Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Top Prospects

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The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #10 Drew Rundle

 

#10 Drew Rundle

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Prospect #10 Drew Rundle

Ah, and at long last we get to the big boys!  Rundle is actually a lot like many, many Cubs offensive prospects.  He's very hit and very miss.  He's also only 20 years old.  He was picked by the Cubs in the 14th round of the '06 draft, and while he has a lot of potential, his high placement in the Cubs system just goes to show how weak they are - some teams wouldn't give him a second glance.

In 556 career minor league at bats, Rundle has missed a lot - he's batting .232 with 13 homers, 18 steals, and he's struck out 196 times.  So, why is he rated 10th?

Mostly it's because of two things - at 20, he's going to flesh out more power, and he's also got great plate discipline.  Rundle has drawn 77 career walks, and his OBP is more than 100 points higher than his career average.  All he needs is to close the holes in his swing and he might be surprisingly effective.

Scouting Report

Rundle brings the following to the table:

  • Multi-positional.  Drew plays the outfield and first base.
  • Huge power potential.  Drew is 6'4, but weighs only 180 pounds.  If he can put on 20 or 30 pounds of muscle, watch out.
  • Plus speed.  He's never going to start referring to himself in the first person like Ricky, but he might steal 10 to 20 at the ML level someday.
  • Tremendous patience at the plate.  He's the anti-Cub template in a lot of ways.
  • Minus contact - would find a way to strike out in a tee ball game.

Summary

Hey, this guy could be something impressive.  Then again, I could become the Prime Minister of Canada.  Rundle's failure to hit at Peoria in 67 at bats is concerning, although it's probably too low a sample size to make quick judgments about.

In 2009, he may be a star slugger for the Chiefs, or he might find himself quickly filling out applications to teach gym class back in San Diego.  Let's hope the Cubs have the sense to figure out how to improve his contact skills.

Rating: B
Odds of reaching the Majors =
Adam Dunn hits 50 homeruns in a season
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = Adam Dunn becomes a .290 hitter in a season

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #11 Starlin Castro

 

#11 Starlin Castro

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #11 Starlin Castro

Don't worry.  If Starlin ever reaches the majors, I will have photoshop ready to put him in a green military uniform with a honkingly big cigar sticking out of his mouth, despite the fact that Mr. Castro is Dominican, on account of how I'm a hack.

Speaking of hacking - and great segues - Starlin Castro swings the bat well for a kid 3 years away from being able to legally buy beer.  In 51 games and 196 at bats last year, Castro batted .311, had an OBP of .364, and he even hit 11 doubles, 5 triples, and 3 homeruns.  Additionally, the youngster can play many positions - he played 20 at second base, 21 at shortstop, 5 at third, and he even spent a game in the outfield last year.

Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken feels that Castro will be an All Star someday.  He projects the intriguing* young shortstop as having above average power potential, baserunning abilities, and defense.

(*"intriguing" is a word used a lot by talent analyists.  It means "damn, he's young, he's done nothing to prove that he can do it against more talented players, but I sure as heck like what I saw from him last year!  Woooo doggy!")

Scouting Report

Maybe he`s all of those things.  Here`s what we project:

  • At 6' tall and only 150 pounds, and a an 18-year-old, Castro has room to grow in both directions.  Could be a guy with power and speed
  • Defensively versatile, but will likely wind up at short or send base
  • 14 walks in 196 at bats is not a bad start, but needs to work on discipline a little more

Summary

Wouldn't it be nice if he shocked us all and became an A-Rod type player?  What's more likely is that Castro has the potential to develop into an average batter who hits 15-20 homers, steals 15-20 bases, and gloves the ball with enthusiasm and grace.

Rating: B/B+
Odds of reaching the Majors =
The Cubs acquire the lefty hitter they've been looking to grab.  (AKA too early to tell)
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = When I close my eyes tonight, I fall asleep within 5 minutes.  (Also too early to tell)

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #12 Daniel McDaniel

#12 Daniel McDaniel

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #12 Daniel McDaniel

Man.  You hear about them from time to time, and you always hope that if you meet one you can resist snickering, but Daniel McDaniel may be the first person in real life I've ever heard of whose first name is pretty much the same as his last.  Consequently, McDaniel has got to be one tough SOB, because he was probably bullied over it and he's also apparently Extremely Irish.

He's also at this point a closer, and we all know that guys who close in the minor leagues never, ever get to pitch in the Majors, right?  After all, only starters get real prospect consideration.  And yet, Daniel (snicker) McDaniel is on an awful lot of Top Prospect lists right now.

Here's why: after being selected in this year's draft as the team's 14th round pick, Snickers McDaniel, a wee lad of 20, pitched in the Arizona League and Boise.  In that time, he threw 34.2 innings, while allowing only 14 hits, 18 walks, 1 homer, and he struck out 48.  His rookie WHIP: 1.02.  His career ERA: 1.58.  Steak.  Sauce.

Scouting Report

Eh, so what.  A lot of guys beat up on low minor-league hitting.  Well, here's why McDaniel is successful:

  • Has a plus curve and a good changeup
  • Fastball in the mid 90's
  • Command an issue early into his career
  • No clear indication as to whether or not the Cubs will try starting him next year, or attempt to develop him as one of those rare, successful minor league relievers

Summary

Daniel McDaniel should continue his way up the ladder.  Hopefully he will get to start in Peoria next year.  Regardless, his early promise bodes well, as does his ability to induce lots of ground balls and strikeouts.

Rating: B
Odds of reaching the Majors =
Sirius-XM Radio stock someday worth more than $1 again
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = Through illusion and trickery, Criss Angel someday performs a stunt in which the American budget appears balanced, while in fact the vaults are empty.  In other words, sure, maybe he`d do that, but who the hell knows at this point?

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #13 Jovan Rosa

 

#13 Jovan Rosa

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #13 Jovan Rosa

I have a lot of faith in Rosa.  Selected in the 22nd round of the 2006 draft, Rosa will be 21 next season and should start the year in Daytona and might wind up in Tennessee.  In his first full year in the Cubs system, the guy who plays defensively plus baseball at third and minus baseball at first batted .293 with 7 HR, 81 RBI, 40 walks, and 127 strikeouts in 128 games and 481 at bats.

In other words, he's got the ability to draw more walks than your usual Cubs prospect, although he strikes out too much, and although he only stole 3 bases in 5 tries, his 43 doubles and 4 triples hint at more speed than what we've seen.

Scouting Report

At this point, Rosa looks like he has the following:

  • Moderate power, with room to grow.  At 6'2 and 180 pounds, the righty infielder might fill out a little more and add some strength to his swing.
  • Moderate patience, with room to improve.  For a Cubs hitter, a .353 OBP is never something to sneer at on any level.
  • Decent defense with the ability to play either corner position.

Summary

Rosa put up good numbers at the Midwest League for his age.  Because of his age, there remains an "if" factor, and he will either be in the Top 10 next year or he may drop off the radar entirely.

Chances are, the Cubs will move Rosa to first base at some point on a full-time basis, where he might be groomed to be the heir apparent to Derrek Lee.  At this point, it's a long-shot that he fulfills his potential, but how he hits at AA and beyond will tell us a lot and we may see that as early as this July.

Grade: B
Odds of reaching the Majors = I actually read Obama's autobiography someday.
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = I also actually read McCain's.

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

 

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #14 Donnie Veal

 

#14 Donnie Veal

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #14 Donnie Veal

Veal has incredible stuff and sufferings.  He was the 2nd ranked Cubs prospect by Baseball America in 2007, he dropped to 6th in 2008, and he was left unprotected for the Rule V last week.

And yet, while Veal's stock has plummeted, he is not yet too old or too damaged to turn things around and become a very effective major league starter.  In other words, he's not as likely to reach the pros as was the #15 prospect Mitch Atkins, but if he gets there, it'll be because he's good.

At this point, Veal's best year was 2006 - between Peoria and Daytona, Veal went 11-5 in 28 starts and 154.1 innings of work, while striking out 174, walking 82, and posting an ERA of 2.22.  He followed up with an 8-10 season at AA, an ERA of 4.97 in 130.1 IP, and too many untimely walks to his respectable strikeout totals.

2008 was much of the same - 5-10, 4.58 ERA, 145.1 IP, 81 BB, 123 SO, lots of heartbreak.  Maybe Veal is perfect for the Cubs.

Scouting Report

Positives and negatives:

  • May have Wood-like strikeout stuff
  • Has serious command and mechanical issues which have hampered his development

Summary

2009 will be make-or-break.  Either Veal will put it all together, or he will lose in the eyes of scouts whatever value he had left.  Considering my personal opinion on the quality of the Cubs farm system in general and its coaches and philosophies in particular, I am not at all convinced that Veal will rediscover his pitching shoes.  However, if he is able to put together a string of awesome starts at AA or even AAA, then I would make him my top trading chip at the deadline in July.

Maybe he'll become a competent Major Leaguer, but probably not.  Better to get a return for him while he still has value, rather than watch him ride off into the sunset as another failed minor leaguer.

Rating: B
Odds of reaching the Major Leagues
= Scientists develop an effective Diet Donut, and it tastes great
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = (assuming he makes it ...) Full House reunion featuring all the original cast members

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #15 Mitch Atkins

#15 Mitch Atkins

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #15 Mitch Atkins

Mitch Atkins, who was selected in the 7th round of the 2004 amateur draft, is probably the first Cub on our list prospects list who will almost certainly see time in the Major Leagues before too much longer.  He's been a part of the farm system for parts of 5 seasons now, and he's gone from having mundane performances to divine ones.

In his rookie year in 2004, Atkins pitched in 10 games - he started 8 - and he was demolished.  In 29.2 IP, he allowed 26 earned runs.  A very auspicious start.  But maybe he just had a little bit of growing to do, because within a few years he was posting respectable numbers while continuing his ascention into the higher levels of minor league ball.

His best season is probably 2006, when at the age of 20 he went 13-4 in 25 games started with an ERA of 2.40 and 127 SO's in 138.2 IP.  Although it's hard to ignore his 2008 season, in which between AA and AAA he combined to go 17-7 in 164.1 IP with 132 SO, 50 BB, and an ERA of 4.00.

Scouting Report

Atkins brings the following to the table:

  • A selection including a low 90's fastball, along with a curveball and changeup
  • Better efficiency than control or stuff.  Although a positive regarding his strikeout ability is that it improved from Tennessee to Iowa, and his Triple A average - 7.29 is close to his total minor league average.  This is important to note because many pitchers do well with strikeouts at the lower level, but put up poorer numbers once they reach the upper echelon.
  • Poor defensive skills.  Atkins will not be the next 18-time Gold Glover, should he have a Major League career which lasts that long.

Summary

Some minor league enthusiasts project him as being a top 10 prospect, and it might be fair to say that he's better than 15th overall, but the one thing working against him is that he's likely to be average-at-best.

Assuming he doesn't regress, Atkins will probably see some time in a Cubs uniform in 2009, either as a reliever or late season call-up.  He projects to be a back-end starter at best, but he may be a competent middle reliever should it come to that.

Rating: B
Odds of Reaching the Majors = It snows in Chicago on Christmas
Odds of becoming a successful Major Leaguer = it snows in Chicago in late May

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #16 Jeff Beliveau

#16 Jeff Beliveau

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #16 Jeff Beliveau

The second pitcher on this list is a lefty who models his persona on that of Nuke LaLoosh of Bull Durham fame.  Contrary to what you might assume based on his last name, Jeff Beliveau is not a crazy Cajun who spits both tobacco juice and fire with reckless abandon.  No, he's a lefty who instead fires baseballs with reckless abandon, walking 29 batters in the first 35.1 innings of his career.  But he also has struck out 52, giving him a K9 ratio of 13.33 compared to a BB9 ratio of 7.44.

The Cubs must have seen something special in this guy to draft him, even though they waited until the 18th round to pick him up, because at a glance his numbers don't reflect the kind of success you'd expect for a guy who'd get drafted.  Beliveau threw for 2 different schools in his NCAA pitching career, and he amassed a record of 14-10 with an ERA of 4.18, along with 213 strikeouts and 166 walks in 226.1 innings.

Ultimately, if Beliveau can master his control, he'll be a scary pitcher.  Until that time, he's merely entertaining.

Scouting Report

This guy is a lot of hit and a lot of miss.

  • Ridiculous strikeout ability.  13.33 strikeouts per 9 innings would translate into close to 300 k's over a full major league season.
  • Ridiculously poor control.  7.44 walks per 9 would equal 165 walks over a full major league season.  On the other hand, he gives up fewer hits than innings pitched.

Summary

Basically, I am reminded of Sandy Koufax - not that anybody is comparing Beliveau to him.  Lefties, we are led to believe, can develop more slowly than righties.  That's why it shouldn't be too surprising when a player like Rich Hill suddenly blossoms at 27 or 28, while a player of equal talent who throws with his other hand would've been given up on by then.  Who knows if Beliveau will ever figure out how to master his incredibly good stuff, but if he does he will make the majors and be a dominating pitcher.  There are a lot of ifs in that equation, though.

I will say that this is the first example on our list of a player who has terrible odds of making the show, but tremendous odds of succeeding if he does.  He's ranked this high based on the "if" factor alone.

Rating: C+
Odds of reaching the Majors =
surviving a sky-diving incident in which your parachute does not deploy
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = winning a ton of money in Vegas while on a bender

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #17 Darwin Barney

 

#17 Darwin Barney

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #17 - Darwin Barney

Selected as the 127th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Barney is the first Cubs prospect on our list to have his own Wikipedia entry.  (I'm betting he made it himself.)  He also possesses a name that belongs in a piece of fiction about a mad scientist-type who fights crime from his secret garage, or something.

Barney was considered one of the best amateur baseball players in the state of Oregon before he went off to university - at, you guessed it, Oregon State - and upon being drafted in the 4th round he's gone on to hit the ball well in the minor leagues for Chicago.

In 603 minor league at bats so far, Barney is batting .270 with an OBP of .332.  He's hit 34 doubles, 7 triples, 5 homers, he's driven in 74 and stolen 13.  In other words, he's not been the slightest bit flashy, but if he can play consistently then he just might have a crack at being a Theriot-Eckstein type.  You know, a backup.

Scouting Report

Barney brings the following assets to his game:

  • Plus defense.  He's very good with a glove at shortstop.  It's almost surprising that the Cubs haven't begun splitting his time with second and third if only to make him a little more versatile.
  • Slightly above average speed and patience.  In 123 games in 2008, Barney walked 38 times and struck out 58 times - not exactly Ted Williams territory, but better than many Cub prospects.
  • Good contact.  Even though he doesn't have a head-turning batting average in the minors, Barney is able to put the bat on the ball more often than not.
  • A really cool name.  Everybody knows that having a cool name won't get you into the Hall of Fame, but it sure as hell doesn't hurt.

Rating: C+
Odds of reaching the Majors
= the average Cub fan successfully booking a reservation at the French Laundry.
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level
= about the same as that of a tiny steam engine trying to pull an overweight haul up a steep mountain side.  If he just has enough heart, he just might be able to pull it off!

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #18 Brandon Guyer

#18 Brandon Guyer

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #18 - Brandon Guyer

Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 draft, Guyer is the first Cubs prospect on this list to have a college education.  In 667 career college at bats for the University of Virginia, Guyer batted .331 with 19 homers, 137 RBI, and 45 steals.

He has since spent parts of two seasons playing within the Cubs system to mixed-but-promising results.  In 2007, he had a combined 143 at bats between Arizona and Boise, where he batted .245 with 1 HR, 19 RBI, and 11 steals.  Oh, and more importantly, he walked 11 entire times, putting him near the top of the list of Cub farm hitters.

But what's more impressive is how he played in 2008 for Ryne Sandberg's Peoria Chiefs.  In 327 at bats at A ball, Guyer batted .269 but with 14 homers, 22 steals, and 19 walks.  19 walks translates into just over 30 over 550 at bats, which is just ridiculously crappy, but it's what you have to come to expect with a Cubs farm system that values tools over approach.

Scouting Report

In short, Guyer brings a fair amount of positives to the table.

  • Good power.  For a guy who only hit 1 homerun in his first 143 minor league at bats, Guyer showed drastic improvement as he adjusted to the wood in Year Two.
  • Great speed.  His caught stealing ratio tells me that he's got a few things to learn about stealing bases, but while he has room to improve, his ability to run cannot be denied.
  • Highly intelligent and athletic.  If Guyer can put two and two together, then he might be able to use the right batting approach to get him to the Major League Level.
  • Crappy plate discipline.  Let's not forget this little nugget.  Guyer struck out 63 times in 88 games in '08, and he walked only 19 times.  Just another piece of evidence that the Cubs farm directory needs an enema.

Summary

I could become like a broken record in saying this, but 2009 will be very important for Guyer.  He's likely to get his first taste of AA ball, and he probably won't respond with epic numbers.  However, if he can adjust quickly and fix the holes in his approach, then he just might be wowing us Sam Fuld-style in 2010.

Rating: C+
Odds of reaching the Majors
= Tupac album with new material released within the next few years
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = slightly better than a Ted Williams futuristic resurrection through the scientific extraction of the DNA from his disembowed head.

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

The Top 20 Cubs Prospects - #19 Nelson Perez

 

#19 Nelson Perez

Brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Chicago Cubs (read Kurt's review here)

Prospect #19 - Nelson Perez

Nelson Perez is another Dominican find by Cubs scout Jose Serra*.  And like many, many, many Cubs prospects of yore - Ryan Harvey, Brian Dopirak, Corey Patterson, etc. etc. - Perez has booming, ungodly power and the plate discipline of Jabba the Hutt.  (In the Hutt's case, I'd be talking about dinner plate, in case the joke was a little too obscure for you.  That guy gorges like a prom queen after a breakup.)

In his second year in the Cubs organization, Perez batted .305 in 154 at bats at the Arizona Fall League, but he walked 8 times.  In fact, in 309 minor league at bats, Perez has walked 14 times total while slugging 13 homeruns.  In other words, this guy has bust written all over him.

(*See, it's factual information like that which implies that I somehow know what I'm talking about.  But do I?  Do I really?  Mwa-hahahahahaha...no.)

Scouting Report

I've already hit on the important stuff, but I'll bullet-point it for you.

  • Power of Ye Gods - in 155 at bats in '07, he hit 4 homers as a 19-year-old, in 154 at bats in '08, he more than doubled his output
  • Plus defense in the outfield; extremely moderate experience at first base
  • Has the patience of Dunston
  • Will be 21 next season

Summary

It would be nice to see Perez develop into, I dunno, a Dawson-type hitter who draws just enough walks to get by while dominating all other aspects of the game with his superior mental fortitude and athleticism.  In reality, like all-too-many hitting prospects in the Hendry era, Perez is bound to peter out by the time he gets to Double A.  But, then again, he's young enough to figure things out and turn into a viable prospect.

Rating: C
Odds of reaching the Majors
= Hillary becoming President of the United States someday
Odds of becoming a successful player at the Major League Level = Axl and Slash reuniting and reforming the Guns N' Roses of yore

This article brought to you by The Best Team Ever: A Novel About the 1907 Chicago Cubs.  Buy the book here and save $4

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