Because it’s the end of the year, because you might be momentarily sick of Cubs rumors, and because prospects may soon take on an increasing importance in the Cubs’ world, it seemed a fair time to break out some superlatives for a number of Chicago Cubs minor leaguers, courtesy of prospector, and friend of the program, Sean Carey.
Positional Prospect of the Year: Brett Jackson
Jackson, 23, ranked in most publications as a top 50 prospect in all of baseball before the year, and then added to that status by posting an .869 OPS between AA and AAA, despite battling a hand injury.
Starting Pitching Prospect of the Year: Chris Rusin
While a 3.96 ERA and 1.30 WHIP may not be too impressive, there wasn’t too much to be excited about for the Cubs starting pitchers this year. Rusin, 25, gets bonus points also for pitching almost half of his innings in the PCL where the league average ERA was 5.13! Rusin is very capable of being the next Randy Wells. A left-handed Randy Wells that is.
Relief Pitching Prospect of the Year: Jeff Beliveau
Beliveau, 24, put up disgustingly awesome numbers this year on his way to winning the Cubs’ organizational pitcher of the year award. The guy put in his work in the off-season, and it showed to the tune of a 1.57 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, and 4.68 SO/BB.
Pleasant Surprise: Marwin Gonzalez
Gonzalez, 22, has always had a bit of hype surrounding him since putting up numbers in rookie ball at age 18 that almost matched those of Starlin Castro. He’s been promoted aggressively, and many were left scratching heads as to why. This year may have reflected what the Cubs saw all along: a very nice slash line of .288/.343/.400 for the super utility player between AA and AAA.
Unpleasant Surprise: Marwin Gonzalez
The Red Sox took Gonzalez in the Rule 5 Draft two weeks ago, and shipped him off to Houston, where’s he got a good shot at sticking on the big club.
Most Likely to Help in 2012: Brett Jackson
He’s a top 50 prospect, and he’s ready. A couple of relief prospects may see more time than Jackson, who probably won’t break camp with the big club, but none could more positively impact the team than Jackson.
Most Likely to Emerge: Reggie Golden
A lot of people feel like Golden had a disappointing year. He showed up at the beginning of the season out of shape, was kept in extended Spring Training, and then put up a .752 OPS in 231 ABs at short season Boise. Then you remember … he was only 19 years old this year! There is plenty of space in the organization for a power hitting corner outfielder to move up. If Golden can bump his average up, he could end the year in A+ with top 100 prospect status next year.
Most Likely to End Up in Japan: Bryan LaHair
Truth be told, I think LaHair will get a year or two of spot starting in the majors, but I think he’ll likely make his career in Japan. Still, we must pay homage to his fantastic .331/.405/.664 year in AAA. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been put in a situation before now to compete for an MLB job.
Most Likely to Pull a Farnsworth: Jeff Beliveau
The guy trains as an ultimate fighter in the off season. Paul Wilson is happy he’s retired right about now.
Tough Mofo of the Year: Ty’Relle Harris
Harris, 25, was the victim of a hit and run in June while in the middle of a strong season. I’ve not heard any updates on his status since the hit and run, and it’s possible that it could be the kind of event that derails a young man’s baseball career. Regardless of whether he gets back on the mound, anyone that can take getting hit by a car is bad-ass in my book. Here’s hoping for a full recovery.
The Next Sam Fuld: Kyung-min Na
Short? Check. Low slugging? Check. Superior defender? Check. Quick base runner? Check. Na seems to be the spitting image of Sam Fuld – the only thing he’s missing is a Stanford master’s degree in statistics. I do reserve more hope for Na, in all seriousness. He held his own at the plate as a 19-year-old over three low minor league levels in 2011. By all accounts, his defense is fantastic in center field. If he can get on base at a .360 clip, he’ll be an asset.