going into the 2012 season, Jensen was named Low-A Peoria’s Opening Day starter and went on to post an 11-5 record with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP (115 strikeouts in 140 innings). Jensen mixes a low-90s fastball with a plus curve and a change-up, and he was working on a cutter. The future looked bright for Jensen at this time last year, but for now, he’s just a mystery.

ChicagoCubsOnline Minor League Position Analysis

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  • Dorasaga

    Thanks, Tom, for the reality view of all levels. It seems to me that aside from CJ Edwards and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs have no potential impact pitcher who has shown consistency throughout all levels.

    I’m also aware that none of the Asian talents signed via international “free” market passed single-A with the Cubs. Whoever their main Asian scout is (Steven?), he needs to be responsible for all the failure.

    They might also need to re-evaluate how they treat pitching talents, know with honest assessment of why there’s no consistent streamline coming to Chicago. Two regimes now, and it’s still a weaker link.

    • cubtex

      Agreed. Not just the Asian scout. All International Scouting.

      • Dorasaga

        Theo & Hoyer hired (promoted) newer scouts to handle international affairs:

        http://www.bleachernation.com/2012/10/23/more-organizational-moves-cubs-promote-some-scouts-hire-some-scouts-etc/

        But I think their Asian scouts, Paul Weaver, Steve Wilson, et al., were old hires by Hendry for more than a decade, hence in my last post, I bring it up, a start for the re-evaluation.

        • cubtex

          Steve Wilson? The ex Cub Lefthander? If you look around baseball, several teams have signed International players who have had almost an immediate impact on the mlb team. Thoyer has not. Soler was their big splash and he is at least 2 years away imo. Hopefully some of these will pan out but the jury is still out.

          • 07GreyDigger

            But have you researched it enough to know “several teams” made some errors in signing as well? Probably not.

          • cubtex

            who is talking about errors? I hate when you twist my words around for your benefit! hahaha.
            If you read what I said. I said signings that have had almost an immediate impact on the mlb team.

          • John_CC

            Fujikawa had an immediate impact … albeit a very brief one due to injury, which is not their fault.

          • Tony_Hall

            It’s almost like they have been looking for players who are a few years away.

          • cubtex

            meanwhile the outfield is filled with re-treads.

          • Tony_Hall

            After last nights big trade 1 for 1, you remind me of the guy who gets traded and is upset that his team didn’t want him, while the other player is celebrating how a team wanted him so bad, they traded for him. Life is perspective, wouldn’t you agree.

            We could sign Ellsbury to play CF and Choo to play RF and use Lake and Sweeney to play LF and trade Schierholtz.

          • cubtex

            No idea what you are saying.

          • Tony_Hall

            How 2 people can see completely different things, looking at the same thing, one viewing it optimistically, one viewing it pessimistically.

            Guess which one I think you are :)

          • cubtex

            I am not sure. My point is they have holes to fill in the outfield. You said that the plan is to sign international guys who are years away. My point is….why? You call that pessimistic? To question why they don’t want to fill those glaring holes quicker? You love this sloooooooow rebuild don’t you? Lol

          • Tony_Hall

            No I don’t, but also don’t want them signing the Choos and Ellsbury’s to 7 or even worse 8 year contracts.

            Never said the plan is to sign interantional guys who are years away, but when the choice was to go hard for Cespedes or Soler, I was happy they chose Soler.

            I call pessimistic picking apart Soler at this point.

          • cubtex

            You would rather have Soler than Cespedes? Are you serious?

          • Tony_Hall

            Let’s see

            Cespedes from year 1 to year 2

            Do you think the league figured him out?

            AVG 292 down to 240
            OBP 356 down to 294
            SLG 505 down to 442
            OPS 861 down to 737

            Injured both seasons, tries to steal bases but was thrown out 7 times with only 7 SB’s this year. He is signed for just 2 more years. Soler is signed for 7 more years.

          • cubtex

            Sorry bud. I will take a productive mlb player like Cespedes over a raw Soler 100 times out of 100 and twice on your birthday

          • Tony_Hall

            240/294/442

            Enjoy, that. I am sure pitchers won’t expose him more in Year 3, just like Puig won’t be exposed more in Year 2. I will take the younger player, who is being developed in the minors to make them a better player when they make it to the majors, versus the raw player.

          • Tony_Hall

            So if you are the Cubs, you would trade a young cost controlled asset like Soler for 2 years of Cespedes. You think that makes good baseball and business sense for the Cubs, right now?

          • cubtex

            I am almost afraid to ask. Would you take Soler over Puig as well?

          • Tony_Hall

            Puig was a unbelievable freak this year, far exceeding any expectations. I have him in fantasy baseball and plan to use him as one of my keepers and roll the dice that he doesn’t drop off as far as Cespedes. Cespedes I kept last year, and wish I wouldn’t have done that.

            I think Soler fits the Cubs better, and will have the better career when all is said and done out of these 3. I doubt anyone will have as good a season as Puig just had, but I don’t think he will do it again.

          • cubtex

            What have you seen in Soler could even make you type those words? You can get a lot of people who would take that bet.

          • Tony_Hall

            I have seen him in person 2 times. I have to tell you, he was a man among boys both times. Yes it was A Ball, but you can just tell the guys that have the raw talent to play. He is raw, but not nearly as raw as Puig or Cespedes, give him 2 full minor league seasons (14 and 15) and I think you will see him in Chicago in Sept when rosters expand.

          • cubtex

            Next September? I’ll take one of what you are drinking. Might as well….it is Friday!

          • Tony_Hall

            Please, please try reading my posts before responding.

            “… give him 2 full minor league seasons (14 and 15) and I think you will see him in Chicago in Sept when rosters expand.

            Did you miss the part that says 2 FULL MINOR LEAGUE SEASONS (14 AND 15)?

          • TheWrongGuy

            For a development player I pick Soler.

            For production NOW I pick Puig.

            For .250 – .265 BA 20 – 35 HR’s & 80ish RBI’s I pick Cespedes.

            Cespedes AND Puig will both fall fast now.
            And Puig had one helluva PED season, IMO.

          • cubtex

            What chance do you think Soler will have a better career than either one of those? 5%? 10% 50%? My guess is somewhere between 5 and 10%. Go to Vegas Tony if you actually believe that will happen.

          • Tony_Hall

            I know you enjoy being on the side that is right today, and can’t be proven wrong without time passing.

          • cubtex

            Let’s see.

            Do you think the league figured out Anthony Rizzo in the second half?

            Avg 241 down to 222
            OBP 328 down to 316
            SLG 441 down to 389
            OPS 770 down to 704

            This game is full of adjustments. To think that the league has someone figured out and he will continue to slide after 2 years and in Rizzo’s case 1 year is premature. It is about adjustments. Will Rizzo adjust? Cespedes numbers compared to Rizzo are much better. Let’s see what Cespedes will do next year. I will take him starting in LF for the Cubs for the next 5 years.

          • Tony_Hall

            But he is only signed for 2 more years. You can’t have him for 5 years, as he won’t sign a 3 year contract, he will want 7 or 8.

          • cubtex

            You remind me of the guy who hits on 20 at the blackjack table. There is a chance you can still draw an ace. Here you have a young productive player in Cespedes who has had 2 decent years in the show. 25 plus HR’s with 80 plus RBI but you would rather throw him away for a raw 21 year old who hasn’t played a full season in AA?

          • Tony_Hall

            Cespedes is more like being dealt 16, my friend.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I don’t get this. Do they need to fill holes now? Yes. But do you not understand the long view of building a team? It’s not always about the right now. You have to look years down the road so you always have a chance to be competitive.

            As a business owner, I don’t see why you don’t get this. Yes, you need to be successful on the front end, but you also need to make investments for down the road. That’s what the international market is to them I think. Long term and short term if it makes sense.

          • cubtex

            The international market is not that for most teams. You pay millions to get a player to help the mlb quickly. Why spend 30 mil on a risky prospect when you can get the same type of prospect in the mlb draft for 1/10 of that? Not a smart business move. Being a business owner….I totally understand the logic in that. When spending 30,40,50 mil they are for players like Ryu,Puig,Cespedes. Players who can play in mlb. Gerardo Concepcion was signed to help out immediately. Obviously, that was a very poor scouting job on him. Most scouts were shocked the Cubs thought he was a mlb pitcher.

          • 07GreyDigger

            But those international guys who can help right away are exceptions more than anything else. What you get 3-5 out of each major country a year? Most of the guys signed are those 16 year olds or the little signings the Cubs have been making. Just like in any draft, some don’t work out. But it’s worth a try.

            It’s kind of silly arguing Soler when we don’t even know if he’s going to make it or not. Injuries happen. Who do I know that says that all the time? Hmmm.

          • cubtex

            The Gleybar Torres are those type of international guys who are prospects. The big money guys like Darvish,Tanaka,Puig,Cespedes,Ryu, Soler are not.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Thanks. I was not aware of the distinction. Glad you pointed it out.

          • Tony_Hall

            So you knew, for sure, how Darvish, Puig, Cespedes, Ryu and even Soler and Tanaka will do in MLB.

            I am surprised with expertise like that, that you aren’t an international scout.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Don’t forget Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro.

      • Dorasaga

        They have more problems right now, as Tom pointed out, and their stats proven their inconsistency, not any sign of a fast-track past AA. We need to look at consistent improvement.

        How about the Asian players, namely, from Korea, Japan, or Taiwan?

        Aside from pitching, all too young and with their own command problems, Pin-Chieh Chen (OF) had his taste of AA this past season. That’s about it. The jury is out there, but I’m not confident the Asian scouts were right. When they signed these Asian players by almost millions of dollar, I would expect these talents to produce and be more ready to Major League Baseball than the lesser signs.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Pitching looks weak from top to bottom.
    Too many issues.
    Theo & Jed needs to address this issue in the draft or / and through trades.

    • cubtex

      Yes it does. I heard the Astros could have Appel in their rotation next year. I am excited about Bryant’s future but it would have been nice to have a young future TOR starter on the mound for the Cubs next season. I was shocked that the Astros drafted him.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Astros & the Marlins have damn good pitching coming up……and if one of these two teams make it to the playoffs before the Cubs, Theo will be History.

        • cubtex

          Yes they do. They are both currently in better position than the Cubs are. The issue is that they both won’t spend money no free agent will sign with them.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    What do you think MLB TV guys will discuss today?……
    The A-Rod mediation story?……
    or
    Prince Fielder trade?……..
    or
    Jose Canseco being stopped by the police in a traffic stop…..and they found two goats with diapers on in the back seat………..

  • cubtex

    Several Cubs on Baseball America’s list.

    18 names to watch for the Rule 5 draft, including the player the White Sox might take with the No. 3 pick: http://bit.ly/17R7OWp

    • cubtex

      They are predicting Carlos Perez C from the Astros organization being picked by the White Sox. If they pass on him, I got to imagine the Cubs have to consider him. 23 year old C who has hit at every level. Doesn’t have much power but doesn’t K and is very good defensively. Cubs need catching depth badly and it sounds like he would be a good addition.

      • paulcatanese

        No chance, he’s not injured:)

        • cubtex

          lol

      • John_CC

        You’re probably right. But reading the list I wonder why they don’t just de-convert Ha back to a Catcher?

    • Tom U

      I also believe that, in the right situation, Frank Batista would be selected.

      As a frame of reference, I believe that at this point in his career that Bastista may not contribute as much as Hector Rondon did, but would more than Lendy Castillo did.

  • cubtex

    Jason Vargas just signed a 4 year 32 mil contract with the Royals. EJax signed a 4 year 52 mil contract last year. Take a look at their numbers. They are both 30. Both are innings eaters. Vargas threw over 200 innings in 2011 and 2012.

    EJax
    career
    78-89 4.47 ERA with a 1.440 Whip

    Jason Vargas
    51-58 4.30 ERA with a 1.319 Whip

    • Tony_Hall

      Let’s see, have you seen Vargas pitch, because if you have, you would understand why he received less.

      Also, Vargas is coming off of a season with these numbers.

      4.02 ERA
      1.387 WHIP
      6.5 k/9
      2.8 bb/9

      EJAX was coming off of a season with these numbers.

      4.03 ERA
      1.218 WHIP
      8.0 k/9
      2.8 bb/9

      Vargas contract covers 31,32,33,34
      EJAX contract covers 29,30,31,32

      Vargas signed early, taking a 4 year contract versus holding out for more money per year.

      EJAX waited out the market and after a bigger name came off the market and signed on Jan 2nd.

      To me EJAX was an overpay by the signing bonus. Vargas is an overpay in years, but got fair value for $$ per year.

      • cubtex

        The argument for EJax supporters is that the price for an innings eater is 52 mil for 4 years. KC just paid 32 mil for 4 years. Does EJax have better stuff? Absolutely! Is he a better pitcher? No. Both are #4′s.

        • Tony_Hall

          Description of Vargas and his new contract.

          “Four years for Vargas is too many, ESPN’s Keith Law argues (Insider-only). Vargas is already a below-average starter, Law argues, and it’s optimistic to think Vargas’ finesse style will hold up for four years, particularly given that his results so far have partly been a creation of favorable home parks in Seattle and Anaheim.”

          I would take EJAX over Vargas hands down.

          The price of an innings eater is $10M/year. EJAX got $1M more than that, but his overpay was paid up front, in a $8M signing bonus.

          Vargas is a #5 with no upside. EJAX is a #4, that has the stuff that makes you believe he can put it all together and be more than that. Let’s hope that he reaches his potential this year.

  • Roe Skidmore

    Where does Dillon Maples fit into the system next season. I got a chance to see him pitch with Boise and he looked extremely good that day.

    • Tom U

      Sorry for the delay Ron. All I have to say is: Tune in next week…

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I believe the Cubs have the 4th pick in the Rule 5 draft…..will Theo go after a pitcher or a position player?
    And who will the Cubs most likely to lose ?

  • Tony_Hall

    User Actions FollowingJIM BOWDEN‏@JimBowdenESPNxm
    Josh Johnson told us it came down to PGH,Chic,KC &SF but Padres was his first choice.He said Bud Black & PC was huge factor Sirius 209 XM 89

  • Ripsnorter1

    Three major league scouts who observed Fielder this season said it is unlikely that he will experience the same fate with the Rangers. They also cautioned that Fielder appears to be on the downside of his career at age 29 and will be hard-pressed to be productive for the remaining seven years of his contract.

    “There are a lot of holes in that swing, pitches that he wasn’t getting to anymore,” an American League scout said. “He was the third bat in that lineup this year. [Miguel] Cabrera and [Victor] Martinez were both tougher outs.”

    The scouts agreed that Fielder must drop weight and focus on his conditioning. The Tigers listed him at 275 pounds this season, but the scouts believed he is at more than 300 pounds. As Fielder ages, he cannot carry that weight and be effective, they said.

    “That ballpark will be good for him,” the AL scout said, “if he gets into shape. If he doesn’t, I’m not sure what he’ll do. How he handles that heat will be big.”

    Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is ideal for left-handed power hitters. Fielder played that role to the hilt in six seasons with Milwaukee but gradually stopped pulling the ball in the air with Detroit, the scouts said.

    In six full seasons with Milwaukee, Fielder averaged 38 homers with a .540 slugging percentage annually. In two seasons with Detroit, Fielder dropped to 271/2 homers and a .491 slugging percentage annually.

    Fielder this season had three streaks of 19-plus consecutive games without a homer. He went 19-plus games without a homer three times in the previous seven seasons. Fielder had the extra burden this season of going through a divorce.

    By the playoffs, Fielder had become an opposite-field ground-ball hitter. He had only one extra-base hit in 40 at-bats. Of his 18 outs against Boston, 10 were on ground balls and three were on fly balls.

    “I still think he can hit,” a National League scout said. “I think the divorce was really bothering him. Going to that park, maybe he’ll start crushing again. If he does, he’ll hit ’em out of every park.”

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