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arodys vizcaino cubsThe Taylor Family Sickness is apparently a city-wide sickness (well, at least school-wide), because the kiddos’ school is closed today. I’ll do my best to write well in between screaming fits, diaper changes, and booger wipes. Fortunately, The Mother is coming to help me, God bless her. Maybe you won’t notice a thing. We’ll see.

  • Although everyone remains aboard the Arodys Vizcaino hype train, manager Rick Renteria is making sure to put things in the proper perspective. Having missed the last two years, the 23-year-old Vizcaino still needs to accomplish a lot of things before he’s ready for Major League action. RR tells CSN that Vizcaino has to do things like pitching on back-to-back days, getting warmed up and sitting back down, and getting back up again, etc. That’s the kind of thing he’d have to do be doing without any reservations in order to be in the big league pen, which is among the many reasons I still don’t think Vizcaino breaks camp with the Cubs. In the minors, his innings and appearances can still be managed. Can you imagine the tumult if Vizcaino is clearly the best setup option after a few strong April outings in Chicago, and then is used back-to-back days … and his elbow pops again? You can’t control that kind of thing, but you can certainly try to put a valuable piece like Vizcaino in the best possible position to succeed long-term. Throwing him out there after missing two years and using him like a true setup man could be disastrous. Tentatively, it sounds like RR is setting folks up for the eventual decision to option Vizcaino to the minors to start the year.
  • Cubs backup catcher George Kottaras says he can see the improvement in Welington Castillo as a backstop in the years he’s observed him as an opponent, and now as a teammate. Pitching coach Chris Bosio says that Castillo has improved as much year to year as any catcher he’s seen in his 32 years of baseball.
  • Praise for Kyle Hendricks from his manager to his pitching coordinator to his parents.
  • Jesse Rogers takes on a few of the Spring’s storylines, including the plan for Mike Olt.
  • The CCO has some great Spring Training videos.
  • The Marlins were unhappy that the Red Sox didn’t send a big league-caliber lineup over for a Spring game last week and made a little fuss about it, saying they would be contacting the league office. How did Red Sox owner John Henry respond? By tweeting, “They should apologize for their regular season lineup.” Wicked burn, bro.
  • Your prospect porn of the day:

  • Justen

    That response by Henry is awesome.

    • MaxM1908

      The best part of the Marlins-Red Sox tension over that game is that the Red Sox minor leaguers out-hit the Marlins squad 7-2 in a 0-0 draw (game ended early due to rain).

  • CubFan Paul

    If they’re worried about back to back day use of Vizcaiano’s arm, why not continue to start him every 5th day, 70-80 pitches at a time.

    • Chad

      How does that help him prepare for pitching in back to back days?

      • Cheese Chad

        I could be wrong, but I think he was hinting they should stretch him out to a starter. Which, obviously, if he could do it would make him much more valuable to the team.

        • Chad

          Unless he could become a lock down type of closer or even 8th inning set up guy. I think he could add more value to the cubs than a #3. The only reason I say that is because you will have much more injury concerns with him starting. If you only let him thrown 70-80 pitches that will really put the stress on your bullpen every 5th day. I just prefer him in the pen where I think he could be special. I don’t think he has enough pitches/control to make a stud in the rotation. He could be good, but not a stud. I think he could be a stud in the pen though because he would only have to throw hard for 1 inning and not work through the order so often. Could he maintain the velocity for 6 innings? And though very important you can get a way with having a little bit of controlled wildness in the pen compared to the rotation.

        • CubFan Paul

          “hinting they should stretch him out to a starter…if he could do it would make him much more valuable to the team”

          Yep.

  • NorthSideIrish

    The early Mock Drafts are starting to come out and each of the last three have the Cubs taking a different player.

    Minor League Ball has the Cubs taking Tyler Beede (my preference, but looking unlikely) – http://www.minorleagueball.com/2014/3/10/5485534/2014-mlb-mock-draft-version-1

    Through the Fence has the college SPs going 1-2-3 and the Cubs taking Trea Turner – http://throughthefencebaseball.com/2014-mlb-mock-draft-5-0-top-41-picks/41590

    MLB Draft Insider interestingly has the Cubs taking Alex Jackson with both Beede and Turner on the board. McLeod supposedly loves Jackson and the Cubs love the power bats – http://mlbdraftinsider.com/the-mock/

    • Kyle

      There’s a lot of people who don’t think Turner is going to be worth a top-5 pick. And a lot of people who do. It’s early, so it’ll sort itself out.

      • Jon

        I think it’s pretty hard to justify taking position player with no power top 5 in the draft.

        • Kyle

          I don’t find it that hard at all if the other tools are there.

          • Darth Ivy

            oooo, a Jon vs Kyle debate. Niccccce

          • JadeBos

            Yeah power usually comes with the trade off of a lot of swing and miss. And when you have plus defense and blazing speed at SS I’d rather have OB skills. Because power could still develop and grow, especially with a HS kid. Those others skills seem to be more innate and provide a better floor.

          • Funn Dave

            Me, neither.

            • Cheese Chad

              Funn Dave, are you Dave Coulier? #wishfulthinking

        • ssckelley

          From where the Cubs are drafting at #4 I would be disappointed if they took Turner if Gatewood or Jackson were available. If the Cubs were drafting lower then Turner would be a little higher on my wish list. I like Turner but at #4 I would prefer taking a guy who can knock himself in than a guy that can get himself into scoring position but needs someone else to knock him in, power>speed.

          • Kyle

            Power > Speed

            But

            Hit tool > Not hit tool (which is where there seems to be some debate about Turner)

            True middle infielder > Lower defensive profile

            College > High School (as a very general rule)

            • ssckelley

              “Hit tool > Not hit tool”

              I agree but both Gatewood and Jackson seem fine there. Power alone rarely gets players to the majors. On the other hand speed alone rarely gets you to the majors either.

              “True middle infielder > Lower defensive profile”

              This would be an argument for all 3 players, although I cannot imagine Gatewood sticking at shortstop. At 6’5 he would be one of the taller shortstops I have ever seen in the majors. But the word is Jackson is a pretty good catcher, the only reason why he might get moved is to get him to the majors quicker.

              “College > High School (as a very general rule)”

              As a general rule yes but not when the HS player with the tools Gatewood and Jackson have. You never know when that next Trout, Harper (technically JC), or Machado will come along. I think the Cubs did fine drafting high school players in the 2011 and 2012 draft (Baez and Almora).

          • C. Steadman

            agreed, i’m not sold on turner…his lack of power(in this case hitting 2B&3B) concerns me when he has plus speed…i’d like to see more doubles out of him before I take him #4

            • NorthSideIrish

              Yeah…power isn’t really part of his game but I’d like to see more than on XBH at this point of the season. He’s got a good eye, can work the count, and should be able to stay at SS, but he needs to show at least gap power to avoid Juan Pierre syndrome (which of course peaked during his stint with the Cubs).

              • C. Steadman

                yeah, i meant generated power in the forms 2B&3B by his speed…his gap power like you said…i’m worried about XBH or lack-there-of if i’m drafting a guy #4…i know its early but 1 XBH in 15 games is troublesome

              • JacqueJones

                Juan Pierre had 3.1 WAR for the Cubs according to fangraphs, so its not like he was not good for us. Pierre is probably the floor of how little power a player can have and he was still very productive in his career, and he didnt even play SS.

              • ssckelley

                If Turner is going to be another Buxton then he might be a good pick. I’ve heard people say the Midwest League is comparable to college and looking at the stats Turner’s numbers stack up very well to Buxton.

                http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=trea-turner

    • SenorGato

      Beede to the White Sox one pick before would be depressing. Things seem to be going well for the draft so far. Brady Aiken reportedly hit 97 and was at 93-94 in the mid-innings during a scrimmage against Alex Jackson’s team. I think there’s some shot he’s a better prospect than Fried if an off speed progresses or he maintains that kind of velocity. Grant Holmes, another HS arm, reportedly hit 100. Gatewood hit a mammoth HR recently. College players seem to not be hurting themselves so far.

      Aiken and Jackson interest me most in the HS class for 4, but like everyone else both have their flaws. Right now totally locked into Beede.

    • Chad

      I don’t really care who the cubs get. I trust this staff to draft well, but I would really love to see a power pitcher if they deem them good enough. I know position players are better bets, but at some point I think the cubs need to take a gamble and see if the next Kershaw or Verlander are out there. Going to be tough to get anybody of that quality through FA now a days. Trade is always an option, but if you can draft and develop I think that is obviously the preferred method.

    • Lou Brown

      I wonder if they would go H.S. with the pick this year? If the top three college pitchers are off the board, maybe they draft another player to join the wave with the IFA’s they signed this year. Jimenez, along with Jackson or Gatewood would form a nice power core for the next “Wave”.

      • ssckelley

        That is what I’ve been thinking as well. A college bat made more sense last year in order to get Bryant on a similar timeline to Chicago that Baez has. But with the amount of top level prospects the Cubs now have taking the top high school player seems to fit in well with that next wave.

    • Chad

      The best part is that there are still 3 whole months for us to debate this and everything can change. Where was Bryant projected at last March?

      • ssckelley

        I think top 10, but he snuck up the boards fast when he kept knocking homers in May. At first everyone was talking Gray and Appel as being the top 2 then Bryant got into the mix.

        • Kyle

          At first it was Appel and Manaea. Gray was a bit of a helium guy too.

          • ssckelley

            True, Gray was moving up the charts in April. Manaea was high on many peoples lists much earlier.

      • SenorGato

        Best hitter in the college class, and he was on all the preseason lists as a top candidate for that role. As far as Cubs discussions went the big names were Manaea and Appel around this time.

    • ssckelley

      I agree with the mlbdraftinsider one, mainly because they have the Cubs taking Alex Jackson (who is on my wish list). I like the Cubs strategy of taking the top position player available with the 1st round pick and then taking a slew of pitchers with most of the other top 10 picks. Jackson has tremendous power and if the Cubs are patient with him he might be able to stick at catcher, which is a huge organization need. Another guy to keep an eye on is Jacob Gatewood, granted he is another shortstop but could be another Baez who is 6’5 and also has tremendous power.

      Let the top 3 picks roll the dice taking pitchers, I am hoping the Cubs take the #1 position player available.

    • Javier Bryant

      I always thought Jackson kind of seemed like a Theo guy, er…Jason McLeod in this situation. Either way, I trust these guys to take the best available talent

    • C. Steadman

      I’m a huge fan of Rodon, the guy DH’d one game and has pinch hit in two others, he comes with a bat as well as being a stud pitcher…too bad he’ll probably be off the board at #4(depending how March/April/May/June shake out :) )

  • hoosiercub

    Brett –

    I know smart money is on the Cubbies targeting pitchers heavily in this year’s draft, but is it absolutely crazy to think they may look at catching depth with guys like Alex Jackson and Kyle Schwarber tearing it up and a lot of pitching in this year’s class?

    • Kyle

      I don’t think anyone knows that the Cubs are targetting pitching. We’ve said that for a few drafts now and we keep taking position players in the first.

      • hoosiercub

        That’s true, it just seems to be the prevailing opinion here. I don’t know that I would necessarily advocate for drafting a catcher ahead of a pitcher, especially if Rodon/Beede/Hoffman are available, I was just throwing it out there for discussion

        • Chad

          If one of those three is available I think it is pitcher. I’m not sure they take a jump on Kolek since he’s a high schooler. They could. If they go with Jackson what is his future position? OF, 1B? I don’t see many reports of him sticking at catcher. I would love to see the cubs get Keaton McKinney in the second round. Big high school pitcher out of Iowa. He’s a top 50 prospect, but playing in Iowa probably drops value of guys a bit since they play baseball in the summer and lose some scoutability in the spring.

          • ssckelley

            The only reason I see people say Jackson will not stick at catcher is to accelerate him through the minors. I have seen videos of him throwing to 2nd at catcher and he has a very good arm with a quick release. He could use a little better accuracy but he is young. There were a couple of throws he put it right on the would be sliding base stealer. This is why I said earlier if the Cubs were patient enough with him at catcher he might stick, with a top notch farm system that produces prospects in waves you might do that. The scout reports also say he is a decent outfielder.

            • Chad

              I believe one concern at catcher is that he’s a big guy, so does he lose some of the mobility and ability to play well behind the plate. That can be developed, but if he is such a good hitter do you want to waste the time trying to develop it? I don’t care if they take him, I don’t know enough about him. My thoughts are that I would prefer not to miss out on a potential TOR, but if the “big 3″ college arms are off the table it’s up in the air for me. There are benefits to Kolek, Jackson, or Turner at #4 if Rodon, Hoffman and Beede are off the board already.

              • ssckelley

                I like the Cubs odds better if they take the top position player. With the Cubs taking a slew of pitchers in rounds 2-10 the odds are good they will eventually find some good arms. Plus the Cubs have been good at trading for top pitching prospects as well.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        The Cubs have clearly targeted pitching in the past few drafts, but targeting pitching does not mean they have to take a pitcher with their first pick.

        When picking that early, they’ll take the best player on the board pitching or otherwise. After that we’ll probably see them lock into pitching for 7 or so of the their first 10 picks again.

        • hoosiercub

          all else being equal (which I know it won’t be, but for the sake of argument), do you think the FO would prefer a LHP rather than a RHP? or is it irrelevant?

          • Chad

            If all else is equal you take the LHP (IMO) because they are fewer and farther between, but that’s just me. If they are stud pitchers I don’t care what arm they throw with, but that is assuming ALL things are equal.

          • SenorGato

            Irrelevant because a case where all else is equal is extremely hard to find. There’s always going to be something different somewhere.

            • Chad

              No kidding cat. But he was posing a hypothetical which would be preferred.

              • SenorGato

                Lefties more rare and have more of an advantage against same handed bitters than RHs do so already a step ahead there.

                Still, not sure this situation has ever presented itself at the very top of the draft. Not recently that I can remember anyway.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Lefty. The Cubs don’t have many of them.

            • NorthSideIrish

              They’ve got a bunch of lefty finesse guys, but power leftys in the rotation are rare. I was hoping to see Newcomb force his way into the Top 5 this year, but he hasn’t pitched well enough for that.

      • JacqueJones

        Ya the cubs have taken BPA both years at the top of the draft and taken pitchers later. This year it looks like the best player will be a pitcher, but it looked that way last year too at this point in time. All the mocks are pretty pointless until probably May.

    • NorthSideIrish

      This FO will always take BPA on their board, especially that high up in the draft and have said bats are safer bets. McLeod supposedly loves Jackson, but neither him or Schwarber are catchers at the major league level.

    • Chad

      They will target pitching, but not necessarily in the first round.

    • jonred

      I know you can never have enough depth, but outside of catcher we have top prospects at every position, so I think we have to target the best college pitcher with our first pick. Right now, we have a couple of good #3 options (Edwards and Johnson), but it sure would be nice to take a top hurler that could project into a #2 within 2 years.

  • Steve

    I am 100% of the opinion that we use Vizcaino as a starter.
    I know, what if we go down that path and he completely destroys his arm???
    Hell, if it takes 2 years to get him completely healthy and “stretched out”, then so be it. The kid will not say “I want to be in the pen”, so, lets take the gamble. The upside is HUGE, like, possible ace, #2 type huge, and since this was a lottery ticket, isn’t that the definition said game (gamble)?

    • Chad

      I am 100% in disagreement with you. Vizcaino’s stuff screams back end of the bull pen. He could be a future closer. I’m not convinced he has the stuff to be a #2 as he has 2 really good pitches, but how good is his 3rd or 4th? Plus with the injury history and durability questions I would like to keep him in the pen.

    • Lou Brown

      I am with Steve. The questions on him are durability, not his stuff. Coming off the extended break, I would rather see him slowly stretched out in a controlled manner in the minors this season. He was ticketed for the Braves rotation before the injury. Teams are extending the TOR pitchers, they are not hitting the market. So we will need to develop our own. I think the org needs to take any chance it can that could result in a TOR arm.

    • Chad

      That is all fine and dandy. I would love it if Vizcaino could be an ace. But I don’t think he can. 1. He has 2 really good pitches, but to be a TOR you need at least 3 and a 4th one would be ideal. Hi change up isn’t really there from scouting reports. Could it develop? Sure. 2. He’s been injured a lot. Odds of injury are higher in SP than relievers. 3. Not all pitchers can be starters. He could be a #3 starter, but what if he could become the next Mariano or K-Rod? A lockdown closer is very valuable as well. The cubs have to put him where he will succeed and provide the most value to the cubs. If it is as a closer then put him there. If trying to stretch him out hurts the odds of him helping the cubs whether he becomes injured or is not as effective in that role then don’t do it.

      • Steve

        Vizcaino has 3 quality pitches if I’m not mistaken….

        Of course I’d love to have a lights-out BP guy…..but those can be bought at an only absurd amount, but a TOR guy costs INSANE money….isn’t that worth the risk??

        I say yes.

        • Chad

          Fastball and slider are plus pitches. Changeup is average.

          • Edwin

            I thought he threw more of power curveball than slider. Not that there’s a ton of difference between the two, but I’ve always heard it referred to more as a curveball than a slider.

            • C. Steadman

              i thought it was a power curve as well

              • Chad

                I don’t remember where I read slider, but it could be a curve. Whichever it is, it is a plus pitch, I just think to be a good TOR you need 3 plus pitches and maybe a 4th. It’s just my opinion, but I’d like to see him out of the pen for the next 6 years.

                • C. Steadman

                  yeah you definitely need that third pitch for sure and his changeup is “meh”, plus there are questions on his control not just durability(control i guess affects pitch count…which is durability in a sense) when it came to starting as well

  • Darth Ivy

    jeez, I want to write something but the level of insight in this thread makes me feel way too unknowledgeable and out of place. The only input I can really give is that I enjoy keeping up on what you guys think about these potential draft picks.

  • SenorGato

    Still skeptical of Castillo but there’s enough there that he can have himself a quality all around season. His BABIP, like Lake’s, may have been inflated but there’s more skill to his offensive game than Lake. Obviously would want everyone to be as valuable as possible going into the season and offseason.

  • ced landrum

    Those videos from CCO were fun. It is always dangerous to take too much from short clips, but what the hay.

    Here are just a couple things I noticed. Alcantara has a pretty wide set and not a very big load. Which surprises me a bit. That means he generates his power from a very quick, short stroke. He got under that ball a bit, but he was certainly quick to the ball.

    Almora is in perfect balance in his entire swing. You could put an egg on his head and it wouldn’t move. I was very impressed with his set up and his motion.

    Vogelbach is very quick with his hands. His whole set up and swing was well put together. He knows what he is doing.

    Soler really lets it fly. He seems to be in good balance but got a little jumpy on a few pitches. He can run, looks like a good athlete.

  • DarthHater

    [img]http://weknowmemes.com/generator/uploads/generated/g1394463363321447824.jpg[/img]

  • NorthSideIrish

    Ben Badler ‏@BenBadler 2m
    The Cubs loaded up on international prospects last year. Detailed scouting reports on all of their top signings: http://bit.ly/PjTYtn

    Tons of good info from BA on last summer’s July 2 class.

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