Minor League Roundtable Part 2: Breakouts and Busts

Part 2 of our Roundtable series discussing all sorts of things relevant to the Cubs Minor League system. Let's get into it, shall we?


Myles: Who do you guys think could breakout next year? I think there's a slam-dunk answer to breakout candidates, but I have a few I'd like to talk about. The one I'm most confident about is Shawon Dunston, Jr. He's been great when he hasn't been injured, and he's got plate discipline, with enough power to make pitchers worry. He's also a great defender in the outfield. He was well thought-of before injuries derailed him, and I think he'll take a step forward next year. 

I also think that when Stephen Bruno comes back next year, he's got a chance to enter the prospect conversation. He had a nice season in 2012 but unfortunately lost essentially all of 2013. He probably isn't more than a supersub, but it's hard to deny a guy that crushed A- to the tune of 172 wRC+ in his first professional year, and was on the way to do the same at A+ until his injury. 

My last guy is Paul Blackburn, who has a shot to be the best Cubs pitching prospect at the end of 2014 in my mind. He's still got to fill out, but I don't think he'll have a problem with it (unlike CJ Edwards). When he does fill out, he'll have a nice sinking fastball with good plane and good location. That's a pitch that you can build a MLB career around. Huge walk rates don't faze me in the minors unless it's really obvious something is going wrong.

Dmick: Funny, Shawon Dunston, Jr. was the guy I was going with. He had a great walk rate this year, but it was in a level he should be hitting quite well in. His ISO was disturbingly low, but I think we'll see that improve if he can stay healthy. Honestly though, this is a category that's so hard to pick and the easier topic to discuss is what prospects are likely to fall next season. I can go with any possible breakout. Trey Masek comes to mind. I know I've been low on Jeimer Candelario, but he's another guy who could take a few steps next year.  

sitrick: I said so in my review, but I still believe in Gioskar Amaya. I think there was so much crap working against him this season, it was in hindsight a bit premature to be predicting huge things from him in Kane County. He's still got a quick bat, and reports on the defense are positive. I think he has a "putting it together" sort of season and ends 2014 with the Smokies. I think Yasiel Balaguert could find some helium in '14 too.

Dmick: I think Yasiel Balaguert is going to struggle just because I can't ever imagine having to write that name without thinking what the next letter should be.  /dumbshit who hasn't taken Spanish since high school.

Myles: I like Jeimer, and not just because he follow me on twitter. 

Dmick: Possible breakdowns? CJ Edwards and Kyle Hendricks, I think, are the obvious ones.

Myles: I think Kyle Hendricks is due for some regression, just like Nick Struck was (though hopefully not to that level). Sahadev Sharma says scouts don't think his slider plays in the majors, which he'd need to keep MLB talent off the hittable fastball. I can see that, but I also think Hendricks is an intelligent pitcher who at the very least keeps the ball in the park. 

sitrick: Dillon Maples could wash out pretty quick if he doesn't find some success in full-season ball soon. I wouldn't be shocked to see Alcantara take a step back next season. This was a big year for him and he did wear down near the end of it. I think I need to see another year out of Edwards before I make any judgements. I wouldn't be surprised if he imploded, and I wouldn't be surprised if he took a step forward and jumped into the national top 25. I think we'll know more when he gets to a level where we can see pitch counts and really judge if his low innings are because of an innings limit/lack of efficiency or if he's just not capable of putting a 6+ inning start together.

Myles: Maples is probably the hardest prospect to pin down in the organization. He could be a Top 10 guy in the org next year, or be in Indy ball. I'm still an Edwards believer. I know that Parks thinks there's no way he adds weight to his frame, but he also liked his delivery and repeatable motion. When it's said and done, I think Edwards ends up as a very, very nice fireman/closer, which is a nice thing to have. And there's that 1-in-20 chance he adds 15 pounds of good weight, in which case he could be a #2 or #3 (probably #3 type). There's also the 1-in-3 chance his body just says "I can't handle this" and he gets Arodys Vizcaino disease. I'd REALLY like to see him start in person. 

Dmick: As I mentioned, the innings limit doesn't make sense to me. He only pitched 47 innings in 2012 and 126.1 this year, but he also pitched in extended spring training in 2012. The innings limit doesn't make sense to me. 
sitrick: I have a gut feeling Edwards isn't the most efficient guy in the world, and that more than anything is where his lack of innings comes from. But I want to see the pitch counts and know for sure before I judge.
Oh, here's a bold prediction for you: I think if Josh Vitters stays healthy next year he gets a second look in the majors as a left fielder and surprises some folks. Not a superstar or a Role-6 or anything, but I still think he peaks as an acceptable Role-5 guy if health doesn't continue to be an issue. Call me crazy, but I'm buying in.
Dmick: Ok, I'll do it. You're crazy. (dying laughing) In all seriousness, I can see Vitters get a second look, but I can't see it turning out well. Maybe as a back-up. I don't know. 
Myles: No, I like Vitters! I'm worried that he'll never stay healthy again after 2013, but he's STILL going to be just 24 next year. He has as good a chance as any to get some PT in left next year. If he ends up a left-side bench player, I wouldn't be at all surprised.



Who is more likely to breakout for the Cubs next year: Josh Vitters or Brian Bogusevic? Is this even a question?
Dmick: Is there a third option or do I have to pick Vitters or Bogusevic? I'll go with the third option. 
sitrick: The swing is so fucking good with VItters, and he's never been successful right off the bat at any full-season level. I just believe he'll look better the second time around in the majors. Not rational, I know.

Myles: "Not rational" is becoming a running theme here.

sitrick: (dying laughing) I know it's mostly coming from me. I'm an optimist, sue me.