A Minor Review of 2013: Cubs

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013? will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Junior Lake, OF: Lake, 23, teased the Cubs with his raw athleticism for six seasons before finally reaching the Majors in 2013. A move from shortstop to the outfield may have helped him focus more at the plate and he showed a little more consistency, although he still has a ways to go to prove he can be a big league regular. With some polish, he could be a very good defensive outfielder.

The Riser: Arismendy Alcantara, SS: Alcantara has turned himself into one of the better middle infield prospects in the minors. He can play second base, third base and shortstop but his best position is probably the keystone. At the plate, he generates surprising pop for his size and hit 55 extra base hits in 2013 while sacrificing contact for power. He could be ready to challenge for the starting second base gig by mid-2014.

The Tumbler: Arodys Vizcaino, RHP: Vizcaino’s powerful arm has kept him near the top of prospects lists since his early days in the Yankees system. However, the litany of never-ending injuries has finally taken a toll on his prospect status. Vizcaino has missed the last two years due to surgeries and the subsequent rehabs. On the plus side, he won’t turn 23 until mid-November and the Cubs are in a rebuilding mode so they can afford to be patient.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Rob Zastryzny, RHP: A Canadian, Zastryzny is understandably raw for a college product but he possesses a strong body and two promising pitches in a low-90s fastball and changeup. The development of the left-hander’s breaking ball will go a long way to determining his eventual role and ceiling.

The Sleeper: Gioskar Amaya, 2B: This Venezuelan infielder caught my attention while playing with short-season Boise last season. His tools (and ceiling) are not as loud as some of the other prospects that he played with at Boise, and later in Low-A Kane County in 2013, but he’s a solid little player. Just 20, Amaya needs to get stronger and he also strikes out too much for a player with modest power.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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Tom
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Tom
2 years 8 months ago

Interestingly, Gioskar Amaya was just converted to catcher.

AJP
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2 years 8 months ago

Any thoughts on Vogelbach?

Keith Olbermann
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Keith Olbermann
2 years 8 months ago

Yes.

Craig
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Craig
2 years 8 months ago

If the NL ever implements a DH, the Cubs will be in a great position. Not only is Vogelbach have great power, he also has a solid approach at the plate, doesn’t strike out much, and takes his walks. His liability lies on the defensive side. He won’t be able to perform at any other position besides 1B, and with gold-glove caliber Rizzo blocking him at 1B and unlikely to move off that position, Vogelbach is going to put the Cubs in a tough position in the near future. Although it’s a good problem to have. Unless the NL uses the DH, I could see Vogelbach being used as trade bait this or next offseason.

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 8 months ago

Or unless Anthony Rizzo starts producing…

BassmanUW
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BassmanUW
2 years 8 months ago

Rizzo’s problems in 2014 were largely BABIP related. Solid walk rate, solid K rate, pretty good power. Vogelbach’s approach and power are intriguing, but it’s not like he dominated A Ball or anything. He was good but not great in 2013.

dave s
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dave s
2 years 8 months ago

Is Brett Jackson officially toast?

Stefan
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Stefan
2 years 8 months ago

I think toast had a higher wOBA this year than Jackson

IanStew23
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IanStew23
2 years 8 months ago

Frank Wren currently trying to make a deal and give him an Uggla type contract. Can’t put a price tag on unlimited walk’s and k’s with the occasional homer.

Brett W
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Brett W
2 years 8 months ago

2013 Draft Pick: Kris Bryant? That guy looks pretty good.

Spike
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Spike
2 years 8 months ago

ya think?

Guerrilla
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Guerrilla
2 years 8 months ago

No mention of Javier Baez?

Common Sense
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Common Sense
2 years 8 months ago

he was not a riser or a tumbler and definitely not a sleeper or 2013 draft pick, so…no, of course not.

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
2 years 8 months ago

Wondering where the Cubs are on Vitters, Szczur, and Logan Watkins.

Brett W
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Brett W
2 years 8 months ago

Just my opinion, but I’m thinking Watkins starts 2014 as the Cubs’ utility infielder but gives way to Arismendy Alcantara (who surplants Darwin Barney) by the All-Star Break. Best case scenario for Watkins is that he sticks with the Cubs all year but he probably doesn’t start regularly unless Castro/Barney/Alcantara/Baez gets hurt. Vitters is probably out of chances with the Cubs. Best case scenario is that he opens the season as the team’s right-handed PH/3B/1B/LF guy, but more than likely, he’s off the 40-man before spring training. Szczur probably opens 2014 as an everyday player in Iowa. His 40-man spot is probably safe for one more winter.

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
2 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the insight. Wouldn’t you have to think that Castro becomes available this winter even tho they’d be selling low in order to make room for Baez? Even if they hold Baez back a month or 2, having Castro there is going to create problems unless they plan to have Baez begin at 3B until Bryant is ready, which won’t be long after that.

Can Vitters move to 2B? I’d have to think the bat profiles much better there.

BassmanUW
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BassmanUW
2 years 8 months ago

No, Castro will not be sold this year. First, the Cubs aren’t going to rush Baez. There is honestly a chance Baez might not even see the Majors in 2014 if the Cubs are wholly non-competitive again (a small chance, but it exists). Second, I don’t think the Cubs are sold on idea being able to hold down shortstop at this point.

Castro would be much more likely to be sold after 2014 if he has a resurgent to 2011-2012 numbers type of year, but not showing progress beyond that, and the Cubs think Baez can play shortstop.

Vitters can barely play 3B, much less 2B. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brett W is right on Vitters, either he’s DFA’d, traded in a garbage for garbage move, or in a right handed can play all the corners role. I’m curious to see what the Cubs will do with Olt as well. It probably depends on if his eye issues continue to cause him trouble, but on Opening Day I still think Luis Valbuena is the Cubs’ best 3B, at least against RHPs.

BassmanUW
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BassmanUW
2 years 8 months ago

Just to be clear, I don’t think the chance of the Cubs being wholly non-competitive is small. That’s a significant chance. I think the chance of that meaning the Cubs won’t call up Baez at all is small.

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
2 years 8 months ago

hmmm, I think the chances of Cubs not making large moves this winter is also small. I expect them to strike for Ellsbury. They’re also one of just a few teams that can package several prospects and come away with a big fish (no pun intended). iow, I fully expect the Cubs to begin to take their shot moving up in the division.

Brett W
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Brett W
2 years 8 months ago

Bassman is right, I should have probably listed 1B and LF as options for Vitters before 3B, where he should only play in an emergency. 2B is absolutely not going to happen.

Also, if the Cubs do make just one big move, minds as insightful and varied as Carrie Muskat, Nick Cafardo, and Jeff Sullivan all seem to think it’ll be Shin-Soo Choo, not Ellsbury.

Finally, no chance Castro gets traded this winter. His job is safe for AT LEAST 1 year, probably more like 2. He won’t be seriously threatened unless and until all of Baez, Bryant, and either Alcantara or Olt is heathy and producing in the majors.

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
2 years 8 months ago

with all these teams supposedly passing on Ellsbury, where does he end up?

and so why are the Cubs going to opt for Choo rather than JE?

Old School is the New School
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Old School is the New School
2 years 8 months ago

Still waiting for you to list any insightful minds Brett W …

Dirck
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Dirck
2 years 8 months ago

With Almora ,Soler ,and possibly Bryant and Baez all not too far away from the Wrigley outfield ,it seems like a waste of resources to commit the amount of money for the amount of years that Ellsbury or Choo will want . That money would be better spent on pitching if there is any available .

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
2 years 8 months ago

I thought Theo and Ellsbury were likethis.

subtle
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subtle
2 years 8 months ago

Just to point out, you listed Rob Zastryzny as “RHP” in his section.

Not Subtle
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Not Subtle
2 years 8 months ago

Right Handed Pitcher

Jay
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Jay
2 years 8 months ago

I think he knew that…his point was more that he’s left-handed.

Unless of course you realized that too, and were adding some meta-level joke of which I’m unaware.

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