Journeymen of Tomorrow: Daytona (A+) and Kane County (A-) Rosters

It was reported the other day that Javier Baez would begin the 2013 season down at Low A in Kane County. However, the rosters announced yesterday have him, and Jorge Soler, in Daytona. Below is the roster for the Daytona Cubs.

daytona-cubs-logoPitchers

  • RHP Yeiper Castillo: The 24 year old signed out of Venezuela never played above High A with the Red Sox and that's where he'll start 2013.
  • RHP Zach Cates: the 23 year old returns to Daytona. He was acquired along with Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner and struggled in his first season in the Cubs organization.
  • LHP Frank Del Valle: 23 year old Cuban also has yet to pitch above High A.
  • RHP Eduardo Figueroa: like the others so far, Figueroa is quite old for the level (24) and has yet to pitch above High A.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon: 40th round pick in 2011, turned 24 in January. He's been good so far, but his age makes it difficult to know whether or not that's real.
  • LHP Austin Kirk: He was highly thought of before the 2009 draft and the Cubs took him in the 3rd round. He'll turn 23 in May and I'd hoped he would return to Tennessee where he finished last year. So far, the pitchers are just too old for their level so we'll have to keep that in mind.
  • RHP Luis Liria: He has a pretty high walk rate for pitching in Low A and lower before this year and he's also 23 years old.
  • LHP Sheldon McDonald: He throws strikes, doesn't walk too many batters and had a great year in relief for Peoria last year. He was taken in the 33rd round of the 2011 Draft and is already 24.
  • RHP Starlin Peralta: Finally an age appropriate pitcher on the roster. Peralta is 22 so he's a little up there in age for the level, but not too old. He was awful with Peoria in 2011 and returned there for much of the season last year. He was a lot better. He'll never be a top of the rotation starter or anything, but could develop into a back of the rotation guy.
  • RHP Austin Reed: the move to the bullpen helped him out last year. He's now 21. He won't make you think he's the next Roger Clemens, but he could be useful in the bullpen down the road.
  • RHP Ryan Searle: turns 24 in June and this will be his 3rd year in Daytona. Did make 8 appearances at AA and 2 at AAA last year. I had higher hopes for him a couple years ago, but it's unlikely the Cubs get much value from him at this point.
  • RHP Yao-Lin Wang: He just turned 22 and pitched most of the season out of the bullpen at Peoria last year. Very good strikeout rate so far in his career and a pretty good walk rate too.
  • RHP Ben Wells: He's only 20 and the only legit pitching prospect on this roster. There are a few others who could develop and eventually provide value, but Wells is the one to watch. He turned 20 in September and although he's pitched 2 seasons in the organization, he doesn't have many innings. He's already had an elbow injury too. He gets a tremendous amount of ground balls and has really good control. He sits in the 89-94 range. He'll give up a lot of hits because he keeps the ball on the ground, but has legitimate front of the rotation potential. I don't think he has ace potential, but probably more like a number 2 if things break right and he stays healthy. Wells probably should have been a pitcher Uncle Dave and I included in our ratings. Without thinking too much about it, I'd probably give Wells a 7F.

There are 5 pitchers on the roster who are already 24 years old. Generally speaking, we tend to think of the appropriate age for prospects at this level to be about 21, maybe 22. There's another 4 who are either 23 or pitching in what we consider their age 23 season. We're not really going to learn a whole lot about any of these guys at this level. Good performance is better than bad, but it won't mean much.

That leaves Peralta, Reed, Wang and Wells who are more age appropriate.

Catchers

  • Taylor Davis (R): the 23 year old returns to Daytona after hitting just .223/.315/.312. He did hit well in limited action in 2011 (46 PA) and in early 2012 while at Peoria (76 PA). Pretty good walk rate, but that's about it.
  • Micah Gibbs (R): drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft, Gibbs is now 24 years old. He'll turn 25 at the end of July. He's a career .221/.330/.294 hitter. Even for a catcher that's bad. For someone as old as he is, that's really bad.
  • Chad Noble (R): drafted in the 37th round of the 2010 draft and he's an even worse hitter than Gibbs. Career .206/.263/.261 hitter. He's also 25 years old.

That's bad. The best hope here is that Taylor Davis is more like he was in the small samples prior to Daytona. The other two will probably be out of baseball before too long.

Infielders

  • Javier Baez (R): what can be said here that hasn't been said already? About the only new info I have is that in the consensus top 100 prospects that Beyond the Box Score published yesterday, Baez ranked 18th. Very much needs to improve his plate discipline this year.
  • Stephen Bruno (R): he turned 22 last November and was picked in the 7th round of last year's draft. It's not often that you call someone a utility player in the minor leagues, but that's exactly what Bruno did in his professional debut. He played 6 positions. He mostly played 2nd, 3rd and SS, but got some time at all outfield spots. Bruno even moved behind the plate last fall and it apparently went pretty well. I'm not sure what the Cubs plan is with him, but he can hit and play everywhere. It would be really nice if he could slide in behind home, especially on this team, but why would they need 3 catchers if that was the plan? He takes plenty of walks, but also strikes out a lot. Great season last year.
  • Ben Carhart (R): 35th round pick in 2012, Carhart turned 23 in January. He hit really well in the Arizona League, but was really old for the level. We'll know a lot more about his potential this season. Hopefully he can play well enough early on to get promoted to a more age appropriate level.
  • Zeke DeVoss (S): the 2nd baseman was picked in the 3rd round in 2011. He's 22 and won't exactly be hitting a ton of home runs. He's slugged less than .375 in his career, but the guy can take a walk. To give you an idea, his batting average at Peoria last year was only .249, but his OBP was an impressive .382. Career OBP of .398. He did hit 6 home runs last year so he finally showed some pop in his bat. If that can continue to develop a little more, he becomes a very good prospect.
  • Dustin Geiger (R): Geiger is only 21, but what concerns me the most is that he's already been splitting time between 3rd and 1st. He's primarily played 3rd, but to be successful at 1st, you've got to hit and I'm not sure Geiger has the bat. He's a career .254/.302/.424 hitter, but it's less than 750 PA. Let's hope he can stick at 3rd base.
  • Tim Saunders (R): he was picked in the 32nd round of the 2012 draft and quickly moved up the system. He spent time in rookie league, Peoria and even Daytona. He played 27 games at SS and 16 at 3rd last year. He hit the cover off the ball too. He batted .381/.431/.536. He turns 23 in a month.

This is an intriguing infield. There is obviously Baez who has a ton of potential and some other guys who could develop and become pretty good.

Outfielders

  • John Andreoli (R): the 17th round pick in 2011 turns 23 in early June. He's played all 3 outfield positions since being drafted, but primarily in LF. He's one of those hitters who has an OBP higher than his SLG. The power will have to improve for him to become a regular.
  • Taiwan Easterling (R): he was drafted in the 27th round in 2011 and is already 24 year old. I've read there's potential there, but the numbers don't match. He's hit .270/.322/.383 so far. He does play CF so that's a good thing, but being old for your level and hitting like that is probably not a good sign.
  • Jorge Soler (R): Can't say too much more that hasn't been said here either. In that consensus top 100, Soler ranked 35th.

I don't think this outfield is as good as a lot of people do. I don't see much of a future out of Andreoli or Easterling. Both need to develop quite a bit and at their age, it's better to bet on them finding higher levels more and more difficult to succeed.

The Cubs low A affiliate moved from Peoria to Kane County so I have to get used to that. Forgive me if I refer to them as Peoria here or in the future. It will take some time.

kane-county-cougarsPitchers

  • RHP Justin Amlung: He was drafted in the 12th round last year and turns 23 in May. He only pitched 18 innings last year, but did show good control and only an OK strikeout rate.
  • LHP Jeff Antigua: It's kind of funny. I remember Ryno and I being very excited about this guy back in 2007, not long after they signed him. He's always had really good control and a pretty good strikeout rate. It's hard for me to believe he's still only 22 (turns 23 in July). He appeared in 20 games for AA Tennessee last year and wasn't too bad so I'm a bit surprised to see him all the way back here.
  • RHP Jose Arias: he's 22 and has shown the ability to throw strikes and strike batters out. It will be nice to see what he can do at a higher level, but 22 is pretty old for Low A.
  • RHP Lendy Castillo: He broke camp with the Chicago Cubs last year as a rule 5 pick and, well, phantom injuries and whatever else you can think of led him back to the minor leagues. Now he's way back in Low A.
  • RHP Ian Dickson: 22 year old with decent walk rate, rather low strikeout rate.
  • LHP Nathan Dorris: 22 year old posted an impressive 1.88 ERA in his professional debut over 24 innings, but high walk rate and far from a great strikeout rate make that look a different. Not to mention his age.
  • LHP Michael Heesch: 8th round pick from last year walked only 1 batter in 25.2 innings out of the bullpen. He struckout 22 so that's a pretty good 22 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. He turns 23 in May. Interesting numbers from a year ago, but was a little too old for short-season league. Still too old for low A. Still, it's worth watching at this point just to see if he really does have excellent control. Not that I think it will be that low, but maybe it's still really low.
  • RHP Pierce Johnson: drafted in the 1st round, 43rd overall, last year by the Cubs. He's the first legitimate pitching prospect we've gotten to on this roster. Dave and I rated him a 6D prospect. I'll just copy/paste what we said the other day. Forearm troubles his junior year at Missouri State kept him out of the first round of the draft. The Cubs selected him with their first pick of the 2nd day. Showcases a good curveball and is fairly polished after three years at the University of Missouri. Ceiling isn't quite as high as some others on this list but I'd expect him to move up relatively quickly (could be in the high minors next year if all breaks right). He sits 90-92 and reaches 96. He only has 11 professional innings, but has good command and can strike some batters out. ETA is much sooner than the previous two pitchers (Dillon Maples & Duane Underwood).
  • RHP Eddie Orozco: 22nd round pick in 2012, Orozco was impressive in 28.2 relief innings. However, he turns 24 in a week. So those numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. College pitcher in a short-season league should dominate.
  • RHP Felix Pena: Pena turned 23 a month ago and will return to Low A where he briefly pitched at the end of the 2012 season.
  • RHP Stephen Perakslis: 22 year old picked in the 21st round in 2012. He threw 26.1 innings a year ago, but all of those except an inning were in the Arizona League. It's very difficult to get an idea what a reliever that age at that level is capable of. We'll know more this year. Then again, that's true for all prospects.
  • RHP Tayler Scott: he doesn't turn 21 until June. He was picked out of high school in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. He threw 71 innings last season for Boise and wasn't too impressive once you look past his low ERA. His K% was only 14.1% and he walked 9.5% of the batters he faced. One of the few pitchers at this level that's age appropriate, but I wouldn't get too excited.
  • LHP Brian Smith: 40th round pick taken in 2010. He's still just 20 years old and has shown the ability to strike out a lot of batters, but also hasn't shown great control yet.

There's Pierece Johnson and a few other interesting pitchers, but like Daytona, there's a lot of guys who are old for their levels.

Catchers

  • Yaniel Cabezas (R): 24 year old catcher in Low A.
  • Willson Contreras (R): The soon to be 21 year old was signed out of Venezuela. If you ignore all but his 74 PA at DSL Cubs 2, he's a decent hitter.
  • Chadd Krist (R): Picked in the 9th round last year, Krist turned 23 in January. Hit .254/.323/.447 in 171 plate appearances at Low A last year. He might be a touch old for the level, but that's not at all bad production from a catcher. Needs to move to Daytona quickly.

Krist might have a future, but the other guys just aren't very good.

Infielders

  • Gioskar Amaya (R): Dave and I rated him 8F and had this to say. Could wind up as an 8.5 with another year under his belt by dint of playing a middle infield position. He's shifted from SS to 2nd, plays above average defense, but without outlier tools it's tough to consider him a sure-fire bet to hit the bigs at his age.
  • David Bote (R): 18th round pick from last year turns 20 in a few days. He hit .232/.349/.360 over 150 plate appearances in short-season A (Boise). He played in 36 games and played 2nd (16), SS (11) and 3B (9). He didn't show much power, but did have a very good eye at the plate.
  • Jeimer Candelario (S): Dave and I rated him 6D. Does not seem like he has all-star upside (for the sake of comparison, he has 6 HR in 310 PA at A-, and Vogelbach hit 10 in 168). Candelario just finished his age 18 season and he played the entire season from July until the end in Boise. He has age on his side, but right now the numbers just don't support someone who is going to be able to hit like a traditional 3rd baseman.
  • Marco Hernandez (L): Dave and I rated 6.5E. Has shown flashes of gap power but has a long way to develop. Apparent ability to stick at SS makes him a legit top-list prospect until he completely stops hitting. His BABIP has been high in the low minors and at A ball he was exposed for his free swinging ways. His strikeout rate went through the roof and only had an OK walk rate.
  • Rock Shoulders (S): He's only 21 and he's shown he can be selective at the plate, but he's primarily played 1st base, which means he's going to have hit. A lot. And he hasn't. He's a career .242/.331/.433 hitter in nealry 250 plate appearances (mostly at Boise). He's also struckout in nearly 30% of his plate appearances. That's higher than Brett Jackson at the same level by quite a bit.
  • Dan Vogelbach (L): Dave and I rated him 8.5E. I'm giving him a better letter grade than Soler due to his approach and his outlier power. Vogelbach's power potential is off the charts and he's shown great plate discipline too. It's tough to give a guy who hasn't gotten past Boise that good of a letter, but at the same time, it's tough for me to envision that Vogelbach has a floor lower than Brad Nelson, who I think is a pretty solid 3.5 now that the dust has settled.

A lot of big names for the organization. A lot of potential, especially with Vogelbach and Amaya. Shoulders will presumably play some 1st to spell Vogelbach, but I would guess he'd get a lot of playing time in the outfield too.

Outfielders

  • Pin-Chieh Chen (L): The CF doesn't turn 21 until July. He's not going to hit a ton (career .277/.356/.362 hitter in over 1000 PA), but if he can stick in CF, that could be good enough to reach the big leagues. He's also played some in the corners.
  • Trey Martin (R): drafted in the 13th round in 2011. He's only 20 and has primarily played CF. He's also been a decent, but not great hitter. Like Chen, he'll have to stick in CF and since they're both on the roster, they can't play it at the same time.
  • Bijan Rademacher (L): The 13th round pick from last year enters his age 22 season as a career .278/.320/.396 hitter over 203 plate appearances. He's played 44 games (22 LF, 22 RF, 2 CF). As a corner outfielder, he'll have to hit a lot more than he has.
  • Oliver Zapata (S): He turned 20 last September and I think there are really only a few numbers worth mentioning: 5-9, 180. Even more so than Chen and Martin, Zapata will have to stick in CF and even then he's going to have to improve at the plate. He's pretty small, has shown the ability to steal bases (54) while also getting thrown out (30). Another player whose slugging (.328) is lower than his OBP (.330).

Kane County has a rather light hitting outfield that opposing teams will probably enjoy pitching to.

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