Archive for the ‘ Prospects ’ Category

Updated: Cubs Top 20 Prospects

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has done an updated top 100 prospects lists as well as each organizations top 20.  Mayo will probably come out with a list prior to the 2013 season, but here is where Cubs prospects stand as of now according to Mayo.  To check out the entire top 100 list and to read a little more on these Cubs prospects.

1. Javier Baez – SS (#24)
When the Cubs picked Almora they new his bat was going to play and that is exactly what happened.  The Cubs top pick from 2011 was outstanding in his time with Peoria this year hitting .333/.383/.596 with 12 home runs, 33 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.  He struggled a bit when moving to Daytona, but overall it was very successful season for the young shortstop.
2. Albert Almora – OF (#52)
The Cubs top pick in this years draft didn’t sign right away, but when he did he didn’t disappoint.  He started with the AZL Cubs and moved to Boise shortly after.  Combined he played in 33 games hitting .321/.331/.464 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.  He also hit 12 doubles.
3. Brett Jackson – OF (#74)
It has been an interesting year for Brett Jackson who has dropped a bit in the prospect watch.  The good news first he has made it to the show and when he makes contact does some damage as he left Iowa with 22 doubles, 12 triples, and 15 home runs, to go along with 27 stolen bases.  He also plays great defense, the bad news is he has really struggled making contact striking out over 200 times between his two stops.
4. Arodys Vizcaino – RHP (#76)
Vizcaino was considered one the Braves best young pitchers and was deemed untouchable last year.  Things changed a bit this year as he missed the entire season after elbow surgery in March.  The Cubs are very pleased to have acquired Vizcaino, but it remains to be seen how he will recover from surgery.  Lets hope it is as a starter, but at the least he is a power arm out of the pen which the Cubs need badly as well.
5. Jorge Soler – OF (#77)
Jorge Soler did quite well in getting accustomed to baseball in America.  He is still very raw, but at 20 the Cubs feel very strongly he will be a big contributor to the big club in the future.  He spent time with the AZL Cubs and moved to Peoria where he finished the year.  He combined to hit .299/.398/.463 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in just 34 games.
6. Matt Szczur – OF
The speedy outfielder had a nice season in Daytona hitting .295/.394/.407 with 38 stolen bases, but struggled a bit in 35 games with Tennessee.
7. Trey McNutt – RHP
McNutt did not have the year he was looking to have going 9-8 with 4.26 ERA.  He struggled a bit and was moved to the bullpen, but maybe it will be better for him and the Cubs.
8. Junior Lake -SS
Lake played the entire year in Tennessee and did a pretty good job going .279/.341/.432 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases.  He is still very raw and will continue to work on his game.
9. Pierce Johnson – RHP
The Cubs took Johnson with the 43rd overall pick in this years draft and he did quite well making six starts, two with the AZL Cubs and four with Boise.
10. Josh Vitters – 3B
The former first round pick, number 3 overall finally put it all together this year in Iowa hitting .304/.356/.513 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs.  The PCL All Star got the call up, but has struggled so far with the Cubs, but at only 23 the future is still very bright for Vitters.
11. Dillon Maples – RHP
It took a while for Maples to make his first appearance, but when he did he showed signs of what he could be.  He was a bit inconsistent in his six appearances, but he will have more opportunities next season to show what he has.  He has tremendous upside.
12. Robert Whitenack – RHP
Coming off of Tommy John surgery Whitenack struggled pitching for Daytona going 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA.  Although the numbers don’t look good, remember he is coming off of major surgery and has good upside.
13. Dan Vogelbach – 1B
Not many Cubs prospects did as much damage as Vogelbach did this year.  The big first baseman played in 61 games this season between the AZL Cubs and Boise Hawks.  He hit .322/.410/.641 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.
14. Ben Wells – RHP
A 2010 draft pick the 19-year-old Wells missed most of the season with a right elbow strain.  He made a few appearances at the end of the year, but will look to stay healthy in 2013.
 15. Paul Blackburn – RHP
Another 2012 draft pick Paul Blackburn was chosen 56th overall out of high school.  He made nine appearances for the AZL Cubs going 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA.
16. Jeimer Candelario – 3B
Candelario played the entire season at Boise and at only 18 the corner infielder showed he can hit a little bit.  The switch hitting Candelario hit .281/.345/.396 with six home runs and 47 RBIs.
17. Gioskar Amaya – 2B/SS
Amaya played his season in Boise and put up some good numbers.  He his .298/.381/.496.  The 19-year old filled up the stat sheet with six doubles, 12 triples, and eight home runs.  He also drove in 33 and stole 15 bases.
18. Tony Zych – RHP
Zych shared time between Daytona and Tennessee out of the bullpen.  He combined to going 5-4 with a 3.67 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 61.1 innings.
19. Alberto Cabrera – RHP
Cabrera, who moved to the bullpen this year started in Double-A, but quickly moved to Triple-A before finally ending up with the big club.  His minor league numbers were really good going 4-1 with 3.11 ERA with 74 strikeouts to only 14 walks.  He has struggled since coming to the Cubs, but we’ll see where he factors in going forward.
20. Marcus Hatley – RHP
Hatley pitched well in Tennessee out of the bullpen going 3-1 with a 3.40 with 46 strikeouts in 45 innings.  He then got the call to Iowa where he struggled in his time there.

It is good to see the Cubs have five players who are inside the top 80 in MLB.  You can also see the emphasis the Cubs placed on pitching, drafting Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn in this years draft as well as bringing in Arodys Vizcaino in the Paul Maholm deal.  Looking a little further into things is the talent Theo Epstein and company brought in this year.  They obviously brought in the three pitchers above as well as Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.  three of those five are inside the Cubs top five and Pierce Johnson makes it four in the top 10.  The exciting thing is there are more who they brought in who I would guess are close to cracking this top 20 and who may even show up in the top 20 before the 2013 season gets underway.  Keep checking back this offseason as we will talk more in-depth about these prospects as well as many more.

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Here’s Jorge Soler’s Monster Shot (VIDEO!)

Here it is, wow, that went very far.  As always, feel free to share, if you do please give us a shoutout and link back, thanks!

Click this link, embed when I get home

Thanks for reading,
– George

Chris Rusin to Debut Tuesday Night!

There are very few things to get excited about when the team you obsess over is bad.  One of the few things to get excited about are prospects making their Major League debut late in the season, and that is exactly what will happen tomorrow night in Milwaukee.  The Cubs have announced that 25-year-old southpaw Chris Rusin will pitch tomorrow night.  Rusin was drafted by the Cubs in the 2009 amateur draft in the fourth round, and he has made steady progress in the system since then.  Here is a pretty stellar scouting report from John Arguello at Cubs Den

“I’ve watched Rusin often in the minor leagues and most recently in the Dominican League and, if you like the art of pitching, he is a pleasure to watch. He works in the 88-90 mph range with his fastball and, according to Baseball America, has the best change-up and command in the system.  Those two factors make his otherwise average stuff play up quite a bit.  Rusin attacks the lower part of the strike zone, often jumping ahead of hitters early in the count.  He keeps hitters off balance by constantly changing speeds and locations so that when he does “fire” a 90 mph fastball, it probably looks more like 95 mph.  Despite a fringe average fastball, hitters often fail to get a good swing on it.

Rusin numbers in the Dominican Winter league are solid.  He has a 2.84 ERA and a solid  2.8/7.5 walk to strikeout ratio.  That ratio is pretty much in line with his minor league career rates of 1.93/7.05.

Rusin also has had excellent groundball to flyball ratios.  This winter his G/F ratio is 3.45 and it was 3.61 at Iowa this past season.  The solid strikeout and ground ball numbers bode well for a pitcher in Wrigley Field, especially when the wind is blowing out, as it often does in the summer.

He’s not a top end starter but he can certainly give you some solid innings at the back of the rotation, perhaps as soon as April of next season.  He isn’t going to beat himself out there.  His FIP numbers throughout his minor league career seem to indicate that if you put a good defense around him, he’ll keep you in the game consistently.”

Here’s a look at Rusin’s numbers this year with Iowa.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Albert Almora Promoted to Boise

2012 first round draft pick Albert Almora has been promoted to Boise and will join the team tomorrow.  The center fielder has been really hot of late going 10 for his last 14 with five RBIs over his last three games.  In 75 at bats with the AZL Cubs he is hitting .347/.363/.480 with one home run and 13 RBIs.  There are about three weeks left in the Hawks season and they currently in first place in the second half.  We will see how the 18-year-old handles the promtion and see if he can help Boise to a playoff birth.  Here is the first stepping stone of many for Almora and we look forward to seeing him progress in the future.

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Jorge Soler is real, and spectacular: Our night with the Peoria Chiefs (PICS)

The news of Jorge Soler being promoted from the AZL Cubs to the Peoria Chiefs was exciting news for us, not only were the Cubs moving Soler quickly through the system by skipping Boise, they were moving him to a team that is much closer to us!  So we took the opportunity to make the two-hour drive to Beloit, WI to check out the new look Chiefs take on the Snappers on Saturday night.  As we always do when we go to games we take a lot of pictures, here are some of the better ones below.  We hope that you guys like these as we strive to give you the opportunity to actually see the players that we write about every day, enjoy!

We weren’t the only ones that were excited to see Jorge Soler, as 2,400 people showed up to Pohlman Field in Beloit for this one.  Of course it was fireworks night, and a Saturday so I guess that played into it as well.  Here are some fans waiting outside the Chiefs locker room.

*** Reminder *** Click on the picture for a full size (better quality)

Soler emerged and quickly made his way through the crowd, escorted by a member of the Chiefs staff.  He wasn’t allowed to stop, even if he wanted to, and you can see in the pictures that he commands attention as he is bigger than everyone.

Anticipation was at a fevered pitch before Soler’s first at bat, here is a sequence of pictures leading up to it.

Okay, I promise there are more pictures from the game that are not featuring Soler, we will get to those.  The Snappers jumped out in front early against Zach Cates taking a 1-0 lead, that was before Jorge Soler came to the plate with the bases loaded and two-outs in the third inning.  He wasted no time blasting the first pitch he saw over the left-center field wall for a grand slam!  Here are some pictures leading up to the grand slam.

Just after the grand slam!

Not going to lie, that was totally worth the price of admission, and then some.  The blast gave the Chiefs a 4-1 lead and they never looked back, as they ended up winning this one 5-3.  Here are some of the better pictures from the rest of the night.

Pin-Chieh Chen walking to the dugout before the first pitch

Paul Hoilman making his way to the field

Dustin Geiger in the box

Twins super prospect Miguel Sano, very good

Jorge Soler is a big dude

My man Zeke DeVoss, got to talk to him a bit, really cool guy

Another one of Zeke

Dustin Geiger ripping a double

Geiger pulling into second

Beloit had seen enough of Soler, so they walked him

Luis Liria was outstanding in relief for the Chiefs, he got the win

Pin-Chieh Chen taking a rip

Another shot of Miguel Sano

Chiefs win!

It really was a great night all around, we got to talk to some of the Chiefs players we cover, we not only got to see Soler play in a game but we got to see him hit his first professional grand slam, and the Chiefs won.  We really hope you enjoy all the pictures and the first hand account of the game.  Please feel free to use these pictures for your own personal use, if you do I ask that you please link back to our blog and give us credit for the pictures, thanks so much.  If you want to see the full set of pictures head over to our facebook page, and while you are there give us a like!

– George

Soler hits first HR with Peoria, a Grand Slam!

We are at the game tonight and he just launched one.  We have a lot of pics already, check back tonight for a full recap.

Here is the video.

Thanks for reading!
– George

Pierce Johnson Heading to Boise!

There has been a lot of movement in the Cubs minor league system today, and I’m sure it will stay busy until the end of the year.  The latest news is Pierce Johnson being promoted to Boise!  Solid move here as Johnson, who was drafted in the 2012 draft (supplemental pick) has been solid in Arizona and probably belongs in Boise.  Congrats to Pierce, give him a follow on Twitter!

 

Thanks for reading,
– George

Jorge Soler Promoted to Peoria!

Some very exciting news today as the Cubs have announced that Jorge Soler is being promoted from the AZL Cubs to Peoria!  To be honest I’m surprised that the Cubs have moved him straight to Peoria and skipped Boise altogether.  That should give you a good idea of what the Cubs think of Soler after seeing him play in just 14 games in Arizona.  Soler only hit .241 in 54 at bats, but made his presence felt all over the field.  He had two doubles, two home runs, and 10 RBI’s, as well as 13 strikeouts, but walked 6 times and had 8 stolen bases.  He has shown enough to make the jump to Peoria, the fact that he did so in such a short time is a very good sign.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Brooks Raley called up to Cubs

Brooks Raley has been called up to the Cubs to replace Matt Garza in the rotation.  Raley, a 24 year old lefty will make his major league debut tomorrow night in San Diego.  Raley pitched for both double a Tennessee and triple a Iowa this season.  He was 4-8 with a 3.62 ERA at Iowa before getting the call.

Thanks for reading,
– George

CONFIRMED: Vitters and Jackson Called Up

Although nothing has been confirmed by the Cubs, a reliable source miCubs has reported that both Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are getting called up for the series finale in LA today.  We will keep you updated once more is known.

UPDATE 1: Carrie Muskat confirms that both Vitters and Jackson have been called up.  Patrick Mooney has also confirmed both promoted.

UPDATE 2: Jeff Baker has been traded to the Detroit Tigers and Tony Campana has been sent to Iowa to make room for Vitters and Jackson.

CONFIRMED:  Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are in Los Angeles for the Cubs, they have been called up!  We will have more throughout the day.

-Mark & George

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