mlb draftSeveral of these Bullets, I had to think to myself, “Should this be its own post?” That’s when I know the Bullets are dense and quality … not that they aren’t always …

  • Baseball America’s Jim Callis answered some questions yesterday, and he noted that the Cubs’ projected 2013 Draft bonus pool will be around $10.5 million for their top 10 picks, the second highest (behind the Astros at $11.6 million). That’s up significantly from last year, when the Cubs had about $7.9 million (on 12 picks). Here’s a fun fact: back in 2011, when the Cubs went nuts on Draft spending, they spent about $11.9 million. If the go over their $10.5 million this year by 4.999% (the most you can go over without losing a draft pick), they can spend up to $11.025 million. That’s not too far off from the amount they spent when they were affirmatively trying to sign every overslot guy they could get. In other words, if they do it right – saving money on some signings, going overslot on others – the 2013 Draft could be very kind to the Cubs.
  • Among Callis’ other thoughts: Matt Szczur was one of the farthest falling prospects in this year’s prospect handbook (recall, Callis was higher on Szczur than any other prospector last year), and Josh Vitters’ ceiling has been dramatically capped. Some of those Vitters thoughts: “When I wrote, ‘There still are scouts inside and outside the organization who feel comfortable projecting him as a .275 hitter with 20 homers annually,’ I also followed up by noting that other scouts think he gets himself out because he lacks selectivity and intensity. That .275 with 20 homers is more a best-case scenario, and it’s hard to reconcile that with the guy who hit .121/.193/.202 with 33 strikeouts in his first 99 big league at-bats. I can see the .275 but it probably would come with a .315 on-base percentage, and I’d bet on 15 homers more than 20. I also don’t see Vitters as someone capable of playing third base on a regular basis in the majors. His speed and range are deficient, his throws are erratic and the game seemed to fast for him at the hot corner when he was with the Cubs. He fits better at first base or maybe left field, which would put a lot more pressure on his bat. Could Vitters be a regular at third base and provide solid offense and adequate defense? Yes, that’s possible. That’s also his absolute upside, and he looks like more of a platoon player than a regular and more of a first baseman than a third baseman.”
  • Ian Stewart says he’s thankful that the Cubs are giving him another chance, and, although other teams expressed interest when he was briefly a free agent, once the Cubs told him how they felt about him and wanted him back, he was ready to return to the Cubs. He also says that he hasn’t felt any pain in his wrist since his surgery last year. It appears to be the first time he’s been totally pain free in years.
  •’s Matthew Leach picked five low-key signings this year that could prove to be pleasant surprises. The Cubs inking Scott Feldman to a one-year, $6 million deal made the cut. Among Leach’s thoughts: “Over the past four seasons, Feldman has been a slightly-worse-than-league-average pitcher (his adjusted ERA+, where 100 is average, was 96 during that span). He’s a few days shy of his 30th birthday. He is not going to be a star for Chicago, but he can be expected to deliver a decent performance, and he’ll do it at a bargain price. Plus, Feldman signed a one-year deal. If the Cubs are out of contention in July, he can be flipped to a contender for more pieces in the ongoing rebuilding process at Clark and Addison.”
  • If you want to know what it’s like to scout teenagers in the Dominican Republic, Ben Badler offers some insight. Short version: it ain’t easy.
  • Former Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita is employed once again, now a consultant for the Reds. The new job will save the Cubs a little bit of money – he had a contract with the Cubs through 2015, and he still gets that money, but it’s now reduced by however much he makes with the Reds – but you kind of wish he was going outside the NL Central. He’s got some Cubs institutional knowledge you’d probably rather the Reds didn’t have. I’m sure that played a small role in their interest, but Fleita’s Latin American connections and general baseball knowledge probably played a larger one. Best of luck to him. Sort of, I guess.
  • And the man who (essentially) got Fleita’s job, Brandon Hyde, is profiled by the Knoxville News.
  • Vine Line talks to the Cubs’ new third base coach, David Bell.
  • Cubbie Blues

    Wow Callis, tell us how you really feel. Scorned much?

  • ncsujuri

    Unfortunately for the Cubs who have money to spend everything I’ve seen thusfar talks about the lack of depth in this years draft. That would lead me to believe there aren’t going to be the types of guys that could be drafted late and signed for way overslot $.

    • Boogens

      Depending on how things work out when the amatuer action starts, it just may be the right year to draft Appel and pay him a little more overslot if the talent truly is thinner throughout the draft. There’s opportunity cost is less on the rest of the draft.

      • ncsujuri

        I think ideally though you’d like to be able to ‘overspend’ on later round guys who slipped because of signability concerns vice the top guys. Plus, as someone pointed out in a different post, Appel doesn’t haven’t the leverage he had last year in that he can’t go back to school again soI’d think he’s less likely to get much over his slot.

        • Boogens

          Your points make a whole lot of sense, especially going over-slot on lower draft picks. My point was that if the Cubs decide that Appel is really the best guy for their pick and recognizing that he will be a tough person to sign then maybe next year isn’t such a bad year to extend for him when the talent pool is possibly thinner further down the draft.

  • dan

    Glad to hear about Stewart’s wrist’s willing to bet his numbers are up this year a lot of power comes from your wrist’s in baseball

    • Jim

      Stewart was a free agent. Do you think he would say that he still has pain in his wrist and expect someone to sign him? I would imagine that if he starts off badly and continues that way, we will hear that there is still pain in his wrist. I will still hope for the best though.

      • hansman1982

        He was saying the wrist was cleared up even after he signed with the Cubs.

        I’m not expecting a miracle but we should see improved production over last year (where he was basically a replacement level player)

  • abe

    i think if stewart is shows he is healthy and is hitting home runs he will be traded by the deadline

  • Cubbie Blues

    The Ben Badler article was a good read. Interesting how low of a baseball IQ they seem to have in the DR. You would think that their coaches would hear what the scouts are actually looking for and coach them up on that.

    • ETS

      You can’t walk off the island. Central Americans, anecdotal anyway, have always been free swinging, big contact, big power guys.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I realize the way it has historically been. I just hope in the future they start teaching what the MLB is actually looking for now (high OBP to go along with that SLG).

        • hansman1982

          as money pours in from MLB teams and they have their Acadamies there, word will filter down that they are looking for guys who can draw a walk. Just takes time.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, I think some of that comes from just the way they play ball throughout their lives. From everything I read you grow up with pickup games in a small field or a quiet street. There isn’t much value in taking walks there.

        • yield51

          There wasn’t much value in talking walks in the U.S. when we were kids. Kids won’t learn pitch selection until maybe high school. How many kids in little league (that are good) want to walk? If they are a cut above the talent of their peers, they want to show that off, and hit the ball over the fence. I think youth coaches will have to walk the fine line of having fun vs. grooming for future college, or pro ball hitter. Less kids these days are interested in playing sports, and it would be a shame to alienate those kids from the game by making it a chore.

  • Joe

    I would love to get a peek at Brandon Hyde’s prospect board. There are some interesting decisions to be made about which levels to start not only top prospects, but many of the guys who need to show progress this year.

  • arta

    i recall Stewart saying the same things last ST.

    • hansman1982

      no, Stewart was saying that there was some discomfort but nothing that would hinder him. He most certainly was NOT saying he was pain free.

      • Brett

        Yeah – I’m not saying we should expect a turnaround, but he definitely said some worrisome things last year around this time.

        • hansman1982

          Ya, if we could just get his 2010 line (.250/.340/.440) (wRC+ of 97) with above-average fielding, I would take that this year and next from 3rd. Would go a long ways to helping contention.

  • MightyBear

    22. I will keep repeating it. Vitters is only 22.

    • Brett

      He turned 23 in August, but your point remains.

      • hansman1982

        He did MASH in AAA and Callis is basically just repeating the same concerns that have been circling Vitters prospect carcass for years.

    • Jake

      23 actually, but your point still holds true as he is still fairly young. Don’t think anything Callis said was unfair at this point. Vitters needs to make some significant strides if he is going to be an average major league starter.

  • The Dude Abides

    Luke/Brett – what did we get with our 2011 spending spree of 11.9 million? Thanks

    • Brett
      • Cubbie Blues

        Whatever happened to Shoulders and Hoilman? They were both college power bats.

        • cedlandrum

          What do you mean what happened to them? They both played. Holiman in Peoria and Rock in Boise. Holiman has too much swing and miss to his game. His other skills are blah. He didn’t hit a ton of HRs last year but hit 17 in 200 some abs the year before.

          Rock is a work in progress but he has time.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Your response is exactly what I meant by what happened to them. I hadn’t heard anything about them in quite sometime and you just let me know what they have been doing. Thanks.

            • cedlandrum

              I wasn’t sure if you were disappointed in their power numbers or if you thought they were underperforming or actually where they were. So glad I could help.

        • yield51

          I can’t speak on Shoulders since I haven’t seen him play, but like cedlandrum wrote, Hoilman is an org. filler guy. Unless he starts hitting for massive power, he can be forgotten.

      • Cizzle

        Brett, 2 years after, is your enthusiasm for that draft class still the fat lady in red from the Oprah giveaway?

      • CubFan Paul

        Would the new CBA rules allow someone to do what the Cubs did in the 14th round with Maples? $2.5M

        • North Side Irish

          Not against the rules, but pretty hard to pull off. The draft pool is for the first 10 rounds, anyone after that can only be signed for a max of $100K. The only way to go over $100K is if the team has money left over from their draft pool, which happened last year, but I don’t think anyone had that much left over.

  • hansman1982

    Pour this over your Wheaties:

    Ian Stewart’s #4 comp through age 27 is Jose Bautista.

    • Noah

      But I’d also say that Jose Bautista drastically altered his swing and approach at the plate to change from 27 year old Jose Bautista to current Jose Bautista, and those sorts of changes don’t work for everyone. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised by Ian Stewart having his most successful season in several years if the wrist was really the issue. On the other hand, I also wouldn’t be shocked to see him be terrible again.

    • Beer Baron

      I think Bautista also benefited from visiting one of those special pharmacies that allow a guy to magically go from slugging .420 with 15 HRs to a guy slugging .600 with 50 HRs. If that was all changing his swing then he should sue his previous hitting coaches for fraud.

  • Nate Corbitt

    I would love to see Ian Stewart do well, if only because he lives in Asheville, NC in the off-season, and I occasionally see him around town. He seems like a genuinely good guy.

  • Seth

    Brett are you gonna do a piece or a bullet on Theo’s interview this morning? I know Sahadev is tweeting some stuff about it but I’d love to hear some quotes and the real meat of the interview.

    • Brett

      You know me. :)

  • GDB

    “.275 with 20 homers is more a best-case scenario, and it’s hard to reconcile that with the guy who hit .121/.193/.202 with 33 strikeouts in his first 99 big league at-bats”

    We’re focusing on the 99 at bats? Really? 99 at-bats with inconsistent playing time for a bad team at the end of the year. Is that really a fair basis to lower our expectations on?

    The one thing Vitters has consistently done in the minors is start slowly at EVERY level, and then improve. Last year in AAA after 90 ABs he was hitting .244/.281/.311, the rest of the way he hit .320/.376/.556 – now are we more concerned with the first 90 ABs? Or the remainder of the season?

    I feel like knocking Vitters has just become the easy approach for prospect analysts. He isn’t a sexy prospect as he has been around a long time, but even with his defensive issues i’m still holding a candle for a future breakout year.

    • Cooper

      Not just the 99 ML ABs. Yes, there have been some good #s in the minors, but the peripherals are also worrisome. You can get away with a lack of plate discipline in the minors, but ML pitchers will eat you up, more times than not, if you can’t lay off pitches outside the zone. His increasingly alarming lack of defensive prowess is also a problem. Just feels like he is going to end up a bust (my personal gut feeling, recognizing that there are also some encouraging stats). Hindsight is 20/20, but yes, sure would like some of the other names from that draft instead…

  • North Side Irish

    Keith Law is releasing his Top 100 prospects today, but he already released his Next Ten list of players who just missed out. Jeimer Candelario came in at #106…which helps explain the Cubs ranking #5 on his list. Have to figure the Cubs have at least four on the Top 100 list, if not five.

    “He’s an offensive third baseman with great rhythm at the plate and a smooth swing, showing just enough to make you think he can stay at third base. I’d just like to see the offensive skill set translate into a little more performance before buying in all the way, because the defense will never be a plus. If you squint, you might see a Pablo Sandoval future here.”

    • North Side Irish

      Law’s Top 100 List is out…Baez at 31, Almora at 33, Soler at 42, and Vizcaino at 64. Surprised to see Baez that low, surprised to see Almora that close to Baez, and happy to see four Cubs on the list.

      • North Side Irish

        Also surprised that there are five players from the 2012 draft ahead of Baez…

        Mike Olt is #71

  • PKJ

    If you’re a Cubs fan, don’t do what I just did and check out the 2007 draft. Vitters at #3 is depressing when there were guys like Wieters, Bumgarner, Parker and Heyward drafted after him.

    • Jim L.

      I don’t have to check the list, those names are burned into my brain and spring to mind everytime I think of Vitters.

  • Kyle

    On the good side, I’m glad to see Candelario still getting some love. The bandwagon seemed to pile up last spring and slow down during the year.

    The bad news is that he’s now permanently and forever labeled a “Top-100 prospect” for any discussions.

    • Drew7

      See: Villanueva, Christian

  • macpete22

    Does anybody see us drafting a catcher this yr? Not with the 2nd pick but, maybe in the 2nd or 3rd round?