This morning, I mentioned in the Bullets that Cuban pitching prospect Gerardo Concepcion last pitched for the Peoria Chiefs. I wondered openly what the issue was, knowing that he originally went on the DL with an “illness.” I had my concerns, and hoped that might spur an answer.

Well, today we got our answer from Theo Epstein, who told reporters that Concepcion has been out with mononucleosis. Crap.

Cubs fans have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to pitching prospects and mono, after we watched former first round pick Hayden Simpson wilt away – kind of literally – after a serious case of mono shortly after he was drafted. He lost 20 to 30 pounds, and hasn’t been the same since.

But, let’s relax for now. Mono isn’t always a career-ender; in fact, it almost never is. Heck, Bronson Arroyo once had mono and kept on pitching. It is, however, usually a multiple month kind of thing for an athlete, so I’m not surprised Concepcion is still out. In time, he could come back just fine.

Hopefully we’ll get an update on him soon, and hopefully it’s just a garden variety case of mono, rather than a horrible one.

  • Diesel

    New rule for our prospects. Stop making out with skanks.

    • Chris

      Or Hayden Simpson

  • TWC

    Bronson Arroyo once had mono and kept on pitching.

    Even that doesn’t make him any less of a donger.

    • hansman1982

      I think that would take him single-handedly ending WWIII, stopping the Holocaust and going back in time to videotape Jesus.

      You don’t want to know the list for LaRussa.

  • Nick

    Rather than coming back just fine, I hope he comes back better than he was.

    • Flashfire

      Agree. I’d honestly already put him into the “it would be nice if it happens” camp. This doesn’t change that much.

  • mak

    Gerardo doesn’t rely on velocity the way Hayden did (who was completely dependant). And yes, mono affects everyone differently. So no need to worry. yet.

    • JulioZuleta

      Simpson was not a flamethrower at all. They’re actually a pretty similar style of pitcher. Simpson had reports of touching 94 before the draft, but was always a low 90s guy. He was drafted high bc he was a polished 4-pitch pitcher, supposedly. What an awful pick.

      • willis

        Very similar as in they’re both awful?? :)

        • JulioZuleta

          Similar in that they are both seen as relatively advanced for their ages, with good secondary stuff but not overpowering fastballs.

          That pick is so painful, and 100% indefensible. I know Wilken had a budget on that pick, but there were about 100 guys who were better that would have taken $1 mil.

          • Jeff1969

            If you go back in the past Baseball America guides, scouts, other teams were shocked when the Cubs took Simpson in the 1st. Budget or not, other teams had him pegged as a 6th rounder. That’s just stupid. Is it me or does it seem like Hendry had more luck in later rounds than in the front of the draft?

            • Bric

              The draft didn’t even have a name plate ready for him when his name was announced. They had to take a piece of card board and a sharpie from the table just to put his name on the board. That pretty much sums up everyone’s summation of him (other than Wiken and Hendry).

      • BD

        Yeah… I hate the “who we could’ve picked” game, but I had to do it with Simpson. First 2 names I noticed? Castellanos and Olt went in the supplemental round that year. Oy…

        • BD

          No edit button… there was also a pitcher named Zach Lee.

          I don’t know if you can “slam” a browser closed, but I just tried my best to do just that.

          • Jack Weiland

            To be fair, you can’t really analyze these in a bubble. Zach Lee was only around then because it was virtually a given predraft that he was not going to sign and was going to go to college.

            The Dodgers signing him was a huge surprise at the time.

            • MightyBear

              Zach Lee also got a 5 mil signing bonus. I’m sure that wasn’t in Wilken’s budget.

              • Flashfire

                It seems like the budget did go up substantially between 2010 and 2011. Beyond that, it’s tough to say. However, it is worth pointing out that they spend quite a bit to get Szczur (around $2 million) in the same draft as the Simpson fiasco. Given Wilken’s performance to this point, I think it more likely that he was just wrong on Simpson — or that mono broke Simpson.

                Still, it’s hard not to play “what if” with Lee and Castellanos.

                • AB

                  Would the extremely poor results from overslot spending in the 2006 draft (Drew Rundle, Cliff Anderson, Chris Huseby, Ryan Acosta) somehow affect Wilken’s future budgets??

              • BD

                I understand. Just reminds how weak the big-market Cubs draft budget has been until the last 2 years.

          • Crockett

            I loved MLB Network having to scramble and MAKE a name placard for Simpson. They had 125 placards with names pre-made…he wasn’t on them.

            What a Jerry Angelo-esque reach. Just horrid. So glad Wilken has someone to veto his terrible thoughts now.

      • Scotti

        While Simpson wasn’t a flame thrower, the Cubs had him hitting 97mph and holding at 95 shortly before drafting him (with few, if any, other scouts in attendance). That is why Wilken was higher on him than most teams. If the kid doesn’t get mono before ever throwing a professional pitch then we cold judge this fairly. As it stands it’s like he got hit by a bus.

        If Gerardo Concepcion has mono then that helps explain a lot of suck for $6M (4X what Hayden Simpson got). I give Theo and team the benefit of the doubt as I do Wilken. Both have great track records and deserve it.

        • JulioZuleta

          If the Cubs had him at 97/95, their radar gun was a solid 5 mph off.

          • Brett

            Seems like the kind of thing you would check!

            • Scotti

              yeah, I’m guessing Wilken has been around the block a few times…

  • Ogyu

    Maybe after he recovers, he might get his fastball over 80 mph…

  • carmelo

    Does anyone know anything about Dolis? He hasn’t pitched for Iowa since he was sent there about 7-10 days ago.

    • Brett

      In the DL with a knee injury. Didn’t sound terribly serious.

  • KidCubbie

    Recovery from Mono usually takes 2-3 months for a full recovery. Agreed though he needs to stop making out with all the pretty American girls (or maybe it was a Cuban just before he left).

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      Are we back in the ’50s with these “Kissing Disease” remarks? No physiological nor medical basis indeed. It’s like 5th-grade giggles.

  • ChiTown

    When and where will Juan Carlos Paniagua make his debut this year? And does he have the potential to become a middle of the rotation starter in the bigs?

    • Brett

      He might start out in the DR, as a part of the transition. The Cubs say he could move fast, but that might not be until next year. The Cubs wouldn’t have given him the kind of huge bonus (relative to their pool) they did unless they thought he could be a big league starter.

      • MightyBear

        Is it official? Did he make it through the paper work issue this time?

        • Brett

          Haha. I actually don’t know yet.

          • MightyBear

            Thanks Brett. I was wondering about that. I know you will keep us all informed as usual.

  • MichiganGoat

    WE ARE CURSED I blame LaRussa

    • Flashfire

      I blame the goat — which is my new nickname for Ryan Dempster.

  • Tommy

    Speaking as someone in the Peoria area that has seen him live a few times, mono isn’t going to make a difference. He hasn’t looked like much to date up to now. Does not show good control, and gets hit hard and often.

    In fairness, I’m not a scout, and I’m sure he’s got potential. I can only comment on what I’ve seen personally so far, and that is not good. He is certainly not even in the top half of the pitching staff in Peoria right now.

  • cRAZYHORSE – unicorns and rainbows

    The 8 million dollar unicorn has almost reached the rainbow.

  • Steve

    I blame Todd Hundley

  • Cheryl

    I am among those who hope for the best for both Simpson and Concepcion. Many here think Simpson is a bust, but I wonder how many saw him pitch prior to his getting mono? We have never seen him when he was fully recovered, It looks like we’ll have to wait until next spring for that.

    • Edwin

      I wish them the best in the same way I wish every single Cubs prospect the best. Otherwise, I don’t care where they were drafted, how much they were signed for, or how they looked at a D2 school. I care how they look in the minor leagues, and so far neither has impressed.

    • Chet Masterson

      Agreed. I wonder how many people here saw Dave Dravecky pitch before he had his arm amputated. We also have never seen him when he was fully recovered. Similarly, we still have not seen Alfonso Soriano fully recovered from getting old. Remember how he stole 40 bases that year?

      How many seasons will it take you before you think he’s a bust, regardless of whether or not you’re ‘hoping’ he is?

  • florida Al

    i thought maybe he caught it from drinking the water here…

  • Tommy

    So unrelated to this particular post, but I have to say – I was upset with Dempster over the Atlanta thing, but now that it’s all in the past and he’s gone and more of the facts have come out, I already miss the guy. He really was a great Cub and I hope he does well. I’ll be rooting for Atlanta and Texas come playoff time, and hope Demp comes home to Chicago to finish his career.

    • Chris

      Really? Reading between the lines, there is NO chance he comes back to the Cubs next year. He totally screwed Theo and Jed on the Atlanta thing. They had to let him listen in to the trade talk with L.A. before he realized they didn’t really want him that bad anyway. Instead of concentrating on moving Garza, Marmol, Baker, Camp, and DeJesus yesterday, they had to commit a good deal of time making sure Dempster was sent packing due to his flakiness. Don’t put a team on your approved list if you aren’t going to approve the deal. Shame on Atlanta for leaking the deal before it was done, but shame on Demp for pretending like he was blindsided. He wasn’t. As thorough as Theo and Jed are, you know they had every belief that Dempster would approve that deal before he changed his mind. I’ll root for Atlanta and Texas I suppose, but Dempster can finish his career in L.A. or some other place. Despite his act, he wasn’t planning on ever coming back. And Jed and Theo are probably fine with that.

      • Flashfire

        I wonder if the part of Theo and Jed that is still upset about this want to sign him next year and then trade him to his last choice just for the joy of watching his expression on his way out.

      • Tommy

        Yeah, really. I don’t condemn a guy who was a good teammate and player for 9 years because he made one poor decision at the end. Everyone makes mistakes or does things that others may not be happy about. I’ll bet even you have at some point in your life.

  • Patman

    Just watched Geiger light up the River Bandits going 3-5 with 2 HR and 8 RBI. Chiefs win 11-10. What a stud

    • Chris

      Another 3B prospect. Started the year late due to injury, but he’s got some pop. If he can hit for average, he’ll be chasing Villanueva up the ladder to supplant Vitters as the next 3B of the Cubs. Of course, Baez will end up surpassing them all, but he’s fine at SS for now.

      • AB

        I think Geiger will be moved to 1b. Hes already made 20 errors or something crazy like that.

      • Patman

        When Baez connects he is hitting the ball hard. His BA may say otherwise but watching him at the plate his swing looks very wild. But he is young and fun to watch. He had a big game tieing double in the 9th today

  • Kyle

    At least it didn’t happen to an actual prospect.

    • Flashfire

      There are six million reasons Tom Ricketts disagrees with this :)

      • Kyle

        Those were a down payment on Soler.

    • Brett

      My eyes just exploded out of the back of my head. :)

  • Harry Ramirez

    Allow me to jump on the “what if” bandwagon for a second:
    Wilken drafted Hayden Simpson because he felt that Hayden wouldn’t make it pass the supplemental first-round. Many were suprised by the decision to draft him with the 16# pick, because he was a division II closer with a two pitch repertoire. Wilken thought he could stretch him as a starter.

    Now, should Wilken played it “safe” he had arms like Anthony Ranaudo, Asher Wojciechowski, Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez. By the way, both Syndergaard and Sanchez could be included in a Garza trade with Toronto, and ironically enough, Ranaudo could be part of Garza to Boston trade (though Syndergaard has more value right now and he should be a centerpiece of any trade while Ranaudo is not a top prospect anymore).

    Vitters was still a top prospect, so no 3B was considered, but this draft had names like Mike Olt, Nick Castellanos (sounds familiar?) and Zack Cox (the Dead-Birds traded him at the deadline for a reliever, why can’t the Cubs get a break for a change???), and also outfielder Gary Brown.

    But then again, Wilken and Hendry wanted to be special. They wanted to show how they can draft an unknown reliver and develop him so he can be a future 3# behind aces Zambrano and Harden. If I want to push the “what if” even further, if Wilken drafted Zach Lee and couldn’t agree on the signing bonus the Cubs could have had the 17# pick in the 2011 draft, and Matt Barnes was in reach. Again, ironically Barnes could be a centerpiece of a Garza deal.

    • Scotti

      Wilken drafted Hayden Simpson… Many were suprised by the decision to draft him with the 16# pick, because he was a division II closer with a two pitch repertoire. Wilken thought he could stretch him as a starter.

      Simpson was a career starter in college (8 starts his freshman year, 16 starts his sophomore year and 15 starts his senior year–he never once relieved a single collegiate game). And, per Wilken, he threw four average to plus pitches.

      We drafted him and he got sick. Get over it.

      But then again, Wilken and Hendry wanted to be special. They wanted to show how they can draft an unknown reliver and develop him so he can be a future 3# behind aces Zambrano and Harden.

      I try really hard not to be an ass. I really do… DUDE, Harden was in TEX for half a year before Simpson was ever drafted! You must have meant Mark Prior…

      • Harry Ramirez

        Scotti, I like Hayden and have no problem with the pick. Wilken sure knows baseball more than I do. I just thought how funny it is that so many top prospects from that draft are somehow related to the Cubs.
        No, I meant Harden, and yes, I was wrong. For some reason I associated Harden with the 2010 team.

  • thejackal

    why oh why couldnt he just havethe clap or something simple

  • daveyrosello

    Hayden Simpson. The Cubbery is strong with this one, on par with Montanez and Cunningham. Totally indefensible waste of a 1st round pick.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Did Concepcion “love a woman who wasn’t clean?”

    My favorite line from Bad Santa.

  • A.J.

    Mono is usually linked to the EPSTEIN-Barr virus (EBV), but can also be caused by other organisms such as cytomegalovirus (CMV)….

    Now it makes sense…


  • dabynsky

    The upside of this is that it gave Joe Zeller a spot in the Peoria rotation, and the knuckleballer has been pretty good.

  • Jimmy james

    One time I thought I had mono for an entire summer, turns out I was just really bored

    • Dougy D

      Better Off Dead?

      • Jimmy james

        Waynes world though the quotes from memory and may be off a little, haven’t watched it in some time

        • Dougy D

          Thanks for the answer. Sounds about right. Of course, it’s been quite some time myself.

  • Fastball

    I hope those two kids can just get healthy and start their careers over. I might guess that Concepcion had a very hard time adjusting to the United States and I will give him a pass this year and wait to pass judgement until he comes back next year. Hayden Simpson could still turn out to be a very good pitcher. I don’t think management has any desire to over extend him and expect anything but get some baseball under his belt and be ready for next year.

    I hope Dempster does a great job for the Rangers. I think he could very well come back and resign with the Cubs this off season. Nobody knows the Real Hollywood Story as to what happened. He was sitting in Hoyer’s office playing Golden Tee for God’s sake. They can’t be too pissed at him. I think the blame lands on everyones shoulders involved not just his. Only Theo, Jed and Ryan know the real story and I don’t think it’s going to be told. As it stands right now we have no reason not to sign him if he wants to come back. We have a huge hole in our rotation and there is nobody to fill it even for next year. All the pitching we have signed won’t be ready for two more years. So why not sign Dempster to a 2 year deal or even a 3 year deal with the idea that he will be a 4 or 5 starter in those last two years. There is nothing wrong with our trying to be competitive over the next couple years. I don’t think it will take a Kings Ransom to sign him back either. He kinda owes Theo and Jed a little break at this point. I was just as pissed at him as everyone but it’s water under the bridge and we got 2 very good young players that we didn’t have before.

  • Fastball

    I wish I could get sick and lose 20 pounds. that would be awesome.