javier baez kris bryantQuite a bit out there on Cubs prospects lately as the minor league seasons get ready to kick off later this week …

  • Starting off with a Cubs prospect who is no longer a Cubs prospect: in 2012, Nick Struck had an outstanding season, and he was named the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 2014, Nick Struck was released by the Cubs. Such is the impending glut of quality pitching talent riding its way up the Cubs’ system. Struck never quite took the step forward from good minor league results to projectable performance at higher levels, and that spelled the end of his time with the Cubs.
  • Also released by the Cubs this week, per Baseball America: RHP Paolo Espino, RHP Loiger Padron, RHP Orbandy Rodriguez, LHP Frank Del Valle, LHP Al Yevoli, C Wilfredo Petit, SS Walter Ibarra, SS Alex Sanchez, and OF Jose Dore. Espino was one of the Cubs’ more interesting minor league signings this offseason, but obviously the Cubs didn’t quite like what they saw in Spring Training (and it was going to be tough to get innings at AAA, anyway). Del Valle was at one time an intriguing Cuban defector prospect, and Dore was picked up from the Padres last year. This kind of organizational paring happens at this time of year for every organization, and the fact that the Cubs are paring away some interesting guys is probably a good sign for the health of the organization.
  • (And, in case you missed it, the Cubs also released outfielder Reggie Golden last week.)
  • The reason Duane Underwood wasn’t on the Kane County roster to start the year was indeed an injury, and his manager describes it as a forearm tweak (per Paul Johnson). Forearms obviously make you nervous, but the expectation appears to be that he’ll be back in a couple weeks, so maybe it’s not terribly serious. When he returns, he could join a six-man rotation featuring Paul Blackburn, Tyler Skulina, Daury Torrez, Juan Paniagua and Jen-Ho Tseng. Loaded, man.
  • Not in the rotation? Dillon Maples, who is dealing with yet another injury – a broken rib in his upper back, which will cost him upwards of eight weeks (again, per Johnny-on-the-spot, Paul Johnson). Maples has dealt with a range of injuries and effectiveness issues since the Cubs paid him handsomely to forgo college back in 2011. He had first round talent, but it has never come together for him. And now he has to wait some more.
  • Jake Hannemann will be the starting center fielder for Kane County to being the year after getting some high praise from manager Mark Johnson (per Paul Johnson). That means Trey Martin will be in left field, Yasiel Balaguert will be in right, and Shawon Dunston, Jr. will rotate around.
  • Jason Parks chatted at BP, and among his thoughts: (1) Jen-Ho Tseng was the most impressive non-Big Four/Alcantara guy he saw on the Cubs’ back fields, and would now be a top ten Cubs prospect in his mind (though behind C.J. Edwards, at least, in the pitching pecking order); (2) Javy Baez playing second base – if and when he does at Iowa – means nothing about the Cubs’ long-term plans for him defensively (in other words, when he’s ready to face big league pitching, you have to find a spot for him, and then you can change things up later); (3) Parks still can’t get too excited about Dan Vogelbach, despite the physical transformation, because he’s still a 1B/DH guy, and those types don’t intrigue Parks until they show they can mash at the upper levels of the minors; (4) Parks would rank last year’s top Venezuelan signing, shortstop Gleyber Torres, over last year’s top Dominican signing, Eloy Jimenez; (5) Parks doesn’t see Kyle Hendricks sustaining success at the big league level; (6) Jorge Soler remains the weakest of the Cubs’ big prospects because of the rawness and in-game adjustment issues.
  • The money question an answer? Parks was asked over/under 700 total career homers in MLB for Javy Baez and Kris Bryant combined, and he went with the over. Yowsa. I don’t even think I’d be that ballsy.
  • Tommy Birch – who is the man to follow for all things Iowa Cubs related – writes about five storylines heading into the AAA season.
  • jh03

    “Parks was asked over/under 700 total career homers in MLB for Javy Baez and Kris Bryant combined, and he went with the over.”


  • CubChymyst

    700 home runs would require each to be productive and healthy for a long span of time. I hope he is right.

    • jh03

      orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr one of them will become the GOAT!

    • JB88

      Not really, considering that Brett has previously projected Bryant to hit 116 HRs per season …

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    How in the hell did Maples manage to break a rib in his back? It’s not like a pitcher is banging into outfield walls. Is he a cage fighter in his spare time?

    • King Jeff

      He’s made of cookies.

    • Bric

      He broke it laughing while talking on the phone to Golden Tate.- “Dude, the signing bonus alone bought me an Escalade and about 40 lap dances, and I could still go back to college if I wanted to… HA!”

  • Jason P

    Ugh. It seems like the prospects who get hurt are always the one’s who need the development most.k

    • DarthHater

      Perhaps they need the development the most because they are always hurt.

      • Jason P

        Sometimes that’s the case but not always. Did Maples, Underwood or Hannemann have injury problems as amateurs? I’m not aware of them if they did. Yet since they’ve been drafted, all 3 have or are going to miss significant time with injury.

        • augiepb

          I think that is just par for the course. All teams have prospects who stall and many are because of injuries. Unfortunately Maples looks like he’s moving in that direction with each passing month. The other two not quite on that level yet I don’t believe.

  • bonger0493

    Why do I feel like if they both succeed in mlb and meet their expectations they should both hit more than 350?

    • gocatsgo2003

      You probably should feel that way… the big trick is the “if” before “succeed in MLB and meet their expectations.”

  • Darth Ivy

    The biggest thing I took from this article is the part about Tseng. Organizational top 10? Noice.

    • terencemann

      I’ll be really curious to see how he does this season. I think most writers liked him but Keith Law was really not impressed on the day he say Tseng pitch.

      • Edwin

        That’s scouting for you, I guess.

        • JB88

          That’s KLaw for you. Someone was recently discussing his “scouting”, which consists of watching a couple pitches/at-bats of a player and instantly forming an opinion, which he then will not change unless absolutely blown away subsequently.

          It is an awfully bad approach IMO.

          • Jon

            But on the day Parks watched Tseng pitch and instantly formed an opinion, that was top notch analysis?

            Translation, we like analysts only when they tell us positive things about our prospects.

            • JB88

              The difference is that Parks at least watched the whole game. I’d be okay with KLaw’s opinion if he didn’t try to form almost unrebuttable positions based on infinitely small sample sizes. It is his process (not his opinion) that I don’t like.

              • Forlines

                word of the day: unrebuttable

          • Edwin

            To be somewhat fair to him, part of that is just due to the nature of his job. He has a ton of prospects to try and cover. He probably has about 200-300 prospects, at least, to try and follow each season. It’s not surprising that he doesn’t have time to watch multiple games of each one.

            Plus, he has to deal with fans who basically want him to only say good things about which ever prospect he gets asked about. I remember he took a lot of crap around here for saying that he thought Brett Jackson would K too much to be an everday player.

          • SenorGato

            BTW: I like this approach. It astounds me to no end how complicated some try to make scouting. Not that there isn’t plenty (read: a shit ton) of nuance, but I don’t think scouts need to see a player much to know whether he likes him or not as a player.

  • Funn Dave

    Didn’t mean to strike up a flag debate last night. Interesting to see people’s various opinions.

  • Edwin

    I’ll take the under on the 700. I might even take the under on 500.

  • MightyBear

    I disagree with Parks regarding Hendricks.

    • another JP

      So do I. Guys like Hendricks that have excellent control don’t need to throw 95 mph and I think he’ll be a great #4… maybe even a #3.

      • Edwin

        The problem is, most guys who throw around 88-90 don’t last long, even with great command. Especially if they don’t have any plus pitches, which Hendricks doesn’t.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I love Hendricks, but I just don’t know what to make of him as a potential Major Leaguer. Sure, he could stick around due to his plus command and control, but the life of a soft-tosser isn’t easy. Edwin, I will disagree on your scouting report of his pitches though. While the curvel ball is very meh, everything I’ve read of the change up indicates that if it isn’t plus now, it’s definitely right on the brink of being a plus pitch

          • Edwin

            Agree to disagree then. At this point, we’d probably just end up in a long drawn out debate over the opinions and meanings of language of 3-4 random scouts. And it probably doesn’t matter. At some point Hendricks just needs to start facing MLB hitters.

      • Jon

        I’m anxious for Hendricks to get a chance at the big show. I suspect he’ll put up great numbers at AAA as he’s done at every level since. If his stuff doesn’t fly against big leagues so be it. He’s never been a critical prospect, he can only add a bonus for whatever he gives you.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Kyle Hendricks might be a Randy Wells type. Or in other words, a guy who can’t make an early impact but then the lack of great stuff takes it’s toll and he is a non-factor or out of the majors within a couple years.

      I like Hendricks too. But I temper expectations for a long-term role.

      • Blackhawks1963

        “Can” make an early impact

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Or he could be a Jamie Moyer type who carves out a pretty decent career on changing speed, hitting his spots, mixing pitches, and creating weak contact more times than not.

        Or he could never make it past AAA.

      • another JP

        Your opinion on Hendricks is fairly typical of most scouts, BH1963. And I certainly understand why most people compare him to Randy Wells, given he doesn’t have a single dominant pitch.

        But when a player shows superior results at every level of minor league ball I tend to believe that can translate to the majors and they can have good careers. Three players I believe will make it to Chicago and play prominent roles when the team becomes competitive are Hendricks, C.J. Edwards, and Stephen Bruno. Some guys just excel at every level and I think these prospects will do the same in the majors.

        • Bill

          I don’t think the Randy Wells comparison is a good one for Hendricks. Wells MiLB career BB/9 was 3, Hendricks is 1.5. Hendricks WHIP is a 1.041 vs 1.378 for Wells. Wells HR/9 double that of Hendricks. Wells K/BB ratio much worse than Hendicks.

          My hope is his ceiling is Mark Beurhle.

  • college_of_coaches

    Struck won’t stick.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      I was going through all the comments to see when somebody would make this reference, its the first thing I thought when read the headline.

  • Picklenose

    For anyone so inclined, Garza is pitching against the Braves in a few minutes. It is the MLB free game of the day, so unless you are blacked out you can watch. Fun times.

  • Edwin

    I think team Minor League Player of the Year awards are a little overrated, at least when used as a tie in to prospect status. Former winners include Logan Watkins, Brian LaHair, Jeff Beliveau, Brandon Guyer, Chris Archer, Kyler Burke, Casey Coleman, Micah Hoffpouier, Mitch Atkins, Geovany Soto, and Kevin Hart.

    Obviously some of them turn out, but few on this list were ever considered serious prospects.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Not sure if that says more about the award or the state of our farm system those years.

  • David

    Speaking of Archer, Rays just signed him for 6 years/ $25M. This includes team options of $9M and $11M in 2020 and 2021. What a steal.

    • Brocktoon

      Looks like Archer was almost certain to be a super 2. I get it from a pitcher’s perspective, I really do, life-changing money instantly, set for life whether you blow out your arm or not. But man…

  • IA_Colin

    If a team with a pitching trade chip happens to fall out of contention I could see Chicago making some moves. They are going to spend money at some point right? So packaging Hendricks, Sczcur maybe Christian Villanueva…Schierholtz, Kalish, Barney. could net them someone to extend.

    • Blackhawks1963

      …and / or trade Starlin Castro for a frontline young pitcher. The options really start to unfold as this building strategy creates the waves and waves of talent like it already is.

      • gocatsgo2003

        But why give up on what is amongst the better prospects in the first “wave” of talent, especially when he’s on a relatively team-friendly long-term contract?

  • Spriggs

    It’s nice that Parks goes with Torres over Jimenez. I haven’t seen nearly as much of Torrez, but Jimenez has been really impressive to me!

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