The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #1 Jeff Samardzija
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Prospect #1 Jeff Samardzija
I'm actually in the minority here, but I find it hard to contest Smardz being the top prospect in the organization, if only because he's been to the Majors where he enjoyed undeniable success.
The long-haired rock star-looking pitcher is perhaps the most celebrated 5th round selection ever. I can't remember the last time a team held a press conference for a 5th round pick, but Samardzija got the coverage for two reasons: a) he's really good and b) he only fell that far because he made it pretty damned clear that he'd only play baseball for the Cubs.
In fact, Smardz signed what is essentially a 7-year, 16.5 million contract with the Cubs with a no-trade clause. Maybe that's why they hurried him up through the system despite lukewarm success. In fact, he has a career minor league ERA of 4.26, which some attribute to a lack of focus which he hasn't suffered from since his prolongued cup of coffee at the major league level this past season.
The Shark brings the following to the table:
- Throws a 2-seam fastball, 4-seam fastball, splitter, mixed in with a slider and a changeup.
- Good K-rating at the ML level, but only average control
- Heater goes up to 99mph, changeup falls in at 85ish.
Will he succeed? Will he flop miserably? It's hard to say. But after 27.2 innings in which he had an ERA of 2.28 at the ML level, it seems likely that Smardz will be showcasing his talent in Chicago in 2009. Personally, I'd like to see him start at Iowa until there's room for him to start in Chicago, but just maybe his fate is to be a talented setup man of the Farnsworth mold. Time will tell, but so far, he's been good.
Odds of reaching the Majors = ...well, he's already there
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = The Cubs win the World Series in 2009
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