albert almoraThey say it can take four or five years before a baseball team really knows how well it did in a given draft. And that is probably true. We may have a pretty good idea in as few as two or three years, but the point is that it just takes time.

That doesn’t mean we can’t take a look before then, though.

And that is exactly what we will do this this pre-draft edition of the This Week In the Minors. After the weekly team summaries we will run down the entirety of the Cubs 2012 draft. There are a few names on that list that have probably become familiar to you, even beyond the obvious two at the top.

Iowa Cubs : 24-30

Just when you think the Cubs are putting it all together, they run off and have a disappointing road trip in Nashville. I honestly thought the Cubs had a chance to sweep the Sounds. Nope. However, despite their mediocre week and abysmal road record (8-20), the Cubs are just three games out of first place. Against all probability, this is a team in the hunt for the postseason.

Tennessee Smokies : 28-26

The Smokies played pretty well this week, but they remain 6.5 games behind first place Birmingham. Tennessee is very unlikely to catch the Barons in time to claim a first half title and lock up a spot in the postseason. They should be one of the favorites to claim the second half title, though, so post season baseball is still very much a possibility for the Double A affiliate.

Daytona Cubs : 27-26

The Cubs are in fourth and are just three games back of first. It will take a quite a run to push them over the top and into a first half title, but when this team is clicking they have the potential to put up wins in bunches. Oddly enough, the Cubs still have a better road record (15-11) than they do a home record (12-15).

Kane County Cougars : 24-29

Kane County has fallen out of the first half race. A disastrous week left the Cougars 10.5 back of first place Cedar Rapids.

The Chicago Cubs’ 2012 Draft Revisited

There are a lot of draftees to cover, so I am not going to spend long time talking about any of them. If that player has appeared in a real game for the Cubs, the name should be a link to their page on Baseball Reference. And away we go.

Albert Almora, OF – If you don’t know who Almora is, you have not been hanging around Bleacher Nation enough lately. He’s ripping up the Midwest League for Kane County right now.
Pierce Johnson, RHP – Also in Kane County, Johnson is one of the more polished high ceiling arms in the Cubs system. Don’t let his low level fool you; when he is ready to move up, he could move up quickly.
Paul Blackburn, RHP – Perhaps the most polished high school arm the Cubs drafted, Blackburn appeared briefly in the Rookie league last year.
Duane Underwood, RHP – His fastball shows plenty of potential, but this guy is in need of a lot of polish. It may take a few years before the Cubs really know how good he can be.
Ryan McNeil, RHP – The fourth consecutive pitcher taken by the Cubs, McNeil is a another project with the potential to impress one day. Currently injured.
Joshua Conway, RHP – He fell due to injuries, but if he can manage to stay healthy he might prove to be as good as anyone on this list. Currently injured.
Anthony Prieto, LHP – Hey, look! A lefty! Some control issues here; Prieto walked 12 in 19.1 innings for Arizona last summer.
Carl Lang, RHP – The seventh straight pitcher taken by the Cubs also has yet to pitch outside the state of Arizona.
Stephen Bruno, Inf – As the first position player taken by the Cubs behind Almora, Bruno is a good name to know if you want to impress your friends with random Cubs trivia. He has an OPS of .914 so far this year with Daytona.
Michael Heesch, LHP – He’s currently pitching for Kane County. I like the GO/AO (1.55) but he needs to improve that 5.01 ERA against right handed hitting if he wants to remain a starter.
Chadd Krist, C – Someone forgot to tell Krist the Cubs don’t have any catching prospects in the system. Not only is this guy solid behind plate, he has an OPS of .829 following an early season promotion to Daytona.
Chad Martin, RHP – 17 K in 16 IP for Arizona is a nice foundation build on. At 6’7″, this Hoosier might be the tallest pitcher in the system.
Rashad Crawford, OF – One of the best raw athletes in the system, Crawford is an example that even this front office is willing to gamble on athletes as well as more polished baseball players, if only occasionally. If his Rookie League walk rate is any indication, though, this guy could be one to watch.
Justin Amlung, RHP – Another college arm, Amlung is earning his living in the Kane County bullpen. He’s getting in trouble with walks and home runs, but he has been stingy with the hits so far. Good GO/AO as well.
Bijan Rademacher, LHP – Some teams wanted him as a pitcher, but he wanted to hit. The Cubs agreed to let him try. He got off to a slow start, but hit .337/.402/.422 in May. He’s also gotten some work on the mound as a bullpen saver.
Corbin Hoffner, RHP – Posted an ERA of 0.71 over 12.2 IP in the Rookie League last summer.
Carlos Escobar, C – Escobar hit decently for Boise last fall, but he has struggled to get going with Kane County this summer. Then again, he only has 7 games under belt. It is way too early to form any conclusions.
Michael Hamann, RHP – He got knocked around a little as a reliever in Boise.
Nathan Dorris, LHP – A bullpen guy for Kane County, Dorris has a record of 2-2 and has struck out 22 in 22.2 innings. Remarkably, he has a GO/AO of 2.58.
David Bote, 2B/SS – Bote has played for both Daytona and Kane County this spring, and has more walks (14) than hits (9). Three of those nine hits have gone for extra bases (including one homer).
Damek Tomscha, 3B – Did not sign.
Blake Hickman, C – Did not sign.
Steve Perakslis, RHP – Also in Kane County, Peraklis has been pitching well in relief. His walk rate is a little high, but he is also doing a great job of inducing ground balls.
Eddie Orozco, RHP – And yet another Kane County reliever, Orozco has had trouble with left handed hitters this year.
Jake Drosner, LHP – Did not sign.
William Fisher, C – Did not sign.
Rhett Wiseman, OF – Did not sign. Had the talent to be drafted in the first three rounds, but was firmly committed to Vanderbilt. This is a name to remember for future draft conversations.
Jasvir Rakkar, RHP – Struck out 13 in 10 IP for Arizona last summer.
Tyler Bremer, RHP – Bremer struggled in relief for Boise last summer.
Lance Rymel, C – This guy is already in Double A (though perhaps just temporarily). He singled and walked in his one game at that level and as a result has a Double A OPS of .833.
Austin Pentecost, RHP – Did not sign.
Izaac Garsez, OF – Had 6 steals and 2 home runs in 38 games between Arizona and Boise last year. Strikeouts could be a problem.
Bryan Bonnell, RHP – Did not sign.
Tim Saunders, SS/2B – One of the biggest surprises of the draft for the Cubs, Saunders hit at every level as he climbed up to Daytona last year. He has not yet been able to replicate that success this season.
Thomas Pannone, OF – Did not sign.
Christian Botnick, RHP – Did not sign.
Ben Carhart, 3B – The Cubs surprisingly jumped Carhart all the way to Daytona from Arizona to open the 2013 season, and while Carhart is not tearing up the league, he’s not playing badly either.
Sly Edwards, OF – Did not sign. But his name really is Sly on the draft tracker.
Clayton Crum, RHP – Did not sign.
Hassan Evans, OF – Did not sign.
Rustin Sveum, 3B – Did not sign, despite being related to the Cubs’ manager.
Jacob Rogers, 1B – One of the oldest players drafted by the Cubs, Rogers appeared in 16 games for Peoria last year and posted the impressive line of .300/.493/.420 with 19 BB and 14 K.

And there you have it. Forty rounds (plus compensation rounds) of drafting drama compressed into one overly concise list. We can expect to see many names from this list open their 2013 season with Boise in a few weeks. Hopefully they will be joined there by a talent rich crop from the 2013 draft.

The 2013 Draft starts on Thursday night at 7 PM ET. Brett and I will be covering it here on the website as well as on Twitter.

  • nkniacc13

    thanks for the updates on drat picks luke

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Luke, which pitcher do you see making the biggest impact throughout his career?

    • Rich H

      I know I am not Luke but McNeil to me has the best chance to be special if he can ever be healthy.

    • Luke

      Likely Johnson. Blackburn and Underwood aren’t too far behind him, but they are young enough that it is tougher to get a solid read on their potential.

      For now, Johnson.

  • DaveY

    Saunders reminds me of D.J. Fitzgerald. Drafted in round 22 of 2009 and zipped from Arizona short season to Boise to Peoria that year. He never got past Peoria after that… Every few years the Cubs seem to have a late rounder that has great early success only to completely fall off after that. I hope Saunders turns out better.

    • Drew7

      Every team has them. College seniors *should* hold their own in Low-A.

  • nkniacc13

    because of all the pitchers in Kane County from this class could the Cubs go the HS pitching route this year after the first pick?

    • X the Cubs Fan

      They probably will. Seems like this could be the draft strategy until we get some pitching in the organization.

    • Luke

      They’ll probably take the best pitcher on the board quite often in the first several rounds again, high school or college.

      I look for some college arms, especially, in rounds 2-4.

      • cms0101

        I would go a little farther and suggest they’ll concentrate on college arms in rounds 2-10. Since those rounds make up the pool figure, they’ll want to try and get guys under slot so they can spread the money around a little bit more. And since college seniors have less leverage, that’s a strategy that seemed to come together last season for many of the teams. Obviously if there is a HS arm or bat that is high on the board they’ll take him, but in general I would expect heavy college runs, followed by high schoolers after round 10.

        • nkniacc13

          The easiest way to do that in a way is take college relievers

        • JB88

          I sure hope they don’t do that. It is too safe to find a potential ace. I’d rather they take high ceiling rather than high floor guys, particularly in the middle rounds.

  • X the Cubs Fan

    that is very good draft, a lot of upside. I don’t know where but I heard McNeil has ace upside anyone else hear that?

  • Jp3

    Almora is playing his tail off right now. He has destroyed low a pic thing through 10 games, I’m interested to see what happens when pitchers start making adjustments to him with advanced scouting reports and how he counters. If he is still taking in the next 20 +games I don’t know if he’s actually being challenged in Low A. Also Pierce Johnson has been lights out and it’s probably about time to bump him up to Daytona seeing he’s a little old for his league but is still a stud.

  • On The Farm

    Thanks for the rundown. Good stuff as always. Gotta love how the FO found some real quality talent like Saunders and Carhart so late in the draft.

    I’m curious, do you plan on running down the 2011 and/or 2010 drafts as well?

    • DReese

      Great update Luke. I would also like to hear about previous drafts

      • nkniacc13

        2011 draft is when they went spending big right?

        • On the Farm

          Yeah they got guys like Vogelbach, Maples, etc. One of the last few good things Hendry did before being relieved of duty

    • Luke

      Not by Thursday.

      I had intended to do each of the past 5 drafts over the winter, but my schedule filled up and I never found time for it. It’s on the todo list for this winter. Hopefully it can happen.

      • On the Farm

        Yeah I figured you would be pretty busy this week, but wasn’t sure if you would be able get those articles out in the weeks following the drafts. Either way I look forward to your insights from previous drafts and really looking forward to all that hard work you and Brett are going to put in this week.

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Also if Almora continues to rake could he skip high-A, I mean if he’s down there until say July they should at least consider it.

    • Kyle

      He’s not skipping high A.

      • Jp3

        Agreed, no way he skips high A. That league has some great pitching, just ask Baez, that league is super important developmentally.

    • Blublud

      Almora is playing very good right now. He has 11 singles in 9 games and only 2 BB. His BABIP is .500. These stats suggest he is just as lucky as he is good, and he still can’t draw walks. His 2 came in the same game. There is no way in hell he leaves KC anytime doon, let alone skip Daytona.

      • cms0101

        Agreed. Almora had 2 very good games immediately and has been finding his way ever since. Mix in the minor leg injury that put him out of action for 5 days and you have a player trying to figure out a new level. I agree with Kyle, he won’t be skipping high A, but I’ll go a little further. I don’t think he leaves Kane County in 2013. He’s a very talented kid, but also keep in mind he’s VERY young.

      • wvcubsfan

        Seems to me the sample size is way small to draw any conclusions yet. It’s hard to walk if the pitchers aren’t throwing 4 balls before they throw 3 strikes. maybe he’s just scalding the ball every time and not lucky. Not really disagreeing with you just saying its really early.

        Also agree no way he skips Daytona. Can’t see him spending any less than 1/2 year there and more than likely an entire season.

        • Luke

          The sample size is way too small to learn much of anything about Almora yet.

          • Kyle

            Disagree, at least in terms of his career to date and not just this year. Small samples for peripherals can be highly suggestive.

            • Luke

              I was referring to year to date.

              He did get a good chunk of experience last year.

  • another JP

    Since Almora is only 19 I think he’s headed for Daytona later this summer. Guy isn’t a SS but his make-up reminds me of Derek Jeter. Seems like Johnson will be the first guy promoted from KC and would like to see Bruno sent up a level also. If it weren’t for the damn injuries last season’s draft would look much better.

  • nkniacc13

    Yeah I think Johnson could move up in mid July thou that may depend on when and where the Cubs 2 pick signs and goes. The only way that Almora would skip A is if he started next year at AA there is no way that he gets promoted this year up to Tenn. As polished as he may be if the Cubs didn’t do it with Soler I cant see them doing it with Almora

  • MikeW

    Garsez retired

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I think Almora, Vogelbach, and Rademacher join DeVoss, Bruno, Carhart, and Krist in Daytona, and they move up the ranks together.

    LF DeVoss
    CF Almora
    RF Rademacher
    1B Vogelbach
    2B Bruno
    3B Carhart
    SS Saunders
    C Krist

    LF Silva / Andreoli
    CF Sczcur / Ha
    RF Soler
    1B Geiger
    2B Torres / Torreyes
    3B Villanueva
    SS Baez
    C Noble / Lopez
    UT Giansanti

    Arismendy Alcantara gets promoted to AAA.

    • Luke

      Alcantara will be promoted to Iowa in 2014. I don’t see it happening before then.

      Keep in mind that Alcantara has yet to play 100 games in a season. He split time with Soto in Peoria and was injured for a large chunk of last year. A little continuity and the ability to settle into one spot, get comfortable, and really work on his game is not such a bad thing. He’s already in Double A, and if the Cubs wanted he could potentially jump from Double A to the major next season if they felt so inclined. Rushing Alcantara to Iowa would be almost pointless at this stage, and would likely be detrimental.

      I hope he gets a crack at the Arizona Fall League, though.

      • Dynastyin2017

        I agree Luke. Plus with Lake and Vitters back soon. Junior Lake probably takes the SS spot at AAA. He needs to play.
        Thinking about this last night, though, s Castro looked like he was hurt. Who would the Cubs bring up to cover Castro’s DL stint? For 2 weeks, would Alcantara be in the conversation.

        • Jeff

          I would like to see Vitters called up July 1 and Lake allowed to play 3rd base at Iowa.

          I agree, there isn’t a back up for Castro if he was hurt, but I would vote for a Barney move to SS and a Logan Watkins call up to cover 2nd base.

          It’s time to move the veterans and let these kids start playing.

          • nkniacc13

            well with the draft they aren’t just going to give away vets and teams are working hard on draft than on trades

        • Luke

          I strongly suspect we’ll see Lake at 3B and OF in Iowa more than we see him at SS. It is about time for him to concentrate his work on the positions he’ll play in the majors. And with the Cubs, at least, he’s unlikely to be a shortstop.

        • On The Farm

          Barney played college and some minor league games as a SS. He is by far the best SS option after Castro, then they would probably let Valbuena take over second

  • Le Cubs

    I have heard many times the Cubs are very weak at catcher. Do you see the Cubs targeting a catcher and if so who would it be?

    • Rcleven

      Depends on what the Cubs think they need most and who is priority but here is a look at the top 10.

      • Brett

        Drafting catchers is always tricky – seems like it’s tough to know the really good ones at a young age, and most of the ones who can hit move off of catcher quickly.

        • Luke

          This is also true. If the Cubs draft a catcher high, I’d rather it be a college guy.

        • http://Isa Voice of reason

          That’s the case with any player not just catchers

    • On The Farm

      I have very little insight, but I have seen a HS catcher who falls right around where the Cubs will be picking at 75 (3) Chris Otkey from FL. Wouldnt mind the Cubs taking a catcher with a relatively high pick.

    • Luke

      They’ll take some catchers, but they still don’t know what they have in some of the handful they took last year. I don’t see it as a priority right now.

      Middle infield and third base depth I’m pretty happy with, but the outfield is looking a little thin. Once you get past Soler and Almora the talent level starts to drop off fairly fast. I’d probably have that behind pitching (particularly left handed pitching) as the biggest area in need of reinforcement.

    • Rich H

      There is a catchers that if the Cubs catch a break and he slides to 41 will probably take a shot on. Denney a HS catcher that has been ranked anywhere from 25 to 40.

      It is more likely that they will try to get a catcher with their 3rd round pick when Tyler Oneil or Dom Nunez should be on the board.

  • David

    Just heard a quirk on Baseball tonight. Ken Griffey will be the 1st #1 overall draft pick to make the hall of fame. Interesting…

  • Rich H

    They have a very good top 500 ready for the draft at Baseball America. You have to be a member to get the scouting reports on the guys but you can see the rankings for free.

  • Josh

    Is there any injury update out of Daytona on Bruno? I know he was hit in the hand with a pitch, but I have not seen anything regarding his timeframe other then the standard 7-day DL status. Same with Ha….

  • MoneyBoy

    Luke … I remember hearing that Pentecost failed his physical last year and that was why he did not sign. That sound right to you??

    Also, Blake Hickman, the catcher from Simeon HS here in Chicago was committed to college somewhere and was, I believe, thought to be “the one that got away.”

    It was *reported* that Dorris and Hamman each received $100,000 bonuses. I wonder if Hickman could have been lured by an amount greater than that.

    I still like the notion that the F.O. went after guys like Hickman (20th) and Wiseman (25th) in the middle of the draft !!!!

    Oh, thanks for the updates by the way!!

  • Tommy

    Thanks Luke. That was awesome! Love these type of articles from you!

  • Zachary

    What is conway’s injury

    • Luke

      Stress fracture in the elbow, I think. Don’t hold me to that.

      He’s already had Tommy John, though.

      • Brett


  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Catcher to draft at #75 is Andrew Knapp from Cal-Berkeley , last time he faced Appel he tagged him for a HR and a double. He is a switch hitter and is highly rated for his defense.