The Cubs Used to Have Nice Prospects

Social Navigation

The Cubs Used to Have Nice Prospects

Chicago Cubs

Rotoworld recently reflected upon it’s top 100 prospects from 2004, and sure enough, the Cubs had several entries in the list. That year or perhaps slightly before marked perhaps the pinnacle of the Cubs farm system in the last fifteen years. Given that, depending on what service you ask, the Cubs now only have one or two prospects in the top 100 (Josh Vitters and Jeff Samardzija), the five they had in 2004 was impressive. And sad.

42. Felix Pie – OF Cubs – Age 19 – ETA: 2007

.285/.346/.388, 4 HR, 47 RBI, 98/41 K/BB, 19 SB in 505 AB for Low Single-A Lansing

2004 quote: The native of the Dominican Republic is already an outstanding defensive center fielder and he has the ability to become a very good hitter. As of right now, he projects as a Johnny Damon-type player.

That all could still be true, I suppose. But it ain’t gonna be with the Cubs.

46. Andy Sisco – LHP Cubs – Age 21 – ETA: 2006
6-8, 3.54 ERA, 76 H, 99/31 K/BB in 94 IP for Low Single-A Lansing

2004 quote: He also has some maturity issues — he missed nearly two months of last season with a broken left hand sustained while punching a wall — but since he doesn’t turn 21 until January, that’s not a major concern.

It turned into a major concern. Sisco’s arm problems have done more to doom his career, but he certainly hasn’t helped things with his attitude.

The Cubs lost Sisco in the Rule V draft, and he’s bounced around a couple bullpens since then. Wonder what could have been if he’d been allowed to develop fully in the minors as a starter.

54. Angel Guzman – RHP Cubs – Age 22 – ETA: April 2005
3-3, 2.81 ERA, 83 H, 87/26 K/BB in 89 2/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn

2004 quote: The Cubs are very excited about Guzman and his hard, sinking fastball, but the shoulder surgery that ended his 2003 season was a significant setback.

BA ranking Guzman 26th even after he had labrum damage repaired illustrates just how much the scouty types liked the right-hander. I think Guzman was overrated right from the start, but who knows what would have happened had he remained healthy. He’s still not hopeless now.

I’d say that’s a fair assessment. Guzman, still with the Cubs and trying to make the bullpen this year, has always had the kind of stuff that made scouts inappropriately excited. But the arm/shoulder injuries that started in 2003 never really stopped. He’s a long shot to make the pen, and if he doesn’t, he’s out the door.

77. Todd Wellemeyer – RHP Cubs – Age 25 – ETA: Now
1-1, 5.48 ERA, 19 H, 34/10 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn
5-5, 5.18 ERA, 68 H, 56/33 K/BB in 66 IP for Triple-A Iowa
1-1, 6.51 ERA, 25 H, 30/19 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP for Chicago (NL)

2004 quote: The numbers aren’t pretty, but Wellemeyer has a major league arm and he was dominant in his early appearances for the Cubs, striking out 12 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings during May. … With a mid-90s fastball and plus changeup, Wellemeyer is talented enough to succeed as a starter or a reliever.

Wellemeyer is now a sort-of-ok starter for the St. Louis Cardinals. Only under the reign of pitching coach Dave Duncan could that have happened – Wellemeyer was dumped by the Cubs a few years ago, and rightly so.

93. Bobby Brownlie – RHP Cubs – Age 23 – ETA: June 2005
5-4, 3.00 ERA, 48 H, 59/24 K/BB in 66 IP for Single-A Daytona

2004 quote: Brownlie was a candidate to be the first pick in the 2002 draft before hurting his shoulder during his junior season at Rutgers. He ended up going 21st overall to the Cubs and held out for a while before signing in March. Brownlie pitched well in his first action as a pro, but he was shut down in July as a precaution because of more shoulder troubles.

Brownlie lost his best stuff to shoulder problems, and while he’s still trying, it doesn’t look like he’ll ever reach the majors.

No, he probably won’t. Ah, remember Bobby Brownlie? He was perhaps the first Chicago Cubs draftee to get big-time bucks to sign on the dotted line. The magic that Scott Boras weaves…

So that’s it.  Five guys in the top 100 was pretty great, especially considering the guy who would have been number one in all of baseball in 2004 was spending his first full tantalizing season with the Cubs – Mark Prior.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.