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mike olt iowaYesterday, the Chicago Cubs worked out the prospects in town for the Rookie Development Program at Northwestern, which yield a bunch of great tidbits for the prospectly-inclined among you. You can and should read up on the event here, here, here, here, and here, among other places.

  • Jesse Rogers wrote specifically about Mike Olt and the concussion/eye/tear duct issues he’s dealt with over the past year. For his part, Olt is pretty unequivocal in saying that he believes his eye issues are in the past. If Olt struggles this year, then, we can conclude that’s just Olt. If he succeeds? I will smile a lot.
  • Patrick Mooney wrote specifically about Jorge Soler, for whom the Cubs still have very high hopes. He just has to play. Incidentally, Jason McLeod told Mooney – as we’ve heard before from Sahadev Sharma – that the Cubs expressly told Soler to take it easy when running in the AFL, because he was still recovering from the stress fracture in his leg. All of those scouting reports about Soler loafing and not taking things seriously? Throw them out.
  • As expected, the plan at the outset of 2014 is for Javier Baez to start at shortstop at AAA, and Kris Bryant to start at third base at AA. Christian Villaneuva and Arismendy Alcantara will also head to Iowa, while Albert Almora and Jorge Soler’s future is undetermined.
  • There’s no doubt that Almora can be ready for High-A after a full-ish year tearing up Low-A, so I can’t help but wonder if the Cubs are toying with the idea of skipping him straight to AA. That would be pretty nuts, but the development staff knows their players well, and everyone accepts that Almora is extremely polished for a teenager. The decision can’t be between heading back for some time at Kane County or going to Daytona, right? In any case, starting somewhere other than High-A would surprise me.
  • The decision on Soler, presumably is the same High-A/AA question. It might depend on how he looks in Spring Training, when he’s going full-speed. He handled High-A just fine last year when he was able to play (with a jacked up leg, I might add, which is now finally healthy). Tennessee is the best guess, and the hope.
  • C.J. Edwards, who’ll also start at AA, is trying to add weight any way possible. I wouldn’t hate having that problem.
  • It sounds like the Cubs are doing their best to walk the line between acknowledging that the rebuild is counting on, in very large part, these prospects to emerge as difference-makers at the big league level, while still trying to protect the kids from feeling the weight of too much pressure. I’m glad they’re thinking about that issue, and things like the rookie camp will help. But the best way to protect the prospects from suffering by way of unreasonable expectations? Add veteran talent to the big league roster before the kids arrive.
  • bonger0493

    Hopefully rizzo and Castro take a mighty big step forward this year and they can be part of that veteran group full of talent. I mean they’ve both been in the league at least 3 years

  • willis

    Tennessee is going to be fun as hell to watch with the projected rotation and Bryant/Soler. Can’t wait to have them in this area to check out.

    AAA is going to be loaded too.

    • terencemann

      Don’t forget Brett Jackson, lol.

  • jp3

    Hmmm… I’m with you Brett on adding talent to take the pressure off the kids but the FO is going to have to do better than Justin Ruggiano. If Bryant tears up AA any possibility he jumps straight to Chicago? I mean he starts out the year with another ridiculous slash line and home ring in a 3rd of his games you’d hope we’re going to be aggressive right?

  • EQ76

    We definitely need Castro and Rizzo to have bounce back years. We also need guys like Olt, Castillo or Nate the great to have productive seasons as well… that could really help a young guy coming up to not feel all the pressure in the world upon arriving in Chicago.

  • ChicagoJoe

    So if health issues are a thing of the past, I think Olt really has to bomb to not be the Opening Day starter.

    At this point in his career and with the minor league rosters as currently constructed, there is nothing to lose from throwing him to the wolves. He has nowhere to go if not on the big league club.

    Who says there is going to be no reason to watch this team. Rizzo, Castro and Olt all in the same infield on Opening Day. I’ll take it.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Why is Olt assumed anything?!? For crying out loud he will have to WIN a roster spot in spring training. This is a guy who had a concussion and major vision issues en route to hitting around .200 at Triple A. Nobody is going to hand him ANY job. Olt will have to come into spring training and play like a reborn ballplayer. Otherwise he starts the year in Triple A, probably to play 1st base given Christian Villenueva will be the starter at 3rd base.

      • Chef Brian

        I think barring an absolutely awful spring training. Olt stays with the Big League Club. There is no room for him at Iowa and the Cubs need to increase his value or be rid of him. He can’t play his way into a trade if he is demoted to first base at Iowa.

        • BenRoethig

          I agree. That being said, have too many prospects that project to be quality major league power hitters and not enough places to put them is a wonderful problem to have. But the reality is, the Cubs have a team with an all-star at every fielding position is extremely low. The jump between the minors and the majors is the biggest jump in professional sports. The road to cooperstown is littered with 4A players who couldn’t adjust to major league pitchers.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    if Bryant bats .800 in AA, he still is going to be held back from the majors so his service time is held back…( my opinion )

    • jp3

      Probably so. I have to agree that’s a high probability, just would like to see him before next year if he’s tearing it up, a little big league experience would be nice before he’s really relied on to produce on a contending team.

    • cms0101

      Agreed. I don’t think there is any way we see him in the majors until 2015. It’s conceivable he’ll move up to Iowa, but even then he’ll either be moved to the OF, or promoted if Villanueva is traded or just not performing in Iowa. I don’t think they want to stunt Villanueva’s development, just like they didn’t move Bryant to Kane Co. and stunt Candelario’s development last year. They’re not a team that calls guys up from AA, so he would have to have one amazing run to jump 2 levels to the majors, in my opinion.

    • Spoda17

      drcub – I agree, but Hoyer has said they will not hold up anyone from being promoted due to service time.

      • CubFan Paul

        “Hoyer has said they will not hold up anyone from being promoted due to service time”

        Tell that to Arrieta who is pre arb again this year.

      • Kyle

        It’s just a biiiig coincidence that so many players are held down just long enough to miss out on key service time deadlines.

      • jp3

        I hadn’t seen that quote from Jed but I like it if so. As a bigger market franchise we shouldn’t be nickel and diming players when it’s not really necessary. I’d say if Baez were to make his major league debut before we get one more year of service time nailed down he’d be worth the dollars it would cost the cubs for that year. I live In NC and he would be reason alone for me to start up my annual trip to Chicago to see a couple games a year, I quit going to games 2 years ago when I could smell the starting lineup from here.

        • hansman

          There is no humanly way that 30 days of Baez at age 22 is worth more than an entire year of Baez at age 28.

          If he is as good as Giancarlo Stanton but can play SS, just in today’s dollars, that is $18-20M.

          • blublud

            Hansman, I also think people get service time confused. Service time and cost control are different. If a player is call up after 30 days into the season, he loses some cost control, but not service time.

            • hansman

              Eh, potatoe, potato, tomato, potato.

              The real distinction is the date when the team gains a “year” of control over the player and the date the player loses a year of arbitration.

              The team gains the year about 10 days into the season. The player loses the year of arbitration sometime between June 15 and July 15 (depending on other players with between 2 and 3 years of service time).

              Even with Baez, if he looks ready for MLB on May 1 but the MLB club is already has 0 chance to contend, is the upcoming 45-75 days in the bigs more valuable than the $10-15M in extra salary?

  • JB88

    “Add veteran talent to the big league roster before the kids arrive.”

    At a minimum, they need to add veteran leadership at the big league roster before the kids arrive. If I have any criticism of the FO’s plan so far, it is that they don’t have much in the way of veteran leaders after trading Soriano and DeJesus.

    • Cizzle

      I think they’re hoping RR and staff (lots of the staff is in their mid-40’s and only a few years out of the league) will step in to kind of fill that role.

      • JB88

        I think that is a dangerous place to be. The manager and staff aren’t going to be around in all situations and biggest need for young players is a sense of how they should act when they are off the field. Managers and coaching staff can’t monitor that stuff.

  • BD

    “But the best way to protect the prospects from suffering by way of unreasonable expectations? Add veteran talent to the big league roster before the kids arrive.”

    That’s what I’ve been saying… not that it has to be boatloads of money, but I don’t know that this is in place.

  • Jon

    I hate to pick on Jesse Rodgers, but it’s just so easy. In his article on Olt the caption reads

    “Mike Olt was the centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade for the Cubs….”

    um…Jesse…no…

    • CubFan Paul

      “Mike Olt was the centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade for the Cubs”

      I’ve said that too. Olt and Grimm are 1A and 1B

      • JCubs79

        Lol. Just no.

      • Jon

        Did CJ Edwards die?

      • Blackhawks1963

        No.

        The centerpiece was absolutely, positively CJ Edwards. Olt was a throw-in.

        • CubFan Paul

          The centerpiece was not the 160lb relief pitcher

          • Jon

            I’ll give you Olt, if assuming his vision issues are 100% behind him and that will fix everything else

            But Grimm is garbage. A filler. AAAA material on a good team.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Grimm is garbage. A filler. AAAA material”

              This is false/a misconception of his stats.

              Grimm was a top 15 Ranger prospect two years in a row before being thrown into the MLB fire instead AAA in 2013.

              Garbage/Filler is an overreaction, Grimm has upside and a really high floor.

              • blublud

                Grimm has struggle in AAA. I think he can very usable. But he is not a star, and as far as center pieces go, he definitely was a priority over Edwards. If recall when the deal happened, it was Edwards or Perez(I believe) for the Cubs or no deal. Olt was not the Cubs main piece.

            • blublud

              To suggest that Grimm is garbage is crazy. He has good stuff and decent minor league numbers. He is not a star, but he could a good back end pitcher. He could a dominant BP pitcher, maybe even a closer or setup man.

            • another JP

              Grimm garbage?! Do you ever think before you post? Dude has 1.0 WAR in his 112 IP thus far… at similar points in their careers Shark was at -0.1, Zambrano had .5, Sean Marshall was .3, Dempster 0.0… and that Greg Maddux dude was about 1.3 WAR.

              Fact is every prospect the Cubs received for Garza will be on a major league roster and have varying degrees of success. I don’t see any particular one as a “centerpiece” since none of them were ranked as high as Profar- it was a just an outrageous return for only ten starts by Garza.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            There is not even a question that Edwards was the centerpiece

          • D-Rock

            Why do you keep saying he is a relief pitcher? He’s the top pitching prospect in our system after dominating as a starter last season. Just because he is thin, doesn’t mean he is destined to be a relief pitcher. I doubt the Cubs’ plan for C.J. is as a reliever.

            • CubFan Paul

              “He’s the top pitching prospect in our system after dominating as a starter last season”

              Yes, his stats are nice, but we’ll see how he holds up in AA/AAA this year (5innings at a time)

              “Just because he is thin, doesn’t mean he is destined to be a relief pitcher”

              I wasn’t stereotyping. There are Texas players scouting reports all over the net.

              • blublud

                Link please.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Google.com

                  • blublud

                    My thoughts exactly. Everything you spew here is your opinion, not fact. I’m the same, but at least I admit it.

            • SenorGato

              If CJ Edwards became a relief ace that would be huge. I see some similarities between him and David Robertson (a FB/CV/CT guy himself), but with perhaps more physical ability.

              reliever definitely isnt out of play for Edwards, and its not the knock it seems. Elite pen potential imo.

            • 1ski

              wasn’t roy oswalt slight also, I seem to remember he had a good carrer?

              • CubFan Paul

                Pedro Martinez also

              • Jon

                Tim Lincecum

              • Edwin

                Roy Oswalt is 6-0 190. Pedro is 5-11 195. Lincecum is 5-11 170.

                CJ Edwards is 6-2 155.

                I don’t think it’s the height that’s the percieved problem, it’s the weight and the frame.

                • Jon

                  My fatass can put on 15lbs eating a burrito. I wish I had Edwards problem :)

        • Isaac

          Whoa, for a change I actually completely agree with Blackhawks. It is shocking to me that anyone perceived Olt to be the centerpiece of that package. If the FO had to take one of the players, it would have been CJ. That does not mean, however, that the rest of the guys were throw ins…this isn’t fantasy baseball.

  • CubFan Paul

    “C.J. Edwards, who’ll also start at AA, is trying to add weight any way possible”

    He tries every offseason to no success.

    He was barely a 5IP last year, at this pace, he’ll be in the Wrigley rotation in 2017 and no longer a prospect

    • JB88

      Did any Cubs MiL pitcher average much more than 5 IP per start? Serious question. It seemed like most of their younger pitchers were on a really tight IP limit.

      • willis

        Without looking and thinking about pitchers that may actually contribute at some point, I’d bet there are only a few, and two of the names that I’d say for sure did are Hendricks and Jokisch….possibly Cabrera. As for the lower levels and higher ceiling guys, I don’t think there were many if any.

        • JB88

          Hendircks (surprisingly) averaged just a hair over 6 IP per game, Jokisch averaged just under 6 IP per game (for precision purposes, Jokisch pitched 160.2 innings last year in 26 starts (but pitched in another game in which he did not start for 6 1/3 innings, so I considered that a start and divided by 27 games started). Cabrera only started games at AA and in those games averaged nearly 6 1/3.

        • SenorGato

          This is the Cubs’ best. He needs to be held to that kind of standard. I would hope even his IP/start falls under more scrutiny than a Maples or Tayler Scott. Big massive underrated part of being a SP is the innings workload.

      • nate1m

        I think the start to ramp up as they get closer to the majors to try but A ball is more about developing pitches. Thats just an impression with no research though

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Let’s get him a thousand dollar gift card to KFC. It worked for the ” refrigerator” Perry. I wish I could knock down a bucket of chicken and a twelve pack of beer without gaining weight.

    • rcleven

      Where do you get a 5 inning pitcher.
      Between Hickory and Daytona Edwards had 116.1 Innings.
      The same as Johnson at 118.1 innings.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Most pitchers, in any organization, at the A ball level, are capped at around 5 innings a game. Typically they’re on a pitch count, not an innings count, but it amounts to about the same thing for these purposes.

        This is in part due to developmental reasons, and in part because there are often a lot of other guys on that roster needing A ball innings as well.

        We really won’t know whether or not Edwards has the stamina to pitch into the seventh inning effectively every five days for a 140 game season until he spends a 140 game season in Double A or higher.

        • CubFan Paul

          “We really won’t know whether or not Edwards has the stamina to pitch into the seventh inning effectively”

          …he’s not pitching effectively into the fifth now. Unless he starts roiding I don’t see him ever pitching effectively into the seventh

          • Bill

            Didn’t someone (Brett?) post another team’s scouting report about Greg Maddux from when he was in the lower minors? If I recall it said Maddux wouldn’t hold up as a starter because his numbers weren’t good as the game went along. Too early to write off Edwards and say he can’t pitch effectively as a starter.

            • Diehardthefirst

              Maddux learned control which saved his arm and helped him pace himself — that’s the key- I still have hope Coleman can do same even if not with Cubs cause I like his toughness and he reminds me of Maddux

              • Bill

                Coleman sucks.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Maddux had very good control as a teenager. (It went from very good to great.) If you are referring to Casey Coleman, then he should not remind you of Maddux: Maddux consistently threw in the low 90s with very good control; Coleman might throw in the 90’s if you use KPH and his control is not good. Coleman is basically a LOOGY-level talent with the misfortune of batting left-handed rather than throwing right-handed…..

            • CubFan Paul

              “Too early to write off Edwards and say he can’t pitch effectively as a starter”

              Please get a http://www.baseballprospectus.com subscription (or just the free stuff), read and listen back for a few years, then have an informed opinion on the prospect of your choosing.

              Maddux isn’t relevant, as Edwin pointed out above:

              “I don’t think it’s the height that’s the perceived problem, it’s the weight and the frame”

              • hansman

                It’s too early to write him off. However, we shouldn’t be writing his name in ink on any future rotation charts.

                • mjhurdle

                  crap, does that mean i have to throw away my 2017 Opening day lineup card?

                  • hansman

                    Dale has let go…you should as well.

                • Bill

                  “It’s too early to write him off. However, we shouldn’t be writing his name in ink on any future rotation charts.”

                  Agreed, and we shouldn’t be writing the names of Soler, Almora, Bryant and Baez into future lineup charts.

              • Bill

                Yes, no pitcher in the history of baseball has ever put on weight. Wasn’t there a guy named Pedro Martinez who was slightly built and he had a pretty good career as a starter.

                You might be correct but it’s too early to say. How about seeing what he does this year before you start singing the blues.

                • Bill

                  Here’s the notes from a NYM scout when Maddux was pitching in Peoria.

                  “At the bottom, this is what Dyer wrote about Maddux:

                  Not strong enough to be a starter
                  Small
                  Good arm
                  Ran out of gas
                  Did not pitch good last 1/3 of season

  • CubFan Paul

    Barely a 5IP pitcher, as in, he was gassed after the 4th, with a noticeable difference in his stuff/speed

    • JB88

      How many games did you see that Edwards pitched? I can’t wait for your detailed scouting reports this year.

      • mjhurdle

        careful what you wish for.
        Are you ready for detailed breakdowns like this?

        “Jackson has grip problems”

        ok, what kind of grip problems?

        “Jackson has grip problems, i know because i saw a postgame show”

        cool, i believe you. What kind of grip problems?

        “Grip problems were the source of Jackson’s struggles. I watch all games ever.”

        hmm, we are getting nowhere fast. Who is Keyser Soze?

        “Edwin Jackson has grip problems that affect his ability to throw a baseball.”

        :)

        • hansman

          If I were intelligent…I’d do an XKCD site for the Cubs.

          • mjhurdle

            i’ll provide the website and all the Almond Joys you can eat if you provide stick figures and punch lines.

            • hansman

              DIEHARD!!!!!

              • mjhurdle

                i always think that the comment section regulars would make a hell of a sitcom. It could be like a Cheers or something set in a bar.
                Brett could be the bar owner, dropping knowledge and maintaining order. Diehard would be the 90 year old drunk constantly trying to get people to believe his conspiracy theories.
                Luke could be a bartender that educates any and all that come in about his area of expertise.
                Balckhawk and CubFanpaul could be at a table arguing the entire time about whether a yellow cup was red or blue.
                We could even get current and former Cub players to make cameos.Maybe talk Sveum into a permanent role. he would make a great TWC imo :)

                • hansman

                  Ha

                  Brett – Sam Malone
                  Doc – Fraiser
                  Coach – Diehard
                  Kyle – Diane
                  Me – Norm (just cheeseburgers instead of beer)
                  You – Wooden Indian statue

                  • DarthHater

                    Nah, Die hard’s gotta be Clint.

                    • hansman

                      I’m guessing you mean Cliff and it was a tossup between Doc and Diehard.

                      Just Doc knows his stuff and Coach said a lot of random, but well meaning things.

      • CubFan Paul

        “How many games did you see that Edwards pitched?”

        It’s very easy (internet/twitter) to get regular updates on games/players these days.

        Some people have turned it into a career.

        • blublud

          Once again Paul, you say this but have fail time and time again to provide links to the secret websites you have access to. If not a link, maybe a website name or a person to follow on twitter. I’m sure everyone here wants to be as knowledgeable as you areon all things Cubs.

          • CubFan Paul

            “you say this but have fail time and time again to provide links”

            In this case on Edwards, i’ll tell you again: get a BP subscription

          • CubFan Paul

            “maybe a website name or a person to follow on twitter”

            You don’t know where Edwards pitched last season?

            Don’t bash me, because technology confuses you (please)

            • blublud

              Once again dude, you have fail to provide anything. Aren’t you a college student. How the hell do you cite your papers.

              • mjhurdle

                give it up Blublud. there is no point trying to fix the Wimp Lo of player analyis. :)

                • blublud

                  In Jason Parks is in trouble and may be looking for a job soon.

                  • blublud

                    I meant I think Jason parks in trouble need to be looking to job soon.

                    That first post was a massive failure.

              • CubFan Paul

                So you turn into a dick because we don’t listen to chicago radio together, don’t share podcast links, & most importantly because I don’t transcribe and record every baseball item I read for you BluBlud.

                Don’t be an e-bully because the internet isn’t easier for you. Better communication skills overall would help.

                • blublud

                  You know, Paul, I like you. You are actually one of my favorite posters on here. I get a kick out reading your post. Nothing like free comedy. You remind of myself. Pretty head strong and once you form an opinion, its not going to change. It still doesn’t change the fact that what you say is opinion and that you won’t post links to what you say because they don’t exist.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “that what you say is opinion and that you won’t post links to what you say because they don’t exist”

                    I’m not liar, nor do I like name calling.

                    I post links regularly when needed. You not having the time or access to the same info I have (that’s public & easily accessible) shouldn’t turn you into an e-dick

                    As far as the free comedy, I try. BN if fun, Brett is a hard worker, but I also know where the *line* is. Name calling is over it outside of a real fight, especially when http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ is just a click away

                    • blublud

                      “I’m not liar, nor do I like name calling…..shouldn’t turn you into an e-dick” see other, you don’t even believe what you write. It took you what, two sentences to prove what you post is false. :)

                    • blublud

                      “As far as the free comedy, I try. BN if fun, Brett is a hard worker, but I also know where the *line* is. Name calling is over it outside of a real fight, especially when http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ is just a click away”

                      I recall you calling someone a dumbass or something just last week, and now I’m an e-dick. Yet more proof you don’t believe what you write.

                      Also, baseballprospectus.com is not a link to back what you are saying, its the front page of a website we all know. Try again.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Quality minor league pitchers in the low minors most often work on strict pitch counts and innings limits. So try again. CJ Edwards is a excellent pitching prospect. Among the best in baseball right now. Not at the level of an Archie Bradley, but definitely in the top quartile.

      • CubFan Paul

        “he was gassed after the 4th, with a noticeable difference in his stuff/speed”

        • JB88

          Quoting yourself to make a point isn’t usually an effective tool unless you have the credibility to make the point in the first place …

          • CubFan Paul

            “Quoting yourself to make a point isn’t usually an effective tool”

            It was in that case because he clearly missed that.

            Are you done nitpicking?

        • fortyonenorth

          Considering his overall very good stats, how do you define “gassed” and “noticeable difference in his stuff?” It’s not like he was getting shelled.

          • CubFan Paul

            “It’s not like he was getting shelled”

            Because he’s good. But he was regularly pulled early

            • JB88

              What I have a problem telling (and what I imagine most on here have trouble telling) is whether Edwards was pulled because he was losing his stuff or if he was pulled because he was on a strict pitch count.

              Considering that he pitched 67 innings in 2012 and 126 last year (when you factor in the innings he pitched in the playoffs), I suspect it was the later. I hope that this year you see his innings increase to closer to 160 on the season. If he does that, I’m hoping he can eliminate some of these concerns that he isn’t durable.

              • CubFan Paul

                “was pulled because he was losing his stuff or if he was pulled because he was on a strict pitch count”

                A little bit of both, I didn’t keep a log.

                • Joshua Edwards

                  Dear Cut and Paste Paul,

                  Thank you for putting one more item in “quotation marks” as though quoting a worthy source, while calling people names and yelling at people for name-calling. I see no irony in that at all.

                  I’m sure at some point I have appreciated your worthy contributions to discussions about baseball, even if I can’t recall them right now.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    You can stop whining at anytime now.

                    “I see no irony in that at all”

                    Now thanks to you and my ninth grade English teacher, I have Alanis Morissette on the brain

  • Edwin

    Why does the Garza trade even need to have a “centerpiece”?

    • J. L.

      So that people could come here and go gaga over C.J. Edwards while trashing Mike Olt or vice versa.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Bingo

        • Isaac

          Agreed. A group of players is a group of players. We got several nice players that have a shot at contributing at the MLB level…enough said.

      • David

        It’s not really irrational or unfair.

        Edwards is a top 5 prospect in the system and top 50 in baseball by some accounts, top 100 by many accounts.

      • Jon

        It would make sense that we would gaga over a guy that dominated high A juxtaposed against a guy that was purely awful in the most friendly hitting league in the minors.

  • When The Musics Over

    “But the best way to protect the prospects from suffering by way of unreasonable expectations? Add veteran talent to the big league roster before the kids arrive.”

    This thought, or some very close derivation of it, has already been posted numerous times in this thread, but it’s probably one of the most sensible ways to sum up, at least for me, why adding some key free agents / payroll to the team is not a bad idea. Edwin Jackson was a good start, even if it doesn’t perfectly work out. Keeping or extending Shark would also be another sound move. Tanaka would be a great move.

    I think this front office is far too talented to not understand the value in having some key talented veterans to supplement the minor league stream that will hopefully arrive in the next year or so, but to date, they have largely ignored this facet (whether on purpose or not), and I think some people are nervous that attempting to do it all at once next offseason is risky.

  • Isaac

    Can someone explain to me how the Herald nailed AA’s name and spelling, but botched Kris (Chris) Bryant’s?

    • NorthSideIrish

      Still better than when Jim Bowden misspelled it: Chris Roberts.

      • Isaac

        Hahaha….My favorite all time: “Dick Butka”

  • blublud

    If Almora starts at AA, as I suggested a while back, then I would consider that “rocketing” through the system. I have changed my feelings on Almora quite a bit. While I still don’t think he’s a prospect on the level of the other 3, I think he is pretty polished, and plays much better than his skills would suggest.

    There is no way Soler goes back to Daytona. The decision, IMO, must be between Tennessee and Iowa. He has as many at-bats at A+ as Almora at A-. I really don’t see the point in either one repeating their level. The fact that he is on the 40 man makes me think he is almost a lock in September this year, if he performs.

    I would think Bryant is right there with Soler. If he performs, we’ll she him by at least Sept.

    I expect to see Baez in May. If the Cubs sign Tanaka and get off to a decent start, we may see him sooner. Depends a lot on Barney’s offensive production. I say Barney and not Olt, because the leash is probably longer for Olt at this point.

    Oh, and CJ Edwards was easily the best player in the Garza deal, even if Olt is successful. He has much more potential than Olt. As far as center piece, I think they all about 25% of the deal.

    • Noah_I

      If Olt’s starting at 3B, Barney is likely not the everyday starter at 2B, but instead platooning with Valbuena at the position and giving Castro a day off at shortstop every few weeks.

      • blublud

        If Olt starts at third, I’m still think Barney will be the starter at 2nd. Valbeuna will be utility. Also, Valbeuna would be a bad platoon with Barney. Even though he is left handed, he sucks against righties. They are very close to being the same player against lefties and righties, but Barney’s defense is much better. Valbeuna would not be an upgrade over Barney at 2nd.

    • JB88

      It’s hard for me to guess where Soler starts, though I think it is either A+ or AA. I think he was on the cusp of being promoted before the stress fracture in June. Based on that, you have to imagine he’s ready for AA. That said, he’s also hasn’t seen a ton of live pitches over the past 4 years, suggesting giving him some time at Daytona wouldn’t be the worst of ideas.

      • blublud

        Soler had as much success at A+ as Almora at A- in a similar amount of at-bats. They are both as polished as each other. Soler is also a good OF defender. He has about as much chance of going back to Daytona as Almora does at going back to Kane County.

    • nate1m

      Baez will be late late June earliest. A lot would have to go right for this team to contend (I mean crazy stuff) so service time is important. I do expect him up in a Rizzo type maneuver though.

      • blublud

        Late June and early May would be no difference in service time for Baez. The Cubs would use his services on the MLB more over his first contract by bringing him up earlier. What it would do is make Baez a Super Two. In other words, he’d be arbitration eligible earlier. The, however, would lose no service time.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    21 years old, had a sub 2.00 ERA in 24 starts, struck out 155 batters in 116 innings pitched, with an almost 4 to 1 SO/walk ratio. Oh, but he is skinny, so he can’t be a pitcher. Give me a break.
    I saw him pitch in Daytona in the playoffs. He is extremely athletic, and the ball jumps out of his hand. He was cracking a 95 mph fastball, with a very effortless delivery. His curve is a snap dragon. Needs to work on his balance, but this young man is a winner. Watch him for 5 minutes and you can see it. He will be pitching at Wrigley in 2016.

    • hansman

      “Oh, but he is skinny, so he can’t be a pitcher. Give me a break.”

      Oh, but he is skinny, so he might not be able to physically handle 200 innings a season and not break down/get tired in August and September at a rate worse than a normal pitcher and therefore might be best suited for late inning work where you can cap his IP around 65-70.

      FTFY.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        My point is, he is a tremendous athlete. He stands out on the field. Where as half the starters in major league baseball can’t out run me, and I am 58. Endurance will not be his problem.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Endurance will not be his problem”

          It already is…

    • CubFan Paul

      “Watch him for 5 minutes”

      The people who say ‘he is skinny, so he can’t be a [starting] pitcher’ are going off more than 5 minutes and his http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa602909&position=P page

      • cubfanincardinalland

        In the semis of the playoffs, through 5 innings he had given up zero hits and one walk. In the finals, he actually gave up a hit through 5 innings. He was removed from the game because that is what smart teams do to protect their young pitchers. He certainly was not running out of gas, he actually got more dominant as the game went along when I saw him.

        • CubFan Paul

          Prepare to be shocked when you find the time to dig up more info Edwards.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    A lot of if’s an’s and but’s for the upcoming season. The biggest if will be solved shortly when Tank signs. If we don’t sign him then it comes down to Shark’s future. He has to be salivating after seeing what Kershaw got. I can guarantee that 5 / 55 million will never get it done. Besides if we don’t land Tank I don’t see Shark signing under any circumstances. Ricketts and the FO might just take the heat for another year, Another big if is the TV contract. I have to think their options are limited due to the screwy deal they have now with CSN and WGN. I have a feeling that if they get a deal done real soon with FOX that they will have a lot more financial flexibility short term.

  • Seth

    Anyone know(or have assumptions) if the “Big Four” are all going to be at Spring Training? I assume Baez, Bryant and Soler will be there but wasn’t sure about Almora.

    • BWA

      Baez was last year and Almora is pretty much in the same place, so I would assume he gets an invite. Probably a short stay though.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I watched the little video clip on the CSN Chicago site of the prospects working out inside. I was surprised when I saw Baez. He seems to have beefed up a bit. Maybe it’s just natural filling out of his frame with maturity, but the photos I had seen earlier he seems much thinner. Also he looks pretty strong to me. If anybody ever had stud as their moniker then it is Baez. It’s a great idea to get that group of guys together seeing that they will probably be team mates for a long time to come.

    • DarthHater

      Kris Bryant: “There’s plenty of guys on the team right now that are doing a great job.” Sounds to me like a guy who’s worried about having to carry a lot of luggage later in the season. :-P

  • BenRoethig

    With Olt I really hope these visions problems are behind him because he almost has to win the starting 3B job out of spring training. If not, you almost have to have a semi-platoon with Villaneuva or Vitters with Olt splitting time between third, a corner outfield spot, and DH. Might not be fair to him or Villaneuva, with the timetables of the 4/5-star prospects that’s how it has to be.

  • ari gold

    besides the obvious Baez, Bryant, Almora, whom everone is very high on right now, the 2 players I’m really looking forward to this year are Olt and Soler. Most people are down on these guys (very down on Olt), but if these guys perform well that could speed up this rebuilding process. Olt could start in the majors, and a monster year from Soler would put him on the doorstep.

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