Jason McLeod Offers Thoughts on Vogelbach, Bruno, Watkins, Szczur, Struck, More
MiLB.com is putting together an All-Star roster for each organization in baseball, and their Cubs roster is a mix of top prospects and organizational guys who had good seasons. It’s very much worth your attention, and is a fun read if you’re looking for a take on some of the Cubs’ minor leaguers you don’t hear as much about.
In sum, the All-Stars shook out thusly: Dan Vogelbach (1B), Stephen Bruno (2B) (honorable mention for Logan Watkins), Josh Vitters (3B), Javier Baez (SS), Matt Szczur (OF), John Andreoli (OF), Greg Rohan (OF), Anthony Rizzo (UTL) (?), Nick Struck (RH SP), Eric Jokisch (LH SP), and Frank Batista (RP).
Moreover, the piece features Cubs Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod’s thoughts on each of the players. It’s a bounty of goodness. Among the highlights:
- On Vogelbach: “In talking with [special assistant to the GM] Tim Wilken, they felt he could be an offensive force at a position where you need to be. He does a good job controlling the strike zone – you can envision him being the high OBP, high slugging guy. He can really hit; he can drive the ball out of the park. That’s a huge part of his game.” In other words, you better keep hitting, kid.
- On Bruno: “You don’t expect a guy to win the batting title in the Northwest League. He had a strong year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, he had a tough park to hit in and in the summer league he led that league in hitting. He did have a track record, he played in a good conference, and we drafted him with the notion that he’ll go out and perform and be productive at the lower levels right away. I envision him being more of a second baseman, but he is versatile. His best position is probably second, but he played third at the University of Virginia and went in as a shortstop.” Guys with Bruno’s versatility who can actually hit a little bit certainly have a great deal of value. Given his age (22 in November) and college experience, his offense success was probably a little bit to be suspected. Hopefully he can work his way up the ladder next year with the same success.
- On Watkins: “He really encompasses a lot of what we want our players to do – control the zone, get on base, hit for average, and he played very good defense. You wouldn’t look at him and say he’s a ‘plus’ this, but he’s good at a lot of different areas. He’s a very smart baserunner. I think he led the league in walks, he hit in the .280 range and he’s a steady average defender.” So, which is it? “Very good defense,” or “steady average defender”? For Watkins, that actually could make a huge difference in his future value/contributions in the bigs. If he’s not a plus defender at second base, I’m not sure you can count on him being much more than a mediocre utility type.
- On Szczur: “Strong, athletic, reminds me a lot of a young Reed Johnson. He plays so hard. He’s got that football mentality – he’s going to leave it all out there, going hard on a ground ball, breaking up double plays. He can steal bases and there is strength in his swing. There are still some things he’s working on mechanically with his swing. He can really do a lot of things well, and he’s still pretty young in terms of games played in comparison to other guys.” When talent evaluators start talking about things other than baseball ability – things like “football mentality,” and “plays so hard” – red alarms go off in my head. Yes, those things are valuable … as long as they supplement the absurd amount of baseball ability required to be a successful Major Leaguer.
- On Struck: “This guy is a bulldog on the hill. He doesn’t have the greatest stuff, doesn’t overpower guys, but he’s firm. He’s got two solid pitches and he’s a starter. He worked hard, took the ball every fifth day and would’ve pitched deeper into the games if there weren’t so many pitchers. More than anything, he just really competes. He’s not afraid of contact, and we rewarded him with our Minor League Pitcher of the Year [award] because he earned it.” Hmm. Sounds like a 5th starter ceiling to me. But, hey, before his arm turned on him, Randy Wells proved that you can have success in the bigs with two “good enough” pitches, if you combine them with impeccable control.
There’s a great deal more in the story, so you’ll want to check it out.