Ronald Torreyes and Dave Sappelt Are Chicago Cubs Prospects

With the Sean Marshall trade not being finalized until Friday, and then the holiday interruption, we haven’t yet had a chance to dig down a bit deeper into the two prospects the Chicago Cubs received from the Cincinnati Reds, in addition to starting pitcher Travis Wood.

The prospects – outfielder Dave Sappelt and infielder Ronald Torreyes – are both quality young players, who instantly boost the overall picture of the Cubs’ farm system. Given that a Marshall/Wood swap would have been understandable, the Cubs’ haul gets more impressive the more I learn about the two prospects involved.

First up, outfielder Dave Sappelt. Turning 25 in January, Sappelt has already had a chance to make it in the bigs, but disappointed in 118 plate appearances last year (.243/.289/.318). But he got that chance on the strength of an impressive minor league career, and favorable scouting reports, despite his slight build. Sappelt’s listed at just 5’9″ and 195 lbs.

Before the 2011 season, Sappelt had just two full minor league seasons, having been drafted in the ninth round out of Coastal Carolina University in 2008. Making it to the Major Leagues in such a short time is impressive, even for a player drafted out of college. That, I should think, mitigates some concerns about his relatively advanced age for a prospect.

Also mitigating? In the second of those two full minor league seasons, Sappelt put up a .342/.395/.507 line across three stops, with 53 extra base hits, and just 74 strike outs in 564 plate appearances. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was the Reds’ minor league hitter of the year that season.

In 2011, Sappelt played at AAA when he wasn’t in Cincinnati, hitting .313/.377/.458 in 336 plate appearances. By mid-season, prospect guru John Sickels wondered if scouts’ concerns about Sappelt’s size were overstated.

Sappelt is an above-average center fielder with a good arm, and he can play all over the outfield if necessary. He’s also considered a very good base runner, if not a particularly adept base stealer. He is frequently projected as a 4th outfielder in the bigs (primarily because he’s small and bats right-handed), but, as a superior defender in, say, left field, Sappelt could make for a quality, inexpensive starter.

And then there’s 19-year-old second baseman Ronald Torreyes, considered by most to be the better of the two prospects in the Marshall/Wood deal.

Torreyes made a name for himself by tearing up A-ball last year at just 18 years old, hitting .356/.398/.457 in 306 plate appearances, with 18 extra base hits  and 14 walks (serving in stark contrast to just 19 strikeouts). He was described locally as the catalyst for his team’s entire offense. Before that, all he did was hit well as a 17-year-old in rookie ball, the Stateside level that ends the big league hopes of many international prospects far older than Torreyes.

By most accounts, Torreyes’ torrid (I so wanted to use a lame pun there…) 2011 season had him on pace to be a consensus top 15 prospect (and fringe top 10 prospect) in the Reds’ system before the Mat Latos deal. After that trade removed three players ahead of him, Torreyes may well have cracked the top 10. Some national publications even put Torreyes on the outer edge of their top 100 prospects overall. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein would slot Torreyes just outside the Cubs’ top 10. Suffice it to say, Torreyes is a very good prospect.

But with those kind of numbers at that young age, why isn’t he considered an even better prospect? Well, as with Sappelt, the issue is Torreyes’ size. He’s generously listed at 5’9″ 140 lbs, and, on film, he looks like a boy among men. Of course, then he swings the bat, and you see that maybe he’s the man among boys.

Torreyes, like Sappelt, is considered a good fielder (some folks subscribe to the general theory that, if a very good prospect is playing second base in the low minors, he must not be very good defensively, otherwise he’d be playing shortstop – but most reports have Torreyes as a genuinely good defensive player) and a good base runner.

In fact, members of the Cubs’ front office, according to various reports, are so high on Torreyes that they’ve gone as far as to tell some that they see him as the second baseman of the future. That’s a lofty statement when (a) it’s coming from this front office, and (b) it’s about a 19-year-old.

In sum, the Cubs netted a couple very good prospects in the Marshall/Wood deal. Sappelt could contribute this year, and Torreyes could continue to develop into a star.

The only question that remains: will both still be in the Cubs’ system when the 2012 season gets underway?

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

57 responses to “Ronald Torreyes and Dave Sappelt Are Chicago Cubs Prospects”

  1. Eric

    Whether they are in the system or not (and I REALLY would like to Keep Torreyes, I think he is something special), my point is I really like the people the front office are targetting.  I think these guys are quality prospects that other teams also would value highly, and you could use them in trades to get other high quality guys.  The more guys like this you can stock in your system.  All the faster you could rebuild this team into something special.

  2. Spencer

    Whoa.  TWO pictures in one article.  Is that a BN first?

  3. hansman1982

    Very lofty praise indeed.  I don’t want to say that Torreyes is comparable, but Theo was the main driving force behind the Red Sox drafting Pedroia – who, incidentially is listed by baseball reference at 5’9″ 180 pounds.

    Could it be that Epstein sees similar qualities? God, I hope so.

  4. BFiddy

    I have loved everything I’ve read about Torreyes…would have been happy with Wood straight up for Marshall.  I can’t believe we got these two thrown in as well!!

  5. Smitty

    Brett,
    Have you heard anything that these two are definitely part of a package to be sent to get a young 1B? I understand why one would think that is the case, just wondering if you have gotten any information as that being the case from your sources.

  6. Springfield Chris

    Maybe we are beginning to exploit a market inefficiency, highly skilled prospects that are undervalued because of height. This could also be a place to look for value in the draft and international signings.

  7. Cedlandrum

    I think to think he is the Cubs 2nd baseman of the future is cool. It will be interesting to watch his development in the next few years. It will now be interesting to see what they do with Rubi Silva. Silva certainly will begin the year in Daytona but where will he play. I imagine Torreyes will play 2nd and Szczur will play center.

  8. MoneyBoy

    Brett – Goldstein was on CSN yesterday talking about the trade.  Very, very high on Torryes … while not Goldstein’s – the phrase “very hitterish” comes to mind.

    In an early August game Sappelt made a fairly sophisticated play for a kid playing in a tough park in his 1st ML game.  A 3 run rally in the 7th, that gave the Cubs the lead, could have been more – but Marlon Byrd’s double went into the vines.  Sappelt correctly threw up his hands resulting in a ground rule double that kept ARam from scoring.  BB, as I recall, commented on a rook making a big-time play.

    1. Cedlandrum

      Very hitterish is exactly how I would have describe LeMahieu. The two look very similar numbers wise as hitters.

      1. Kyle

        What’s crazy is that LeMahieu is known for his contact ability, but he struck out literally twice as often as Torreyes did at the same level, and LeMaheiu was two years older when he played in that league.

        Torreyes’ ability to make contact is off the charts. The word “elite” gets thrown around too much, but in scouting parlance, he has an elite hit tool.

        1. hansman1982

          It would be interesting to compare Torreyes to Castro at the same age…

          1. Kyle

            In his age 18 season, Castro was striking out roughly 2.5 times as often in rookie ball, two steps behind the Midwest League.

            1. CubFan Paul

              i see torreyes destroying A ball and AA this year & making a case to make the Big League team out of Spring training next year/2013

              1. Cedlandrum

                Whoa. Easy there. I like being optimistic but that is pretty drastic move. There aren’t that many Castro’s out there. And although I am thrilled that Torreyes beat up on Peoria Chiefs level competition he might progress a little slower then that. One thing that Castro had going for him was a bit bigger frame to handle the longer seasons.

                1. CubFan Paul

                  stop throwing around ‘castro’ references. i’m just looking at torreyes’ progression and not including a ‘slow down’ or speed bump.

                  if he hits .325/.360/.400 in 80games at AA this year, he’ll get a long look in the spring of 2013 (..again, thats with him destroying A/AA ball this year)

                  1. Cedlandrum

                    If he does what you think he can do, that is on the same plane as Castro. So you can’t say stop with the Castro references. That is the same progression that Starlin made for the most part at the same age.

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      but i’m not talking about Castro. Torreyes is a Totally different type of player. I could care less about the similar progression time, i meant: when Torreyes hits the Bigs he’ll be a more ‘ready’/better prospect than what castro was ..torreyes, to me, appears to be a better player all around (defense too) than what castro was

                    2. Cedlandrum

                      That is a huge stretch to say that he will be more ready at age 20. Just so you know I never once compared individual skills. Just the climb to the majors. If Torreyes makes it to the majors by age 20 he will be a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. Right now he isn’t necessarily a top 10 prospect in the Cubs organization. I think your exuberance is great, but maybe a bit far fetched.

            2. hansman1982

              that is ridiculous – thanks for doing the hard work for me…

              Would be nice in 2-3 years have a Castro to Torreyes to Rizzo DP combo.

  9. Smitty

    Does anyone think that if Byrd is traded that Sappelt gets a chance in CF? Or is he going to truly be the 4th OFer as he has been mentioned?

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      If Byrd is traded then Sappelt will probably get a chance in center. That is until Brett Jackson is ready to come up.

      1. hansman1982

        at which point, Soriano will be traded for Julio Teahran, with no cash involved, after starting this season batting .350/.450/.600 after 23 at bats.  “Hey, he is a changed player, just ignore the last 3 years.”

        1. Kansas Cubs Fan

          ..::Googly eyes::..

        2. Kansas Cubs Fan

          Wait a second. Are you saying that I’m dreaming?

        3. JasonB

          Actually, I think we’ll move him to St. Louis for Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez

    2. Kyle

      I think you need to find a place to start him somewhere. Right now, he’s either one of our three best outfielders or very, very close to it. His upside on top of that means you need to find him a spot.

  10. ferrets_bueller

    Starlin Castro also looks like a boy among men, and just led the league in hits.  I can’t wait to see this guy develop, and hopefully put on 25-40 pounds of muscle.  Right now, while he and leMathieu are both ‘hitter-ish’, he looks to be a bit more so.  And he allegedly is a complete wizard with the glove at 2B, something that would probably have LeMathieu starting at 2B for us right now were it true of him.

    1. Deez

      “25lbs of Muscle!?”
      Heavens NO!
      Maybe in the mid 1990s, but not now.
      They test for that kinda stuff now!

      1. ferrets_bueller

        Well, maybe not JUST muscle, but you know what I mean- putting on 25 lbs would put him at 165.

  11. Eric

    Padres will probably mention Torreyes when inquiring about Rizzo.  But I’d hate to lose this guy, I’m gonna keep my eye on him through the farm system.  And I rarely do that.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      Every mentioned Rizzo trade makes me cringe a little.  The guy needs to make a serious adjustment to his swing in order to have success in the majors.  I realize the front office loves the guy because of his makeup, but as of right now I think he’s a pretty risky bet.  He’s not a long and loopy as Colvin was, but he’s almost in the same category.  He’ll get eaten up in the majors without shortening it.

      1. T Wags

        I’m not trying to challenge you, but I’m curious as to whether you’ve actually seen Rizzo swing, or you’ve just read about the loopy swing in scouting reports and such?

  12. baseballet

    It’s going be hard on my nerves watching Darwin while I wait on Torreyes.

    Maybe it would help move Torreyes through the system faster if Darwin pulled a Theriot and said to the press, “He’s going to have to come get it.”

  13. Norm

    I’ve read that Sappelt is a 4th OF because he can’t play CF in the bigs (Goldstein and Law)

  14. Brian

    Sappelt sounds like a AAAA/Felix Pie-type player

    1. Cedlandrum

      They are not similar at all as players. Pie was a free swinger who missed. Sappelt swings but he has pretty decent percentage of contact.

  15. Norm

    People who were pissed about losing Brandon Guyer in the Garza trade better be pretty ecstatic about obtaining Sappelt and Torreyes. Same types. Impressive minor league numbers, Fringy scouting reports.

  16. BIG D

    The Cubs are lucky to get Dave Sappelt. He is fast, he plays great D and he’s a contact hitter. He stretches singles into doubles routinely. He’s not gonna hit for power, but he will hit better the ABs he gets. Been watchin’ him since High School!

  17. ferrets_bueller

    We never should have traded Bobby Hill!!

    1. Cedlandrum

      I know you are joking, but Bobby Hill was a good player before his back injury. Very exciting to watch.

  18. Andy

    Maybe I’m missing something, but when did 5’9″ – 195 become small? He weighs as much as Soriano and Alf has 4 inches on him. Apparently 195 was enough for Soriano to hit home runs. *shrug*

  19. Spriggs

    I see the positives and hear the raves on Torreyes – but no projectable power, not a great base stealer, doesn’t walk much, and has a weak arm. So – can he really keep up that incredible batting average as he progresses?

    And with a below average arm, it sounds like he is only viable as a 2nd baseman, so that would kind of preclude him from being a future utility guy too.