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jen-ho tseng kane cubsA number of prospect bits to start out your week …

  • Jorge Soler played seven innings in right field yesterday at extended Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona, according to Arizona Phil at TCR, while also getting six plate appearances (and he even stole a base). He’s played consistently and increasingly over the past week, so we could finally be getting close to seeing him back at AA Tennessee (where he’ll return to a batting line that features one at bat, and one double). If Soler makes it back within a week or so, and manages to remain injury-free for the rest of the season, he’ll still get in the majority of a full season. That’ll probably be spent entirely at AA, but even that doesn’t much matter to me at this point. Having missed half of last season with the stress fracture, and having missed so much time the previous two years during the defection process, Soler just needs to play games. A lot of them. The last thing you want to see with a supremely talented guy like Soler (one in whom the Cubs have invested $30 million) is for his career to be derailed by injuries before it even starts.
  • John Sickels features Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez as his prospect of the day, and looks back on his evolution as a pitcher. Sickels believes Ramirez may be most effective long-term out of the pen, where he could possibly avoid some control and shoulder issues. One interesting thing: Sickels says Ramirez has/had a very effective changeup in the past, though I don’t think I’ve seen him throw it yet (instead, he’s just been fastball/slider). I wonder if he’s scrapped the pitch now that he’s in relief? Or is it maybe because he’s faced so few lefties that it hasn’t made sense to break it out yet? We’re talking about just two innings of work, so there could be any number of explanations. I’m mostly just curious.
  • BP’s Jordan Gorosh was back checking out the Cougars, and saw fast-rising pitching prospect Jen-Ho Tseng, and came away pegging Tseng with a mid-rotation ceiling. I think that’s meant as a good thing, as the actual report is very complimentary, noting Tseng’s good fastball, changeup, and curveball. The command and control look good, too, according to Gorosh. Those pre-season reports that had Tseng as probably now a top ten prospect in the system would seem to be holding serve (oh, and Tseng’s numbers look good, too: 2.73 ERA over 26.1 innings, 27 K, 5 BB).
  • It was a little unclear last year what injury pitching prospect Josh Conway suffered on his way back from Tommy John surgery (which he had before the draft in 2012, and which allowed the Cubs to get him in the fourth round when he’d previously been generating first round buzz), but it sounds like it was a second Tommy John surgery, which he had approximately one year ago. This article has some quotes from Conway, who is throwing regularly in extended Spring Training. Hopefully he’ll get out into league play in the second half, and we can finally see what the Cubs have in him (with the understanding that the road back from consecutive Tommy John surgeries is probably longer than a year and a third).
  • A moment to discuss AA outfield prospect John Andreoli, who has been a sleeper of Luke’s for a couple years. A 17th round draft pick out of UConn, Andreoli was not expected to be a significant prospect, but all he’s done since being drafted is hit, walk, and steal bases. After a slow start this year, Andreoli’s line is up to .310/.430/.402 with 18 walks against 21 strikeouts. He’s stolen 14 bases and been caught just once. In his last 10 games, he’s hitting .355/.512/.452. If you were going to knock him, you’d say that he’s going to turn 24 in June, and is a college player who has only reached AA in his third full professional season. That’s not the profile of an impact prospect, but … so what? Andreoli instead looks like more of a possible future complementary piece, which has value (especially if you can find it in the 17th round). There are some Tony Campana comparisons there (mostly just because of convenience – smaller, speedy outfielder, college bat), but Andreoli is bigger, takes more walks, and has a little more pop.
  • Speaking of Soler, when he does return to AA, the outfield there is going to become a little crowded. Perhaps it’ll soon be time to see what Andreoli could do at AAA.
  • Pitching prospect Dallas Beeler – who reportedly looked very good in the Arizona Fall League last year after coming back from a finger injury (and was subsequently added to the 40-man roster) – will be sent to AAA Iowa to start today (Tommy Birch). He’d been building up arm strength after missing time in Spring Training, I believe, with a dead arm period. Although his ceiling is not super high, he’s very much a legitimate big league pitching candidate, perhaps in a back-end or swing role. Beeler, 24, is a pitch-to-contact guy, who induces a lot of groundballs.
  • JulioZuleta

    Re Andreoli: Is starting at AA in your third full season as a college draftee unusual? Honest question. That seems about right to me, no? I guess a little slow maybe.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Not too unusual for a non-star level player.

      I have no complaints with his progress. I just hope he gets to Triple A fairly soon.

  • gocatsgo2003

    Andreoli is 6-1 215. That’s “smallish” now?

  • CubsFaninMS

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet but Tommy Hottovy and Matt Scoscia have been released. A blip on the radar but noteworthy.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Not even really noteworthy. Hottovy we haven’t talked about at all, and Scoscia is known only because of his last name and because the Cubs traded for the privilege of releasing him.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Well, I’ve noted it here at least. I agree that it is not “newsworthy”.

      • Coop

        Did we ever get a satisfactory explanation for that trade?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Nope. Regardless of how minor it is, that one still makes absolutely no sense to me. It is one of the very few trades I can think of in which one party received no benefit of any kind.

          • Rebuilding

            It was just a courtesy to Gretzky so he could be closer to the West Coast. Due to his Dad, he’s a multi-millionaire and probably has “business interests” that need watched. Both guys had a 0% chance to make it to the major leagues so it was just shuffling deck chairs.

          • JulioZuleta

            Yeah, that one didn’t bother me at all. Two non-prospects. Gretzky was probably about to be released anyways. Probably did the Angels a courtesy by not making them release their manager’s son. The Cubs basically released Gretzky. No harm no foul.

    • Jon

      Matt Scoscia of course traded for Trevor Gretky, the brother of Paula Gretky. I’m guessing someone should post should Paula Gretky photos, just because.

    • ssckelley

      Can we get Trevor Gretzky back? :D

      • CubsFaninMS

        Ha! Trevor has a .261 OPS in 23 ABs for Burlington this season. Small sample size, of course.

      • Medicos

        Trevor can sign with the BlackHawks and help them win the 2014 Stanley Cup. Maybe the Cubs could sign his gorgeous sister to become a ball girl like the infamous Marla Collins. Hope Marla’s skimpy uniform is still somewhere in a Friendly Confines storage locker.

  • DarthHater

    People are overlooking the fact that Soler’s 2014 OPS is 3.000. Using “better math,” that makes his minor-league career OPS 1.642! :-D

  • thrilho

    Here’s more info on the nature of the Josh Conway injury. Per Paul Sullivan, it was a fractured elbow. Per AZ Phil, it was caused by shoddy field conditions. The below link has a the full description (see comments section).

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/05/neglekted-reds-7-cubs-4/#image/1

    Excerpt:

    “The pitcher’s mound on Field #7 was in deplorable condition…

    On his second pitch in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Conway’s spikes got caught in the mud and he tripped and threw a pitch awkwardly, about six feet over the head of the Brew Crew batter. A loud pop could be heard when he let go of the pitch, and his arm recoiled as if he had been shot. He was obviously in tremendous pain, and he ran up the 1st base line into foul territory before coming to a stop and going to one knee.”

    It was Milwaukee’s home field, btw.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That was kind of what I was getting at – the original reports had it as a fractured elbow (by the spot of the TJS), but this local report calls it a second TJS. Not sure there’s a distinction, really.

  • another JP

    So Beeler was the starter TBD for Iowa today… it’s good to have him back. Andreoli seems to be an OBP machine and might be a faster, younger RH version of Kalish, would like to see how he handles AAA. And that Tseng, Blackburn, Underwood trio could be one to watch as they are promoted through the system- they’ve been quite impressive for a group of 19/20 year olds.

    And I’m still counting on Bruno getting into a groove and making it to Iowa this season.

  • Austin

    So how is Tseng’s name pronounced? Is it a silent T and therefore pronounced Seng?

    • DarthHater

      It’s pronounced sie-yung. :-P

      • Austin

        Well how about that, never would have guessed sie-yong based on his name. Thank you for clearing that up tho.

        • DarthHater

          [img]https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7189/14092321696_5e3fc9609d_n.jpg[/img]

          • bnile1

            I thought it was just wishful thinking, but since you have a gun……

  • SenorGato

    Some interesting potential relievers and Mark Malave:

    Armando Rivero – Cartoonish so far in AA with 22 Ks in 14 IP last time I checked.

    Zach Cates – Has the power arm you want and is finally throwing strikes, who it’s in High A at 24. Still, he’s had his share of issues but the stuff has always had the potential to help a bullpen.

    Gerardo Concepcion – The scouting reports weren’t meaty enough coming in to really hate him, and he’s throwing well this year.

    Mark Malave – Had himself a good game yesterday in Arizona, and I expect him to be Boise’s starting catcher at 19 this year. Another guy who’s scouting reports don’t have alot of meat, but there’s some very likeable things in there (switch hitter, young, plate discipline, good size, athletic) for the catcher position. The Cubs haven’t really hit on any Venezuelans – not true I think Z was – but it’s a part of the baseball world that puts out alot of talent. Malave is one of the few Venezuelan prospects in the system.

    Juan Paniagua – Just throwing innings is a step up from his last two years in purgatory. Hopefully they start turning into good performances this summer.

    Alberto Cabrera – Really getting the sense that these guys are going to be able to build a power armed pen and a power loaded lineup. From there buy starting pitching, though obvy I am down to draft Beede or Aiken. Cabrera’s throwing well down in Iowa out of the bullpen. I’m a fan of how his stuff might/should play out of the pen.

    • SenorGato

      Conway’s upside probably fits right in with those guys as a potential long term reliever.

      • SenorGato

        Oh and I hope Tseng’s fastball can one day sit 92-94. Until then I have a theory that the Cubs have kinda sorta bought off BP to write nice things about their prospects (choosing BP over BA because they know how fans think). Law IIRC was not as impressed as Cubs fans or BP, and personally I don’t see anything special about Tseng (though he’s a big part of why last year’s IFA haul can and did get such early praise).

  • http://BN Sacko

    I want to make sure I understood what I read here, we drafted a pitcher that already had TJ surgery?

    • ssckelley

      Yes, but they took him in the 4th round. He had 1st round talent so I cannot blame the Cubs for taking a chance on him.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Couldbe but there really seems to be be a real attraction to these arm problems.

    • Cyranojoe

      It’s about the deal. You get talent for cheaper (or at lower rounds) when there’s risk associated. When one out of a dozen hits, you’ve paid very little for a winning lotto ticket. The alternative was to sign middling talent that is even less likely to hit than an injured big talent is. Or so the theory goes.

  • ssckelley

    To those of you that go to Iowa Cub games, is Villanueva hitting the wall with these doubles or they mainly hitting the gaps or down the foul lines? I noticed he hit his 11th double already, tied for 3rd in the PCL.

  • Aaron

    Beeler had a nice line today… 6 IP, 0 BBs, 3 Ks, 1 ER.

  • lnfihDeL

    Luke and or Brett, have you heard anything new about Torres and Jimenez?

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