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Albert Almora CubsBaseball Prospectus continues to be awesome, and to expand its scouting reach and influence. The man helping, in large part, to drive that expansion is Jason Parks (not-a-professor-but-@ProfessorParks), the national prospect and player development writer at BP (#rig).

He chatted at BP yesterday about all manner of things, and it always makes for a good read. If you want to become a better student of the prospect game across baseball (pretty handy this time of year), it’s as good of a place to start as any. Among his Cubs-related thoughts …

  • Parks loves Kris Bryant’s power, and places him as the more attractive prospect, overall, between he and Gregory Polanco (the question was power versus wide range of tools). That said, Parks remains a little concerned about swing and miss issues as he climbs the ladder.
  • A .315/.360/.485 slash line with 20+ HR and 20+ SB is probably too optimistic for Albert Almora long-term, but Parks still sees a first division talent in Almora. I really hope he’s healthy next year, because I’m fascinated to see how quickly he can climb.
  • Jorge Soler has huge power potential, but his performance might always trail his tools because of “adjustment ability” and “overall feel for the game.” Parks doesn’t see a future star in Soler, and sees him as the most likely of The Big Four to underperform. All fair, though I wonder how much of a book there can really be out there on a guy who played a partial season in 2012 and then a couple months in 2013 before he was injured. (Not that those are good things … )
  • Jeimer Candelario is not a top 100 type prospect … “this year.” As he was in 2013, Candelario remains a huge breakout candidate for 2014.
  • On Starlin Castro ever rebounding in the future, Parks offered this: “If he’s allowed to return to the type of player he is and not the type of player they seem to want him to be. He’s an aggressive, reactionary hitter. That’s who he is.” There was nothing wrong with trying to make him, overall, a more potent hitter. It didn’t take last year, and this year should probably be about a salvage job.
  • Parks offers much love for Matt Dorey – the recently-promoted crosschecker who is now the Cubs’ Farm Director – calling him a friend, and “one of the sharpest scouting minds in the game.” Giggity.
  • On the Blue Jays trading for Jeff Samardzija, Parks says that dealing either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman would be “reckless.” I guess he’s quite high on those two (Parks prefers Stroman, for what it’s worth).
  • Rebuilding

    I like Parks, but I think the Blue Jays wouldn’t even blink if the asking price was either Sanchez OR Stroman. I do think one of the holdups of a deal with them is that we likely would ask for both.

    “There was nothing wrong with trying to make him, overall, a more potent hitter” – I don’t know what you mean by this, Brett. I see plenty wrong with the approach in which they tried to do it. You can’t teach plate discipline – so now we have a young player who has surely lost confidence, is worth less (how much is debatable) as a trade piece and might now have some long term challenges with his development as he qustions the way he has hit since he was a kid. Even in a lost season I don’t see how that is a neutral for arguably 1 of the 2 players on our current roster that matter the most. I’m not sure why they did it or what they really hoped to accomplish, but I wouldn’t say there was nothing wrong with it.

    • Jeremy

      Both? The Jays would walk away without a doubt, add in an extra prospect and that would be the cost of David Price. Samardzija is a valuable player, but Sanchez and Stroman are two very good pitchers.

      • Rebuilding

        Maybe. But AA is under a lot of pressure to win in Toronto this year. He rolled the dice last year and it was basically a disaster. In that division they need difference makers and I don’t see Sanchez or Stroman making a significant contribution before next year. I’m just saying that he might be in a position where he would overpay

        • Jeremy Russell

          First off all, Keith Law thinks Stroman can contribute this year, and secondly, as much as AA may overpay, he wont overpay to the point where he could get a better player instead, which a Stroman and Sanchez trade certainly would get.

          • JB88

            What better player is that? Because, let’s be honest, no way, no how do the Rays trade Price to the Blue Jays or to any other team in the AL East. They probably won’t even trade him to a team in the AL.

      • terencemann

        I just think he’s going to reserve a huge offer for a better commodity like Price especially after he sold half the farm for a late 30′s pitcher with limited success in his career (but what a success it was…) last off-season.

        • Rebuilding

          You may well be right, but frankly I don’t think the Jays have enough to get Price. There are others out there that could definitely beat an offer centered around Sanchez and Stroman

          • Rebuilding

            Just to be clear – I think Sanchez and Stroman are both overrated. Sanchez is all potential, but has not really shown command and Stroman is a 5’11″ starter that people are already suggesting bullpen about

            • Spriggs

              From this fan’s perspecting of seeing them both a few times the last couple months… Stroman would be my preference. His fastball explodes and he just seems to have that “it” factor going for him. Of course, I said the same thing about Chris Carpenter (not the cardinal), Hitters seemed a lot more comfortable up there against Sanchez.

              • SenorGato

                I lean Stroman as well. Sanchez might be the most overrated “potential ace” in the minors.

                On top of the mechanical criticisms he has there’s plenty of more obvious paper flaws. He walks too many guys, he lost two Ks per 9 this year, and he still hasn’t thrown more than 90 innings.

                Stroman is a pitcher after my heart with the whole short + fastball + big curveball combo. Now I can move on from Tyler Chatwood?

            • YourResidentJag

              Problem is…I see the Nationals using a package around Gioloto to get Price.

    • ncsujuri

      I’m sure they hoped, as we all should, that Starlin could get better than he already was by lengthening at bats, which generally leads to a pitcher at some point making a mistake, and then Starlin hitting that mistake hard somewhere. Didn’t work, but just because it didn’t doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong thing to do.

      • Rebuilding

        I guess it all depends on whether you think selective patience can be taught. BB rates are on of the few statistics you can pretty much pencil in on any hitter because you either have the ability to discern a strike in milliseconds or you don’t. The guys who have all increased their BB rates significantly over a period of time are guys who developed tremendous power (Sosa for instance) and so they were actively pitched around

        • ncsujuri

          Put me in the camp that thinks you can teach it then. No reference to go from other than watching games so I may be way off base but some organizations, the Cardinals for a hated example, work the count while others are notoriously free swinging. That to me would mean one organization is teaching it while the other isn’t. It could also just be media bias in talking up the qualities of one group of hitters over another. Meh

          • Rebuilding

            Well you bring up a good point. The Cubs are trying to instill that philosophy, but you have to take the hand you are dealt. I’m sure going forward they are going to scout, draft and develop guys from the moment they get them to their philosophy. It just makes no sense to mess with a guy they inherited who OPSd over 750 as a 21 and 22 yo SS. Hopefully he rebounds to his old self this year and no harm, no foul

      • Ken

        Doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do either.

        If Starlin doesn’t recover to what he was it becomes a colossal mistake in fact.

  • Alex

    I think reckless is a perfect word for them. The blue jays cannot afford too make two huge blockbuster deals with prospects in consecutive years. If they did pull of a move for shark and they still ended up not being very good, your looking at a very bleak situation out there for the foreseeable future. With that being said it would be reckless if the cubs didn’t take Sanchez at the least IMO.

  • http://www.chuckclarkmusic.com Chuck Clark

    Brett – this is a little off the baseball path but I just want to say thank you for having ads from Compassion International here on this site. I read your articles every day and am a life long Cub fan and also a Child Advocate for Compassion. Again – thanks for the ads and thanks for the news and keeping us all up to date on our beloved Cubs…God bless you my friend…

    • CubFan Paul

      Brett/BN is atheist

      • HCS

        I am an atheist, although I don’t claim to know the belief system of Brett or anyone else. I used to be fairly militant and argumentative about it, but over the years I have realized that getting upset every time someone says “Bless you” is a waste of perfectly good rage. When someone of faith says something along those lines, they are just saying “I wish you good things” Everyone believes something different, but it’s never meant as an insult, as far as I can see.

        Unless, of course, they are telling me “May god save your soul!”

        • CubFan Paul

          “When someone of faith says something along those lines, they are just saying “I wish you good things””

          They shouldn’t be so ignorant. Brett or whoever they bless when they sneeze could be Muslim or a snake worshipper.

          • HCS

            Eh, anyone upset by a simple greeting is probably out looking to be offended. I know I’ve been there, but it’s too damn taxing to be angry all the time.

            • CubFan Paul

              Sounds like you’re still angry.

              • HCS

                Probably, but now I save it for people who drive poorly.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Way to go at the jugular there, buddy. A simple, warm greeting turns into an argument? I’m a Christian and if a Muslim greeted me in their own manner, I would not be offended. And if you said “Morning to you and the wind, earth, ground!?”, I would also not be offended. Maybe you should learn to coexist with others who think differently than you?

      • cub2014

        CFP, why say things like that, do you
        know them as facts? So, please dont
        type them.
        thank you

        • THEOlogical

          +1

    • Bob D

      Those ads are specific to you based on your recent search history.

      • Todd

        That ^^ Is hilarious!

    • Randy

      It’s ad re-targeting. Thank Google

  • AdamAE24

    It can’t be a good feeling when your original franchise piece is being described as a salvage job at 24 years old or however old he is.

  • jh03

    Brett, wasn’t it Sanchez AND Stroman that he called reckless?

    I’m going back to the chat to double check and make sure I’m not wrong…

    • jh03

      Yep, I’m wrong. There was another question he answered that had those two in a package (which is what I was thinking of), but that wasn’t the one he answered with “reckless.” My bad.

      • Jeremy

        Yeah, he said Sanchez, Stroman and Davis would be an unrealistic package for David Price, much less Samardzija.

        • TulaneCubs

          That was actually my comment, I wanted to throw out a very high end package for Shark and see what he thought it’d do for the Cubs’ system. Wish he would have answered what it’d do for the system, but whatever.

          What I thought was more interesting was he thought that package was unrealistic for even Price. Seems really reasonable in a Price deal to me. I also think it might be a case where he’s higher on Stroman than most, especially if he likes Stroman over Sanchez.

  • MightyBear

    I have a question. Is the Jason Parks that comments on here the real Jason Parks or an imposter? He makes pretty knowledgeable comments. I’m just curious. I follow Professor Parks on twitter because he has good information. I know he’s been on the podcast as well.

  • jon

    Another thing you have to question about Soler is his character after his bat wielding incident earlier this summer then him dogging it in the AFL.

    • JL

      That’s funny because I said the same thing about 2 weeks ago on here and got blasted by a few people. Now Almora will be a great leader on and off the field for Cubs.

      • jon

        Didn’t Soler also get benched during regular season for lack of hustle? I know it was one of the Cubs prospects.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Yes, he was benched for that, but so was Javy and other players for not running it out to 1B. They were setting examples, not saying that they lack hustle.

      • Cubbie Blues

        That is because he wasn’t “dogging it” in the AFL. He stayed after most games and got some running in. He was the only player to do so on the team. He usually didn’t take the extra base and never attempted a stolen base even though that is a part of his game. He was taking it easy on an injured leg.

    • Funn Dave

      I don’t think that should have any effect on his evaluation as a prospect. He’s human. I doubt there’s anyone on this board who’s never said or done anything in a heated moment that they would take back if they had the chance.

  • Mick

    I take Parks’ take on the BJ’s trading Stroman or Sanchez as reckless with a grain of salt. Consider the source, this guy is the Smeagol of prospects, every prospect is precious to this guy.

    Between the the Jays and Nats, I’d much rather what the Nats have to offer. Also, I like the Cubs using the James Shields’ trade as the comp for what they’d like for Shark. If that’s the case then the Cubs could confidently ask for Giolito, Cole, Goodwin, and Solis.

    • jon

      That was a very stupid trade by the Royals, and you would have to find another “sucker”. Not saying the Cubs won’t of course I just don’t think you can use that trade as a baseline example.

      • FullCountTommy

        While the trade might have been short sighted, if the Royals make the playoffs this year, then that trade is probably worth it to the Royals.

    • FullCountTommy

      For what it’s worth, Parks said that Giolito has the highest upside of any pitching prospect in baseball and that he wouldn’t trade him fro anyone, further supporting your Smeagol comment haha

  • FarmerTanColin

    Soler still has way too little of a sample size to determine much and since I’m optimistic I don’t think he’s touched his stride yet. His approach at the start of last season was not something that I’ve seen out of many power hitters. 9%BB rate and 16%K rate seems impressive for a guy that had not played baseball in a couple years and he did a lot of it with the shin fracture?

    If anything to me he’s the most sure thing which may sound crazy based on the season the others had but we’ll see when Spring training comes around and the new season starts.

    • Professor Snarks

      I agree that it’s too early to give up on Soler, but it’s not too early to worry. I’m a little concerned he may be become baseball’s version of Roseanne Roseannadanna. I just hope he can get 500 PA’s this year.

  • Norm

    For all those saying “small sample size” with regards to Soler or others, I think you’re misunderstanding that these guys are NOT basing anything on statistics, but on good old fashioned scouting. They don’t need to see a player 100 times to reach their conclusions.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      Fair, but scouting an injured player probably won’t give you an accurate report.

  • Jim

    I have heard of four teams that have a level of interest in Samardzija: Toronto, Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. There may be more out there. These teams will have to bid against each other and thus most likely overpay. The price they are willing to pay is dependent on where they draw the line and say well giving up a draft pick to sign the free agent is the better deal.

    I think we will hear a lot of rumors, but in the end he won’t be moved this Winter. That is my gut feeling, but I hope that someone does overpay.

    • Dumpgobbler

      Washing and Kansas City were also said to have interest. I think Washington was said to a good bit of interest.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    How the hell did religion get into the mix here? What I find interesting is Parks view of Soler. I don’t see him being a Puig or Cespedes, but I think it’s way too early to throw in the towel on him. I project Baez, Rizzo and Bryant to bat in the heart of the order. But Soler held his own in the AFL which had some high level players in it. I haven’t really had a chance to see him play. If he can give the cubs above average defense and 20+ homers and 80 to 90 RBI’s then he will be an asset to the team. Lets face it you can only have so many 30+ homers and 100+ RBI’s type guys on one team. It would seem to me that those guys I am projecting for the heart of the order will put up those kind of stats. But come on now we do need some base runners in order for those guys to knock in. I would liked to have heard Prof. Parks opinion of Junior Lake. A lot of people think Lake is just a flash in the pan, but I don’t think Lake is reading any of the criticism. He just plays the game. I think he will surprise people next year and solidify his standing with the club. Who knows what this trading season will bring. Soler could get tossed into a deal for more pitching. If Bryant ends up in the outfield as I think he will, then once Almora comes up that only leaves one corner position open. If we didn’t have Alcantara in the system I would think that maybe Baez would move to second, but I see him going to third base. As far as Castro is concerned I think the FO is making a big mistake if they continue to force the issue with his approach at the plate. How many teams have a shortstop capable of hitting .300 and in the neighborhood of 200 hits each year. Anyway I hope you all have a Blessed Day!

    • CubsFaninMS

      Bless you, Woody, bless you!

  • You got bats, we got Wood. Travis Wood.

    Soler is still adjusting to the States and missed a lot of time due to injury. I stand with Brett, I wouldn’t read much into Soler being the most likely to underperform because he just needs a couple healthy seasons with some consistency. I think we get those in 2014 and 2015 regardless of where he starts/finishes in that time period. He was killing it in Daytona, got hurt, and then jumped into the competitive AFL. He was playing against more advanced players, so surely any scout could look at him and think he’s behind, he should be right now, given the circumstances!

  • trust me

    Why dont they try a 3team deal with the Angels and mets. Mets get mark trumbo, angels get jeff the cubs get pitching prospects from mets. And other prospectes go to the mets and angels. Makes the most sence, since mets need hitting and angels and cubs want pitching. Book it!

    • On The Farm

      That’s a bit too ambiguous to say Mets get Trumbo, Angels get Shark, and then prospects are exchanged. The Mets could probably just trade for Trumbo and not need the Cubs prospects to make that deal happen and the Angels don’t have enough prospects to be a good partner for Shark.

      That’s just my take on a three team with the Angels, they just don’t have a ton to offer in the prospect area.

  • Fastball

    I really think folks overreact to whether Castro can go back to his former self. He went home for the winter and will come back fresh. A kid like him doesn’t lose himself in a single season. He needed mental break from Sveum and everyone else who was in his ear all last season. One thing I bet he does come back with is a lesson learned the hard way. He has had or will have had the time to digest all that was crammed down his throat and into his mind. From this digestion he will have improved himself. Will he revert mostly back to how he was in 2012. Yes he will. But he will be wiser. Also it will be key to leave him alone. If he knocks the cover off the ball in ST you leave him be. If he doesn’t you make suggestions on suttle swing adjustments. No philosophy on hitting nonsense. By end of ST he will be back to normal. When he has his first cold streak will be the test. Can people keep themselves from haunting him. In the end the best thing for Castro is no baseball for 4 months. That’s the cure.

    • Rebuilding

      No doubt that a mental break will be helpful. I also think having Sveum gone will help. I said all of last year that for whatever reason Sveum and Castro had a personality conflict. Maybe it was just frustration on Dale’s part, but I think the public benching, for something that wasn’t a lack of hustle, was the final nail in Sveum’s coffin. With that said – you seem to have a lot more faith than I do that he can just snap back like nothing happened. And the hiring of Mueller doesn’t inspire me with confidence that they’ss just leave him alone (hopefully they will)

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Everybody is talking about Soler, but Ruby Silva is tearing it up in the winter league. And Lake is hitting .361 down in the DR. Considering that the cubs still have 8 years of control with Soler and he is a top 50 prospect in all of baseball he may indeed be the one out of that elite group of four who gets traded.

  • jj

    I continue to be confused about the Cubs management’s efforts with Castro. Epstein or Hoyer has said that to unlock his power he needs to get deeper in counts (or something to that effect). Yet, in 2011 and 2012 – when Castro was 21-22 – he averaged 32 doubles, 10 triples, and 12 homers. His slugging percentage was better than league average (removing pitchers). Did the Cubs feels that at age 22, his power numbers were never going to get better? I’d think that some of those power numbers would have increased as he aged (without any change to his approach), leading Castro to 20+ homer seasons by age 25.

    • CubFan Paul

      +1

      I’m hoping it was just a Sveum/ex hitting coach thing.

    • danimal8

      I don’t believe there is anything to be confused about. They wanted a more patient lineup, they attempted to push patience with Starlin and it failed miserably. They will back off of his approach this year and hope some of his natural batting skills shine back through

  • Funn Dave

    Not sure Parks is really revealing anything new with his Castro analysis. We already ostensibly know what went wrong, and that the FO has backed away from making him more patient at the expense of his confidence.

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