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minor league camp

Today I took in more of the Cubs’ new facilities in Mesa, and also headed down to minor league camp, which technically started today. Of course, many of the most recognizable prospects are still with the big league contingent, so some of the guys you see are lesser known. The practice fields where the players were working out today are just fantastic for viewing opportunities, since they sit in a beer-league-softball-field-like clover, where all of the home plates are the center. You can literally look over your shoulder from one field to another.

Among the things I saw today …

  • Big-time Dominican signee Eloy Jimenez is in camp, and he’s looking every bit of the “big kid” he’s been described as. At 17, he towers over guys several years older, and is like a miniature Jorge Soler in the making (physically, I mean). He’s not rail skinny either, like you might expect. (I didn’t see fellow big-time signee Gleyber Torres today, though if Jimenez is there, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Torres is, too. They’ll likely do extended Spring Training, and then possibly kick off their professional careers in the Arizona Rookie League – quite a compliment.) Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Jimenez hit, just run. And he ran fine. #Insight
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua is here! After a mostly lost 2013 season thanks to visa issues, it looks like there won’t be any such problem this year. Now Paniagua just has to show the stuff that he flashed in the Dominican Republic when he was a bit younger, which led to three teams signing him (but the first two deals being kicked because of identity questions) – and the Cubs making him their big-time signing in the 2012 international class. Paniagua turns 24 in April, so he could be a fast-riser this year.
  • Also in camp, Gerardo Concepcion, the Cuban pitcher the Cubs grabbed in early 2012 for a $6 million big-league deal, and who subsequently flopped thanks to mono, arm issues, and stuff that may not have been as good as advertised. So, yes, Concepcion is still with the organization, for those who have wondered. Concepcion only just turned 22 this week, so there’s still some time for him, assuming the troubles of the past two years have really just been health-related. Remember, he was pitching well in the highest league in Cuba when he was just 19. He clearly had some skills.
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr. was among those taking batting practice, and he was showing off a very smooth swing. He doesn’t have much pop – the ball didn’t really jump off of the bat – but it was a line-drive swing, and that’s really all he needs in his game. Dunston just turned 21, and although he hasn’t accelerated through the system since being drafted in 2011, he did pull off a fantastic feat last year at Boise: 28 walks and just 25 strikeouts. He also stole 12 bases (2 CS) and had 10 extra base hits, with a .290/.378/.358. If the plate discipline is legit, and if he can add just a little more pop, watch out. He could quickly become a very real top-of-the-order prospect.
  • I watched each of Trey Martin and Jacob Hannemann running sprint drills. The two are speedy outfielders who dealt with injury issues last year, and from what little I could tell, they appear healthy right now. They could be ticketed for Kane County to start out the year with a chance to move up quickly. Together with Dunston, though, the Cubs have a bit of a bit of a center field prospect glut below Albert Almora, with all three guys theoretically needing time as the starter at Kane County. And all three are legitimate prospects.
  • Yasiel Balaguert isn’t a giant guy, but the ball just flies off of his bat. The somewhat unheralded Cuban defector turned 21 in January, and hit a little bit at Boise last year (.261/.331/.433). I would call it “effortless power,” but I’m not a scout and I don’t want to play one on the Internet.
  • Trevor Gretzky is tall and skinny, and showed a little bit of power in BP. Somewhere in between Dunston and Balaguert. He did show off 80 grade niceness to some kids who were watching, making sure to greet them one-by-one and sign autographs.
  • I caught a quick glimpse of possible future guy-you-should-know Mark Malave, the Venezuelan bonus baby from 2011 who just turned 19. He was signed as a catcher, then converted to third base, and is now possibly being converted back to catcher. He looked like a catcher to me.
  • You can check out my Twitter time line for additional stuff, including a few Vines and a bunch of pictures (warning: most of the pictures are of silly things, because the fences made it hard to get great shots of the players).
  • Diehardthefirst

    Dunston call up July- don’t bet against it

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Oh and the streak continues

      • J. L.

        Diehard means he’ll be called up to Daytona. (I wish.)

      • DarthHater

        [img]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2873/12908841474_b7f4f165cf_m.jpg[/img]

    • King Jeff

      Can I bet you? I’ll take that action all day.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Me too. I’ll even give you odds.

      • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

        A happened to see Dunston in the NWL last summer. He just isn’t that physical. He was playing left and almost threw a guy out at first. (yes left) I wouldn’t expect the walk rate to maintain against higher level pitching.

        I am skeptical of plate discipline guys with no power, who walk at lower levels.

  • candyland07

    Very nice read- almost felt as if I was roaming the fields – have fun and enjoy.

  • Javier Bryant

    Curious to see who is in Kane County this year. Last year had some nice prospects in Almora, Vogelbach, etc. This year is looking a little more bleak in regards to top prospects

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Last year’s KC team was loaded as far as the offense goes – you might go a long time before you see another infield that full of prospecty goodness in Low A – but the 2014 team isn’t exactly hurting.

      The outfield should be be an overall more talented bunch than 2013, with Hannemann having a chance to move quickly and Dunston coming off a mini-breakout season with Boise last year.

      And on the mound you should see much better starting pitching than 2013. Many of the high school pitchers from the 2012 draft and the college pitchers from the 2013 draft should be hitting Kane County. A rotation that features Blackburn, Underwood, Skulina, and Zastryzny would not surprise me at all.

      • Javier Bryant

        Will definitely be at quite a few games. I’m guessing Dunston, Hannemann and Gretzky are there to start the year. Shoulders in Daytona? Was surprised he didn’t get called up when Vogelbach did

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Gretzky is one to keep an eye on. He could be the next Dustin Geiger style sleeper-power guy to sneak up the system.

          Shoulders should be in Daytona.

        • ssckelley

          Power hitting Kelvin Freeman could be at KC, possibly Cael Brockmeyer for catcher?

        • Jon

          I refuse to believe any of these guys can be any good. Not from the barron & desolute farm system theo inherited

  • Kyle

    Seems like that must be a typo on Malave. We all know there wasn’t anybody worth keeping an eye on in the system in 2011.

    • Jon

      lol

      • Chef Brian

        Jon and the Antitheonistas have found a new mascot in Kyle. They can take turns cracking funny on the marginal prospects from 2011. I don’t know what everyone was thinking Theo and Jed inherited a bunch of unpolished diamonds from Hendry’s one foray into over slot drafting.

        • Jon

          **yawn**

          • Chef Brian

            Don’t you mean *whine*?

            • CubFan Paul

              Correct. Jon is tired of you whining.

              He gets it, you don’t like him. No reason to be just as tiresome as him.

              • Jon

                I actually think he’s my biggest fan. It’s like he is enamored with me.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Just ask him out, he’s obviously shy. Maybe he’ll go away after a couple e-dates

                  Or you can get all tiresome on him on e-date #3

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Now everything is ***yawn*** concerning this.

        • Jason P

          Well I mean they also inherited Javier Baez, Dan Vogelbach, and the draft picks that allowed them to get Almora, Johnson and Blackburn. That and a bevy of short term ML assets.

          That said, the front office deserves credit for hitting (so far) on hose draft picks and trades.

        • Kyle

          No offense, but I’ve been here bringing everyone down with negativity way longer than Jon or any of these other Johnny-Come-Latelies.

          • ssckelley

            Your mother must be so proud.

            • Kyle

              I’d have to leave her basement to ask her.

          • MightyBear

            He has.

          • waittilthisyear

            i’ve never seen “latlies” spelled out. i can’t disagree with your spelling, but what a strange looking word

          • Chef Brian

            I can’t argue with that Kyle.

        • Kyle

          And of actual substance, if you think that was Jim Hendry’s only foray into overslot drafting, you have two issues:

          1) He wasn’t drafted
          2) Hendry had many, many forays into overslot drafting.

          • MightyBear

            Problem with that is that Hendry wasn’t given any money to overslot draft. Hence, he wasn’t very effective with it.

            • Kyle

              That just ain’t true. Or at least, it was rarely true until Ricketts took over.

              I’m going to fight this every step of the way, but I feel like I’ve already lost, and the “Cubs didn’t spend much on the draft in the 2000s” myth is already right next to “Greg Maddux never had a good fastball” and “The 1984 NLCS took a home game away from the Cubs.”

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I did some Googling, and can’t find amateur spending totals for either of the past couple of decades, but, anecdotally, I remember a third party source saying something about the Cubs spending in the bottom handful of teams in the draft in the 2000s or like 1995 to 2010. That’s despite frequently picking near the top, and having one of the most expensive individual players during that span.

                Can’t find anything to substantiate this memory, though.

                • Kyle

                  My hypothesis is that you are conflating two memories:

                  1) The Cubs had one of the lowest WARs produced in the draft for a lot of stretches between like 1999 and whenever.

                  2) The Cubs had a stretch of low draft spending from roughly 2008 to 2010 that Wilken likes to point out when criticized about Hayden Simpson.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Definitely possible.

                  • Mike Moody

                    Looked at first round signing bonuses, it appears to have started in 2006 with Tyler Colvin (he got a lot less than teams surrounding the Cubs were paying) but they were paying big bonuses in the years prior to that. Bobbie Brownlie and Mark Pawalek were fantastically expensive mistakes.

                    • Kyle

                      And in 2006, we spent a *ton* outside of the first-round. We gave Jeff Samardzija a massive deal to buy him off of football, and we had quite a few other major overslots.

                    • Mike Moody

                      Yes, but we also didn’t have second, third, or fourth round picks in 2006, so we saved up a bunch of money for the non-Samardzija overslots.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Most of that “ton” was spent on Samardzija.

                      From what I have found is they spent $4M-ish on the first 10 rounds in the 2006 draft.

                      Double that was spent on Bryant alone.

                    • Kyle

                      They also gave a record 7-figure bonus to their 11th rounder that year.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      $1.3M and it’s one draft (which, at first glance, looks like a TERRIBLE one to bust a nut on). I read an ESPN article saying the Cubs hadn”t spent more than $6M in a single draft, EVER before 2011.

                      There are a couple of examples of them going nuts in a draft but (as everyone likes to point out about Ricketts) they had a significant financial advantage and blew it for the better part of a decade.

                    • Kyle

                      “$1.3M and it’s one draft (which, at first glance, looks like a TERRIBLE one to bust a nut on). I read an ESPN article saying the Cubs hadn”t spent more than $6M in a single draft, EVER before 2011.”

                      Your ESPN article is full of it. They gave Mark Prior $10m. They gave Jeff Samardzija $7m to stay away from football, but later restructured it to a 5 year/$10m major league deal.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      At some point, money given as part of a major league contract is major league salary, not draft signing bonus.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      At the $6M per draft is a quote from Wilkins in one of them there articles.

                      I read a lot…I retain a lot of useless information.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Cubs draft bonus totals since 2006.

                    2006: $5 million
                    2007: $6.1 million
                    2008: $5.5 million
                    2009: $4.0 million
                    2010: $4.7 million
                    2011: $11 million
                    2012: $9.2 million
                    2013: $11.1 million

                    The Cubs did take a huge jump in spending starting in 2011 (not that that was in question) and they have been among the higher spenders ever since.

                    So focusing on 2010 and before, and spot checking the league:

                    The Red Sox were one of the teams who first started spending huge on the draft, and between 2006 and 2010 they only dropped under $7.1 million once (2007, $4.8 million). They broke $10 million twice in that span.

                    The White Sox were generally considered the cheapest of the cheap in that era (rightly or not is up for debate), and between 2006 and 2010 they were under $3 million twice, and never went over $4.7 million.

                    So the Cubs spent well more than the White Sox, but were no where close to the Red Sox.

                    Scanning through the league, most teams had at least one year in which they spent close to or over $8 million between 2006 and 2010. The Cubs are among the very view who never really got close to that figure.

                    Without taking the time to add it up, I suspect Brett is right and that the Cubs are among the bottom five teams or so in spending between ’06 and ’10 (I don’t have data handy for prior to ’06), but that Kyle is also right in that a contributing factor in that is the Cubs drop off ’09 and ’10.

                    That said, even when the Cubs were spending more normally, they weren’t generally among the league leaders in that span. Their high years were not high enough to offset their low years.

                    The draft was clearly not a high priority during the ’06 to ’10 years, but the Cubs only went very cheap in the last two years of that span.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Oh, and point of order – the 2009 draft belonged to the Tribune era. So, since Ricketts took over, the Cubs went cheap on the draft once – the family’s first year of ownership, when it’s fair to point out they were probably doing a lot of things status quo as they got their bearings.

                    • Kyle

                      Other than I don’t think that 2006 number is including Samardzija, that all sounds about right. Including Samardzija should double that number, though.

                      But otherwise, I think you summed it nicely.

                      It’s sort of like the “Cubs had one of the worst farm systems in baseball when Epstein took over.” Not really, but it wasn’t as good as it is now.

                      Draft spending wasn’t awful before Ricketts took over (and he made it worse before making it better)

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Based on everything in the Ricketts tenure, I’m guessing they weren’t doing much to upset the apple cart that first year.

                      Also that would explain a pretty sizable chunk of the money that is “missing” from the MLB payroll. If draft spending is up $6M per and IFA spending has been up $4M per…that gets you $10M per right there.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      “Other than I don’t think that 2006 number is including Samardzija, that all sounds about right. Including Samardzija should double that number, though.”

                      I’ll have to find the link again but an ESPN article from around the time he signed put him at a $2.5M bonus.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      And that cheap year was still a 20% increase over the previous year and marked the first increase in draft spending in three years. If I’m not mistaken (and I don’t have that data handy) that was also when the Cubs started spending on Cuban talent in a much bigger way.

                      Also, that 2011 line should read $12 million for the Cubs.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Ok, so it appears Samardzija got $7.25M for choosing baseball over football and then a $2.5M signing bonus with his major league contract.

                      “Draft spending wasn’t awful before Ricketts took over (and he made it worse before making it better)”

                      Please don’t tell me you are counting the 2009 season as his.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      I show the Samardzija deal at $10 million, all as a major league deal, and not included in those figures.

                      I don’t think those numbers would include the restructuring of Szczur from (if I recall correctly) $150k to $1 million either. If we factor that in, the 2010 $4.7 mil turns into something like $5.6 mil.

                    • Kyle

                      “Please don’t tell me you are counting the 2009 season as his.”

                      No, but also keep in mind that by far the biggest expenditures are the top of the draft, and the 2008 Cubs’ unfortunate success had driven them to the bottom of the draft that year.

                      “I’ll have to find the link again but an ESPN article from around the time he signed put him at a $2.5M bonus.”

                      I’m going to have to be a little bit of a dick here, and I apologize in advance:

                      Some of us were paying attention to the Cubs’ drafting process loooonnng before Epstein got here and don’t have to look up ESPN articles to remember things like drafting Samardzija and buying him out of the NFL.

                      OK, I lied. I was a big dick there. Sorry, but that one’s been lurking beneath the surface all night and had to get out eventually.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Even if you don’t include the Szczur extra money, though, it is pretty inarguable that in the first draft under Ricketts, the Cubs spent more on the draft than they did the previous year.

                      I’m not sure you can argue that Ricketts made it worse before he made it better. He didn’t make it better as fast as he could have, but the dollars say more money went into the draft in Ricketts Year 1 than the previous year.

                    • Kyle

                      “I’m not sure you can argue that Ricketts made it worse before he made it better. He didn’t make it better as fast as he could have, but the dollars say more money went into the draft in Ricketts Year 1 than the previous year.”

                      That’s fair. Withdrawn.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Go ahead and be a dick. I think the first draft I followed outside of the Cubs was 2010. I was following the Cubs drafts a little before then but I remember Hendry having to lure Samardzija away from football. I just don’t remember every little detail of what happened. I pay far more attention now but even then, I still look up a lot of things.

                      The internet helps me do that. If that makes you a bigger man for some reason and factual information coming out showing that your stance on the draft process isn’t quite as strong as you thought makes you feel defensive, I can’t do anything about that.

                      I still have no idea how Ricketts reduced the draft budget before he increased it. The only way, based on the numbers Luke posted, that you could have believed that is if you were one of the folks that believes the Ricketts secretly ran the 2009 season.

                    • Kyle

                      “I show the Samardzija deal at $10 million, all as a major league deal, and not included in those figures.”

                      What happened with Samardzija is that he originally signed a deal with a small signing bonus with a stipulation that he got a much larger bonus (I want to say $7m, but it’s been awhile) if he gave up football.

                      Then the next year we tore up that deal and signed him to a 5-year MLB contract in exchange for him forgoing that bonus.

                    • Kyle

                      “The internet helps me do that. If that makes you a bigger man for some reason and factual information coming out showing that your stance on the draft process isn’t quite as strong as you thought makes you feel defensive, I can’t do anything about that.”

                      The factual information isn’t going against me. Half-remembered articles that people can’t actually produce or seem to be wildly inaccurate are going against me, but the actual data is on my side.

                      e-peen flexing: I cut my teeth on Cubs drafts back in the the 1996/1997ish. I changed my name to IvyEmpire at one point in anticipation of the dynasty we were building in the late 1990s/early 2000s. I printed out a copy of Mark Prior’s scouting report from Baseball America’s web site and folded up and carried it around in my wallet. I wrote breathless Usenet articles fapping about the farm system rankings from 2000-2002. I still remember when Baseball America webcast the draft for the first time, streaming the conference call audio on RealPlayer.

                      So the whole “Pfff, casual fans just don’t understand that Epstein is doing something the Cubs have never seen before” vibe really gets under my skin and sends me into crotchedy old man mode.

                      “I still have no idea how Ricketts reduced the draft budget before he increased it. The only way, based on the numbers Luke posted, that you could have believed that is if you were one of the folks that believes the Ricketts secretly ran the 2009 season.”

                      I’ll totally eat that one.

                    • Kyle

                      And the funny part is, that’s got to be the 12th time I’ve made the “counting 2009 under Ricketts” mistake. Three more and I fill out the punch card.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      I just didn’t want to have to re-open the closed browser tab (laaaaaaazy):

                      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2736354

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      “And the funny part is, that’s got to be the 12th time I’ve made the “counting 2009 under Ricketts” mistake. Three more and I fill out the punch card.”

                      Don’t mean to be a dick but some of us remember the period of time and where following the Cubs when he purchased the team and don’t have to be reminded as to when he actually took over…

                    • Kyle

                      “Don’t mean to be a dick but some of us remember the period of time and where following the Cubs when he purchased the team and don’t have to be reminded as to when he actually took over…”

                      Totally earned.

                  • Kyle

                    “At some point, money given as part of a major league contract is major league salary, not draft signing bonus.”

                    It’s the inducement to get the kid to sign. And it actually costs you more in the long run than the draft bonus, because it sets the baseline for future salary in pre-FA years.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      True…but that’s all money that is coming out of the MLB payroll. We didn’t pay Prior $10M to come play with us and THEN pay him a salary.

                      Same with Soler, the Cubs didn’t spend $30M of the 2012 budget getting him in the door nor do we count his annual salary as some sort of ongoing IFA bonus that counts as this amazing sum Ricketts is spending every year on amateurs.

                    • Kyle

                      “Same with Soler, the Cubs didn’t spend $30M of the 2012 budget getting him in the door nor do we count his annual salary as some sort of ongoing IFA bonus that counts as this amazing sum Ricketts is spending every year on amateurs.”

                      I absolutely count that as a $30m IFA expenditure.

                  • Kyle

                    “At the $6M per draft is a quote from Wilkins in one of them there articles.”

                    Two problems with that quote from Wilken.

                    1) It’s inaccurate. It’s wrong for the Prior draft, it’s wrong for the Samardzija draft, and according to Luke’s numbers up there, it’s wrong for the Vitters draft.

                    2) It sounds more meaningful than it is. $6m drafts weren’t exactly the minimum standard in the early and mid-2000s. Most teams would only get there if they happened to sign one of the very few most expensive players in the draft in a given year.

                • DarthHater

                  Here’s a little bit of partial data from mlbtr:

                  Amateur Signing Bonuses Series
                  By Mike Axisa [November 17, 2010 at 10:53pm CST]
                  Over the last month or so we’ve looked at the five largest signing bonuses each team has given to amateur prospects. The vast majority of those bonuses were given to drafted players, but there were certainly plenty of international free agents from Latin America and Asia as well. The bonuses included in the series total just under $500.4MM, ranging from the Braves ($9.67MM) to the Rays ($30.75MM) at the extremes. Here’s a link back to all 30 clubs…

                  AL East

                  Blue Jays ($13.2MM)
                  Orioles ($20.072MM)
                  Rays ($30.75MM)
                  Red Sox ($15.75MM)
                  Yankees ($13.44MM)

                  AL Central
                  Indians ($14.875MM)
                  Royals ($20.25MM)
                  Tigers ($18.78MM)
                  Twins ($15.5MM)
                  White Sox ($15.306MM)

                  AL West

                  Angels ($16.63MM)
                  Athletics ($14.4MM)
                  Mariners ($16.34MM)
                  Rangers ($14.195MM)

                  NL East

                  Braves ($9.67MM)
                  Marlins ($13.425MM)
                  Mets ($13.3MM)
                  Nationals ($22.325MM)
                  Phillies ($13.18MM)

                  NL Central

                  Astros ($10.345MM-$10.545MM)
                  Brewers ($13.1MM)
                  Cardinals ($12.625MM)
                  Cubs ($16.15MM)
                  Pirates ($21.85MM)
                  Reds ($25.82MM)

                  NL West

                  Diamondbacks ($29.1MM)
                  Dodgers ($13.7375MM)
                  Giants ($16.175MM)
                  Padres ($15.7MM)
                  Rockies ($14.4MM)

                  http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/amateur-signing-bonuses/

                  • Kyle

                    International spending isn’t the draft.

                    The Cubs definitely weren’t big spenders in the international market. Ironically, that’s where they were more successful than the draft, where they were regularly big spenders.

                    • Kyle

                      Disregard that, I suck at reading

                    • DarthHater

                      *shrug* Not much data is readily available online. I’m just indicating what I found.

                      In any event, while international players are included in those numbers, if you go to the page and click on the individual team links, you will see that the vast majority of players reflected are draftees, not international signings.

                  • Kyle

                    Also, that chart’s going to miss a pretty big chunk of change: Mark Prior didn’t get a big signing bonus, he got a major-league contract instead, which was at the time the largest draft contract in history (and is still, I believe, No. 2).

                    • DarthHater

                      I’ll take your word for it that that’s a fair point. :-D

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      No it includes Prior.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Prior still has the second largest draft signing bonus in Cubs history at $4 million (trailing only Bryant).

                      He got a major league contract, but he also got a (then) record bonus to go with it.

                      Almora is third on that list.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Keep in mind: if these lists are treating Cubs players who got major league deals this way, they’re treating other such players that way, too. Cubs weren’t the only team giving out big league deals.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Yep. Major league deals arguably got out of hand in that era, and that probably led in part to the crackdown Selig imposed in the current CBA.

                    • Kyle

                      “Keep in mind: if these lists are treating Cubs players who got major league deals this way, they’re treating other such players that way, too. Cubs weren’t the only team giving out big league deals.”

                      They aren’t *that* common. When the Cubs did it with Prior, it was pretty groundbreaking.

                      It got a little more common toward the end of the last CBA as draft spending in general started to shoot up, but it’s not something that was happening a dozen times a year or anything.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      There were quite a few in the ’06 to ’10 window (just not by the Cubs).

                      The Prior one was much earlier, and I do seem to remember it be an exception.

                      Although I think there were two major league deals coming out of the ’98 draft. I’d have to look that one up before I’d put much on that memory, though.

                    • Kyle

                      More riffing off memory, because it’s more fun that way rather than just googling everything, I want to say that J.D. Drew got an MLB deal? And maybe Travis Lee?

              • Orval Overall

                You’re fond of the forest/trees analogy. It applies to you in this instance:

                * Trees: There are numerous examples of Hendry spending overslot in the draft, as well as multiple examples of successful picks on his watch (Donaldson, Cashner, Shark, Baez, and others I’m not mentioning).

                * More trees: Not every draft pick that doesn’t work out was actually a bad pick at the time it was made. Some are just bad luck, injuries, surprises, etc.

                * Forest: As a whole, our draft picks in the Hendry era make up a barren wasteland of suck and failure that are one of the reasons the team was so dependent upon free agents in his tenure, and also one of the reasons why our competitive peaks were not sustainable. (2002: Brownlie, Hagerty, Blasko, Clanton; 2003: Harvey; 2005: Pawelek; 2006: Colvin; 2008: Flaherty; 2010: Simpson – and those are just the first rounders).

                [yes, I know he formally took over 1 month after the 2002 draft, but I assume he had a sizable hand in it given the transition that was going on]

                • Kyle

                  I am not, nor would I ever, say that the drafts of the 2000s were good. They were awful. That forest is a horrific sucking vortex of bad.

                  But it just wasn’t a *cheap* horrific sucking vortex of bad.

                  • Orval Overall

                    That’s a distinction most people don’t really care about. Your point is that the criticism at Hendry is valid, but the diagnosis for why is off.

                    People probably don’t care enough about the reasons to really internalize them. It’s just easier to remember an easy story even if it’s only partly true (Hendry misallocated his resources; the stock market crash caused the Great Depression; the Treaty of Versailles caused WWII… etc.).

                    • Kyle

                      The story that everything we do now is the opposite of what we do then is a *very* appealing narrative.

                      “Epstein is spending lots of money on the draft, Hendry must have spent nothing.”

                      And the Hayden Simpson debacle is fresh in some minds, which was the relatively rare example of them being cheap.

                    • candyland07

                      All this talk about Hendry. I also thought it was time to let Hendry go- with the talent he had and the contracts he gave he deserved to be fired. But when looking for a fair analysis of Hendry tenure As the Cubs main man. I cane across this article Jim Hendry’s Tenure As Cubs GM—An Evenhanded Analysis By Paul Lebowitz

                      And it a good read and a fair assessment . But what is odd is at the end he speculates What is in future for the Cubs, This was before Team Epstein took over and I guess in a way it for shadows the Divide on the plan without actually knowing it may happen,

                      I kinda agree with his analysis.

                      Hendry was pretty Good and two 5th places Cost him his job and reputation- unfairly.

        • Chef Brian

          Clever Jon, I wish you were as witty with your duplicate posts hammering the same point day after day after day….The only thing tiresome around here is your shtick. Now your got Kyle “the thread hijacker” acting equally as tiresome.

          • CubFan Paul

            **yawn**

  • Mike

    Great stuff Brett. It’s always nice to get some nuggets on the other guys in the system that we don’t always get to hear much about.

  • Darth Ivy

    Wait, Paulina Gretzky has a brother?

  • Patrick W.

    Based on the 6 at bats I got to see of Balaguert last year, your observation about his power matches mine. I saw him hit a ball that would have gone about 450 ft if it weren’t for the the net that surrounds Everett’s outfield. Easily 20 feet over the left center wall which measures 390ft.

  • Jon

    Ironically, Concepcion is Latin for “bad idea”

  • ssckelley

    Any word on those 2 draft picks from 2012 that have been hurt Ryan McNeil or Josh Conway? Are either of them in camp, still hurt, or out of baseball?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t see either guy, but I’m sure they’re there throwing as part of their rehab.

    • NorthSideIrish

      Conway said on Twitter that his shoulder feels great (of course it does) and that he’s been in Arizona since January working out and rehabbing.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Conway, if he can recover fully and remain a starter, could be a name we start to hear a lot of.

      • Mike Moody

        So after his elbow falls off in a game he’s now saying his shoulder feels fine? This is why drafting a pitcher of Trea Turner scares the hell out of me.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Shoulder?!? He had a shoulder problem after the TJS and subsequent elbow break surgery?

        • NorthSideIrish

          Sorry…it was his elbow. My brain no function beer well without.

    • Spriggs

      Conway and McNeil are both there and in uniform.

      • ssckelley

        That is awesome, hopefully that means both are healthy and ready to get to work.

        Have you seen Reggie Golden?

        • Spriggs

          Come to think of it, I did not see Golden. I was only out there for an hour or so yesterday.

          I really liked what I saw of McNeil in his first year in the AZ rookie league.

          • ssckelley

            I only ask because part of me wonders if the Cubs have seen enough of him. The outfield for KC is starting to look crowded.

            • Spriggs

              I’m sure he’s still around. Can’t believe they’d have given up on him.

              • C. Steadman
                • ssckelley

                  Thanks, I know those rosters are fluid but I found it interesting they have him listed on Tennessee’s roster. That would be a pretty big jump for a guy that struggled to hit in low A.

                  • C. Steadman

                    yeah i think thats to work with Desi Wilson who’s widely regarded as a great hitting coach(see Alcantara and Villanueva)…i’d bet either KC or Daytona for Reggie

  • CubbieBubba

    Does the whole farm system report to minor league camp, or is it just a sampling, or a rotation of guys coming through and getting work in?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Everybody.

  • Jon

    When he’s not having trouble getting through customs, Panigua is having trouble getting through minor league lineups. He was shelled last year in low A. I realize that when in comes to these signings you have to “cast a wide net” but only if they casted a net half as wide on the major league roster, they might not be looking at 95+ losses again

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He made 3 appearances last year at KC. Three. Tres.

      • Jon

        He was so bad at KC they had to bump him down to stop the bleeding.
        Maples is understandable, but a 23 year old shouldn’t be overwhelmed in low A

        • ssckelley

          But let’s give him a few more appearances before passing judgement. Like an entire season.

          • King Jeff

            Nope, those 7 innings is all we need. Forget the fact that he’s pitched a grand total of 76 innings over the last 4 years, he should have it figured out by now.

          • Jon

            I said he was terrible last year, which he was. He wasn’t any better either when he got sent to Boise. How is anything I said incorrect ?

            • King Jeff

              I’ve been disappointed in what I’ve seen of him, but he’s pitched so sparingly and been bounced around so much that it’s hard to get any kind of read on him or what he’s capable of.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                This is the point for now. Last year wasn’t encouraging, but it’s not going to be the reason I’m concerned.

                (The bouncing around and lack of innings in key developmental years is the reason.)

                • Kyle

                  The scouting reports were also pretty horrific.

                  Sometimes command or luck doesn’t show up for a few starts, but velocity being *way* down isn’t just a sample-size issue.

            • Patrick W.

              Well for one thing, you said it.

            • Jason P

              We should hand that guy Rafael Dolis the closer’s job. He had a 0.00 ERA last year.

            • Spriggs

              I can also throw out there that I saw him pitch in one of the 2 or 3 games he pitched in the AZ rookie league. What I saw in those short 3 innings looked absolutely outstanding and he was hitting the upper 90s (the scout I asked had him at 95 to 97). He looked unhittable that night.

  • miggy80

    Brett’s twitter feed today reminded me of the Family Circus kid

    [img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ejb9zvk3voo/TkA2Z6Nu4XI/AAAAAAAABEo/EqNIukBkGno/s1600/sb68-map.jpg[/img]

    • ChrisFChi

      He did seem like a kid in a candy store out there.(also I’m extremely jealous I couldn’t get out there)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Heh. That’s pretty accurate.

  • ssckelley

    Hopefully this is the year a few pitchers emerge in the lower levels. The Cubs have used a majority of the top 10 rounds to draft pitchers the past couple of years.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Tanaka gave up a HR today…good to see he isn’t real MLB material :)

  • candyland07

    Zeke DeVoss

    Hits 240/250 and close to a 400 OBP with 1200 minor league at bat . A kid that has no power, plays 2b and CF. He is at best a curiosity. He trots to first base like a miniature Lou Grieg with out the power – the eye and hand coordination to actually hit a ball in play. This guy sound like Barney Two – without the gold glove . Wow a 396 OBP without power and contact ability.

    • ssckelley

      He should be in Tennessee this season. Very nice walk ratio, I would love to see a .400 OBP hitting lead off for the Cubs some day.

    • King Jeff

      He is much faster than Barney and not nearly as polished with the glove. I think he comps closer to Bonifacio than anyone else the Cubs have.

    • Jason P

      There’s not exactly a long list of guys who have achieved success at the MLB level while failing to hit .250 at any full season level in the minors.

      • ssckelley

        Do I care how they get on base?

        Pete?

        • Jason P

          If he hits .215 with little or no power, you can pretty much write it in stone that he won’t maintain his 15% walk rate.

        • MightyBear

          You do not.

  • candyland07

    Now that i have read up on him, I guess he suppose to be one of Rickets favorites ( which one i do not know) I guess he walked three times in one game and bulldozed a catcher to get to home plate. Kinda makes a person smile – somehow he gets on base. a paradox.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      SCRAPPY that kid has the grit one can only get from BellyFire or Tidrow’s stashe.

  • candyland07

    Some successful ball players when you look at them play . You just scratch ……Every time I saw Kent Tekulve pitch . I honestly said ….. How? and why is he not in pain. And those polarize sunglasses to boot. The best i can describe him . A slinky on the mound. Well thats my two cents for tonight.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Tekulve always looked like he had just gotten off of the stage from a Cars concert.

  • jfrake815

    Gleyber Torres is in camp; I saw him last Friday during BP walking around the practice fields. Pretty skinny, but a good-sized frame.

  • Mike Moody

    Huge year for Hannemann. After missing time for his mission and then missing much of Boise’s season with an injury, he needs the development time this year as badly as any prospect in the system. It’s odd to say about a guy drafted less than a year ago, but this is pretty close to a make or break year for the young man.

    • MightyBear

      OMG. I just read the same thing about Soler. These are not make or break years for these kids. They could miss the whole freaking year and come back in two or three years and be all stars with big fat contracts.

      • Mike Moody

        Hannemann is getting up there in age (23 in April) and is extremely, extremely raw. He absolutely HAS to get at bats to refine his considerable natural talent or he has greatly diminishing chances of making the majors. If he misses this year he has almost no chance of playing in the majors in 2 years — that would be the rough equivalent of a third round high school pick playing in the majors two years later. Development time matters.

      • Matt

        I’m with you on that. These guys are all still very young. Let’s remember that Mike Olt will be 26 when this next season ends. Assuming he’s back to his 2012 self, he’ll be someone that just about any team would give a lot up for, even if he still only has minimal MLB experience. Ryan Howard was just short of 25 when he was given that Rookie of the Year award. There have been many good players who have been late bloomers or were just older when they came up to the bigs who wound up being very good players. I don’t think the Cubs are really banking too much on Hanneman, although the better he is, the better for the organization, and he’ll be 23 shortly after the start of the season. While he’s not young, it’s not like he’s up against the clock either. With Soler it’s absolutely hilarious since he’s barely 22 and may be as high as AA to start the season. Even Hanneman will be at Kane County, and could be only 2 years from being MLB ready. For both guys they seem to be on a good pace.

        • Mike Moody

          Mike Olt didn’t miss 3 full (and critical) years of development to go on his Mormon mission. Hannemann missed the equivalent of his senior year of high school and freshman and sophomore years of college for the mission. He is starting so far behind Mike Olt in the development timeline it isn’t even a fair comparison.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I think it was only two years for the mission (and then he did play a collegiate season in between that and the draft), but your point stands.

          • Matt

            Still, that means that Hanneman has less mileage as well. The comparison I was making was strictly due to age. The point I was making that if things go well for Hanneman, he can be up at the same time as Olt, who is still highly valued despite the fact that he will be 26 by the end of the season. While sure, he’ll be a bit old to be just coming up, this will only be his first full season and he’s going to be far from any sort of a make or break season. A solid year that sees him make a late season jump to Daytona, where he would start the next season, would not be a make or break for him by any means.

            • blublud

              I think he needs to move two levels this year. In fact, I’ll say if he performs, he will move two levels. If he is at Daytona to finish the year, for whatever reason, I would be disappointed.

              • Matt

                You could be right, but I just don’t feel like if it’s only one level that it’s all over for him, which is what a make or break year would be. Like I’ve said, I’ve seen guys come up at advanced ages and have good careers in the past. Hanneman has a lot of athletic talent from everything I’ve read about him, and if he happens to be 27 when he’s ready for the show, then it won’t be the end for him or anything like that.

                This does make me curious as to how long the average draftee (that does make it to the bigs) takes to actually get there.

            • Mike Moody

              I wouldn’t start him at Kane County. Not even close to ready. I’d guess he’s extended spring training.

              • Matt

                I can understand that, but seeing as he played well in his short time in Boise and where he was drafted, I think they start him at Kane County. I very well may be wrong, but that’s just where I think they start him. From the looks of things around here, I’m not alone in that thought, but hey, we’ll see. I just don’t think it would be Courtney Hawkinsing him to start him at Kane County by any means.

                • Mike Moody

                  Well, obviously, I’m new here but I have a hard time seeing it. It’s possible the plan last year was for him to get his feet wet in Boise and then jump to Kane County, much like Zastryzny. In that case, he’ll start in Kane County.

                  I tend to believe that isn’t the case, however, given Theo and company’s insistence that players meet pre-defined thresholds before moving up. I don’t see how he could have checked those boxes for three reasons: he is very raw, he had a relatively a short time in Boise (64 PAs), and he was good but not “dominant” in his time there.

                  • ssckelley

                    Hannemann is going to be 23 in April and the Cubs gave him a million dollar signing bonus drafting him in the 3rd round. Unless he looks completely horrible in spring training there is no way he does not start in Kane County. As others have mentioned with his age he needs to progress through the system quickly.

        • Mike Moody

          Here’s another article on Hannemann that emphasizes the issue he’s facing:

          “‘He’s such an athletic kid with great upside — every single day he walks out onto the field, he gets better,’ Littlewood said. ‘He definitely has that killer instinct that comes with football, and we want all our guys to have that.’

          “Hannemann will take a little more time to develop a better baseball IQ, Littlewood said.”

          That baseball IQ can only come from lots of reps in the minors.

          http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile3/56411256-219/hannemann-byu-team-baseball.html.csp

      • blublud

        I agree about Soler, but Hannemann does not have that luxury. I would even say he probably needs to jump to Tennessee this year to put himself in position to be a legitimate prospect moving forward. If not, his chances are greatly reduced.

        • ssckelley

          It would be a stretch for him to reach Tennessee this season, it would be nice to see him end up at Daytona. The key for him is to stay healthy and get plate appearances in as he has a lot of ground to make up in experience.

  • David

    Man… just think: when we are world series champs in 2016, Jimenez, Paniagua & Beede will be ready to come up in 2017. Life will be good…. big party.

  • ruby2626

    Apparently Dillon Maples has fallen off the face of the earth, not a single mention of him by any of the callers. Would hope he’d at least be back at KC

    • C. Steadman

      he probably will be, he’s in camp

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Looking around I read the Tigers *almost* took Kershaw in the 2006 draft. That would be one bad-ass rotation for the past two seasons if they had.

    • C. Steadman

      that wouldve been interesting…they traded andrew miller a year and a half later to the marlins in a package for cabrera…wondered if they wouldve done the same with kershaw…bunch of what ifs

  • NorthSideIrish

    Today’s lineup…when was the last time Kris Bryant batted 8th? Or Darwin Barney was the DH…

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 5m
    #Cubs lineup vs #Indians: Barney DH, Roberts 2B, Riz 1B, Ruggiano RF, Sweeney CF, Baez SS, Kottaras C, Bryant 3B, Coghlan LF. Jackson P

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I’m sure in meaningless exhibition games both of them have batted everywhere (and possibly played everywhere) quite recently. This lineup is exactly why taking ST games seriously (especially in the early weeks) is a useless endeavor.

    • ssckelley

      I still don’t get the infatuation with Ryan Roberts, it seems like he plays every day. Give me Baez, Bonifacio, Watkins, Murphy, Valbuena, heck stick Vitters at 2nd for all I care.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Why do you need to see players that are obviously either making the team or going to the minors. Use ST to evaluate those non-roster invitees and fringe players. Spring training is not for us fans or to be competitive it is to get a team prepped for the upcoming season and get familiar with staff and players. It’s kinda like camp.

        • ssckelley

          Of course, and you know that I don’t put any emphasis on the results of these spring training games. I just feel it is odd the amount of time Roberts is getting, guys like Watkins and Bonifacio are in the same boat.

    • C. Steadman

      i see jay jackson is pitching today for the cubs…(sarcasm) he was a decent prospect for the cubs back in 2010…

      • Spriggs

        He’s one of those guys that had “dead arm” in spring training that year… and no one seemed to think it was a big deal at all. Everybody experiences it, blah, blah, blah….

        • C. Steadman

          uh oh, someone better send a memo to Russell then….

          • Spriggs

            I bet Russell already knows he’s done. (good luck to Jay in Pittsburgh, but he’s not good).

            • C. Steadman

              yeah, i wonder if the trade will happen this spring yet….either Barney/Russell gets shipped in my opinion…Emilio needs a 40-man spot

      • ssckelley

        You must have the wrong Jackson, Jay is in the Pirates camp this year.

        • C. Steadman

          i was joking, i know its Edwin…

  • Cornish Heat

    80-grade niceness… Love it.

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