Any time Jeff Samardzija trade rumors emerge, his name is usually linked with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have been apparently interested in the Cubs starting pitcher for about a year now, and while I agree with Brett that the best case scenario is the Cubs reaching an agreement on a reasonable extension for Samardzija, I also agree that the two sides appear to be so far apart that the most likely course of events is a trade. There are many more teams who would be interested in that trade than just Toronto, but the Jays match up particularly well with the Cubs and have been interested for some time. And sense certain prospect names continue to crop up in these Cubs – Jays rumors, let’s take a look at how three of those prospects would likely rank in the Cubs system.
Aaron Sanchez is one of the two best pitchers in the Toronto organization, but he comes with a red flag. His fastball generates a lot of ground balls (leading to a 2.73 GO/AO this season), and his curve grades out nearly as highly, but his over all effectiveness is currently limited by a lack of consistent control. His walk rate is up to 6.33 BB/9 this season, and until that comes down his future is as likely to be in the bullpen as in the starting rotation. I like Sanchez, but because of those control issues I do not see him as an elite pitching talent. On the preseason Top 40 Prospects list, I would currently rank Sanchez seventh, just ahead of Pierce Johnson.
Marcus Stroman is the other high ceiling pitching prospect the Blue Jays have, and unlike Sanchez his calling card is his excellent control. In Triple A this year his walk rate was just 2.27 BB/9, and it has been even lower in his five games in the majors as a reliever. Even though Stroman is relieving for now, and even though he is shorter than conventional wisdom dictates a starter should be, I still think Stroman is a long term starting pitcher and a very good one at that. In fact, I rank him over Sanchez. On the preseason list, I would slot him in at Number 3, just below the dynamic duo of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.
The best lefty in the Toronto system, Daniel Norris, has also been appearing in some recent rumors. Norris has a fastball/changeup combo that has led to a very nice High A strikeout rate of of 10.40 K/9. Norris is a little further away than either of Sanchez or Stroman, but he might be the most likely of the bunch to remain a long term starter (assuming he makes it, that is). On the Cubs preseason list, that would be good for a Number 11 slot, above Mike Olt and below Arodys Vizcaino.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – Rain postponed this one.
Tennessee – After leading most of the game, Tennessee let this contest get away late and lost 2-1 in ten innings.
Daytona – Daytona pulled away to secure this 8-4 win.
Kane County – A big seventh inning propelled the Cougars to a 5-4 win.
Performances of Note
- [Tennessee] Corey Black pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out 7. He also hit a double, the only extra base hit for the Smokies.
- [Tennessee] Rafael Lopez, catcher, walked and finished 2 for 4.
- [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach has been quietly warming up in Florida, and he continued that trend with his first triple as part of this 2 for 4 performance. According to those in attendance, it should have been called a home run.
- [Daytona] Albert Almora also finished 2 for 4 in this one, raising his season average to .271.
- [Daytona] Andrew McKirahan pitched 2.2 innings of relief, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann tripled for the 4th time as part of his 2 for 4 game.
- [Kane County] Trey Martin also finished 2 for 4, but one of his hits was a big one. His first homer of the season just so happened to come in this game, and it came with the bases loaded.
- It is still early in the Venezuelan Summer League, and the sample sizes are still small, but there are enough numbers in the books to get an idea how the early season is going. One number that is immediately notable is the .575 slugging percentage put up by catcher Luis Hidalgo. Power is one of the last tools to manifest in most prospects, and with a 1996 birthday Hidalgo is not exactly old, but with two homers and three doubles among his fourteen hits his power is already in evidence. Right now all we can say is that he is off to a good start, but Hidalgo is certainly one of the players to keep an eye on in the early going.