Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Annual Top 50 Prospect Listing:

#50 Tony Richie-Still bothered by shoulder problems was able to hit .314/.373/.389 at Boise, should be heading to Wes Tenn if not hit w/injuries, still projects as a weak hitting starting C or an above avg. backup. I suspect he'll end up at Lansing.

#49 Carlos Vasquez-Just quietly going thru the system with an avg. FB and slider, any chance of him making it to the majors will depend on his ability to improve from medicore numbers at Daytona. Probably end up in the West Tenn pen.

#48 Micah Hoffpauir-Micah did improve over his 2003' numbers and showed an increase in power despite hitting in the Southern League. He was a product of being overshadowed by fellow 1B, Dopirak, Collins, and Sing. He will be at Iowa next year.

#47 Chris Shaver-4th round in 2004, featured an upper 80s to low 90s FB and solid slider from the LH side, started at Boise and put up ok numbers, will likely be a starter at Peoria, but projects out of the pen.

#46 Alberto Garcia-Continues to hit, continues to search for a position on the field and how to draw BBs. Will go to Daytona and likely play 3B, 1B, and OF possibly in the same week.

#45 Sean Gallager-Another 04' draftee, that pitched well at Mesa, displaying a 92MPH FB and the best curve in the 04 draft. Has the build to progress nicely, he will need to develop a change, if his FB has reached its peak velocity. Likely to begin at Boise, possibility to start at Lansing, but very doubtful.

#44 Eric Eckenstahler-PTBNL in the Felix Sanchez deal, pitched decent after the trade after he regressed w/Toledo. 28yo., with limited ML experience and hasn't improved his control isn't positive, but hard to pass up a LH with a 92FB and solid breaking pitch. Will probably maintain the same role he has for the last 3 years as a AAA LOOGY.

#43 Luis Montanez-I'm a sucker for punishment, 10 years from I might still be including him for nostalgia purposes. He showed what he could have done if he had not been rushed after his MVP season in the AZL. Shifted to OF, actually he is not than the college seniors that liter the Northwest League.

#42 Carmen Pignatiello-My greatest fears for him came true, the progression from going from High-A to AA was too much for him. The ability to get by with deception of a change, decent breaking pitch and a mid 80's FB wore off. Will either be held back at West Tenn. or go to Iowa as a LOOGY.

#41 Mitch Atkins-maybe a reach here, but the 04' draftee (7th round) has a nice ceiling with him as he has a nice build, good 88-92 FB, and the makings of a plus breaking pitch and change. Will be better off with plenty of off-season work at Fitch and a season at Boise.


The Drought is Over!

Well, for this Blog it is. The recent dealings have sparked my motivation again to write.

Much has been said about the trade, on paper the Cubs have traded a aging superstar still possible of hitting in the .850s-900s OPS level/.290-.310 EqA for a utility infielder and two prospects who rank in the 15-30 range in the Cubs system and the possibility of a 3rd. I can't forget the 10+ mil heading to Balt. for charity reasons.

Despite that, I am not upset as the Cubs made their bed and had to pay the consequences of stooping to the level of a PR war with no possible winner.

Mike Fontenot is a 2B who has a decent stick, below par defensively, can draw BBs, needs to increase contact as he progresses, I would rank him lower than Richard Lewis at this stage. The other prospect that is known is RHP Dave Crouthers who is a RH who will shifted to the pen for 06' as his struggles, mostly from confidence problems will likely make him glossy bullpen guy. I would rank Leicester ahead of him at this stage within the Cubs system as far as current pitchers within the system w/similar roles.

As far as justification of the trade, new prospects in roles within the organization that are already filled will likely be a transfer pass to another club.

The players I am interested in are very common names Aubrey Huff, still in his prime, will be expensive, and would fit nicely to give a LH bat w/power. He would be able to replace the void from Alou's productive 04' campaign, his ZiPS projection .890 would rank the highest on the team for 05'.

Brad Wilkerson, who might be the choice among the Cubs brass, given his inability to hit for avg., but manages to create havoc for opposing pitchers and can hit at the top of the order despite plus power.

Austin Kearns, my sleeper among the group as Gary Hughes and Kearns have a past in Cincy and the current surplus of OF'ers might make a possible trade target. I hope his recent injuries have decreased his trade value as I predict a breakout season for him similar to his rookie campaign, ZiPS tends to go along with my belief system predicting a .285/.388./473 line in 347 ABs.

Getting Huff becomes a must at this stage, to include someone like Kearns to compliment Huff, would likely improve the Cubs OF (both offensively and defensively last year) and relying on Nomar trying to reduce the reduction in offense over last year becomes less of a burden on him.

It would drain a good portion of the pitching prospects near the ML level, I would expect several of Mitre, Guzman, Brownlie, Wellemeyer, Nolasco, Brownlie, and Leicester and potential positional prospects to get a combo of Huff and Kearns, but the short-term/long-term benefits outweigh the long-term benefits of having a pitching surplus 1-2 years from now.

I'm also a proponent of trying to get Dotel from Oakland, but like a domino, one needs to fall 1st and that would be getting Huff from TB.

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