Cubs Prospects Named to a Dream Team and Other News from Down on the Farm

Bernie Pleskoff released his prospect dream teams for the National League and American League this week. And four Cubs farmhands made his NL squad, along with two Pirates and two Cardinals prospects.

At first base is the Cubs’ slugger Dan Vogelbach and the 21-year old can flat out hit according to Pleskoff, and everyone else that has seen Vogelbach swing a bat. Vogelbach ended last season with High-A Daytona and a .284/.375/.449 slash line with 23 doubles and 19 home runs in 131 games for Kane County and Daytona.

Javier Baez and Kris Bryant man the left side of Pleskoff’s dream team infield. Baez and Bryant will lineup side-by-side during Cactus League games in a couple of weeks. Baez and Bryant have big time power, but both players might end up changing positions before they make their big league debuts.

And Albert Almora would man one of the outfield positions on Pleskoff’s team. Almora “has the ability to play an outstanding centerfield” and he will hit according to Pleskoff, plus “Almora is a player with knowledge of his role.”

The Padres’ superb catching prospect Austin Hedges is behind the plate with the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong the only non-Cub in the infield. The Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras and the Pirates’ Gregory Polanco flank Almora in Pleskoff’s outfield.

The NL pitching staff consists of Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks), Noah Syndergaard (Mets), Jameson Taillon (Pirates), Jonathan Gray (Rockies) and Andrew Heaney (Marlins).

With many of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system being in big league camp, the front office will get a glimpse of what the Major League team could, and should, look like one day soon.

Kris Bryant

The expectations have been there since the Cubs selected Kris Bryant with the second overall pick in last June’s draft but the spotlight will soon be a little brighter when Bryant reports to big league camp.

Kris Bryant met those expectations last year in a short time in the Cubs’ system and in the Arizona Fall League. But Bryant is ignoring the hype according to a report from Tony Andracki.

Bryant is expected to move quickly through the Cubs’ system. Some think he could make it all the way to Wrigley at some point during the upcoming season if he is able to dominate levels the way he did in 36 games last year. Bryant is penciled in as the Smokies’ Opening Day third baseman. And while that could change during Spring Training, that is the Cubs’ plans for now.

According to the report, “Bryant is keeping his head out of the clouds” but admitted he plays “with an extreme amount of confidence.” Bryant said, “I just go out there every day and tell myself I’m going to compete and play as hard as I can and the results will take care of themselves.”

Bryant credits mental training he did while he was in college helping him stay in the moment. And Bryant realizes he has a lot of work to do before he will be ready to play in Wrigley Field.

Ryan Kalish

Ryan Kalish signed a minor league contract with the Cubs this winter that included a non-roster invite to big league camp. Kalish is already at the Cubs’ new facility, healthy and ready to compete for a job.

Kalish was one of the top prospects in the game (No. 96 in 2008) before injuries derailed his career.

According to a report from MLB.com, Kalish should have made the Red Sox Opening Day roster in 2011 but due to a “crowded outfield” he was sent to Triple-A to start the season. In April, Kalish crashed into an outfield wall and messed up both shoulders.

Kalish told Carrie Muskat, “I dove for a ball in 2011, and that messed up my left shoulder and, consequently, my right shoulder and it all snowballed. My neck, it was tingling and burning by the end of games, and I was getting a shooting pain in my right arm.”

Kalish had cervical fusion surgery “which involved the removal of a disc in his neck and the insertion of a metal plate.” Kalish had the same surgery as Peyton Manning and the procedure was even performed by the same doctor. Kalish ended up having two shoulder surgeries in a three-year time span.

Ryan Kalish is thankful for the opportunity he has been given with the Cubs

Albert Almora

Tony Andracki posted an excellent report on Comcast SportsNet about one of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system, Albert Almora.

Almora is an impressive young man, both on and off the field. Not only can Almora play (.329/.376/.466 in 61 games last season) but he is a leader in the clubhouse while being one of the youngest players on the team.

During the Cubs Convention, Almora “acted as a translator between the fans asking questions in English and the prospects answering in Spanish.”

Almora has been called a “true professional” and has been praised for his work ethic.

Albert Almora does not turn 20 years old until April and will be in big league camp for the first time this spring.

Lars Anderson

According to FanGraphs’ David Laurila, Lars Anderson’s minor league deal with the Cubs does not include a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training. Lars Anderson will be in minor league camp instead with no guarantees he will stay in the organization. Laurila added this “maybe his last chance.”

After hitting .265/.369/.422 with 31 doubles and 14 home runs in 136 games for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2011, Anderson’s career has plummeted. He hit just .194/.302/.251 in 66 games for Charlotte (White Sox) last season before he was released.

Minor League Transactions

With minor league camp still a couple of weeks away from getting underway, the Cubs have released several players and a former farmhand has a new job in the organization.

According to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Cubs released RHP Daniel Adrian, RHP Carlos Martinez-Pumarino, RHP Eddie Orozco, LHP Matt Iannazzo, LHP Sheldon McDonald and OF Taiwan Easterling. Orozco, as Tom reported, indicated on his Twitter account last week he had been released.

Kenny Socorro was selected by the Cubs in the 44th round of the 2011 draft and the now 24-year old was a coach for the Kane County Cougars last season before being activated long enough to pitch two games before the end of the season. With Socorro’s playing career behind him, Socorro has been added to the Cubs’ front office. Socorro is part of the player development department and a scouting assistant.

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

    I like the Kalisch and Andersson signings. Both have talent derailed so who knows. If they get back to form our system is that much better.

    Any news or Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez? They are young but based on potential alone could be the best two prospects we have in the system. This plan is agonizingly slow and yet to bear fruit but if nothing else, we should be stacked top to bottom by 2020.or so. Hopefully we’ll get there a lot sooner but we have as good a shot as anyone to be good at that point. Long ways off but it is true.

  • Tom U

    Wishing the best of luck to Taiwan Easterling in the future. Taiwan was my first interview as a reporter, and he was both gracious and articulate.

  • cubtex

    Nice to see Vogelbach getting a little love

    • Tony_Hall

      Here is what they said about NL 1B and Vogelbach. Little love indeed!

      “This is not a very deep position in the NL.

      Vogelbach can flat-out hit, and he has produced at every level of play. He is a wide-bodied guy at six feet and 250 pounds. Vogelbach’s fielding leaves something to be desired, but in a slim group of first baseman, he gets my nod.”

      • cubtex

        recognition is still recognition. If he can continue to hit lefthand pitching at a decent rate, you can live with less defense at 1st if Rizzo continues to struggle. This is from a baseball america report in June. I like his approach.

        Vogelbach hit his 11th home run of the season, but his double on
        Sunday was arguably more impressive. Boyd got ahead in the count and
        seemed to have Vogelbach where he wanted him, but even when he made a
        solid two-strike pitch, Vogelbach stayed back and didn’t try to do too
        much.

        “I pride myself on not striking out,” he said. “It’s going to happen,
        everyone strikes out, but I want to control that. I try to shorten up
        and use the whole field. He made a good pitch with a two-seamer away. I
        was just able to shorten up and get the barrel there.”

        Vogelbach had shortened up his swing, but he doesn’t need to take a
        big cut to drive the ball. With a short swing, Vogelbach lined the ball
        the opposite way to the left field wall.
        Vogelbach’s 2-for-3 day improved his numbers to .277/.347/.472.

        • Tony_Hall

          I like Vogelbach, but am hoping the NL gets the DH more than he takes over at 1B. No realistic projection has him even decent defensively at 1B. He is a DH.

          • cubtex

            It is not that hard of a position. Look how Prince Fielder has improved over the years. He will get better.
            As far as Rizzo. I hope he really shows some improvement this year(especially against LHP and when he gets behind in the count) No excuses about 1st full season and all that for this year.

  • GaryLeeT

    Cubs grabbing 4 out the possible 13 spots on the dream team, is indeed impressive. Would’ve been nice to have seen a Cub’s pitcher on it though. Maybe CJ will be on next year’s.