It’s not just the big league season that is around the corner, the minor league seasons are fast-approaching, too …
- In the final installment of his series on prospects over at Vine Line, Sahadev Sharma takes a look at some of the lesser-discussed arms in the Cubs’ system: Corey Black, Paul Blackburn, Juan Paniagua, Jen-Ho Tseng, and Daury Torrez. For example, some of the thoughts on Torrez: “He has a big, strong body, gets downhill while pitching, shows three plus offerings and goes deep into games. Unlike Tseng and Blackburn, who are command-first guys, Torrez has the tools. If his command comes around, he should be able to stick in a starting role. If it doesn’t, he’ll likely move into the bullpen where his stuff could play up as he becomes a two-pitch set-up guy.” Any guy who has a power sinker, together with two other playable pitches (let alone plus), has big league starting upside. As it was at Kane County last year, the rotation at new High-A affiliate Myrtle Beach this year is going to be much-watch stuff, with Torrez, Tseng, Blackburn, Duane Underwood among the likely rotation members, and guys like Jake Stinnett, Jonathan Martinez, and Rob Zastryzny also possible, depending on the timing.
- We know that strikeout rates are climbing rapidly in the big leagues, but BA’s Matt Eddy takes a very important look at what’s happening in the minor leagues, and how it’s impacting scouting. The 20% mark is becoming just about average for strikeout rates across baseball leagues, and organizations are likely to be paying ever-closer attention to quality contact rates in the minors.
- At Grantland, Ben Lindbergh looks at the way Major League Equivalencies (i.e., how well should you perform in MLB giving X performance at AAA) are changing in recent years. It’s a way of evaluating the previously-discussed question about whether it’s getting harder in the leagues for youngsters, and it kind of looks like Lindbergh’s answer is a slight yes, but not enough to jar you into believing that teams that rely heavily on young players are screwed.
- A great audio interview with Addison Russell here by Jesse Rogers. Among Russell’s comments: he affirmatively wants to get experience at second base and third base and maybe even outfield so that he can add the versatility to his resume. Usually, you hear guys say that they’ll do whatever the team needs, but Russell is clearly buying in even further than that. I dig it.
- A closer look at the Cubs’ facilities and staff in the Dominican Republic from the Tribune – nice to get an on-the-ground view to provide context for us as we discuss the upcoming IFA period in a much more abstract way.
- I will be a little conflicted if he makes it, feeling good for him, but feeling bummed it wasn’t with Cubs:
It's against a college team (Miami), but Andrew McKirahan, Marlins' Rule 5 pick from the Cubs, faced 3 batters, struck them all out.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) March 3, 2015
- Obviously that appearance doesn’t really tell us much, but evaluators think McKirahan has a real chance to stick, and lefty specialists are among the easiest Rule 5 pieces to carry through the year if your bullpen can handle it. As for the Cubs, given how crunched the rotation and bullpen already are, I can understand the decision to roll the dice and not put McKirahan on the 40-man roster. If, for whatever reason, he doesn’t make the Marlins, I’m sure the Cubs will be all too happy to have him back.