As Brett reported earlier, a large portion the 2012 Boise Hawks roster has been announced and we can start to get a feel for what to be watching this season.

I think the highlight of the Boise roster is the infield that includes Rock Shoulders at first, Jeimer Candelario at third, and the trio of Marco Hernandez, Gioskar Amaya, and Brian Inoa up the middle. All five of those guys are prospects well worth watching.

When Rock Shoulders was drafted by the Cubs in 2011, there was some thought that he was simply an insurance policy in case the Cubs could not sign Dan Vogelbach. It was somewhat surprising, then, that the Cubs signed both of those big bats. While Shoulders is often overshadowed by Vogelbach, he is not a bad prospect in his own right. If he has a solid season in Boise, I would not be surprised to see Shoulders slip into some Cubs’ Top 25 Prospects lists this winter.

Jeimer Candelario is the most intriguing name on the infield. He made a very impressive professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last season, highlighted by his 50 walks vs 42 strikeouts in 305 trips to the plate. It is rare to find that degree of plate discipline in a seventeen year old hitter. Now eighteen, the Cubs have decided his game is advanced enough to let the switch hitting third baseman skip the Rookie League and proceed directly to short-season (Low A) Boise. Candelario has a high ceiling. While he is young and has a lot yet to prove, his name should not be left out of any discussion of the Cubs’ third base prospects.

Marco Hernandez, who started the year with Peoria, and Gioskar Amaya are both very good infield prospects. Hernandez is probably the best true shortstop prospect in the Cubs’ system (in part because most of the other shortstops are not expected to stay at that position). Amaya might be the better hitter, but his stock is a little lower since he projects as a second baseman. Brian Inoa, a switch hitting infielder, is the wild card here. Inoa put up some decent numbers in Arizona but did not look like the same tier of player as Hernandez and Amaya. That said, I expect that he will split time at second with Amaya, who in turn will split time with Hernandez and Candelario at short and third. Altogether, they make as talented a middle infield as we are likely to see in the Northwest League this season.

Shawon Duston Jr. headlines the outfield, but as of now there are only four outfielders on the roster. I think there is a very distinct possibility that Albert Almora will head to Boise soon after he signs. We’ll talk more about Almora when (and if) he makes to Boise; for now we can focus on Dunston. We know he is raw and we know he is fast, but there is plenty here we do not know. In particular, watch his plate discipline, his strike out and walk rates, how often he works deep into counts, and his ability to drive the ball for extra bases. I don’t expect him to become a major power threat, but he should develop enough power to hit plenty of doubles and triples along with a few home runs.

There is plenty of talent on the mound as well, but for now I am only going to call attention to Tayler Scott, the South African pitcher drafted by the Cubs in 2011. This will be the first time we get to see Scott pitch in meaningful games. Competing against a mix of former high school and college players in the Northwest League should give us a pretty good idea of what sort of stuff he has and what his ceiling could be. Scott is often a forgotten man in the Cubs’ farm system, but he could easily find himself in the tier of pitching prospects just below Trey McNutt and Dillon Maples.

Now that the Boise roster has (mostly) been announced, we can also figure out who to be watching in the Arizona Rookie League.

Dan Vogelbach, the big slugging first baseman, is the biggest name on the team, but he is far from the only prospect to monitor. Also on the infield will be shortstop Carlos Penalver, one of the Cubs’ prize international free agent signings from a few years back. This is will be our first opportunity to see Penalver in action.

The highlight of this roster, however, is the outfield. I expect to see Trey Martin, Trevor Gretzky, and Garrett Schlect all roaming the grass in Arizona, and all three of them are legitimate prospects. Gretzky probably has the highest ceiling of the three. The Cubs drafted him as a first baseman out of high school, moved him to third for a time, and then to the outfield. He has the potential to develop quite a bit of power and become one of those slugging corner outfield prospects the Cubs’ system has been lacking lately (until yesterday, that is). Martin is a speedy center fielder from a similar mold as Dunston, although I do not think his ceiling is quite as high, and Schlecht was rated by Baseball America before the start of the 2012 campaign as the best left field prospect in the Cubs’ system.

We can safely expect there to be a number of 2012 draft picks who find their way onto the Arizona roster, especially since the signing deadline has been moved to mid-July. We will talk more about those players and what to expect from them as they sign and are placed on a roster.

If you would like to watch the Boise Hawks in action for yourself, many of their games are included in the MiLB TV package. All Boise games, like all other minor league games, can be listened to over the internet for free through the team’s website. I do not think that applies to the Arizona Rookie League, though. If you want to see the youngest of the future Cubs’ in action, you may just have to take a vacation to Arizona.

Keep in mind that these rosters are very fluid and are subject to frequent changes both before and after the short-season leagues open on Friday. Both Boise and Arizona will be covered in my Daily Minor League Reports every morning as well.

  • http://Bill Bill

    Rizzo leaves game with leg/ankle injury. Hopefully nothing serious!

  • http://i Cory

    Just heard the same on the score they made it sound like it was serious

    • CubsFanBob

      Everyone on the Score, even the self label Cub fan hosts minus Les G, love to create drama surrounding anything Cubs.

      • JulioZuleta

        Stopped listening to the score 4 years ago. They rip ESPN radio for sensationalizing things, but they’re so much worse. Sounded like a bruise from the twitter reporting.

  • dw8

    I’m headed to the game Saturday in Salem. Hoping to see some Taylor Scott.

    • Luke

      That would be great.  The more first hand reports we can get, the better.

  • MaxM1908

    Really great stuff, Luke. Your continued knowledge and analysis has quadrupled my interest in what happens in the Cubs’ farm system. Thanks for being so dedicated to the task.

    • Luke

      No problem, and thank you.

    • MichiganGoat

      Agreed, Luke is a great addition to BN

  • emrac

    Luke how long is the Boise season

  • Spoda17

    I echo Max… very nice work Luke. I am also a lot more interested in the farm information now more than I ever have been. Nice Job!

  • JulioZuleta

    Hayden Simpson sent to Boise. Close the book on him. Who would have thought a guy ranked 191 entering the draft would be a bust of a first rounder.

    **Had to google his pre-draft ranking and stumbled across this.

    5 comments on that, my how the BN community has grown. Atta boy, Brett.

    • Brett

      Oh, my. I was pretty high on Wilken at the time.

      • JulioZuleta

        Hah, he still deserved some benefit of the doubt back then.

        • Luke

          Still deserves some now.  Don’t forget that he ran the 2011 draft.

          • JulioZuleta

            I disagree. It doesn’t take a genius to draft Vogelbach in the second, Dunston in the 11th or Maples in the 14th. They were all great talents that were thought of as tough signs. Last year was about Ricketts giving Wilken a blank check, not about Wilken unearthing gems.

            • Luke

              He also took Jensen, Beeler, and Francescon.  With the possible exception of Jensen, those guys weren’t quite as obvious.

              • JulioZuleta

                Beeler was 2010. It’s very premature to think that any of those 3 are going to be ML contributors, which is what you look for in the draft. Honestly, finding a couple of guys who pan out better than you thought is supposed to be the norm in the draft. Wilken’s track record has been so abysmal that we have lost sight of what is normal. A couple of pleasant surprises don’t make up for half a decade of wasted drafts.

                • Luke

                  I may have to dig into the comparative success rates of Wilken’s drafts compared the drafts of other teams in the same budget area.  I don’t see anything that abnormal, let alone abysmal.  Yes, the farm system was largely devoid of stars, but I put that more on the limited budget than on the draft director.  The system is very deep, though, and has produced a fairly steady of crop of non-star major league players.  I think there are plenty of teams with farm systems far worse off than what Wilken drafted for the Cubs.

                  But again, many of them had similar budgets to the Cubs.  I’m not sure how much blame goes to the budget and how much to the draft director.

                  • JulioZuleta

                    I know lots of blame should be put on the ownership, but the fact of the matter is that the Cubs have not drafted 1 star, or even future star it seems like, out of the pre-2011 drafts. While Wilken is totally to blame, he has kind of gotten off too easily based on his prior record.

                    • Luke

                      I think it’s a little early to say Andrew Cashner (2009) won’t be a star of  any kind.  And what about Jeff Samardzija?  He was drafted in 2006, I think.  Bullpen pitchers aren’t the flashy stars teams put on billboards, but James Russell (2007) has been about as reliable as they come as a reliever of late.

                      I do agree, though, that the Cubs system had been lacking in star power until the 2011 draft.  And, of course, things look much better now.

                      Even so, I still like the Cubs 2008 draft in particular.  Cashner, Flaherty, Carpenter, Coleman, Beliveau… that’s not a bad year.  It would look a lot better had they been able to sign Sonny Gray, though.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      Samardzija’s another one though, that didn’t take scouting prowess. It took a GM willing to give him a big league deal and a special contract. Overslot guys and guys like Szczur and Samardzija aren’t exactly the result of superior scouting efforts.

                  • Norm

                    No one had a run of success like Wilken did with this time in Toronto and Tampa Bay. He doesn’t suddenly suck now that he’s in Chicago.

          • When the Music’s Over

            Way, way, way too early to judge the 2011 draft.

            Simpson was an awful pick. Sure some of it was about money, but you simply cannot get bullied into taking a 4th/5th round talent because you hear rumors that another team “might” take him in the second round. That’s a piss poor draft methodology.

            • AB

              yea thats what pissed me off about it. That’s such a foolish strategy. this isn’t the NFL draft, you have to take the best available player because the talent gap between first round and the rest of the draft is so significant. although I’m guessing he might have been an underslot too to sign Szczur.

      • dw8

        I heard coming down off “Wilken” can be a bad experience!

    • dw8

      He was pitching in the bullpen in Daytona. Possible that he is going to Boise to get stretched out?

      • Luke

        More likely he’s going to Boise so he doesn’t get crushed on the 2 games in 3 in which he can’t throw strikes consistently.  The main thing with Simpson is not his velocity right now, it is the rate at which he is missing the strike zone.  But only in some games.  His last outing, for example, was just fine.

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          How hard does simpson throw on a consistent basis? I’ve heard he can barely hit 90mph? Is this true? I remember when we drafted him people wanted to compare the guy to Greg Maddux type of pitcher because he doesn’t throw hard but they said he could locate pitches and they said his off speed stuff was pretty good. But now I hear he can’t throw hard and he can’t even get control of the strike zone!? He truly seems like a lost cause. He is going to be a 23 year old pitcher down in short season low A ball!!! That is absolutely pathetic! By age 23 with a decent prospect you should be hoping he at least pitching well in AA or in AAA making an impact and having hopes he could make it to the bigs with in a year. What an awful pick and he seems like he would have been a great pick in 20th-30th round. But what is his true potential and how much upside does this guy have? if any upside? Luke if he is somehow able to command the strike zone suddenly all through every level of the minors what is his potential? Possible #4 or #5 guy in the rotation? If that?

          • Serious Cubs Fan

            My thoughts with hayden simpson are that even if he does somehow consistently throw strikes and command all his pitches what’s his ceiling? The guy doesn’t have good stuff. There is absolutely no swing and miss potential with this guys stuff. So even if this guy is hitting his spots and he faces a roster that is locked in, they will just tee off on the guy.

          • Luke

            He’s back up to 90, and that is progress.  He was throwing in the low to mid 90s before the draft.

            He has the additional pitches to be successful if he can regain his velocity and find the strike zone on a regular basis.  He has also been working on a sinker this season.  That’s a potential fifth pitch.

            There is still plenty of potential there, but we can say the same thing about a lot of guys who never make it.

            • Serious Cubs Fan

              Why do you think his velocity went down? Does that happen often to players? Injury? I’ve heard of pitchers just having a dead arm after pitching to many innings in a season or just not use to pitch that much ever before. What are the chances he regains his velocity? He doesn’t have a very projectable body at Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 170 lb. Maybe if the kid ate more or just hit the gym hard and gained some wait do you think he could add a few ticks to his fastball and get it up to consistently 92-94mph? But if he has a 5 different pitches that is very solid and nice to have in his back pocket. If he could just get that velocity up to around 92-94mph, find consistency locating his pitches, and also learn to use all those pitches to get guys out he could sound like the making of a pretty solid prospect. I know that a lot to ask of a guy who is already 23 in low A ball but it would be a good story if he could turn things around

              • Luke

                The velocity vanished after he got mono and lost a ton of weight.  The Cubs, in hind sight, probably delayed his recovery by pushing him into a starting job in Peoria the next spring.

                Reports are that he has regained the weight.  He’s just working on getting back to where he was.  For now, I think we just need to see if he can pitch himself back onto the radar.

                • Cheryl

                  Simpson was an economical pick but he had to have shown something to be picked where he was. People say he was a horrible pick but how much of the bad that he showed was due to his illness. The cubs should have had him thorougly checked out before assigning him to Peoria. It seems as if they pushed hm and he wasn’t recovered enough.

    • hansman1982

      the combination of over-drafting and mono has done him in for many Cubs fans.

      • Edwin

        That and in 116.2 pro innings he has a BB/9 of 5.2 and K/9 of 5.5.

      • JulioZuleta

        Mono shouldn’t have any effect two years later. The mono has been a convenient excuse for Wilken’s abominable pick. I know they wanted to save money, but there were, oh, about 165 better guys that would have signed for that $1 mil bonus. I know Wilken drafted Carpenter and Halladay, but that was a long time ago.

        • hansman1982

          he lost 9-ish months of training due to it and tons of weight – I am not saying he was a decent pick at #1 and I am pulling like mad for the guy because of those two circumstances

          • MaxM1908

            I’ll certainly keep pulling for him, it just sucks to think what we may have lost out on in that draft.

        • RoughRiider

          Mono effects people differently. Some get over it in a short time, some have an innitial very bad reaction and get over it in a few month and in some it can take months to years to get over it. In some people it becomes the Epstein Barr Virus or Chronic Fatigue Syndrom.

          I had it when I was 28 and it took me months to get to the point that I could function. I had to take naps at lunch time to get through a work day. It was years before I felt relatively normal again.

  • John

    Anthony Rizzo left the game for the I-Cubs. Does anyone have any news? I hope its not another injury.

    • LaHair4MVP

      I was wondering the same thing.

    • AD

      Looks like he slid into the wall.

    • Buckner

      I saw this posted on another site:

      Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112
      Rizzo checks out ok initially after leaving Iowa game with injury, Theo said. #Cubs

      • LaHair4MVP

        That’s good to hear. Thanks for the info.

  • emrac

    thanks Luke and dw8

  • mak

    I’m excited about P Jose Arias.who was supposedly the best pitcher on the Cubs’ DSL team last year. Don’t have a scouting report on him, but was striking out a lot of guys in EXST.

    • Luke

      Be wary of EXST stats.  Just like regular spring training stats, extended spring training stats are the next thing to meaningless.  In context, they can be useful.  On their own, they make Joe Mather look like a guaranteed starter in the All-Star game.

      • Edwin

        Thanks to my computer program skills, Joe will be.

  • ETS

    what will be interesting is if candelario’s glove can stay at 3rrd.

  • MightyBear

    Great stuff Luke. You are doing an awesome job.(Hint to Brett)

    Absolutely love the name Rock Shoulders. I hope he becomes a star. (Actually I hope they all become stars but I would love to hear Pat Hughes calling a Rock Shoulders bomb.)

  • Njriv

    I’m surprised with the revolving door going on on the bullpen they didn’t call up Jeff Beliveau. Is there a reason for that?

    • Luke

      I think he’ll get his turn.  The Cubs are not going to rush anyone this season.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Real quick question related to the upcoming July 2nd international signings? So the spending pool is only $2.9 million dollars? Or are the rules you can’t spend more then $2.9 million on 1 player? What are also the penalties for over spending? If we can only spend $2.9 million all together do you think the cubs would be willing to go all out to get 1 or 2 players? I really want the cubs to get Gustano Cabrera! He is a flat out stud and is getting comparison to Justin Upton. How much do you think it would take to sign him? All $2.9 million? I was also hoping the cubs could grab the top RHP Jose Mujica who has drawn comparisons to Felix Hernandez, how much do you think it would take to sign him? Also I would want them to get the top LHP Jose Castillo who is a big hard throwing lefty, those don’t come around often. How much do you think it would take to sign him?

    • Luke

      The total cap, not per player cap, is $2.9 million for this season, with a few exceptions that raise the de facto cap in the low $3 million range.

      And I have no idea how much of that pool the top players will take.  I’d not be surprised if the very best prospects demanded the full $2.9 million and someone paid it.

  • Puma0821

    I’m really starting to get down on Jackson… He faced a top flight pitcher today and 3 more Ks all swinging!

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Luke, how aggressive do you think the Cubs will be in trying to sign some of the top international prospects? Do you think its likely we will be able to get some of the top 10 guys? How likely do you think we will be able to land Gustano Cabrera?

    Found the Penalties:
    Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)

    0-5% – 75% tax
    5-10% – 75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.
    10-15% – 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,0000.
    15%+ 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $250,000.

    • Luke

      The Cubs are going to be as aggressive as anyone, but I don’t think they’ll risk going over 5% of their pool to do it.  Next year the IFA pool will be based on a team’s record, and the Cubs’ terrible record this season should give them a nice fat pot of cash.  They won’t do anything to hurt their chances to work with that pot of cash next season.

  • Billy

    Any news on what they plan on doing with Soler once he is officially signed?

    • Luke

      Speculation only.  He is expected to go to Arizona to work out, train, and get used to playing baseball after a long layoff.  I think he’ll then slip into a few Rookie League games to get his feet wet, and then jump to Peoria.  If he is more advanced than we expect, he could go straight to Daytona.  I would not count on that though.

      • Billy

        Good to hear. It’s good to hear any exciting news regarding the Cubs this season

  • EricR

    I personally don’t think Jackson is our long term answer at CF. I also don’t think Castillo or Wellington is the long term answer at catcher.

    • chirogerg

      Who’s Wellington if Castillo is Welington?

  • Wrigley11

    I know you can’t get too hyped about DSL stats, but Candelario killed it there last year. BTW, not a comp, but his stats and Xander Bogaerts stats in the DSL when he was there are crazy similar

  • Josh

    Excited to see where Almora and Soler end of starting. I hope to see some of these guys get to Peoria this season so if they play the Kane County Cougars I can see them.