4/13/14- The week started off with news of Javier Baez going on the DL for a sprained ankle. Obviously not good news, but since it’s not serious it appears to perhaps be a blessing in disguise to slow down Baez a bit and have him do some reflecting as he was off to a slow start. Here’s a story from The Des Moines Register that might suggest as much.
Alberto Cabrera is pitching well after losing his spot on the 40 man, and it appears this is his do or die moment if he wants to remain part of the Cubs future. So far he’s pitched 6.1 innings with 8 K’s in 9 innnings, and a 1.00 ERA. He could be a welcome power arm in the big clubs bullpen soon. Zac Rosscup who was recalled for the Cubs split doubleheader as their 26th man in New York last week is having a good year so far. His ERA s higher than one would like (4.26), but he is missing bats with 9 at 6.1 innings pitched. Rosscup is a lefty who has some nasty stuff, and should be a valuable future bullpen piece in the big clubs near future.
Neil Ramirez is another kid that has the stuff to add to a future bullpen most team do not want to face, but has been extremely inconsistent. Part of his issues has been with the long ball 2 in only 7 innings. He is missing bats with 11 in 7 innings though, so perhaps it’s just an early season blip on the radar. Arismendy Alcantara is off to a so so start and is striking out more and walking less so far. With a sub .300 OBP it’s an area the organization needs to right soon.
Josh Vitters has been a pleasant surprise so far and may actually get a call up to perhaps replace the floundering Ryan Kalish. with a slash line of .368/.480/.848 he may be getting a look here very soon. Christian Villanueva is off to a slow start. with an OPS under .700 the Cubs would love to see that pick up very soon.
Marcus Hatley who was originally selected in the 39th round as an outfielder for the Cubs is pitching like he wants to be a part of the Cubs future bullpen. A power arm who throws mid 90’s with a curve and developing spliter. He’s off to a good start with 14 K’s in 8 innings, a 1.13 ERA and an excellent 0.43 GO/AO percentage. Someone who may get a look with some of the struggling relievers on the MLB club.
International free agent Tsyuoshi Wada has been dealing for the Iowa Cubs thus far. Hitters are batting only .135 against him with an impressive GA/AO of 0.95. He also has 23 K’s in 21.1 innings thus far. He could challenge for the back end of the rotation, but likely more as a valuable swing arm in the middle of the bullpen.
Utility infielder Chris Valaika is quickly making a name for himself with a torrid start to the season. hitting .318 and slashing at an eye popping .432/.477/.900. Could be a trade piece or even a replacement for a traded infielder in the future. Fellow utility infielder Logan Watkins is also off to a nice start hitting .281 and a slash line of .395/.406/.801. Cubs certainly have a good situation of depth in the middle infield organizationally.
Kyle Hendricks has had a so so start to his season thus far. His ERA is 4.82 but his very good FIP of 2.60, and respectable WHIP 1.13 suggest he’s pitched a bit better than that. Hendricks also has averaged over a K a game with 19 in 18.2 innings of work. He’s still the top candidate to get called up should someone get injured or traded in the Cubs current rotation as he appears ready for the show.
Matt Szczur is off to an abysmal start as he seems to be having a hard time adjusting to the level of competition early on. He needs to improve on a sub .300 OBP to take advantage of his speed as he doesn’t figure to be a run producer, so he needs to contribute by setting up the run producers. Also it’s very sad to see the decent of once promising prospect Brett Jackson as he can’t seem to make contact. 17 K’s in 33 AB’s and it appears as though he’s on his way out of the organization.