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jason mcleod cubsThere’s a fresh podcast episode on the way later this morning, and (TEASER ALERT) it features an awesome guest who offered a great deal of info in which you’ll be interested.

  • Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva got in their scheduled work yesterday in a minor league scrimmage (since it was an off-day). Villanueva dominated the youngsters, while Baker was hit a bit. It doesn’t really matter how they did, because they were just getting in work (that’s especially true for Baker, who was facing hitters for the first time in his recovery from Tommy John surgery). Baker could get into a Cactus League game next.
  • Keith Law says, based on what he saw in the Cubs/D-Backs game the other day, Jeff Samardzija looks ready for the season. Law didn’t seem to get a good feel for Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler, or Javier Baez during the game (though he suggests that neither Soler nor Baez looked good at the plate, and mentions that Baez looked good defensively at shortstop), but he was able to speak at length about Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon. Law was not impressed by Rondon’s 90 to 93 MPH fastball without movement, and a “slurvy slider.” Rondon historically has thrown in the mid-to-upper 90s, so low 90s, when the season starts, would be a concern. Law said he didn’t look like more than a 12th man in a bullpen, which, well, if the Cubs just want to stash Rondon, that’s all he needs to be.
  • Jim Bowden, in a wide-ranging piece that will be discussed further today, says that if he had to recommend one up-and-comer in baseball to be the next hot GM candidate, it’s Cubs Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod. Hard to argue with Bowden, given McLeod’s track record (and the fact that he’s worked with and under some of the best in the biz for years – that’s a wealth of knowledge to tap). If an opportunity opens up, you can’t blame McLeod for taking his shot at a top-level job – that’s the one drawback of having a front office full of ridiculously awesome, talented execs: they’re all targets for being poached. I’m not saying there’s a reason to be worried right now, and I’m not saying that Bowden has any particular insight into the movements of the Cubs’ front office. But, in this instance, he’s right: McLeod is a universally-praised, highly-effective executive. Of course he’s going to come up in future GM conversations. (Of course, so will many talented assistants throughout baseball. And the Cubs will just have to do their best to continue grabbing and cultivating the best young front office talent – hey, it’s just like baseball!)
  • Paul Sullivan tries to highlight the bright spots so far in Spring Training, with an eye toward how they might suggest surprise competitiveness in 2013. That he was unsuccessful is telling.
  • A profile on new Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson, who came from Vanderbilt. Your excitement level about his addition remains high.
  • Arizona Phil updated his Dillon Maples injury piece yesterday, saying that Maples threw a bullpen session and looked OK. We’ll tentatively exhale, but obviously he needs a lot more than bullpen sessions to inspire confidence. A solid 3/4 season is what we’re looking for. Phil’s piece also has the current minor league camp rosters, which you’ll see are very inclusive and large – guys tend to move down the chain as camp goes on, so don’t read too much into, for example, Dan Vogelbach being on the Daytona roster. Guys tend not to move up, however, so you can read at least a little something into, for example, Matt Szczur and Lendy Castillo being on Tennessee’s roster instead of Iowa’s.
  • Race to Wrigley 5K deets here (it’s May 11). I’m not a runner, but The Wife is, so one of these years, we’re going to do this thing. And by “do this thing” I mean I’m going to huff and puff and feel like I’m going to die while The Wife casually and easily moonwalks beside me, coaxing me along.
  • A genuinely cool infographic on Spring Training stuff – locations, distances, sizes, etc. Fun.
  • CubFan Paul

    I thought Scott Baker already had 2IP against minor leaguers a few days ago…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No – he threw two simulated innings.

      • CubFan Paul

        But I thought a simulated game was ‘real’ for the pitcher because the hitters are actually trying to hit. Yes, there’s more action in an actual game but the sim game isn’t “batting practice”…maybe i’m missing something.

        • King Jeff

          There aren’t very many, if any fielders during a simulated game, and usually coaches are involved. Either pitching for the opposite inning, or stepping in the box, or calling ball/strikes/outs. I’d imagine there is very little stress or pressure.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Correct. The mind knows it’s different, and the body responds accordingly. Minor league game is the next step up in “pressure” (which stresses the arm), then Spring Training, then regular season.

            • CubFan Paul

              Makes sense. Thanks.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Szczur and Castillo should be starting in Tennessee… if not Daytona in the case of Castillo. Szczur finished last season with the Smokies, but he didn’t get in enough work at that level be a realistic candidate to jump to Iowa for opening day.

    That said, I think he will finish the year in Iowa.

    • BluBlud

      Do you think there is any chance that Szczur is in Chicago by years end.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        As a September call up or emergency injury replacement, sure. Not otherwise.

        • fromthemitten

          He’s also blocked at CF by BJax

  • BluBlud

    Interesting that Vogelbach is assigned to Daytona. I didn’t thikn he had any shot at starting higher or lower then Kane County and I know he still can start there, but what are the chance he starts in Daytona?

    Also, Jeffrey Baez, who is a very intriuing prospect to me, and a guy who I mentioned earlier this year, is listed in Kane County. I doubt he skips Boise, but this is a guy to watch. He was handed a $350,000 signing bonus in 2010, so he’s not expected to be a non-prospect. He’s got a pretty decent hit stick and he is pretty patient. He has an ability to get on base, and with his speed, that’s never a bad thing. If Soler and Almora is the future of the Cubs OF, this guy could grow into the third piece. He has top notch speed and while he may never be a slugger, he will develop some power, which would make him a very good lead off hitter type. He is still only 19 years old and has a lot of developing to do. He may not show up on any of the Cubs top prospect list, but keep an eye out on this guy. We could start hearing a lot about him in the next year or two.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Blu, you may want to read the Vogelbach bullet again. These assignments mean very little at this point – you’ll note that there isn’t even a Boise or Rookie Level right now.

      Vogelbach is a virtual lock to start at KC.

      • BluBlud

        Yeah, I know, Which is why stated I didn’t think he would. That’s why I asked the question what is the chance he starts in Daytona. Myself, I think slim to none.

        • King Jeff

          There really isn’t a true first baseman on Daytona’s roster, so it wouldn’t shock me to see Vogelbach there sooner than later. I do think that they’ll want to see him at Kane County for a bit before sending him down to Florida.

          • BluBlud

            Yeah, Considering that Vogelbach is older then Almora and basicly the same age as Baez, if he keeps hitting the way he has at the lower level, I wouldn’t be suprised to see promoted through the system to atleast catch up to Baez.

            • King Jeff

              I fully expect Almora to make that jump at some point this year too. I think Soler is going to start at Daytona too, but don’t quote me on that, I only think I remember hearing that. We’ll have to consult the experts.

              • BluBlud

                yeah, I think Soler has a chance to start in Tennessee, and Baez a slightly less, if not minute, chance. If everyone plays to their potential, come June(completely arbitrary), Soler will definitely be in Tennessee, possibly with Baez and Vogs in Daytona with Almora.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I’d expect Hoilman to be the 1B in Daytona to start the year.

    • BluBlud

      Brett or Luke, what is your take on Jeffrey Baez.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        There are both good and bad signs on the other J. Baez. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the U.S. based leagues, but I’m not expecting him to break into the upper echelons of the Cubs prospect rankings anytime soon.

  • Chris84

    The way things work in our home is my wife runs races and I usually hang out at the finish line drinking beer, coffee or both.

  • ETS

    Read (or skimmed) most of that Johnson article. Interesting and exciting stuff, but how much is development vs talent? How much development is HS age vs college age vs pro age? It’s tough (probably impossible) to quantity the affect of such a coach, but if the Cubs are erroring at least it’s on the side of caution.

  • Patrick G

    Tigers release Boesch. Do Cubs pounce on him?

    • ETS

      TIGERS release Boesch. Do Cubs POUNCE on him?

      …I see what you did there

  • Tennessee Cub

    Any chance that the Cubs try and pick up Brennan Boesch? He is a young player and not terrible. What ya think?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Someone who whiffs 20% of the time homering less than 3% of the time and drawing walks <7% of the time really is not very useful. "Terrible" might be too strong a word for him, but "below average" is probably adequate.

      • King Jeff

        I don’t he’s a fit unless he’s got an infielders glove in his bag of skills.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          heh, very true: but if he were, then the Tigers would be hanging onto him!

  • mak

    AZ Phil also mentioned Hayden Simpson throwing better. Why not?

    • BluBlud

      Because it’s almst impossible for him to throw any worse.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Breaking pitches were never Simpson’s problem. He’s got two that grade out at plus or better.

      Velocity, movement on the fastball, durability, consistency in delivery, bad luck… those are the factors that have derailed Simpson so far. There is still potential there, though, even if most Cub fans have completely given up on him.

      • mak

        Fine guys. Trying to be positive. We all know he sucks.

      • Edwin

        If ever there was a prospect to give up on, it’s probably Simpson.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I don’t know. I would rather give up on Ben Kryzclinski.

          • hansman1982

            How dare you say that…losing Ben Krzyzewski was almost as huge as trading away Campana.

            • BluBlud

              You are starting to piss me off, Hansman. If we had Campana, that would be at least a huge win improvement. Without him last year, we might have only won 60.2 games. He is definitely the difference between last place and world series.

              • DarthHater

                You are starting to piss me off, too hansman. Not for any particular reason. You just piss me off. :-P

                • TWC

                  FINALLY someone had the guts to say it.

                  • MightyBear

                    I like Hansman.

                    • TWC

                      You’re just a Hansman koolaid drinker, MightyBear!

                    • DarthHater

                      Apologist!

                    • Hansman1982

                      My kool aid brings all the boys to the yard.

              • Hansman1982

                Precisely. Add in Kerjeekistan (seriously, iPhone you don’t correct a word that clearly doesn’t exist) and I bet last years Cubs would have gone undefeated.

                Btw…I hate you, I hate TWC, MightyBear is kewl and I hate Darth. Skrew you guys, I’m out.

                • DarthHater

                  So much hate! The emperor will be pleased!

              • Jono

                i bet he’s a closet cardinal fan

                • TWC

                  Well, okay, see, you stepped over a line there, kid.

                  • Jono

                    Yea, probably

                • Hansman1982

                  What did you say?

                  • Jono

                    Maybe I took the joking around too far. I should’ve written “white sox fan”

                    • Hansman1982

                      Do you kiss your mom with that whore mouth?

                    • BluBlud

                      Hey hey, calling someone a whitesox fan. You racist. Totally not cool. ;)

                    • DarthHater

                      Not racist. White Sox fans are a species, not a race. :-P

                    • BluBlud

                      Yeah, what was I thinking.

                    • Jono

                      God I hate all you pirate fans

                    • DarthHater

                      argh

                    • Hansman1982

                      “God I hate all you pirate fans. ”

                      I have great indifference towards this comment.

    • King Jeff

      I think I got mono just from thinking about Hayden Simpson being picked in the first round.

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