Tag:Chicago Cubs
Posted on: April 5, 2010 9:56 am
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NL Central Preview--And Other Introductions...

Today is Opening Day! The real Opening Day, not the day strictly reserved for Yanks and Sox fans. Seriously though, what kind of a score is 9-7 in a battle between the aces of the "two best teams in baseball"--they're not, I'll tell you who is later in the day with my playoff predictions post. Anyways, today is a great day for every baseball fan. Thirteen teams square off, including my beloved Houston Astros. The Astros open the season with Roy Oswalt on the mound for the eighth straight year. He'll face the two-time defending NL Cy Young, Tim Lincecum and the offense deprived Giants. To top it all off, the game will be NATIONALLY TELEVISED (7PM ESPN2). Meaning everyone, incluing those in central New York, can enjoy this marquee pitching matchup.

This being baseball season, I am going to attempt something a little daring. I am going to publish four posts today commemorating the opening of the 2010 season--I am after all, somehow, still, the Astros' "official blogger," I've got the writing badge to prove it. Here's what I have tentatively scheduled for today:

  • NL Central Preview (the second part of this post!)
  • Playoff Predictions (even though this is an Astros blog...)
  • Previewing the first week of the Astros' season: April 5th-11th
  • Previewing the Astros' four full-season minor league teams: Round Rock, Corpus Christi, Lancaster and Lexington
  • Optional: This is very unlikely, but if I get around to it (today, later this week, to start off next week), I would like to devote a post to some general Astros in 2010 musings. We'll see how the first four things work out though.


Now, without any further outstanding business, is my brief, to the point, NL Central Preview:

(If you disagree with any ranking, please let me know in the comments section--and why. If someone was to disagree with my list, or questioned my thought process below, I would explain my ranking in the comments. Maybe I'll do that anyway.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

MVP: Andrew McCutchen
CY Young: Zach Duke
Unheralded Hero: Bobby Crosby
Breakout Player: Jeff Clement
Breakout Pitcher: Charlie Morton
Prospect to Watch: Pedro Alvarez

5. Chicago Cubs

MVP: Aramis Ramirez
CY Young: Carlos Zambrano
Unheralded Hero: Carlos Marmol
Breakout Player: Tyler Colvin
Breakout Pitcher: NA
Prospects to Watch: Colvin and Jeff Samardzija

4. Milwaukee Brewers

MVP: Ryan Braun
CY Young: Randy Wolf
Unheralded Here: Alcides Escobar
Breakout Player: Escobar
Breakout Pitcher: NA
Prospects to Watch: Excobar, Mat Gamel and Jonathan LuCroy



3. Houston Astros

MVP: Hunter Pence
CY Young: Roy Oswalt
Unheralded Hero: Jason Castro
Breakout Player: Chris Johnson
Breakout Pitcher: Bud Norris
Prospects to Watch: Tommy Manzella, Castro, Johnson, Samuel Gervacio and Chia Jen-Lo



2. Cincinnati Reds

MVP: Jay Bruce
CY Young: Homer Bailey
Unheralded Hero: Drew Stubbs
Breakout Player: Stubbs
Breakout Pitcher: Bailey
Prospects to Watch: Mike Leake, Drew Stubbs, Aroldis Champman, Juan Francisco and Travis Wood

1. St. Louis Cardinals

MVP: Albert Pujols
CY Young: Adam Wainwright
Unheralded Hero: Ryan Franklin
Breakout Player: Colby Rasmus
Breakout Pitcher: Jaime Garcia
Prospects to Watch: Garcia


Posted on: June 8, 2009 9:16 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 3:44 pm
 

MLB Mock Draft 2009

Hello, welcome to my 2009 MLB Mock Draft.  This is where I will try to predict every pick for the first several rounds.  With the recent news of Kyle Gibson’s stress fracture and other stock changes, I have just completely remade my mock draft, before I even released the first version.  I had originally planned to mock all the day one picks, the first one hundred and eleven.  But, because I have had to change many picks, I am not sure I will be able to get that many done by the draft tomorrow.  I will however, mock as many picks as possible and provide sufficient information on each pick.  I will continue working on this and update it, as I finish each round.  My goal is to predict 20% of the picks I mock.  I hope those of you who read my write up enjoy, please comment, and come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the draft itself.  Later in the week, I will be reviewing the draft, so look for that as well. 

Scouting reports come from a number of sites, most prominently Baseball America, PGCrosscheckers.com, John Sickel’s site minorleagueball.com and milb.com. 

There are a couple places in the draft I want to point out now, for when I come back to grade - how many picks I got right - my mock.  Where ever a team is picking back-to-back, notably Arizona at 16 and 17 and the Angels at 24 and 25, if I guess a guy at one of those two spots and he is picked by that team at the other spot, I’m counting it.  Also, in the first round supplemental, I am counting any player I guess the correct team for.  If Nick Franklin goes to the Angels in the supp. no matter what pick, I’m counting it.  I think that’s fair, right?  Anyways, enjoy. 

I have decided I am going to post what I have on the blog, and add to it, as it gets done.

First Round

1. Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg RHP San Diego State

Strasburg is the number one pick of the 2009 MLB draft.  My official prediction for how much he signs for… $21.5 million.  Strasburg is the best prospect in the draft era, and would fit into a big league rotation immediately.  I would love for the Nationals to send him to AAA, so I can see him in Syracuse, and give you all my own scouting report of him.  He throws his fastball in the high 90s and can touch 103 mph.  He also throws a hammer breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup he throws in the low 80s.  I worry a little; I think its possible Strasburg blows out his arm at some point, a la the guy a lot of people compare him to, Mark Prior.  With a comp. of Mark Prior, who wouldn’t worry?   Anyways I seem to be in the minority on this. 

2. Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley OF North Carolina

If Strasburg is on the first tier of prospects by himself, I would say Ackley is on the second tier, all by himself.  He is clearly the best hitter, having “plus, plus hittability”, according to milb.com’s draft report.  He adds plus speed and range in centerfield.  Ackley has dispelled any thoughts that he wouldn’t be able to play centerfield, following Tommy John surgery last summer, which had him saddled at first.  The main question on Ackley is how much power he’ll hit for, and although I don’t think he needs too much to be an effective major league hitter, he certainly hit 20-30 homeruns.  There was some talk about the Mariners wanning on Ackley and considering Aaron Crow or Tanner Scheppers, but I don’t buy it, Ackley’s the guy.  What I think the Mariners are getting in Ackley is a future no. 3 hitter, who is going to play centerfield, hit .300+ with a .400 OBP, and be a 20-20 guy (Curtis Granderson better OBP?), not bad, eh?

3. San Diego Padres: Donavan Tate OF Cartersville HS (Georgia)

After the first two picks things get very interesting, very fast.  It seems as though the Padres have narrowed this selection to three guys: Tate, Aaron Crow and Mike Minor.  Although, if I were running this draft, I would take Tyler Matzek, who I believe is the third best prospect in the draft.  Crow would also be a good pick, but Minor is a clear overdraft.  If Ackley falls, the Padres WILL take him.  Tate has, perhaps, the highest ceiling in the draft.  However, he is also going to cost a lot of money, close to six million?  Tate has a strong commitment to North Carolina, where he would play both football and baseball – his father Lars Tate was an NFL player.  There are also questions about Tate’s hit-ability.  I like Tate at this spot for two reasons: 1. He’s the guy available with the most upside and San Diego’s system could really use some upside, particularly up the middle 2. If Tate doesn’t go number three, I don’t know where he goes, so I instead of forcing a headache upon myself, I’ve decided to take the risk, along with the Padres, and take Tate. 

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Aaron Crow RHP Fort Worth (University of Missouri)

As previously stated, I’m fairly certain about the first two picks, however, every other pick is far from certain.  Rumors have swirled around the Pirates, involving a sign-ability pick here.  Names discussed include: Tony Sanchez and Bobby Borchering.  The Pirates would like to save money because they are rumored to be the favorites to sign Dominican Miguel Angel Sano a SS, the rumored price is four million.  Apart from those rumors the Pirates are known to like college pitchers and the top arm on my board is Aaron Crow, who has little negotiating power and should sign around slot.  If Crow’s name sounds familiar, it should, he was the number nine pick in last year’s draft, and went to an independent league, along with Tanner Scheppers, after failing to sign, I had him going number ten to my Astros.  Crow throws a low-to-mid 90s sinking fastball, a plus slider and an at least average changeup, which is his biggest improvement from last year.  Personally, I like Crow and think he has front of the rotation upside, as a reliever he could pitch in the major’s later this season and could be in a rotation next. 

5. Baltimore Orioles: Tyler Matzek LHP Capistrano Valley HS (California)

As previously stated, Matzek is the third prospect on my board, and although Zach Wheeler seems to be the popular pick here of late, I still like Matzek – and I love the idea of Wheeler seven to his home state Braves.  Matzek throws his fastball up to 95 mph, but sits in the low 90s.  He throws two at least average breaking balls, a curveball he throws in the mid 70s and a slider in the mid 80s.  He also throws a changeup, but hasn’t needed it yet.  Matzek may not be a true no. one starter type, but he has good 2/3 starter upside, with much more polish than you would expect from a HS pitcher.  The Orioles usually draft the best player available (BPA) and don’t shy away from guy with perceived signability problems.  I do think the Orioles would love to add a good position player to their system, but there is no one of value here, so the Orioles will be “forced” to add to their already stellar crop of pitchers. 

6. San Francisco Giants: Tanner Scheppers RHP St. Paul (Fresno State)

Scheppers is a tough guy to slot in.  Many experts have him falling out of the top ten and in some cases out of the first round, because of fear for that same shoulder problem that made him fall last year.  However, because I am mocking through the first supplemental, I would hate to have to guess how far Scheppers is going to fall, I mean, I already have to do that for Kyle Gibson, so I’m not going to torture myself and do it for Scheppers too.  I like this fit.  Although, I haven’t seen many people agree with me, that’s ok though.  Scheppers has put together a good showing in St. Paul and should be close to major league ready.  He profiles as a top of the rotation starter, but does come with injury risk.  He throws his fastball in the mid 90s and can put “cut and sink” onto it (according to milb.com).  He also throws a power curve and changeup.  Like the Orioles, I think the Giants would love to add a bat and could be a possibility for Tate should he fall past the Padres, but without sufficient value on my board the Giants will also add to their “stellar crop of pitchers”.  Jacob Turner and Zach Wheeler are also candidates. 

7. Atlanta Braves: Zack Wheeler RHP East Paulding HS (Georgia)

I hope the Brave appreciate me dodging two bullets (the Orioles and Giants) to deliver them their prized Georgia arm.  Wheeler was the guy I liked at the beginning of the year for the Astros, but since, has had his stock rise more than just about anyone in the draft.  Wheeler has a perfect pitcher’s body at 6’4 170, and also fits Atlanta’s mold as a prep local product, as an added bonus, he’ll sign for slot!  Wheeler already throws up to 95 mph and still has plenty of projection.  He also throws an above average curveball and the makings of an average change.  The sky is the limit for Wheeler, who has one of the highest upsides among the HS pitchers in this draft, but he also has some mechanical problems. 

8. Cincinnati Reds: Alex White RHP North Carolina

This is where I had Gibson slated for awhile, dubbing him the Yonder Alonso of this draft.  However, due to the stress fracture, the Reds are unlikely to take him – although they could – and I don’t have to explain my Gibson = Alonso comparison.  White has been up and down, but I still believe he has the highest upside amongst college pitchers NNS (not named Strasburg).  I actually really like White and believe he would be a steal here.  Leake and Grant Green are also possibilities.  White throws a low 90s fastball, which gets up to 95 mph; his 2-seamer has great movement to it.  His slider is also a plus pitch, he throws a splitter as an off-speed pitch, as well as a below average curveball. 

9. Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner RHP Westminster Christian Academy (Missouri)

Jacob Turner wants Rick Porcello money, well; why not give him to the team with a Rick Porcello void in their minors?  Turner has a large frame at 6-5 220 and is already throwing in the mid-low 90s.  He also throws a mid 70s slider.  He hasn’t really needed a changeup in high school.  Matt Purke is now being rumored

10. Washington Nationals: Chad Jenkins RHP Kennesaw State

Jenkins is a bit of an overdraft, but not too badly, since many think he could go to the Blue Jays at twenty also.  The Nationals have also been attached to Mike Trout and others with this pick.  The idea being to sign someone at or below slot since Strasburg is going to cost $21.5 million.  Jenkins throws his fastballs, two and four seamers, in the low 90s.  He adds a low 80s slider and changeup. 

11. Colorado Rockies: Mike Leake RHP Arizona State

Leake was the big mover during the college season, as he moved up probably a round.  He led division I in a couple statistical categories – so eat it Strasburg.  However, Leake profiles as a 3/4 starter, with a high floor.  He throws a high 80s/low 90s sinking fastball, he adds a high 70s/low 80s slider and plus changeup.  He command is plus, plus.  He’s short, but athletic for a pitcher.  The last four drafts, 78% of the Rockies’ top 137 picks have been college players, 50% have been college pitchers.  Mike Leake is a nice complement to Christian Friedrich (last year’s first rounder), and gives the Rockies a nice trio of advanced pitchers (throwing Jhoulys Chacin into the mix).  Plus they need all the pitching help they can get – although all three of the pitchers I listed profile towards the middle of the rotation.

12. Kansas City Royals: Wil Myers C Wesleyan Christian Academy (North Carolina)

After a couple years of paying for high priced talents: Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, etc, the Royals are looking for a bargain at a premium position (C, SS, CF), and rumors include Tony Sanchez, the top college catcher.  However, I like the higher upsided (yes, upsided, I like the way it sounds) Myers.  Myers has raw power and all the tools to become a solid defensive catcher, with a good arm.  He is also very athletic for a catcher, with above-average speed. 

13. Oakland Athletics: Grant Green SS Southern California

Before the season, Grant was expected to be one of the first three picks in the draft.  However, he has played his way down, as many now question his ability to stay at short, as well as his power.  Green does, however, have good hitting ability, and average to above-average speed.  His arm is also at least average, leaning above-average slightly.  However, (milb.com) he has some trouble ranging up the middle and his power is more line-drive power than anything else, but he could hit 15-20 homeruns.  Oakland’s MO is established college players, which makes it Green or Brothers in my book.  The A’s are also attached to Donavan Tate, should he fall, and his reported $6 million price tag, so signing Green should be no problem.  By the way, I love me some Green.  I think he’ll stick at short, and be a near .300 hitter with 15-20 homeruns… that’s enough. 

14. Texas Rangers: Shelby Miller HS Brownwood HS (Texas)

If there was a lock this late in the draft, it’d be Miller to the Rangers.  It fits there MO, he’s local, it works.  He throws in the mid 90s with a good curve in the mid 70s, but he has some command issues.  He’s plenty projectable.  Let me double check if this makes sense: Texas usually takes the BPA; money shouldn’t be a problem and they like their fire-ballers, yep, Miller does makes sense. 

15. Cleveland Indians : Mike Minor LHP Vanderbilt

  Mike Minor has been rumored all over the first round, but there is no clear consensus on who that one team is who takes him.    The Indians want Miller, but he won’t get there.  So, it will be the best college player on their board.  The question is who is the top college arm on their board?  It could be Minor, Rex Brothers, James Paxton or Eric Arnett.  I picked Minor.  Mainly because he would fall in my mock if I didn’t put him here (if he doesn’t go here, my prediction is 19 to the Cardinals.  Minor is a low ceiling/high floor starter.  He throws a low 90s fastball, along with both a slider and curveball, and a good enough changeup.  He probably has 4/5 starter upside. 

16. Arizona Diamondbacks : Rex Brothers LHP Lipscomb

17. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bobby Borchering 3B Bishop Verot HS (Florida )

Here’s the first pair of D’back picks.  They like to go high upside HSers early, followed by college floor.  Borchering has one of the best bats in the draft.  He is switch hitter with great bat speed and raw power from both sides.  Many believe he will have to eventually move to first but, I think he could stay at third.  His speed is average or a little below.  His arm is about average as well. 

Brothers is a guy I like a lot.  He throws his fastball in the mid 90s, he also throws a good slider, with a lot of movement, hasn’t thrown his changeup too much.  He’s a rare lefty that can dial his fastball up to 96/97 mph and I think his ceiling is 2/3 starter if he develops his changeup. 

18. Florida Marlins : Chad James LHP Yukon HS (Oklahoma )

Chad James is the guy I’m hoping falls to the ‘Stros at 21, but it’s unlikely he will as he is coveted by the D’backs, Marlins, Cardinals and Blue Jays.  The Marlins develop HS pitching very well, so James makes sense here.  If Borchering gets to here, I could see the Marlins taking the in-state third basemen.  James is a lefty with a low 90s fastball, he has touched 95 mph.  He also throws an above-average power curve and above-average changeup.  He has plenty of projection.  I seriously don’t know why James isn’t considered one of the elite HS arms, but one team will benefit as a result in the 16-22 range. 

19. St. Louis Cardinals : James Paxton LHP Kentucky

Word is the Cardinals are leaning left-handed pitcher, the options being: Minor, Brothers, James and Paxton.  One of them will fall, and in this scenario it’s the Boras corp. client, Paxton.  Paxton throws in the mid-to-high 90s, along with a hard slider and a change, which isn’t worth praising.  I don’t like Paxton, lack of a real changeup, command, questionable mechanics, Boras, but it seems like the Cards do, so he’s the pick.  

20. Toronto Blue Jays: Eric Arnett RHP Indiana

This was a tough one.  I’ve been hearing college arm.  The Jays would have liked Jenkins, Minor or Brothers, but none of them fell.  I also think Chad James is an option, although history would show the Jays shy away from HS arms in the early rounds, and Matt Hobgood is still an option.  Kyle Gibson, post-injury, has been rumored here and I think Mike Trout or Tim Wheeler are options here.  Trout has one of the highest upsides amongst position players and Wheeler is the next best college bat.  I went with the college arm route and took Arnett, although I am far less than confident with that pick.  Arnett is a 6’5” righty, who throws in the mid 90s, he also throws a slider in the high 70s/low 80s which can get batters out.  His changeup needs some work.  I’m not in love with this selection, but that’s mostly because I’m not in love with Arnett, who has risen this season, after an increase in velocity.  I also am not high on his secondary pitches or command, but he has to go somewhere in the first round… I guess, and he could go as high as 15. 

21. Houston Astros: Slade Heathcott LHP/OF Texas HS (Texas)

I have gone over this pick again and again.  I have changed my mind many times, and I still have no clue.  I have studied Astros drafts, particularly last year’s.  I have looked at the pool of names, over-and-over again, but still nothing looks right.  What does look right is Chad James.  He’d be perfect.  He’s the top guy on my wish list, but I really don’t think he’s going to last here, and I decided to adhere to my integrity as a blogger (ha) and have him go earlier.  I also like Rex Brothers, but he also will probably be gone.  There are other names in consideration here: Matt Hobgood would make sense as the next best HS arm, Jared Mitchell is the best athlete, I call Tim Wheeler “the Jason Castro of this draft”, and I started a recent buzz about Mike Trout.  Seriously, I participated in John Sickel’s mock draft on Saturday and took Trout with his pick, and since then, a bunch of people have started talking about Trout to the Astros.  I would love to see it, but I’m afraid Houston isn’t taking an OF from New Jersey and people just went to John’s website saw the pick, and liked… maybe I’m just being ethnocentric, I don’t know.  Anyways, the guy at thebaseballdraftreport.com said, “ a great tip though for any young mockers out there – go with as many off the wall picks as possible because, on the off chance you get lucky and nail one of them, you’ll be lauded as a prophet. Mock drafts almost work counter to basic human nature as people often forget the bad picks, but clearly remember the good ones.”  (By the way I suggest thebaseballdraftreport.com to anyone interested in the draft, lots of good insight)  I like this idea.  Houston is my favorite team, so I am going to hook them up with one of my favorite draft prospects, Slade Heathcott and actually it could happen...  Heathcott has one of the five highest upsides in the draft (among position players).  However, he has signability issues and character issues, which is why most teams are considering him for the second and third rounds.  The Yankees, among other teams are thinking about nabbing Heathcott in the first, due to the lack of solid options.  The Astros are also high on Heathcott, plus the all important, Texas factor.  So, why can’t the Astros jump on Heathcott?  One thing I can tell you about Bobby Heck and the current Astros draft philosophy is, they do not care about the consensus.  They will take whoever they believe to be the BPA, and it could be Heathcott.  Look at Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles from last draft?  Now go look at how they’re doing in their first full season… Jason Castro, by the way, for all you Astros fans, was called up to AA Corpus Christi and will be ready for Wednesday’s game.  Heathcott is a five-tool outfielder.   According to milb.com, he has “plus hitting ability”, “plus power to all fields”, above-average speed, plus arm strength and a plus defender.  I am going to try hard, to will this pick into reality. 

22. Minnesota Twins: Jiovanni Mier SS Bonita HS (California)

The MO on the Twins: HS bats, college arms.  Mier is the kind of toolsy player they like and with the first couple of tiers of college pitchers gone; he seems like an obvious choice.  Mier is the top HS shortstop amongst a deep class.  He has all the defensive tools to stay at short too.  He also has some hitting ability, with a little power to go with it. 

23. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Oliver LHP Oklahoma State

Oliver throws a mid 90s fastball along with a plus changeup, but he does not really have a breaking pitch yet.  He is also a Boras corp. client, but that shouldn’t bother the Chi Sox.  The White Sox have, however, been attached to several of the toolsy outfielders still around: Trout, Everett Williams and Reymond Fuentes. 

24. Los Angeles Angels : Tyler Skaggs LHP Santa Monica HS (California)

25. Los Angeles Angels : Mike Trout OF Milville HS (New Jersey)

Another back-to-back pick, remember if Skaggs goes 25 or Trout goes 24, I’m still counting it as a correct pick.  The Angels, like the D’backs have an abundance of early round pick, so they could do almost anything with them, but based on their philosophy and lack of talent in their system, they’ll go HS, HS, HS, early and often.  Skaggs is a California arm.  He throws a low 90s fastball, but should add more velocity as he matures; he is 6’5” 180 and offers plenty of projection, and some.  Skaggs also throws a plus curveball in the low 70s. 

Trout, like I’ve said is one of the ten best bats in the draft and I’ve heard it said that he is the most likely guy in the class to join the 30-30 club.  He’s a five-tooler with solid defensive skills and a plus arm. 

  26. Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Gould RHP Maize HS Kansas

Gould just looks like a Brewers pick.  I get a Jake Odorizzi vibe from him, in fact.  He throws his fastball in the low 90s and can get into the mid 90s a little.  He also throws a plus curve and a decent enough changeup.  Gould also has that all important, no not “Texas factor”, projection thing.  He’s 6’4” 190 after all.

27. Seattle Mariners: Drew Storen RHP Stanford

  Storen is the top closer in the class, but I think he’ll be drafted as a starter, and the Mariners seem like a team that would do it.  He throws his fastball in the low 90s with good movement.  He also throws his curve in the low 80s and has an effective changeup.  That three pitch mix makes me think starter.  The Mariners are big on college players in the draft, by the way. 

28. Boston Red Sox: Matt Purke HS Klein HS (Texas)

Purke is easily one of the fifteen best players in the draft, but he wants so much money and there are only so many teams that are going to pay $5 million + for a prospect.  Which means someone is going to fall and the likely candidate is Purke.  So, some team at the bottom of the draft will luck out, possibly the Red Sox.  Purke throws his fastball in the low 90s, touching 95.  I’ve said that a lot, I mean, a lot of pitchers throw in the low 90s touching 95.  He throws his curve in the high 70s and has a good changeup.  He also has good command and a projectable body. 

29. New York Yankees: Matt Hobgood RHP Norco HS (California)

New York needs talent and s high school arm as good as Hobgood’s should be tough to pass up.  SS/RHP David Renfroe (this year’s Casey Kelly and Slade Heathcott have been rumored here.  Hobgood throws his fastball in the low 90s, he also throws a plus curve in the mid 70s, according to milb.com it could be the best curve among HS pitchers in the class.  He doesn’t have a changeup though, so he’ll need to work on a third pitch. 

30. Tampa Bay Rays: Max Stassi C Yuba City HS (California)

The Rays’ position of need on the farm is at catcher, and with Stassi available need happens to coincide with the BPA.  Stassi has great instincts and makeup; he also has all the defensive tools behind the plate and an average arm.  His bat should be good and he has some power. 

31. Chicago Cubs: AJ Pollock OF Notre Dame

The last four years, 85% of Cubs picks in the top 149 pick have been college players.  Pollock happens to be a personal favorite of mine, and it is tough to let him go to the Cubs, but the pick makes sense.  Pollock has a very advanced approach at the plate, and has gap power.  He is an above-average runner with great instincts.  He is a good fielder in center with an average arm. 

32. Colorado Rockies: Tim Wheeler OF Sacramento State

Kyle Gibson is rumored here but I’m not quite buying it.  Although, interesting move for the Rockies, if it happens, more on that later… again, if it happens.  Wheeler makes sense as the BPA and a college player; remember what I said about the Rockies and college players?  Wheeler makes good contact, with some power at times, and has plus speed.  He also has an average arm, but plus range in center.  That’s the first round. 

Compensation Round A

Now that we’re done with the first round, the blurbs are going to be much shorter and to the point. 

33. Seattle Mariners : Matt Davidson 3B Yucaipa HS (California )

Davidson has some of the greatest power potential in the draft, but like Borchering may have to move off first.  Personally, I think he can stay at third, though.  Seattle tends to lean college, but Davidson’s power bat may be too much to pass up and this pick would continue a stellar draft for the Mariners. 

34. Colorado Rockies : Alex Wilson RHP Texas A&M

The Rockies pick for a third time and I have them once again taking a college right hander.  Wilson, however, is not much like their first pick Mike Leake.  He has a mid 90s fastball, a sometimes plus slider he throws in the mid 80s a curveball and changeup, although the latter two aren’t nearly a useful as the first two.  Wilson pitched from the Texas A&M bullpen the second half of the season, but he still profiles as a starter with a pretty high ceiling. 

35. Arizona Diamondbacks : Brett Jackson OF California

Jackson is another personal fav.  He has a lot of raw power and some hitting ability, but strikes out a lot.  He also is an above-average runner.  He has a plus arm and is a decent fielder in center. 

36. Los Angeles Dodgers : Madison Younginer RHP Mauldin HS (South Carolina )

The Dodgers didn’t have a first round pick, so should go for a lot of upside with this pick… how about Younginer, who was a reliever in high school, but will be tried out as a starter in pro ball.  He has a mid 90s fastball and projection. 

37. Toronto Blue Jays : Jared Mitchell OF Louisiana State University

  Mitchell is one of the very best athletes in the draft, and was a possibility for the Astros in round one.  His ceiling is a Carl Crawford type outfielder with more power. 

38. Chicago White Sox : Rich Poythress 1B Georgia

  Poythress is one of the best pure hitters in the draft.  Again I opt against the toolsy OF rumors and I really don’t know why. 

39. Milwaukee Brewers : Tommy Joseph C Horizon HS (Arizona )

Joseph has enormous raw power and a chance to play behind the plate, with a plus arm.  He seems like a fit for the Brewers to me. 

40. Los Angeles Angels : Reymond Fuentes OF Puerto Rico

Fuentes is one of the toolsy outfielders the White Sox are after.  However, I think he’s a better fit for the Angels. 

41. Arizona Diamondbacks: Mychal Givens SS Plant HS (Florida)

Givens throws 97 mph off a mound, but it seems like most teams now like him as a high upside HS shortstop.  Is he a possible five-tooler?

42. Los Angeles Angels: Nick Franklin SS Lake Brantley HS (Florida)

  I really like this pick.  Franklin does just about everything well, with great makeup and the ability to stay at short long term. 

43. Cincinnati Reds : Marc Krauss 3B/OF Ohio

I don’t know that much about Krauss, he is one of the college ranks’ best power hitters , that’s about it.  I just love the prospect of the Ohio to Ohio connection here. 

44. Texas Rangers : Everett Williams OF McCallum HS (Texas )

Williams is another toolsy outfielder, with good power potential and speed.  The Astros were at one time considering him in the first, but have since soured on him a little. 

45. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jason Kipnis OF Arizona State

Arizona will take guys from Arizona State, they would love Leake, and Kipnis will sign for slot, an essential for teams with so many early picks.  Kipnis has about average tools across the board. 

46. Minnesota Twins : Sam Dyson RHP South Carolina

Dyson is a draft-eligible sophomore (Drew Storen is too actually), which means he has added leverage and could potentially be tougher to sign as a result.  He has a mid 90s fastball and mid 80s slider. 

47. Milwaukee Brewers: Kentrail Davis OF Tennessee

Davis is also a draft-eligible sophomore, he was supposed to be a first rounder at the start of the season, but was only ok.  Many believe he would benefit greatly from a junior season.  Davis could have a good power/speed combo, but some think he won’t be able to play center in the future, hurting his value. 

48. Los Angeles Angels: Kyle Gibson RHP Missouri

Here’s where I have Gibson.  It’s really just a stab in the dark.  Many think Gibson will still find his way in the first round, but I don’t really want to see a team waste a pick.  The Angels have money, multiple picks and are in need of great value.  When healthy, Gibson throws a low 90s/high 80s fastball with one of the best sliders in the draft and above-average changeup with above-average command. 

49. Pittsburgh Pirates : Tony Sanchez C Boston College

Tony Sanchez is the top college catcher, and is unlikely to fall this far, but he could.  If he does, it would work out greatly for the Pirates, who were considering him for the first round.  Sanchez has some hit ability, some power, average speed, a decent arm and good skills behind the plate.  He’s a prospect you shrug your shoulders at, because, other than his ability to stay behind the plate, no tool really stands out, which is probably why he’s slipped in my mock.  But, those tools in a catcher are very useful.  The Pirates like to take college players, they could use a catcher in their system (who couldn’t) and Sanchez would be the BPA here.  That’s the first sandwich round.

26 More Picks I'm banking on...

51. Seattle Mariners: Kyle Heckathorn RHP Kennesaw State
52. and 83. San Diego Padres: Ryan Jackson SS Miami and Jeff Kobernus 2B California
I'm not distinquishing which I like in the second and which I like in the third, so if either go at either, I'm counting it.  Kobernus reminds me of Matt Antonelli, while Jackson is Adam Everett, great defense, possibly little to no offense. 
54. Baltimore Orioles: Stephen Perez SS Gulliver Prep (Florida)
55. San Francisco Giants: Brody Colvin RHP HS Louisiana
56. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jake Marisneck OF HS California
59. Colorado Rockies: Blake Smith OF California
61. Chicago White Sox: Billy Hamilton OF/SS HS Mississippi
Here's where I'll finally take that toolsy outfielder. 
62. Texas Rangers: Zach Van Rosenberg RHP HS Louisiana
64. Arizona Diamondbacks: Kent Mathes OF Alabama
Mathes should be a hot commodity seeing how he has no leverage, being a senior and all, a team with multiple picks, the D'backs, could use the financial relief they'd get by taking him.  Plus he's got the talent to be a high pick. 
66. Florida Marlins: Dane Williams RHP HS Florida
67. St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk OF HS Texas
68. Toronto Blue Jays: Brooks Raley LHP/OF Texas A&M
69. Houston Astros: David Renfroe SS HS Mississippi
Remember Derek Dietrich!!!
72. New York Mets: Brian Goodwin OF HS North Carolina
73. Milwaukee Brewers: David Holmberg RHP HS Florida
75. Philadelphia Phillies: Todd Glaesman OF HS Texas
76. New York Yankees: Steve Matz RHP HS New York
78. Tampa Bay Rays: LeVon Washington OF HS Florida
85. Baltimore Orioles: Chris Owings SS HS South Carolina
96. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bryan Berglund RHP HS California
98. St. Louis Cardinals: Robbie Shields SS/2B Florida Southern
99. Toronto Blue Jays: Bryan Morgado LHP Tennessee
107. Boston Red Sox: Mike Belfiore RHP Boston College
111. Houston Astros: Jonathan Walsh C HS Texas
At some point. Los Angeles Angels: Trayce Thompson OF HS California

Those 26 picks bring up to a grand total of 75, enjoy the draft.
Posted on: November 21, 2008 1:35 am
Edited on: November 21, 2008 11:54 am
 

Top 15 Prospects: NL Central Wrap Up

Included in the wrap up is the ranking of the top 25 prospects in the division, I also rank the six organization’s top 15 lists, and reveal my first, and second all-prospects team. The “Team Rankings” are based on the top 15 prospect list of each team only; it is not an assessment of the entire minor league system, or the major league club.

NL Central Top 15 Prospects Wrap Up

Top 15 Prospects: NL Central Team Rankings

The percentage is how many points the team scored on my ranking matrix, divided by the total possible number of points (180).

6. Chicago Cubs – 36%

As you can see the Cubs are far behind the other teams. They were not helped by a recent trade that sent Jose Ceda – who I had ranked as their second best prospect – to the Marlins. That being said, the Cubs still have six really good prospects in Vitters, Colvin, Samardzija, Veal, Cashner, and Flaherty. This season could easily improve if Vitters, and Colvin produce in 2009, and Samardzija can prove he can start in the big leagues.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates – 51%

It is really disappointing to see the Pirates’ top 15 prospects ranked so low in the division, since they are always drafting oh, so high. McCutchen is going to be a star, and will graduate to the majors in 2009, and Alvarez is a nice big step in the right direction, I also really like the addition of Jose Tabata, but guys like Neil Walker, and Moskos have been disappointing, and there are not many big names other than those, expect Brad Lincoln – how’s that for a run-on sentence?

4. Houston Astros – 55%

Fourth in the division is a nice improvement since being named the worst farm system by Baseball America last year/six months ago-ish. I really want to make you believe this is not just the Astros – my favorite team if you did not know – bias too. The Astros had one of the best drafts of any team back in June, and many of those players – five – made my top 15 list. Breakthrough years from Drew Sutton, Brian Bogusevic, and Chris Johnson also helped Houston climb the list.

3. Cincinnati Reds – 63%

The top three teams in the NL Central – when it comes to prospects – have really separated themselves from the other three. The Reds have good depth, and a lot of interesting prospects, especially in the infield, with Alonso, Frazier, Valaika, Neftali Soto, and Juan Fransisco all residing in the Reds’ top 10. I still feel as though Homer Bailey can be a front of the rotation starter, but there is a lot of doubt surrounding him.

2. St. Louis Cardinals – 68%

The Cardinals have a ton of depth, with at least seven pitchers in their top 15 list that I believe could become members of a major league rotation. They also have a number of great hitter prospects with Peter Kozma, Byran Anderson, Wallace, and possibly the best prospect in the NL Central, Colby Rasmus.

1. Milwaukee Brewers – 75%

The Brewers are the clear cut winners here. They have talent, depth, and versatility throughout their top 15 list – and it is the top 15 lists that I am ranking these teams on, remember. Mat Gamel is a terrific bat that will excel in the majors no matter where he plays on defense. Salome is one of the best young catchers in the minors, and Jeffress is one of the few prospects with true ace potential, and Brett Lawrie is a versatile prospect with plus power potential. It also helps that the Brewers are likely to receive four high draft picks – possibly all four in the first round of the 2009 draft – as compensation for losing C.C., and Ben Sheets.

Top 25 Prospects of the NL Central

25. Jaime Garcia LHSP StL

Garcia is going to miss all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but has the stuff – with two plus pitches, a sinking fastball, and curveball – to be a middle-front of the rotation pitcher. He is also major league ready when he returns in 2010.

24. Felipe Paulino RHRP/RHSP Hou

Paulino throws his fastball in the high 90s, touching 100, and also throws a plus curveball, but struggles with his command. Houston is still trying to make a starter out of him, but I see Paulino as the second best closer on this list. A trade of Jose Valverde may force Paulino to the back-end of the bullpen this offseason.

23. Drew Sutton 2B Hou

Sutton may only become an above-average utility guy, but he has hit so well, this year in AA and in the AFL, that I think he can be an everyday second basemen. I probably have him too high.

22. Jeff Samardzija RHSP/RHRP Chc

In the same boat as Paulino, Samardzija was a great addition to the Cubs’ bullpen, which is relieving Kerry Wood of his closers’ duty this offseason. He also has excellent stuff. I rank him ahead of Paulino, because I believe he has a better chance of making it as a starter.

21. Todd Frazier 3B/SS Cin

He is not going to play shortstop at the big league level; he is likely to stick at third base. I am not overly high on Frazier, but he finds himself just outside the top 20 because of his likelihood to become an above-average third basemen.

20. Chris Perez RHRP StL

Perez is the best closer in the division, and the Cardinals are likely to go to him in the ninth in 2009. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s with sink, and also a plus slider in the mid-high 90s.

19. Bryan Anderson C StL

He can be an above-average catcher, with a solid batting average, and on base percentage to go with solid defense, but I do not think he will supplant Yadier Molina as the Cardinals catcher, unless they are looking for an extremely affordable option.

18. Chris Valaika SS/2B Cin

Valaika is not a shortstop, he is a second, or third basemen, or a corner outfielder. But, after one of the best offensive years in the minors I feel obligated to put Valaika in the top 20. Valaika does not have as good of tools as everyone else on this list, but plays hard, and produces, you have to like that.

17. Tyler Colvin OF Chc

Once, not to long ago, Colvin was one of the top 50 prospects in baseball. Now, I still think he is one of the top 20 in the NL Central, and on the fringe of the top 100 overall, but if Colvin repeats his 2008 performance in 2009, start considering him a bust. He still has great potential.

16. Jonathan Lucroy C Mil

There are quite a few good catchers in this division. Lucroy does not have the same potential has Salome, but could make things interesting for the Brewers at the position pretty soon.

15. Jose Tabata OF Pit

I still really like him. He can field, hit, and run. So, that once was expected is not there, who cares? He is still a really good prospect, who, despite his young age, could help the Pirates very soon.

14. Jordan Lyles RHSP Hou

Could it be Lyles is only the first prospect on this list from the 2008 draft, four more will follow. Upside gets him here. Lyles was taken in the first sandwich round of the 2008 draft. He only throws his fastball in the 88-92 range right now, but should add some velocity as he grows. I think Lyles can be a number two pitcher in the future, and I cannot say the same for many in this division.

13. Jeremy Jeffress RHSP Mil

The last pitcher in the top 25, Jeffress is the only pitcher with true “ace” potential. He has command, and off the field issues. But, his potential is too high to deny him of much, for now.

12. Angel Salome C Mil

Salome has faced a 50-game suspension in the past for performance enhancers. But, he hit .360 this past season in AA, off the “juice”. A bit below-average defensively, Salome should compete for a major league spot at catcher soon.

11. Alcides Escobar SS Mil

Escobar is a great defender, with good speed, and the ability to hit the ball for a good average. I compared him to Jason Bartlett when doing the Brewers’ top 15, and I am sticking with that assessment, I think he will plays the same way as Bartlett, but Escobar is a little better at every facet of the game.

10. Brian Bogusevic OF Hou

Just added to Houston’s 40-man roster, Bogusevic, a pitcher just a few months ago, could compete with Michael Bourn for the centerfield job in Houston during Spring Training. Bogusevic should be average, at least defensively, with a strong arm. He will also hit for a good average, and doubles power, he possesses a good batter’s eye.

9. Drew Stubbs OF Cin

Great defender in centerfield, with a plus arm, and plus speed. Stubbs has a lot of upside offensively, but he may, or may not reach it. I have him as a better defender than Bogusevic, but Bogey probably edges him out on offense.

8. Jason Castro C Hou

A little high, maybe, but because of my system of ranking it would have been almost impossible for someone ranked first on his team to slip further. Castro was the tenth pick in the 2008 draft. Castro should be an all-star catcher. He prides himself on his defense, although his arm is only average, and has good power potential, with good plate patience.

7. Josh Vitters 3B Chc

Like Colvin Vitters has slipped. But, I still think he can be a complete hitter and above-average defensively.

6. Yonder Alonso 1B Cin

Alsonso is going to have an impact bat, with plus power, hitting ability, and plate patience. Despite being drafted in June, Alonso should play for Cincinnati soon.

5. Brett Wallace 3B/1B StL

Yes, I like him over Alonso. Wallace was drafted seven spots – I believe – after Alonso, but Wallace made it all the way to AA in his first taste of pro baseball, and excelled in his experience. He also has a chance to play third, but realistically not well.

4. Pedro Alvarez 3B Pit

The third 2008 draft pick, and last, Alvarez had the best bat in the draft, with the ability to hit for a high average, and possessing plus power, I also believe Alvarez has the best chance to stay at third base.

3. Mat Gamel 3B/1B Mil

Has a great bat, which is major league ready, and is very athletic. However, Gamel piles up a lot of errors, and may/probably will have to switch positions before becoming a full time player in Milwaukee. He is one of the top prospects in baseball if he can stay at third, or as I suggest make a move to right field, due to his strong arm, and athleticism.

2. Andrew McCutchen OF Pit

McCutchen is terrific defensively, above-average offensively, great speed, all he is lacking is above-average power, but that may come. McCutchen will be the first all-star from this list.

1. Colby Rasmus OF StL

Rasmus should make for an above-average centerfielder defensively, and an all-star offensively. Rasmus is going to be a 25-20/20-25 (HR-SB) guy every year. He is still a year away from starting in St. Louis, though.

NL Central First Team All-Prospects

SP – Jeremy Jeffress
SP – Jordan Lyles
SP – Jeff Samardzija
SP – Homer Bailey RHSP Cin
SP – Jaime Garcia
CL – Chris Perez
C – Angel Salome
1B – Brett Wallace
2B – Chris Valaika
SS - Alcides Escobar
3B – Mat Gamel
OF – Colby Rasmus
OF – Andrew McCutchen
OF – Drew Stubbs
Honorable Mention – Josh Vitters
Other than second base, this team features some of the best position players in the minors. The pitchers on the other hand are very mediocre, as Jeffress is the only ace among them.

NL Central Second Team All-Prospects

SP – Donald Veal LHSP Chc
SP – Darryl Thompson RHSP Cin
SP – Jake Odorizzi RHSP Mil
SP – Brad Lincoln RHSP Pit
SP – Lance (Michael) Lynn RHSP StL
CL – Felipe Paulino
C – Jason Castro

1B – Yonder Alonso
2B – Drew Sutton
SS – Pete Kozma SS StL
3B – Pedro Alvarez

OF – Brian Bogusevic
OF – Jose Tabata
OF – Tyler Colvin
Honorable Mention – Todd Frazier
Once again great position players, except for maybe the middle infield. But, I really had to dig deep to pick out those starting pitchers.

Next Up: the NL West starting with the Diamondbacks
Posted on: October 28, 2008 3:03 pm
 

Top 15 Prospects: Chicago Cubs

Sorry about the short hiatus, I went to see Coldplay on Sunday, and needed to catchup up on other stuff on Monday. Anyways, I continue my 'Top 15 Prospects' series, starting the NL Central today with the Chicago Cubs. As always, please keep in mind I am not perfect, and you will not agree with me all the time - Especially you strong-minded Cubs fans. Feel free to point out any errors I make, or any discrepancies between my list, and your opinions.

Minor League notations in descending order<o:p></o:p>
*AAA/AA signifies triple A, and Double A respectively… duh<o:p></o:p>
*A+ signifies high A ball<o:p></o:p>
*A- signifies low A ball<o:p></o:p>
*A signifies a prospect played at both high, and low A ball throughout the course of the season<o:p></o:p>
*a signifies short-season A ball<o:p></o:p>
*R signifies rookie league
*MLL signifies minor league level last season

Chicago Cubs Top 15 Prospects

1. Josh Vitters 3B Age: 19 MLL: A-

With the graduation of Geovany Soto, and the departure of several other prospects: Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, and Josh Donaldson, I believe the Cubs system is becoming pretty bare. Vitters tops the list despite some big holes in his game right now. Vitters has not shown much power yet – especially since he was praised with 25 HR power when he was drafted - and walks far too little to be effective in the middle of the order. His strikeout rate is acceptable for his age, but does need some improvement. He does however, hit for a good average, and has the tools to become an adequate at third base, although a move to left field is possible.

2. Jose Ceda RHRP Age: 21 MLL: AA/A+

Ceda is a big closer, with a big fastball, which he throws in the mid-to-high 90s. He also throws a plus slider. Ceda has problems with command, and walks a lot of batters. Still, Ceda has plenty of time to work on his mechanics, and should be viewed as a future closer.

3. Tyler Colvin OF Age: 23 MLL: AA

Colvin took a pretty big step back in 2008, hitting just .256BA/.312OBP/.736OPS. He has not improved his plate patience – K:BB rate of 2:1 – and although he has hit with some power – 14 HRs in 2008 – he has yet to show he can hit 20 or more, like was once touted. Colvin has a good arm, and above average speed, but does not have incredible range in center, and may have to move to a corner where his value would diminish significantly.

4. Jeff Samardzija RHSP/RHRP Age: 23 MLL: AAA/AA

Samardzija has played better, and better at each level, topping out in the major leagues this season, as a reliever – although next season he will probably start in AAA to continue working as a starter. He throws four pitches, and right now throws a plus slider, his other two secondary pitches (Split-finger fastball, and changeup) are still behind his slider, and fastball, which he throws in the mid 90s. If he ends up as a starter Samardzija should be a solid #3, or he could be a good reliever at the back end of the bullpen.

5. Andrew Cashner RHRP Age: 22 MLL: A

His last year of college Cashner threw his [plus] fastball up to 98 mph – a huge increase from his 92 mph the year before. He also possesses a possible plus slider, but has problems controlling both it, and his fastball at times. Cashner should become a great late innings reliever, and possibly a future closer if he tightens up his command.

6. Donald Veal LHSP Age: 24 MLL: AA

Another thing I do not like about Cubs prospects is that many of their top prospects took steps back in 2008, Donald Veal among them. Veal’s season was not all bad, but not reassuring for a team lacking starting pitchers in their farm. In 2008 Veal pitched 145 innings to the tune of a 4.52 ERA, and 123 Ks. Veal throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, and also throws a heavy breaking curveball, and average changeup. He has problems with his command. Veal still remains relatively high on my list, because of his mid-top of the rotation potential.

7. Ryan Flaherty SS Age: 22 MLL: A-

Flaherty had a good 2008 season, in about half a season of at-bats. Flaherty hit .297, with a .369 OBP, and .880 OPS. He also hit 8 HRs in 219 at-bats, and stole 4 bases. Flaherty ended up with a K-to-BB ratio of 2:1 – but, you will see, that is actually ahead of the curve for the hitters on this list. Right now Flaherty is the Cubs’ shortstop of the future, but may have to shift to third base, because of his size.

8. Kevin Hart RHRP Age: 26 MLL: AAA/AA

It is at this point where you interrupt me and say, “Hmm, another right handed pitching prospect. I suppose he is a reliever too.” Yes, Hart is yet another reliever, and maybe you can start to see why I am not high on Cubs prospects as a whole, they do not have many projectable starting pitchers. But, back to Hart, Hart came out of nowhere in 2007 – developing a cut-fastball contributed to his success. In 2008 Hart pitched 60 and two thirds innings, striking out 66 batters, and holding opponents to a .188 BA.

9. James Adduci OF Age: 23 MLL: A+

Adduci is the first outperforming OFer to make it into the top ten (Bryan Peterson, Mike Taylor, Leonard Davis, insert name here). He hit .290BA/.380OBP/.745OPS in 2008, while stealing 26 bases. He also has a solid 96:63 K to BB ratio.

10. Wellington Castillo C Age: 21 MLL: AAA/AA/A

Castillo has some hitting skills. He hit for a BA of .287, and OBP of .337, in 2008, while only striking out 74 times. On the flip side, however, Castillo also only walked 18 times - a K:BB ratio of nearly 4-to-1! Castillo best tools are behind the plate, he is well above average defensively, and has a plus arm.

11. Ty Wright OF Age: 23 MLL: A+

Wright was taken in the 7<sup>th</sup> round of the 2007 draft. He has played his way onto this list – much like Adduci. In 2008 Wright hit .300/.370/.781, while hitting 8 homeruns. Wright struck out less than Adduci, 74, but also did not incur has many walks either, 41. Keep an eye on both Wright and Adduci moving forward.

12. Jake Fox 1B Age: 26 MLL: AAA/AA

Could Jake Fox be the future replacement for Derek Lee at first? Ok, so, no. He is 26, and does not play great defense. Fox may never be an everyday player, but he could be one of the best slugging bench players in baseball next year. In 2008 Fox hit a respectable .364 OBP, and hit 31 HRs, his 104 strikeouts will not impress many people, but they also will not hinder him in the major leagues, especially since his playing time will be limited.

13. Tony Thomas 2B Age: 22 MLL: A+

Thomas is another Cubs prospect stepping back in 2008. Thomas hit only .266 in 2008, with a .320 OBP, worse yet, he managed a K:BB ratio of over 3-to-1. Thomas has some power, but not enough to make him a more intriguing prospect; he is also below average defensively. Thomas could end up like Dan Uggla, with less power, or he could amount to nothing if he does not improve on his plate patience, and hitting ability.

14. Jovan Rosa 1B Age: 21 MLL: A-

Rosa hit for an average of .293 in 2008, to go with a .353 OBP, he hit 7 HRs, but also ended up with a K:BB ratio of 3-to-1.

15. Mitch Atkins RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AAA/AA

Atkins has a relatively low ceiling, he could be a fifth starter, but he would not make the Cubs’ rotation, which makes him a solid middle reliever, which every team needs. Atkins put up solid numbers in 2008 winning 17 games, pitching 164 innings, and accumulating a 4.00 ERA. Atkins only struck out 132 batters in that time, but did limit opposing batters to a .248 BA. Atkins’ best pitch is a high 80s-low 90s sinker, and despite this pitch he allowed batters to hit 25 homeruns off of him last season, his secondary pitches are all slightly below average.

Strengths: Relievers, relievers, and relievers. One of the best bullpens in baseball already will only get better Kevin Hart is ready now, and Ceda, and Cashner should not be far behind him. If Samardzija can become a valid starting pitching prospect they will have two top starters in their farm as well. The Cubs also have a pair of high ceiling hitters in Vitters, and Colvin that should continue to improve, and make this list a lot more impressive.

Weaknesses: Overall depth is a big problem. There are also no guaranteed stars on this team (like a Jason Hewyard, or Carlos Carrasco) guys like Vitters, Colvin, and Veal are still mostly projection, rather than execution. The Cubs also only have three legitimate hitting prospects, the aforementioned Vitters, and Colvin, and Ryan Flaherty. After them it is slim picking, especially if Adduci, and Wright fall back off the map.

On Deck: The Reds

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com