The Minor Leagues Are Full of All-Stars and Other Bullets

javier baez aflThe first football Saturday of the year is here, and I’ll be hitting up the Buckeyes game today – I know, I know, Michigan fan, but I live in Columbus – so I’ll be in and out. Mostly out.

  • The Cubs’ minor league system is full of post-season All-Stars (which makes a lot more sense than mid-season All-Stars), including Rock Shoulders down in the Midwest League. The largest bounty of All-Stars came in the Southern League, where the AA Tennessee Smokies placed five players on the 15-player All-Star squad: Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, Matt Szczur, and Kyle Hendricks. Baez and Hendricks are very likely to be the Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, in the Cubs’ system.
  • Ryne Sandberg was happy to win yesterday, because obviously. You can read about Sandberg’s return here, here, and here.
  • Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena are set to return to the big team tomorrow when rosters expand (teams can call up anyone on the 40-man). Valbuena, who is arbitration eligible for the second time after the season, is expected to return as a quality utility man. Sweeney is a free agent, and, although the Cubs likely would want him back next year as a very solid fourth outfielder, he may want to test the free agent waters a bit before returning. In each case, they’ll get a little more time to show what they can do before the end of the year.
  • Marc Hulet did a prospect chat at FanGraphs, and it’s heavy on the love for Cubs prospects. Top three system in baseball, 5 to 7 top 100 prospects overall, lots of love for Baez and Bryant … it goes on, and and I smile.
  • I’ll write about this separately, but if you haven’t seen Jeff Passan’s recent piece on “conversion” language in MLB player contracts (with the Cubs leading the pack, apparently), it’s a very interesting read.
  • It sounds like there’s going to be a feature on ESPN2 on September 3 at 6pm CT on Matt Szczur.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

41 responses to “The Minor Leagues Are Full of All-Stars and Other Bullets”

  1. Jp3

    I think I’m confused about the trailer for Szczur… It just says there’s more to life than baseball, going to need more of a tease than that to get me to watch. Sounds like maybe he did something great but there is no background to it.

    1. turn two

      One of the more widely publicized events that any of our minor leaguers were involved in.

      1. Jp3

        Ahhh ok, found it on Wikipedia. Bone marrow transplant, that was awesome. Don’t know how I missed that. Maybe it’s because most of the news that get run on ESPN is controversial mess like Aaron Hernandez doing PCP and shooting dudes. Good to see there are good people out there too

        1. Mat B

          One of the reasons I’m such a fan of the kid. I wish they would have given him a shot at AAA this year.

    2. auggie55

      Yeah I was confused at first too, so I read the remarks on You Tube. Tells you something about his character and makes you pull for this guy even more.

  2. Chad

    While at Villanova, Matt Szczur donated bone marrow to a 15 month old girl. Pretty amazing thing to do…there is life outside baseball.

    1. Tommy

      That is amazing, and says a lot about the character of those two kids. That is not a simple pain-free procedure to go through.

      Thanks for sharing, Chad.

      1. Jason

        Acutely painful procedure that will take your breath away. Matt is a tough kid period.

  3. Sam

    Go Bucks

  4. Tommy

    Wow – Hulet said the Cubs may have the best system in baseball. That was a great read – thanks for posting.

  5. Jason P

    If there ended up being only 5 Cubs in the top-100 prospects overall, I think I’d actually be disappointed. 7 seems much more like it to me, which would mean only 1 of Olt, Alcantara, Edwards, or Johnson is left out.

    1. Eternal pessemist

      I cant see any way alcantara is left out.

  6. another JP

    Hulet mentioned the Cubs could become good very fast & I agree… if they work the top prospects onto the team in the next year or so. Also thought Baez was a 4 WAR player and he would have taken Bryant first in the draft this year. Two power hitters like that in the lineup by 2015 would change the offense in a hurry.

    1. Eternal pessemist

      I would agree. I know the mood has shifted with the cubs recent decline (should have been expected with all the trade-aways) but i still see 2014 as decent and 2025 as good to very good. Several very good pieces shoul be added through the minors by early to mid 2015 and we can raid the FA market to round out a genuine MLB team.

      1. PcB

        I hope it doesn’t take until 2025. I won’t be pleased.

        1. Mitch

          Come to my grave and tell me about it–I want details.

          1. Eternal pessemist

            You got it mitch…just need directions!

            1. Jp3

              This whole transcript was hilarious, maybe I was just at work too long today. Awesome. Nice game for OLT tonight by the way

              1. Mike F

                You must be looking at the wrong game. 4/4 sure, but not the right kind, golden sombrero. He’s still way to far off, striking out too much to hand anything. He’s not consistently making performance and tonight is just a reminder, Olt needs to be examined and lots of work.

                1. Jp3

                  Yeah I was definitely joking, it’s never a good day under the golden sombrero. I’m just hoping he takes a break in the offseason to see if his vision and concussion issues heal a bit, have my doubts though.

    2. praying the cubs get ready to win

      How about add Stanton and Price to our young rookie stars. Obtain using a combination of Barney, Russell, Villanueva, Szcur, Olt, Johnson, Maples and Vogelbach.

      1. Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

        Why are people so naive? Not to be harsh or anything. It’s going to take 2 or 3 of the big 4 to acquire Stanton or price and then another additional arm and a leg

        1. MichiganGoat

          Precisely you can’t get either of them without a package that includes a big 4 even if you sent them the rest of our top ten.

        2. Blublud

          I disagree. It will take one of the top 4, Vogs, Johnson,and 2 other top 15 players for price. Who cares about how much it’ll cost for Stanton, you can keep him til he shows me some more.

          1. MichiganGoat

            You might be right that it will only take one top four plus others but the Price market will be quite the bidding war and other teams have near MLB top prospects to deal. Baez is the only one that is close and he only have 1/2 season at AA.

          2. Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

            Wow you seriously are need a reality check. Over valuing your own prospects and severely undervaluing one of the best young hitters and one of the best SP in the league.

            1. Blublud

              Stanton is a good ball player, but go chech his stats. In 2012, Stanton had a very good season. It was not great. I have seen Aramis and DLee put up better seasons in a Cubs uni and be considered super elite.

              The other 3 years, his stats don’t stink, but they definitely are not close to elite. Last year, we said Shark hadn’t shown enough to warrant a big extension. Well, shouldn’t that also go for Stanton, who has actually shown less.

              The Cubs will have to pay a huge price in prospects for a guy I think is over valued and overrated, and then pay(over pay) him a huge contract to keep him. I would much rather keep Baez, Bryant and Soler, as I believe they all can be better and chances are at least one becomes as good.

              If the deal is for Almora and a few others then sure, but I still wouldn’t want him because after his next contract, he will be severely over paid. For a guy who will be paid close to or over 20 mil plus per year, he needs to show a lot more before I would be willing to pay the price for him.

              To many people are going off either what they think or heard about stanton, but have never probably seen him play, checked stats or probably don’t even know that GianCarlo is not his original name. He is not in the top in one single baseball stat, yet we call him elite. For the double price we would have to pay for him, Stanton can stay in Miami.

              1. Blublud

                In the first paragraph, it should be not considered elite.

              2. Drew7

                I’ve looked at his stats.

                Measured by wRC+, Stanton owns 2 of the top-20 offensive seasons by a player 22 or younger, with the season you mentioned (2012) coming in at #7 – just behind Pujols in ’01 and A-Rod in ’96.

                Ramirez has *never* had a year like Stanton’s ’12 season, and Lee had 1 – a season that he probably should have won the MVP.

                Power is a very scarce commodity right now. A guy that isn’t even 24 and owns a career .890-something OPS is an elite player.

                1. AB

                  yea, he has a passion for the game sometimes I have no idea how Blubud evaluates players and prospects.

                2. DocPeterWimsey

                  The power is where Stanton has really stood out as elite: his HR:FB ratios have been just sick. They are “down” this year but the actual number is within career range.

            2. AlwaysNextYear

              Reality check is that baseball has started a new trend and that’s not unloading top prospects for players elite or not.

          3. Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

            Blublood: the package you just offered might only be slightly better then the pa deal we got for Garza as a rental at the trade deadline. Garza is good but not elite like price or elite or have the youth of Stanton

            1. BT

              Actually it’s not even close. There is a vast difference between a top 30 prospect in baseball and Olt. Admittedly Olt was once highly rated, but he wasn’t at the time the Cubs made the deal for him. I’m not saying Blubluds package would be enough for Price, but a deal built around one of the top 4, plus 2 other possible top 100 prospect, PLUS two other to 15 prospects from one of the best systems in the majors simply isn’t close to what we got for Garza.

              1. Blublud

                Exactly BT. Grimm and Olt aren’t exactly lighting it up, and Ramirez is borderline. Edwards is the only legit prospect they got for Garza. It was a good deal for the Cubs but nothing close to what I offered for price.

              2. jeff1969

                Saying Olt was once highly rated is dishonest. He was still rated in at least the Top 75 or so at the time of the trade by BA. Go look at the midseason rankings. This spring, which I guess is what you must mean when you say once, he was a Top 25 prospect, #22 I believe by BA. You’re just trying to win your own argument with yourself. Last Fall the Rangers wouldn’t include Olt in the Garza negotiations. Look at the rest of this years trade deadline deals, the Cubs did very well to get what they did for Garza. Just a year ago Grimm was #5 in Texas’ prospect rankings, Olt #2, Edwards #22 (I think) & Ramirez #24 (or so). The Rangers minor league system was & is pretty freaking good. The funny thing is, nearly all of the people on this & every Cubs blog had no idea who Edwards was until they clicked on the link on MLBTR to check his stats with Baseball Reference. Now you all run around calling him only real prospect. Silly people, stop talking like you know something.

  7. praying the cubs get ready to win

    When you add the fact that the young players are inexpensive and the contracts the Cubs would take on are large, I wouldn’t be so surprised to see 4 of the young rookies above get Stanton or Price.

  8. praying the cubs get ready to win

    I definitely over value our players, I would not trade Baez or Bryant at this point. I am counting on them being two of the every day players we need to finally win a World Series. It might not happen but when you look at the total salaries we can spend, when they come up, they will be low salaries, allowing the Cubs to get a couple of free agents. Maybe at the time we go for it, we give up the second selection and spend some free agent money. Maybe we go after one this year and one next year while we are in the bottom 10 teams and we can protect our first round draft pick.

  9. jeff1969

    I really don’t think the Cubs FO is doing what they’re doing to trade half a dozen very good prospects for one guy. Price, Stanton or not. Good organizations build solid volume. They try to keep the best & trade the surplus at it’s highest value. You see less & less blockbuster 5 for 1 type deals happening. I am really excited to see if guys like Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora, Vogelbach & others can keep developing & force the hand of the FO. The best things about the way Theo & Jed are doing this is that if say, Baez just flames out next year, does a Brett Jackson, there is a guy, maybe not as hyped & not as prospecty, behind him and maybe more than one or two. Not saying we have a system of Baez type guys but the Cubs now have many more options and that is something we haven’t had since the days of Dallas Green and instead of dreaming to trade all of these options, we should root for their continued positive development.

  10. Sam

    I know all too well that many top prospects never pan out, but I am hoping that by 2015 we can see a lineup like this: 3B Baez, SS Castro, 2B Alcantara, 1B Rizzo, LF Soler, CF Almora/Lake, RF Bryant, C Castillo.
    It’s doubtful that the FO would go with a lineup without some free agent veteran or two, but hopefully by then Castro and Rizzo are leading vets on this team. This would be a fun lineup to watch grow together!

  11. cub2014

    I like the 2015 lineup except:
    Choo or Ellsury in center Schierholz or Lake
    in right with Bryant in left (Sweeney as back up)
    Dont think Almora will be up in 2015
    Trade Soler,Raley,Black,Villanueva for Price
    (should be close to enough?)

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