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arodys vizcaino cubsThankfully, it’s been almost a month since The Little Boy had an I’m-going-to-wake-up-screaming-every-45-minutes-on-the-dot kind of night, but he nailed us with one last night. I felt like I was in the hatch on ‘LOST,’ having to press the button every 108 minutes. Except it was every 45 minutes. There was no helpful sleep shift schedule. And instead of entering a short code and pressing a button, I had to sooth a screaming infant. Ok, The Wife helped, too.

  • Arodys Vizcaino threw a bullpen session yesterday under the watchful eye of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Rick Renteria (think this guy is considered an important piece?). By all accounts, the 23-year-old power righty looked good, and Renteria was impressed. Per a CSN video and Patrick Mooney, Renteria says Vizcaino looks as good as the Cubs would want him to look at this point in the Spring, and appears very fit, to boot. “That ball really comes out of his hand easily,” RR said. “It’s got late life. His breaking pitches have some bite to ‘em.” Mmmmm, late life. I love hearing that phrase with respect to a Cubs pitcher. Vizcaino, for his part, is very much hoping to break camp with the big league club, but the front office obviously isn’t committing to anything until later in Spring Training. Last week, I wrote about Vizcaino’s 2014 season, and the (strong) reasons to send him to the minors to start the year.
  • Mooney’s piece even suggests that there remains some hope in the organization that, after a year in the bullpen to ease him back into things, Vizcaino could still become a starter, long-term. I remain as guardedly hopeful about Vizcaino’s future as anyone should reasonably be, but I do think that thoughts of him emerging as a starter in a year or two should probably be shelved so as not to create unrealistic expectations. Remember, Vizcaino was a who many thought could not stick as a starter long-term because of durability concerns before his Tommy John surgery, his setback, and his subsequent bone spur surgery. I’m ecstatic to hear that he’s feeling 100%, looks good, and should pitch this year. But, for me, that means I’m hoping he looks like a lights out reliever by midseason, not a hoped-on starter.
  • Speaking of hard-throwing, Tommy-John-having relievers, Marcos Mateo is confident he’ll make the Diamondbacks’ pen after being selected from the Cubs in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. He’s now a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, so, in theory, he should be back to 100%. He always had good stuff, and he pitched exceptionally well in Winter ball this year. That said, the Diamondbacks have an extremely crowded bullpen picture, and, without some injury assistance, it’s hard to see him making the club. If he doesn’t, the Diamondbacks will have to offer him back to the Cubs for $25,000, or work out a trade to keep him in the organization. Mateo turns 30 in April, so it’s probably make or break time for him.
  • Oh goodness, college baseball is underway, and it’s time to start monitoring the performances of some of the top players (the Cubs pick 4th this year, so they’re going to get another excellent prospect). Mark Gonzales has a quick look at some of the early candidates.
  • Carrie Muskat with a long piece on, and full of thoughts from, Edwin Jackson. If you’re like me, you’re glad to see that, for the most part, Jackson didn’t try to change a whole lot coming into this year – he just needs to do what he always does, and the results in 2014 should be a lot better.
  • It’s easy to forget, but Welington Castillo had minor knee surgery at the end of the 2013 season, so the Cubs are going to take it a little easy with him this Spring. I don’t think anyone has any specific concerns about it right now – just your usual, “why risk anything in Spring Training?” kind of stuff.
  • Awful news out of what was a nice comeback story starring Mark Mulder. After years of believing his career was over, ended early by persistent shoulder troubles, Mulder, 36, discovered out of the blue that he could throw effectively again. And in the second damned day of Spring Training with the Angels, he tore his achilles and is likely done for the year. He never even got on the mound.
  • cjdubbya

    Oh man. The 45-minute sleep nights. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE those. I feel for you. Wife had four weeks of night call a month or so ago, and that was my nightly fear. For us, it’s when our little one has gas. I got three of those wakeups last night before he finally settled. I’m sending an internet double espresso your way today, Brett.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Gracias. Days like today, I wish I were more into coffee. I went with one of those mocha frappacino things from Starbucks and a Claritin-D (I’m kinda supposed to take that one anyway). Pepped me right up! WHO WANTS TO WRESTLE!?!?

      • brainiac

        my work makes me drink a lot of coffee. if i trail off i can’t focus right. let me tell you that it’s a slippery slope. coffee makes you crash and then you’re worse off, until you drink more coffee or take an excedrin. lacking sleep, caffeine, and following the cubs so closely are all good reasons to take an excedrin, regardless.

      • cjdubbya

        You could totes do some wicked snow angels today…

      • DocPeterWimsey

        My son is what drove me to a casual afternoon coffee drinker to something of a human SUV burning on coffee. 5+ years later, and I’m still a total junky. (My wife adamantly refused to sleep train the kid, so he kept doing the waking up and screaming every 90 minutes until he was about 18 months old……)

      • Greenroom

        Feats of strength. No one eats until George, I mean Brett, pins me. Vizcaino is going to be a beast.

  • Javier Bryant

    Trea Turner or Tyler Beede seem to be the early front runners, as of now, to be selected in the draft

  • J. L.

    Hey, Vizcaino in cubbie blue!

  • Blackhawks1963

    Ryan Dempster quitting or sitting out 2014. Bet Boston is enthused given that they owe him $13 million.

    • CubFan Paul

      Changes some things.

      • cubbiekoolaid2015

        Maybe adds another team to the Shark hunt… How about Owens, Barnes, and Swihart for Shark?

  • Blackhawks1963

    Vizcaino reminds me of a young Carlos Marmol. He could be a vital piece very soon. Or he could go the way of Angel Guzman. No denying the talent though.

    • baldtaxguy

      Let’s hope for a more consistent release point

  • David

    Brett – about how many innings will Viz be allowed to throw this year if all goes well?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Great question. I can’t know for sure, but, if he’s relieving all yer, it’s hard to see him topping 50 innings. If they give him some multiple inning outings in the minors, maybe 80? No way he goes over 100 in any circumstance, I’d think.

      • IA_Colin

        I could see something where they just follow some rules. Never pitches on back to back days, or more than 3 times a week. Inning limits seem arbitrary without some sort of plan.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I think those things tend to work in tandem, whether intentionally or not.

  • MattM

    I am relieved that Vizcaino is throwing well. Having said that he should definitely be in the minors.

    This is the first year since I can remember that I actually feel pretty optimistic on our bullpen. We had some great moves over the offseason here. Veras and Wright were great additions. Add to that Strop and we SEEM to have a nice bullpen. Although, when have the Cubs ever gotten lucky on such things. I thought the Fujikawa deal was great last year…

    I would be interested to know from someone like Doc how much better on paper our bullpen seems to be from last year. Maybe statistically it isn’t better but it seems to be much more solid to me. I still feel like if we had a good bullpen last year we win 10 more games…..I definitely think it will be one of the bright spots this year.

    • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

      I agree that this bullpen has the potential to be better than last year, but that’s because our bullpen was extremely bad last year. We’ve signed 2 guys who are projected to put up an average of 0.15 WAR among them and that still beats the -0.75 average WAR between Marmol and Camp last year. Even with all of our mid season waiver wire disasters and breakout performances from Villanueva, Strop, and Parker, our 23 relief pitchers used last year posted a combined -0.2 WAR.

      Our bullpen lost 31 games last year: 6 from an overworked Russell (4/6 losses came from the second half), 6 from Gregg (also 4 losses from the 2nd half), 4 from Marmol (all from the 1st half), and 3 from Bowden. Three of those four guys are off the roster going into 2014. That doesn’t mean we’re going to win 13 more games than last year, but it sure does highlight the fact that a bullpen full of MiLB guys could have done better and cost less.

      The Pythagorean theorem said we were basically a .500 team last year and well, 13 wins would have put us at 79-83 (which is 5 more wins than where the Brewers finished last year). So, with a better projected bullpen and better luck from our offensive players, there’s no reason we shouldn’t finish the season at 81-81.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Actually, the Cubs projected to be a 0.433 team given runs allowed and runs scored (602 scored, 689 allowed). They projected to be a 0.467 team based on net OPS (-0.025). The problem was that the Cubs scored quite a bit fewer runs than they should have.

        And that ties into the bullpens poor W/L, S/H/BS records in part. Yes, the relievers were not very good: but they frequently were out their pitching with very small leads. The Cubs offense made it easy for them to “blow” games. This is why teams with good starting staffs and good offenses get away with poor bullpens: giving up a run or two late costs them far, far fewer games than it does when you have a poor offense. (The Cubs starters made an ironic contribution: because they actually pitched pretty well, they kept games close, and thus when combined with the Cubs offense created a lot of “late and close” situations for the relievers to blow.)

        • MattM

          That only tells part of it as well. You don’t think that a team like the Giants can frequently outplay their runs scored/runs allowed numbers by defense and relief pitching? Or is that a statistical measure of luck and nothing else?

          • DocPeterWimsey

            No teams consistently outplay their run-differential by any wide margin. (The Angels were bordering on doing so after a several year stretch last decade, but then one awful season brought them completely back to expectations!) The Giants create the illusion of winning with a “scrappy” team because they played in a division of bad teams for a few years, yet did well in post-season because the Giants were playing well in September. I suspect that this leads people to falsely equate their records with the records of the teams that they beat in post-season, and thus assume that the Giants some how squeezed many more victories out of their run-differential than they did. What they did was squeeze more mileage out of their victories because somebody had to win the NLW in those seasons.

            The contribution of fielding to winning is entirely by reducing runs allowed, so I’m not sure how that could encourage deviations from expectation. The contribution to relief pitching tends to be in the other direction: bad relief pitching leads teams to lose more than you would expect because of run-differential. However, that is an artifact of one thing: they stop playing after a reliever gives up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 9th (or 10th or later), and thus prevent the reliever from giving up even more hits and runs.

            Now, you can get years like the Orioles had in 2012 where the relievers seemed to save their bad outings for blow-outs. However, like the Cardinals batting so well with runners in scoring position (albeit *not* in clutch situations!) last year, this isn’t a repeatable trait: the same Orioles’ relievers “failed” in big part this year because their performances were more evenly distributed among close and not-close games.

        • MattM

          Also, If you remember correctly our runs scored/runs allowed numbers were reversed before the All-Star break. We literally were losing games somewhere and if as you say the rs/ra numbers were showing like that I guess we were just unlucky and or our bullpen sucked and gave up the leads a lot. Right?

        • cubfanincardinalland

          Good work Doc. For the sabermetric challenged, the translation is the Cubs did a really crappy job of adding on to leads last year. Seemed like many games they just waited for the other team to come after them. No chance they hit as bad as they did with runners in scoring position this year.

  • FortyFour

    Dempster is not quitting but he will be sitting out 2014 for a combination of physical and personal reasons according to what he has been quoted by the media. The Red Sox are reportedly not having to pay him this season and are able to place Dempster on their restricted list.

  • IA_Colin

    If Vizcaino pitches effectively this season that would be a wonderful surprise. The bullpen is going to look pretty ridiculous at times. These guys can really bring it when talking velocity and “stuff”.

    If he pitches well and another guy emerges on offense like Castro bouncing back or Olt tears up spring training then the Cubs image will be start to look a little more clear. Not winners but respectable maybe.

    • MattM

      I agree. At least in the bullpen we actually have a professional look this year. Add to that Veras as a flappable asset. Think about this….With Fujikawa coming back and hopefully Strop taking a step forward we can afford to flip Veras at the deadline for at least a good prospect if he is pitching like he should.

      Veras is the type of deal that Theo should be making all the time. The bullpen is where we can gain assets at cheaper prices and flip them. The Pirates used to do this all the time! They were very smart with that. They used to put together very good bullpens and the Cubs even when good would always pass on the buy low sell high guys.

      I remember back when I wanted to Cubs to get Dotel so badly! Sure enough the Pirates pick him up and flip him.

  • baldtaxguy

    Well, the bullpen certainly has year-over-year added depth, and the addition of Vizcaino at some point during the season would certainly be further additive. When ST breaks and wherever he ends up, I hope he progresses steadily and healthily to be helpful in Chicago. He could be a nice surprise this year, and possibly the biggest one, since he was off the radar so long.

    I can’t wait to see the makeup of the bullpen and its performance the 1st half. If Vizcaino is part of it, it’ll be even more fun to watch. And personality-wise, I like having Veras as the leader/closer on Day 1, barring God’s wrath, vs. past years with Marmol, and then last year with Gregg assuming the closer role. Veras may generate a real positive vibe throughout the bullpen that we have not seen in quite some time.

    • MattM

      Agreed! The bullpen is the easiest place for a team to upgrade year after year. Some teams do not seem to think along the same lines tough.. I always find this strange.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        This probably is for two reasons. One, there is only a weak correlation between how good your bullpen is and how successful your team is. The correlation between winning and starting pitcher performance dwarfs that between winning and relievers considerably. Improving the starting lineup also is more important.

        Two, it actually can be tough to upgrade the bullpen. One, there is a much smaller supply of good relievers than there is demand for them. Two, relievers have such small sample sizes from one year to the next that stats from 2011 did a poor job of predicting stats from 2012, and stats from 2012 did a poor job of predicting stats from 2013. Every team needs multiple relievers: yet are there even 60 relievers who did well in 2013 who will do well in 2014? Probably not.

        (That’s why the small supply does not elicit huge contracts from demand: too many teams have learned the hard way that paying big $$$ to the guy who piled up gaudy numbers in relief over the last couple of years was a bad investment; and that’s also why relievers are almost the “migrant labor” of baseball, with so many drifting from one team to the next over a few seasons.)

        • MattM

          What you just listed makes for the new market inefficiency (if true). One year from the other does not say whether they will be successful. No huge contracts for demand “migrant labor.”

          That’s why the Pirates were so successful. We could afford to sign guys like Veras, Mujica, Wilson all at the same time just as flappable assets.

          If by the trade deadline they are doing well then we have a huge number of options and we didn’t spend that much money on them….

          • MattM

            For some reason I’m typing flippable and it’s replacing it with flappable….weird…

          • DocPeterWimsey

            No, it really doesn’t make it a market inefficiency so much as it makes it a place where the market cannot be efficient. It’s like being a cat breeder and wanting to breed tabbies or calicos for their color patterns: because these things are not heritable from one generation to the next, you cannot do it efficiently.

            The Pirates are a good example of why this tactic has such a huge pot-luck element. The 2012 Pirates had a very good bullpen for the first 4.5 months of the season. That, coupled with above average starting pitching, had them in 2nd place with 6 weeks to go. The bullpen promptly collapsed and the team went something like 15-30 to end the season below 0.500.

            The O’s offer the same example: their bullpen crew put up wonderful numbers in 2012, and then they put up less than wonderful numbers in 2013. It works like this over and over: teams that have good offenses or good starting rotations in Year X will usually have good slugging or good OBP or good starting rotations in Year X+1: and if they don’t, then it’s usually because of injuries. If a team has a good bullpen in Year X, then, well, flip a coin as to whether it is good in Year X+1. The coin is slightly weighted: but only slightly.

            • MattM

              What I meant when I said inefficiency was not to the extent that the team could be projected to be better as a whole. My point was that if one were to stock up on major league talent that could easily be flippable on the cheap the bullpen would be where to go.

              If Theo wanted to maximize his rebuild this would be the area to concentrate. As I stated below the Pirates were a perfect example of this. While yes from year to year they can’t be counted on to have a great bullpen what they could count on was having assets that could be flipped. McDonald at one point was listed as part of the best trade in history. The Pirates got rid of half a season of Dotel for seasons of McDonald who was good at one point.

              You stated yourself that bullpen assets are cheap. My point was that the Cubs could TRY to make their team better by putting the few monetary assets they had into their bullpen and then turn the bullpen assets into quality assets by the trade deadline. Seems fairly logical. What’s the price difference between a 2WAR reliever and a 2WAR starting pitcher?

              • DocPeterWimsey

                But, again, there are two problems with this. First, putting money is a crapshoot: it is less of a prediction about which of last year’s relievers will do will this year and more of a guess.

                The second and bigger problem is that GM’s have learned that trading for relievers late in the season is a waste of prospects. You have a much better chance of improving your team’s chances of winning by adding another starter (almost every team can upgrade it’s #5 starter) or by adding another bat. Either of those has a good chance of reducing the number of blown saves by reducing the number of opportunities for saves to be blown. That is where the 2 WAR reliever and 2 WAR starter comparison falls apart: in July, GM’s are banking on how many wins a guy is going to add over the last 8-10 weeks of the season, and a starter or position player almost always is going to add more.

                • MattM

                  Really? You don’t say? Hmm….Tell that to the Dodgers (who gave up McDonald) and to the Reds (who gave up Wood).

                  I guess looking at numbers like you would do is telling one part of the equation. You can’t sit there and say what GMs are thinking because you aren’t a GM. I’m simply state what GMs HAVE done. How about we go back and take a look at some recent trades for relievers. 2012: Reds(Johnathan Broxton) Pirates (Chad Qualls) Cardinals (Edward Mujica) Dodgers (Brandon League). 2013: Cardinals (Axford) Orioles (Francisco Rodriguez) Dodgers (Marmol).

                  That’s not even trying….I’m sure there were more in that period. What do you think we would have gotten were Marmol pitching well? Don’t you think we did well in the Marshall trade? Again my point is as it always was that this are assets. Teams trade for them whether you think they do or not, but when a team is in the playoff picture they are looking to add talent. The cheapest talent we can pick up is in the bullpen.

                  • cubfanincardinalland

                    You just don’t get that good a prospect for a rent a reliever in July anymore. Those guys you listed brought back very little in trade. Even Mujica who had another year under a cheap contract got the Marlins only a bust prospect.
                    They tried to trade Gregg last year, and could get little for him.

                    • MattM

                      And yet we got Travis Wood and the Pirates got James McDonald… It can and has been done…

                    • MattM

                      In the Brandon League deal the Mariners got a good looking speedy outfield prospect and a relief pitching prospect who put up great numbers in AAA last year.

                      Kansas City got two decent relief pitching prospect in the Broxton deal.

                      The Brewers got a Hard Throwing Michael Blazeck from the Cardinals in the Axford deal. Axford sucked and the Brewers still come someone who throws 97 out of the bullpen and someone who they put in their Major League bullpen right away.

                      Those are good returns. If you are supposed to be collecting talent that is the way you do it.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    ? Wood was an off-season deal that was probably a bad one for the Reds: but they clearly were undervaluing Wood at that point.

                    I think that McDonald comes closer to corroborating my point than yours.

                    • MattM

                      So? You think McDonald was crappy? I doubt the Pirates would agree for a pretty good stretch..

                      I don’t care that the Marshall/Wood trade was in the offseason. That actually proves my point even more. The Reds certainly gave up an asset did they not? Whether you think they undervalued him or not makes not difference. They still gave up something good for Marshal (a relief pitcher).

                      To the Gregg trade not happening BTW that was result of the high ask of this FO not of just the usual “no one wants a relief pitcher,” thought that Doc is going for.

        • MattM

          Also, back in 2011 I think it was if we spend a tad more money we get Jonathan Broxton as a flippable asset which works out well for us….

          • MattM

            This was from last year: “Options abound among setup men and specialists, such as lefties Javier Lopez, Boone Logan, J.P. Howell and Oliver Perez.

            Among the right-handed setup men, Jesse Crain is coming off an All-Star season that was shortened by a shoulder injury, while veterans such as LaTroy Hawkins, Joe Smith and Chad Qualls remain valuable contributors who will find their way into somebody’s bullpen.”

            In my opinion we should have signed a bunch of these guys…We don’t have to worry about if they suck because we suck, but if they are good for that year then we have amazing assets to flip. It seems to me that if you are really trying to rebuild a team this is what you do.

            So, in 2010 the PIrates pic up Dotel and he has an ok season but they turn around a trade him for James Mcdonald. Not a bad return for half a season of Octavio Dotel right? Doesn’t that seem like a good plan to you?

        • MattM

          Here is a great link on the Mcdonald/Dotel sign and trade deal by the Pirates….

          http://www.baseballnation.com/2012/5/11/3013004/james-mcdonald-pittsburgh-pirates-trade-los-angeles-dodgers

          My thought is that Veras could be extremely valuable to us as a trade candidate but we could have signed more guys that could be as well. I just think that’s what we should be focused on. It makes sense if you look at some of the deals over the years for relievers by teams in the playoff hunt. I think this is the efficiency that Epstien has missed!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    No sense in pushing Viscaino hard at any point this season. We will not be in contention so it’s really nothing urgent. Of course it would be good to see him face some major league batters at some point, but I would rather see him 100% next year when we have a lineup that at least has some potential to be competative. I think a lot of fans are going to be disapointed when all of their dream prospects don’t come up as fast as the wish this year. I think this FO is banking on another top 5 draft pick in 2015. For example all of the talk about Bryant coming up. Theo has stated time and time again that he believes every player needs a minimum of one year in the minors. I think at some point we see Baez, Alcantara and Hendricks this year. And probably Grimm in the pen. This season is all about throwing turds against the wall to see which ones stick. And if it does stick then flip it.

    • ChiHawk93

      Not trying to nitpick here because I’m not even 100% sure on the dates but if you added up how much Bryant played last year plus a mid season call up isn’t he getting close to a year in the minors ?

      • baldtaxguy

        I did not see the comment, but I would suppose this full season being within the minors would make sense for Bryant, moving up from AA to AAA at mid-season should he have success, and even that move would be remote. Unless he hits .400 and every first half hit he has is a home-run, I can’t imagine a mid-season call-up at all.

  • hcs

    I remember seeing Mulder pitch against us in high school (not so much as a player, but as a photographer for the yearbook, but still…) It’s a shame to hear about this latest setback. He was something to see back then. Had some pop in his bat, too.

  • MattM

    Hey Brett I know this isn’t the spot for this but I was wondering if you were ever going to do a write up on MLB station’s top 10 right now series. I was watching the SS top 10 and Starlin Castro went from number 3 last year to not on the list this year.

    It’s a great show that uses sabermetrics to measure players’ values relative to each other in baseball.

    J.J. Hardy it appears is the most underrated player in the game! Incredible.

    It does say though that Startlin Castro if he hits 280 with 14 hrs and 75 rbis is extremely valuable as a SS.

  • MattM

    Hey Brett I know this isn’t the spot for this but I was wondering if you were ever going to do a write up on MLB station’s top 10 right now series. I was watching the SS top 10 and Starlin Castro went from number 3 last year to not on the list this year.

    It’s a great show that uses sabermetrics to measure players’ values relative to each other in baseball.

    J.J. Hardy it appears is the most underrated player in the game! Incredible.

    It does say though that Startlin Castro if he hits 280 with 14 hrs and 75 rbis is extremely valuable as a SS.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I hadn’t see that yet – I’ll mention it if I can catch a replay online or something.

      • MattM

        I know Rizzo so far has been the only Cubs listed on this show. I just saw the relievers and obviously we have nothing. Ditto Left Field. They did mention Castro a good deal in the SS show.

        Honestly when Bill James says not to worry, and to be honest Brian Kenney as well I don’t feel too bad.

        I’m still amazed that J.J. Hardy has been such a great player! It blows my mind! That said his defense has been good and 20+ HRs from that position plays very well.

        If Castro can get marginally better at defense he would only have to hit maybe .250 with a .290 OBP and .400 slugging to be an above replacement player….

  • ChiHawk93

    Brett or Luke,
    What happened to Trey Mcnutt? He went from untouchable starter of the future to possible lights out reliever and now I haven’t heard about him in a while. Is there still upside with him?

    • Kyle

      Arm problems piled up and degraded the stuff a little bit. TINSTAAPP

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Still upside. He looks more like a bullpen guy now, but he still has the raw stuff to be a valuable late inning bullpen guy. He did not make much progress at the Double A level last year, though, and his stock is falling fairly rapidly as a result.

  • davidalanu

    Not Brett or Luke, but McNutt pitched 31 mediocre innings for Tennessee (AA) last year, and was dropped from the 40 man roster. As far as I can tell, he wasn’t picked by anyone in the Rule 5 draft, or otherwise traded, released, etc. So it looks like he’s still a part of the organization, but no longer on the 40-man, or considered much of a prospect.

    He’s only 24, and has just pitched in about 65 innings over the past two years, so if he can regain his health and stuff, could still be a potential bullpen arm.

  • SenorGato

    Video of maybe a dozen pitches from Tyler Beede’s Friday start against Long Beach:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh1swdhfy64

    This guy has the look of an elite prospect and has long been my favorite for #4. Now I’m wondering a little more seriously if he makes it to 4. Luckily it’s only February 16th and that was only game one for everyone. I’m even more locked onto Beede than I was with Appel, and again the best bat prospect

    I’m sloooowly getting excited about the year the sparse pitching talent they do have in the minors seems set up to have. Seems like everyone of note is healthy, Paniagua can spend the year in the States…Might be headed to where pitching is an emerging strength going into the 2016 season.

    • BWA

      I’m quietly optimistic that by this time next year our minor league pitching has proven itself and we no longer consider it bad. Edwards and Johnson could prove worthy to be top 10 pitching prospects in baseball. Blackburn, Zastryzny, Black, Skulina, Frazier, and Pineyro could all continue to put up great numbers at higher levels. Maples and Paniagua can prove they are the prospects we thought they are. Plus there are some unknowns like that international signing, Trevor Clifton, and Armando rivero which could prove to be assets. And Hendricks can graduate and pitch well for the Cubs!

      Obviously dreaming on all of this is ridiculous, but there are a lot of guys putting up good numbers in the minors and if they can prove that they can do it as they reach the upper minors, our pitching prospect situation could look much better next year.

      • SenorGato

        I’d be ecstatic if one of Edwards or Johnson are a top 10 pitching prospect in all of baseball. To me they’re the most polished arms, along with Vizcaino, of a growing pool of players with similar kinds of ceilings (though really all different kind of projections). If the current group of arms….Edwards…Johnson….Vizcaino…Blackburn…Black…Paniagua…Rivero…Frazier…Skulina…gives a 3-4 starter of the Future and some bullpen help then they’re in the black…As far as building a farm system goes I am reminded of the scout comment on the 2011 system that there are a bunch of guys here who will see the majors. Whether they make it or not IN the majors is a whole different story. Individually I like some more than others to make it with the Cubs, duh. Honestly still don’t see a guy with spectacular rotation upside right now. Edwards, Johnson, Paniagua based on scouting reports, and Blackburn probably have the lead there unless I’m forgetting someone.

        I like the pitching IFAs they grabbed last year – most specifically Tseng and Moreno the kid from Colombia. I expect Moreno and Clifton to move at a snail’s pace through the system. Tseng too but he’s better right now than those two are.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          I hear the Cubs are pooping gold bricks about Tseng. Extremely live arm, and a makeup beyond his years. Front of the rotation potential.

          • SenorGato

            His scouting reports vaguely sounded like Paul Blackburn. 91-94. shows 3-4 pitches, good breaking pitch (Blackburn’s more advanced when drafted?), athletic with an advanced ability for a teenage prospect to control and command his stuff.

    • SenorGato

      Oh duh…I meant to say and again the best bat prospect is probably a college guy in Turner. I’m open to one of the HS guys emerging but sports is about the one thing most non-academic elite colleges are at least kinda sorta good at (or put effort into) so might as well look at Merca’s best prepped students first.

  • Jason P

    I assume there’s some rule preventing big league teams from optioning injured players to the minor leagues to delay their service time clock, right?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The MLBPA will file a grievance if a team holds a player down for the sole purpose of delaying the clock. Very hard to prove, obviously. I believe there was one that just happened – I wanna say Ruben Tejada, maybe?

      Yeah. Tejada. Not sure if he went through with it or not: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ruben-tejada-might-file-service-time-grievance-against-mets-034455195.html

      • Jason P

        Oh okay, thanks. You’d think with Vizcaino’s limited MLB experience the Cubs could’ve claimed they wanted to get him a little more seasoning at AAA.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Clint Longenecker ‏@Clint_BA 1m
    NC State speedster Trea Turner ran a 3.42 on a bunt single from the right side

    That is just crazy fast…he would be a strong pick at 1.4 and would look real nice leading off a theoretical line up ahead of Baez and Bryant.

    • Kyle

      Want!

      • Rich H

        I got strong “giggity” type reactions to Trea Turner at 4 as well. He could really push through the system.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If he can’t get on base, that speed is as useless as Campana’s.

        I haven’t studied up on this guy yet. How’s his eye, discipline, and plate approach?

        • SenorGato

          Plate discipline seems fine. 79 walks in 591 college PAs with only 69 Ks so he has the numbers, and it isn’t considered a knock in scouting reports IIRC. Turner’s on a good path to being an elite guy.

        • NorthSideIrish

          He’s shown a pretty solid approach his first two seasons….336/.432/.459 as a freshman (w/57 steals) and .368/.455/.553 as a sophomore while playing with a high ankle sprain. He had more walks than Ks both seasons too.

          He’s kind of tall and skinny, but most think he can stick at SS no problem. The question is whether or not the bat gets knocked out of his hands at upper levels. He played for Team USA last summer and struggled some, but he was still dealing with the ankle injury and had a low BABIP.

          I’ve seen mixed scouting reports on him…Kiley McDaniel and John Manuels both love him, but Chris Crawford and KLaw question the upside.

          But he responded to one of my Tweets, so I like him. Scientific scouting.

          • blublud

            Im a state fan, and everything I’ve heard about him suggest he’s a CF. I seen some reports that he could stick, none that suggest he will.

        • blublud

          I have Luke. Im a huge State fan. I love Rodon, but I think Turner may be the better MLB player of the two. Turner has definitely been more consistent over their careers. He has decent contact and a lot of batt speed. I think he could develop teenish type power numbers and would be a great leadoff guy. His future position is CF, however.He ddoesn’t have the bat to play in the corners and will probably move out of the IF. He has much more speed than Almora and could have good instincts and probably even more range than Almora. The guy is the truth.

          • SenorGato

            I’ve convinced myself that I don’t really like Rodon. Beede is my top pitching talent.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I’ve got control concerns with both guys, but if I had to pick between them tomorrow I’d probably go Beede.

              And then feel dumb for leaving a potentially elite lefty on the board.

              • SenorGato

                I also have durability concerns on Rodon. He had some shoulder trouble last year that sapped his early season velocity and with young pitchers I take a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” approach with injury. Beede’s also got the more prototypical rotation build and size, and hedging on stuff like that is a big part of prospect picking for me.

                Oh and I think Vanderbilt’s pitching program might be elite in the MLB if they played there. Corbin and the depth of his program is one of the things that got me to follow college baseball at all. While I didn’t know Derek Johnson’s name specifically, I had a ton of respect for what Vanderbilt did for pitchers long before the Cubs hired their pitching coach. It seemed like they put out a quality SP prospect every year during the 2000’s and so far this decade, from Sowers to Price to Minor to Garvin to Selman (coincidence that they’re all LHers).

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Yes. You would. Silly rabbit.

        • Kyle

          The reports I’ve read project the hit tool to be anywhere from average to plus in the major leagues. Obviously that’s a big range, but even “average” is pretty great from a middle infielder in the majors these days. Especially with strong plate discipline.

      • mike

        Yeah, I kinda think so too. He’s playing SS for NCSU, I’ve heard rumblings about CF too potentially.

        The question is his bat.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That is just too fast.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The only way we are going to obtain a true #1 starter is to draft him in the first round. I was ok with drafting Bryant last year because he was clearly something special. I think we probaly have a good lead off man in Alcantara. With the hitters we have in the pipeline I don’t think that small ball is going to be that important. Adding to Baez, Bryant, and Soler to the middle of the order with Rizzo will be insane. In that future lineup Castro could be hitting in the 7 spot and Castillo in the 8 spot. Let’s hope that all works out and soon!

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      And that was in reference to Turner being a must have.

    • NorthSideIrish

      I actually agree and hope there’s a college SP there at 1.4, but it’s not out of the question for Rodon, Hoffman, and Beede to go 1-2-3. At that point, the Cubs could have the choice between getting the best college bat in the draft again or going for a H.S. player. And in that case I like Turner a lot more than someone like Jackson who might contribute in 2018.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If Rodon, Hoffman, and Beede are the first three off the board, the Cubs could still do well.

        There are at least two high quality high schoo arms, Turner, another slugging high school shortstop, and Jackson in the mix (at least, right now, but that will change).

        One guy lower on the list I’m watching is that lefty hitting catcher from Indiana U. Said to have some of the best power in the draft, pairs it with a good all-fields approach at the plate, and has the arm to move to the outfield if he doesn’t pan out at catcher. He’d be a reach right now, but it is a long way to the draft yet.

        • NorthSideIrish

          There’s a lot to like about Kolek, but I have a hard time seeing this FO go with a high school pitcher this high. I forgot about Gatewood and it does seem like the Cubs are trying to corner the market on power.

          I hope Newcombe makes a charge up the boards this year…big power lefty SP would be nice to add and he looked much better this summer.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Agreed on the high school arms, but if Touki Toussaint really does already have two two pitches grading 70 or higher, that is a very tempting high schooler.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          Having a catcher that hits left handed for power would be great. Maybe another Brian McCann type guy. The IU baseball team is on the rise (go Hoosiers). I live close to South Bend and I’m going to have to check the Notre Dame baseball schedule to see if they play IU at home.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            If I remember right the Cubs drafted a pitcher out of IU either last year or the year before. They likely do have some familiarity with that program.

            • http://bleachernation.com woody

              IU signed an Illinois catching prospect named Brent Gibbs. He was the 6th best prospect in the state of Illinois and the highest rated catcher rated by Prep Baseball Report for an 8 state area. Carries a .455 average into his senior season. Also IU is the projected favorite to win the big ten this year. They made it to Omaha last year for the first time in the schools history. Might be worth sending a few scout over there.

          • SenorGato

            IIRC that guy can’t catch, but then again I don’t have his name off the top of my head. Kyle Schwaber?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Sounds about right.

            • NorthSideIrish

              I believe it’s Schwarber…and he’s not going to be a catcher long term. More like a Ryan Doumit type who could catch some games in a pinch, but his best position is in the batter’s box. Big time power though, even though it’s more likely to be at 1B/DH.

            • Mike

              Yep, Schwarber is the Hoosiers’ catcher. Definitely huge power, hit 18 last year which was good for 3rd in the country. If only he could actually stay at catcher.

  • KQ

    I think 80 run grade will be too hard to pass up. He has played some CF, last yr he had some leg issues and still stole a ton of bases. Cubs will never draft in the first round on need. I think they take Turner and attack pitching by volume once again.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      For me, an 80 run is the easiest 80 to pass up. Speed is great, but it really needs a strong cast of supporting tools to be a weapon.

      That’s not a knock on Turner – I haven’t done all my homework on the guy yet – I’m just saying that in my book, at least, a 80 run is not a reason a to draft a player at the top of the first round.

      • Kyle

        Agreed, but I still like Turner quite a bit.

        Sure, it’d be nice if he had power. And it’d be nice if Bryant could play SS or if Baez had a 70+ hit tool, but I don’t think that having that one flaw precludes him from being a great No. 4 pick.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’m not worried about his power. It’s his hit I’m looking at.

          More walks than hits is a very promising start in that department.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            What are his K’s like?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Whoops, saw it up there from Mr. Feline. Wow, 79 BB against 69 K in 591 PAs? Add me to the “Want Him” list: and the speed is just a pretty drawing on the icing of that cake.

              • Javier Bryant

                Turner is the guy I want, could you imagine him at the top of the future Cubs lineup? Turner, Almora, Bryant, etc…
                At the same time, I could see them taking Beede

      • KQ

        I agree its the easiest tool to pass up but he also has a strong arm and very good patience at the plate. Has the tools to be a very good hitter. Its sounds like the White Sox really want to take an arm at # 3, I think Turner will be around but a lot can change by draft. Im a big fan of Turner I hope he has a great year and ends up a cub.

        • Javier Bryant

          I could see the Sox taking Kolek

  • YourResidentJag

    Send ALL THE PLAYERS with potential to the minors….oh sorry… ;)

  • Darth Ivy

    Veras, Strop, Viscaino, Parker, Rosscup, (maybe even Arrieta?)

    The Cubs might have a fun bullpen (those are the guys I’m excited about. I know others might have different names in there)

  • YourResidentJag
    • Jason P

      I know he wasn’t the greatest communicator, but the amount of blame Sveum is getting for the lack of development from some of the Cubs young players is starting to get ridiculous.

      • YourResidentJag

        Agreed.

      • mjhurdle

        totally agree.
        I was a Sveum supporter, and still think he can be a good manager, but there were definitely things he did poorly.
        But the media has seemed to buy into the “Sveum was fired because he couldn’t reach /messed up the young players” message 100%.
        Paul Sullivan was on a radio show here in STL and said that Sveum was fired because he messed up Castro. It is really out of control at this point

        • roz

          What other big reasons were there for his firing?

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Like Theo and Jed would call up any player just because the manager wanted them is pretty far fetched IMO.

        • CubFan Paul

          Not far fetched if that manager fancies himself as a hitting coach also

      • SenorGato

        I don’t disagree but am left impressed with Epstein’s ability to find human Kevlar. Seems like Hoyer is up next – noticed a slowly growing animosity for him this winter. So long as Theo keels whining about a lack of funds, always magically just enough for second place it seems, he is in the clear. Juuuuust in case THO these less established underlings…

        Note that for the above that I’m less serious than you might think but more serious than I might think.

        • brainiac

          he’ll need it. these guys aren’t the superheroes they branded themselves to be. they’re middle management with a mediocre business plan that barely includes sports.

    • baldtaxguy

      I can see where he is *trying* to be diplomatic, but his fighting “my nature, my natural swing” comment is too convenient. Telling us your natural swing is the shit, Brett, and you were “prevented” from being a good baseball player last year? I’m not a Sveum supporter, but I’m certainly now not a Jackson fan.

  • arta

    P Sullivan? he did make some bad decisions along with messing up the young players, IMO.

  • arta

    let me add, i also was a Sveum supporter at one time.

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