Apparently Jeff Baker’s groin strain is going to land him on the disabled list – once again, optimism about injuries for the Cubs proves futile. Baker will soon be placed on the DL, and the Cubs will call up AA infield prospect DJ LeMahieu to take Baker’s place on the roster.
For those of you who don’t follow prospects, LeMahieu is a good one, whom you might remember from such places as that-Spring-Training-walk-off-home-run-he-hit-that-was-pretty-cool-but-it-was-just-Spring-Training. He was the Cubs’ second round pick in 2009 out of LSU, and, until the emergence of Darwin Barney as a legitimate long-term starter, was the Cubs’ future at second base. Not coincidently, he’s been playing a great deal more third base this year.
He’s always hit for average – a minor league career .325 hitter – but little else until this year. His minor league OBP is just .360 and SLG just .408. This year, he’s cranked those numbers up to .386 and .492, respectively. LeMahieu turns 23 in July.
The selection of LeMahieu at this point is surprising (and potentially concerning) for a few reasons: (1) if the Cubs are looking for a versatile bench guy for a couple weeks, they could have selected a veteran minor leaguer like Bobby Scales from AAA Iowa; (2) if the Cubs are looking for a versatile bench prospect who’s likely to remain a versatile bench player in the bigs, they could have selected LeMahieu’s teammate Ryan Flaherty, who’s hitting even better than LeMahieu, is older, and clearly has a future in the bigs; (3) LeMahieu is one of the Cubs’ best positional prospects, but there’s nowhere for him to start on the big club right now.
Number three is the one that really perplexes me. The Cubs are using an option year and starting the arbitration clock on a kid whom they believe has a future – in a year or two – as a starter on the Cubs. And they’re doing that so they can have him on the bench for a couple weeks? Unless there’s a plan in place to get him some starts, then this seems to be a really brain-dead move. And, with apologies to the Cubs, they don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to properly handling and promoting prospects.