Archive for the ‘ Prospects ’ Category

Baez to Debut Today for Peoria

I’m excited about this, you should be too.  The Chiefs announced that Baez will join the team today, I’m guessing that Baez will be in the starting lineup at short.  The 2011 first round draft pick of the Cubs tore the cover off the ball in extended Spring training and was rewarded with a bump to Peoria instead of going to Boise.  Exciting ballplayer here, we’ll keep you posted on his progress.

– George

Let the Rizzo Madness Begin?? [UPDATE]

Lots of rumors swirling right now, but it sound like Anthony Rizzo could be on his way to Chicago, here are the tweets from Iowa Cubs….

Interpret that how you want, we will keep you up to date with the latest as it happens. Go Cubs!

[UPDATE]  Iowa Cubs now reporting that Rizzo tweaked his wrist on a swing, and is now day-to-day….things cannot get worse for the Cubs, this is absurd.

– George

Javier Baez Heading to Peoria!

Javier Baez is being optioned from extended Spring training to the Peoria Chiefs.  This is a great move for the Cubs as it shows that they are rewarding performance and are not afraid to push Baez through the system (2011 1st round draft pick).  Baez was outstanding in extended spring training as we have documented a few times.  Baez will make his Peoria debut this weekend, and it will be a treat for Peoria fans to watch this kid play everyday.  Congrats Javy!

– George

The Kyler Burke Story

Peoria got another stellar outing from LHP Kyler Burke last night as he went 6 innings giving up 2 hits and allowing no earned runs.  He recorded his first win of the season dropping his ERA to 2.31.  The 25-year-old has enjoyed success thus far as a pitcher dating back to last year at Boise where he pitched out of the bullpen.  He ended the season with a 2.86 ERA in 44 innings pitched including one save while striking out just over one batter per inning.

So what makes Kyler Burke so interesting?  Well we need to get in the time machine and go back a few years to 2007 when Michael Barrett was on the wrong side of Carlos Zambrano’s fists.  Shortly after that memorable June day the Cubs traded Barrett to the Padres for two players.  Most of us remember or are trying to forget that we received catcher Rob Bowen, but many don’t recall the centerpiece in the deal was a 19-year-old OF who was drafted 35th overall in just the previous years draft.  That player was Kyler Burke and the Cubs were very happy to acquire the talented outfielder.  Burke’s next few seasons were plagued by drastic inconsistency with the highlight coming in 2009 when he was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year.  He hit .303 with 15 HR, and 89 RBI’s in Peoria.  The next year however was when things took a turn for the worse, while in Daytona Burke hit only .212 with 131 strikeouts in 135 games.  The following March the Cubs and Burke, who had pitched in high school, decided it was time for a change and with that Kyler Burke began his new career as a pitcher.

The Cubs have to be happy with his progress thus far, as he is doing quite well in only his second year as a pitcher.  Burke recently has moved from the pen to the starting rotation for Peoria with pretty good results.  Where will Kyler Burke go from here we don’t know, but with a premium on quality left-handed arms out of the bullpen it is hard to think he won’t make it to the show as a big league pitcher sometime down the road.  As long as it seems Kyler Burke’s story has been, it really has just begun.  The best of luck to him on his continued development and we hope to see him at Wrigley somtime in the future.

Thanks for Reading,

The Anthony Rizzo “Dilemma”

Everyone and their brother has been chiming in on what to do with prized prospect Anthony Rizzo so I guess it’s time that I do the same.  I don’t think the question of “is Rizzo ready” makes sense, Rizzo is ready to face big league pitching.  His numbers over the last two seasons in Triple-A prove that, even if he wasn’t successful last year in San Diego in just under 100 at bats.  The main concern for Rizzo entering this season was to improve against left-handed pitching.  Well, in 47 at bats this year against lefties he is hitting .327 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI’s, as well as a .377 OBP, and a .969 OPS.  I guess you would consider that acceptable, and an improvement.  Not to mention his full season numbers are down right gaudy.  A .352 average, 15 home runs, 42 RBI’s, and an OPS of 1.115 make a promotion at this point a no-brainer.  So what are the issues standing in the way of Rizzo, let’s take a look.

First let’s get this out-of-the-way, here is the important information you need to know about the major league baseball roster rules and how they pertain to arbitration.

Players who have at least three years, but fewer than six, of Major League service time, are eligible to file for arbitration. In addition, there are the so-called “Super Two” players. These are the top 17 percent of players, based on service time, with at least two but fewer than three years of service. The rule states that a player must have at least 86 days of service in the immediately preceding season to qualify for this status. Typically, the cut-off for the top 17 percent has been around two years, 130 days of total service, though the days fluctuate from year to year.

You might want to keep that handy so you can refer back to it.

Issue # 1 – Team Control

Currently the Cubs have team control over Anthony Rizzo until the 2018 season.  That could change depending on when the Cubs call Rizzo up to the big leagues.  Because Rizzo accumulated 68 days of service last year with the Padres he would need another 104 days of service to qualify for one year of MLB service.  He could get that this year, that’s why June 21 is such an important date.  If the Cubs call up Rizzo before June 21st, they will lose a year of control, so know they would only have control over Rizzo until 2017.  If I had to guess, I would think the Cubs are not really focusing too much on this date as if Rizzo belongs here he will be extended before then.

Issue # 2 – “Super Two” Status

This was touched on in the roster rules explanation above, told you to keep it handy.  If the first issue of team control was concern over losing Rizzo, this issue would be a concern over paying Rizzo, a lot, and sooner than later.  You want to know how important this can be, here’s an example from Jonathan Mayo.

Tim Lincecum made his Major League debut on May 6, 2007. Mark Reynolds came up on May 16 of that season and Ryan Braun followed on May 25.

Jump forward three years and Lincecum, following back-to-back Cy Young Awards, is now making $9 million a year as part of a two-year, $23 million extension, after making $650,000 in 2009. Ryan Braun went from $1,032,500 in 2009 to $1,287,500 as part of the eight-year extension he signed in 2008. And Reynolds? He was set to make $500,000 this year before his contract was reworked in a three-year extension. He’ll make the same base salary this season (he gets a nice signing bonus) before it jumps in the following years.

Lincecum had two years, 148 days of service, making him a Super Two. Reynolds was at two years, 138 days, just short of qualifying.

That’s an 8 million dollar difference, sure that might not be considered a lot for a team like the Cubs but it’s still something to consider.  So this begs the question, when would Rizzo need to be called up to avoid this “super two” status?  Late August if the Cubs want to be completely free and clear of running into this issue with Rizzo.  I would think the Cubs would be concerned about this, especially with eating big contracts of late, but again, if Rizzo is going to be worth the money anyway does it really matter?  I think it’s totally different with a hitter than a pitcher, hitting usually doesn’t disappear while pitching could go bye-bye with one snap in an elbow.

Issue # 3 – Playing Time

Everyone knows that Anthony Rizzo can hit, well he is also a gold glove calibre first baseman, so that is where he is going to play when he is called up to the Cubs.  Currently Bryan LaHair has been a pleasant surprise at first base so Rizzo would be blocked at this point.  Now that “block” is not really a huge deal because guys can move around, but Rizzo won’t be one of them.  Best guess would be DeJesus moving to CF, LaHair moving to RF, and Rizzo playing 1B, and Tony Campana becomes what he is which is a specialist off the bench.  By the time Brett Jackson is ready to assume full-time duties in CF DeJesus will be gone or Soriano will be gone so there will be an opening.  Dale Sveum is focused on the playing time, ‘‘He’s really done everything he can down there. But once again, when you bring somebody like that up, he’s got to play every day.‘‘That’s the million-dollar question: How do we get him that playing time?’’  To me this is the most important aspect of this whole process, Rizzo needs to play everyday, good or bad, or his promotion doesn’t make any sense.

Issue # 4 – Will Rizzo Help the Cubs?

I think a lot of people looking at the situation are ignoring this issue, and I think you really have to take this into consideration.  Will Anthony Rizzo help a team that is arguably the worst in baseball?  Probably not, I mean he is one player, the Cubs are more than one player away from being a contending team, that’s just a fact at this point.  Fans expecting Rizzo to come up and blow the doors off the Cubs offense are probably going to be disappointed.  Is it worth it for the Cubs to risk all of the above factors to bring Rizzo up so they can win 5-10 more games this season but still finish at the bottom of the NL?  I don’t know the answer to that, but winning isn’t exactly a priority this year, like it or not.

As you can see there are many issues standing in the way of a Rizzo promotion at this point.  Personally I don’t think any one outweighs the other.  The Cubs have continued to preach patience, not only with the teams current success rate, but also with bringing Rizzo up.  In my opinion I think the Cubs are doing the right thing here and really have no good reason to bring Rizzo up at this point.  The one thing I will say is this, Rizzo needs to be in the big leagues, he’s 22, he’s a can’t miss prospect, he needs to be learning on the job now because there is nothing left from him to improve upon in the minor leagues.  That being said, if bringing him up “early” means the Cubs can’t afford to keep him or another player, maybe a pitcher around down the road then it might not be a bad idea to wait until after that June 21st date.  What’s another 3-4 weeks with this team, it’s not going to make a difference in the standings, at least I don’t think it will.  That is the logical side of me speaking, the other side says I’m tired of watching dull, entertainment-less baseball, I want to watch Rizzo, and I want to watch him now.

My prediction:  Cubs will call Rizzo up on or around June 1, if not, June 22.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Have You Seen What Javier Baez is Doing? [UPDATE]

Odds are you haven’t, but you really should take notice.  We introduced Javier Baez to you here,

Javier Baez

The Cubs selected 19-year-old Javier Baez, in the first round (9th overall) of the 2011 draft out of Arlington County High School in Florida.  Unlike Rizzo and Jackson, there are not many numbers to go off of when looking at Baez.  His high

school numbers are ridiculous however, where he hit .711 with 20 home runs.  He did have an opportunity to play briefly with the rookie level AZL Cubs before moving to Boise for a couple of games.  Baez, who was drafted as a shortstop will continue to play there, but it appears a move to third base might better suit his defensive skills.  Not saying he will be a bad defensively, but what will separate Baez from others is his bat.  Unfortunately the sample size is too small to get an accurate prediction, but by all accounts his offense has the potential to be special.

Currently Baez is playing for the Cubs extended spring training squad in Arizona, and he’s putting up some big numbers.  Baez was 2-for-4 today with two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, he finished with six RBI’s.  Baez cam into the game hitting .329 coming into the game with 82 plate appearances.  Baez now has 8 home runs, and 26 RBI’s in 24 extended spring training games.  The sky is the limit for Baez, I would expect him to play for the Boise Hawks once extended spring training breaks and Boise opens their season.  One thing is for sure, you might not want to miss what Baez is doing, we’ll do our best to keep you updated. 

** Thanks to the CubReporter and Arizona Phil for doing a fantastic job tracking the extended spring training Cubs, he has a great site, go check it out here.

[UPDATE] – Reports from the Tribune say that Baez is close to being optioned to low A Peoria, not Boise.  Cubs are really taking notice of Baez’s play.

Thanks for reading,
– George

What You Need to Know About Austin Kirk

It is our goal here at Born on Third to educate Cubs fans on the talent that sits at the minor league level.  With the way that Theo Epstein has molded this franchise it’s clear that the goal is to have as much talent as possible come from the draft and the farm system.  Wouldn’t you hate to be that one person that has no idea who just got called up to the Cubs?  It makes you look stupid, so don’t look stupid, and learn about the future of the Chicago Cubs here.  Today we feature Austin Kirk.

Austin Kirk is a 21 year old left-handed pitcher out of Owasso, Oklahoma.  The Cubs drafted Kirk in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft.  The Cubs think highly of Kirk as they gave him a $320,000 signing bonus.  Because Kirk signed right away he was immediately thrown into the fire, pitching for the rookie League Cubs and the Low A Boise Hawks in 2009.  Kirk made 7 appearances in 2009, including two starts.  He finished 2009 with a 2-1 record and a 3.95 ERA in 13 innings of work.

2010 brought more opportunity for Kirk as he started the season at Boise (Low A) but was promoted to the Single A Peoria Chiefs by the end of the year.  Kirk was working primarily as a starter at Boise and made three appearances out of the pen for Peoria.  Kirk was good, finishing 2010 with a combined 5-6 record with a 3.36 ERA.  In the 64 innings that Kirk pitched he only allowed 59 hits, that’s impressive, especially for a starter.

Kirk’s career continued in 2011 with the Peoria Chiefs.  He pitched with the Chiefs for the full season and had his ups and downs.  July 4th, 2011 – Independence day, but also the day Kirk tossed a no-hitter against Seattle.  He was dominant going the distance only allowing two walks and striking out ten.  If that was the up, the second half was the down as Kirk struggled to close out the year.  My guess is that the innings started to get to him as I doubt he ever threw that many in one season.  When it was all said and done Kirk logged 151 innings in 2011 and finished the season with a 5-12 record, but a respectable 4.29 ERA.

Austin has started 2012 with a new team as he has been promoted to the Daytona Cubs (High A).  Much like 2011 he has started this season lights out.  Kirk is seven starts into his 2012 campaign, currently he is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.  More impressive is that Kirk has a WHIP of .974, and he continues to limit the hits against.  In 51 innings so far this season he has only allowed 39 hits, only one of those being a home run.  Hopefully he can continue this success into the second half unlike last season.  I think he will, he has shown steady progress in his career and there is no reason to think that he won’t be able to continue that trend.  If he does, he will most likely be pitching for the Tennessee Smokies by the end of this season, and could be someone you and your friends go see at Wrigley soon, aren’t you glad you know all about him now?

Here is the 2009 draft scouting video of Austin Kirk

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cardenas Officially Called Up

The Cubs have officially announced the roster move, Travis Wood has been optioned to AAA and Adrian Cardenas has been called up to the Cubs.  Can’t wait to see this kid play.


– George

Adrian Cardenas Expected to be Called up Today

As expected and predicted by many including here on this blog, it seems as though Adrian Cardenas will be called up to the Cubs today.  Cardenas was flat out raking down in Iowa, posting a .319 batting average with two home runs, three triples, seven doubles, and 18 RBI’s.  He’s slugging at a .521 clip with an on base % of .376 which is good for an .897 OPS.  Cardenas makes contact a lot, he only has 5 strikeouts in 94 at bats.  Cardenas bats left handed and plays 2B, so don’t be surprised if he is in the lineup tonight if he makes it to Chicago in time.  This could be something that happens more times than not, Barney has struggled and if Cardenas makes an immediate impact with the bat he might stick.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Welington Castillo Rumor: Called up; Soto Done? Gone? Hurt? (UPDATE)

Crazy news coming from Twitter tonight, there has been a lot of chatter indicating that Cubs catching prospect Welington Castillo has been called up.  Obviously there has to be a corresponding move as the Cubs are not going to carry three catchers at this point, especially given the fact that they want Castillo to play everyday at Iowa.

Enrique Rojas first reported it.

Kevin Goldstein continued.

My best guess?  Soto or Clevenger is hurt, now nothing happened in the game that I saw tonight as Soto played the whole thing, and if Clevenger is hurt then they need a backup catcher and the logical choice is Castillo.  However, given the fact that Soto has struggled and Castillo needs everyday at bats the Cubs might give the job to Castillo, which would be shocking at this point, but I guess you really never know what is going to happen with this organization.  More to come as I hear it obviously.

UPDATE 12:30 AM:  Sounds like Steve Clevenger is headed to DL…  still waiting for confirmation.

UPDATE 12:34 AM:  Tribune confirming Clevenger to the DL, and Castillo on his way up — LINK

Thanks for reading,
– George