TD's Top Prospects- #23 Pitcher

Posted by Lionel on March 6, 2009.

Esmailin Caridad

Rank: #23 Pitcher (TD), #22 Prospect (BA)

Age: 25

Position(s): SP, RP

Team(s): Daytona, Tennessee

'08 Key Composite Stats: 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 152 innings pitched

Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent (December 2007)

Breakdown: Of all the Cubs top prospects, Caridad took the most interesting route. Prior to '08, he had spent 6 years playing baseball in the low levels of Japanese professional baseball, but made it up to the Hiroshima Carp for 2 appearances in '07. So, 2008 was his first year stateside and in the Cubs organization. He started for all but 1 appearance, but then pitched 10 games in relief in the Arizona Fall League. He split his time evenly between Daytona and Tennessee, but saw much better results in Tennessee. His ERA dropped from 4.41 to 3.16. Of TD's top 25 prospects, Caridad has the highest ERA. His 1.11 WHIP is impressive, as is his 152 innings pitched. The only negatives I see are age and HR's allowed. He is reportedly 25, although there seems to be a little discrepancy, with some reporting he's only 22 or 23. But and give him a birthday of 10/28/83, so we'll stick with him being 25. Granted, he may be able to move up quickly, but it's hard to credit a 25 year old with amazing stats when he's facing Advanced A Ball batters. As for his HR's, he was spectacular at Daytona (3 HR's in 69 innings pitched), but then it jumped to 15 HR's in 82 innings pitched at Tennessee, giving him an overall rating over 1.07 HR's per 9 innings pitched.

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Cubs in the WBC, Day 1

Posted by Lionel on March 5, 2009.

The World Baseball Classic is officially underway, with a Japan-China matchup being the only game today. If you didn't wake up at 4:30 ET to watch it live, here's the recap. Fukudome started in centerfield and batted seventh. Seventh? The Japanese manager must've watched a lot of Cubs games last year. Anyways, Fukudome batted seventh and didn't have an official AB. Why? 4 walks in 4 at bats. I guess Fukudome's eye for the strike zone is fine. None of the walks were intentional, but it would seem that they were pitching around him. But, would you pitch around Fukudome to face Mariner's catcher Kenji Johjima? I guess the fact that Johjima went 0-3 and left 4 on base proved China's plan was correct. Fukudome did score once and after his walk in the 8th inning, he was lifted for a pinch runner.

But since were talking WBC, let's take a quick look at the Cubs who were warming up in exhibitions yesterday, since almost every other country was playing an MLB team.

Team Canada faced the Phils. Corey Koskie started at the 3 sack, batted second, and went 0 for 1 with a walk before being lifted. His Canuck teammate Vince Perkins started for team Canada. He faced 11 batters, walked 2 and gave up 2 hits. He was lifted with 1 out in the third. He gave up 3 runs, but managed to strike out 3. He was tagged with the loss.

Team Italy faced the Marlins. Alex Maestri came in in relief for the Italians and pitched the 5th and 6th innings. He walked 2, but one was erased on a double play. He didn't give up a hit or a run and struck out one. He was credited with the W.

The U.S. faced off against the Blue Jays. Ted Lilly took the bump to start the game. He threw 4 innings, gave up 1 run on 2 hits and struck out 2. Sounds like a solid game for Theodore, with the usual mixture of regulars and backups/minor leaguers in the lineup for the Jays.

Puerto Rico played the (Devil) Rays. Geo Soto got the start at catcher, but struggled at the plate. He went 0 for 3, including 2 K's, before being replaced by Yadier Molina. He left 2 on base. He did get to catch Giants pitcher Johnathan Sanchez, so maybe that will provide some benefit down the road.
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TD's Top Prospects- #24 Batter

Posted by Lionel on March 4, 2009.

Doug Deeds

Rank: #24 Batter (TD)

Age: 27

Position(s): RF

Team(s): Tennessee

'08 Key Composite Stats: .325 BA, .904 OPS, 73 runs, 37 doubles, 12 HR's, 8/9 stolen bases

Acquired: Traded from the Minnesota Twins for Craig Monroe

Breakdown: It's hard to call a 27 year old a prospect, but his numbers were too impressive to leave off the list. It was a bit of a head-scratcher when he was the Cubs return in the Craig Monroe trade, not that Monroe warranted a big-time prospect, but rather that the Cubs were getting a then 26 year old minor leaguer. Deeds .325 batting average was fifth best in the organization and fourth in the Southern League. The Southern League All Star had 214 total bases and averaged better than half a base per AB. His 89% success rate in stealing bags was third best in the organization among players who stole more than 5. For those who love sabermetrics, Deeds had a 84.94 runs created rating, third best in the organization (for more on runs created, click here (and yes, it's Wikipedia, but it's the formulas that are important). While age played the biggest role in Deeds ranking being so low, Deeds ranking was demoted slightly by his 100 strike outs, which was roughly 24% of his AB's.

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Go Rich Hill?

Posted by Lionel on March 3, 2009.

Normally, when a former Cubs top-prospect-turned-bust moves on (which seems to happen a lot), I hope he sucks with his new team (usually the Orioles) as much as he did with the Cubs. I imagine most Cubs fans agree with that logic. But the Rich Hill situation is different. Ok, not that different, because he's with O's, but different because his performance still effects the Cubs. As I'm sure most people remember, Hill was traded for the famous PTBNL (player to be named later). The PTBNL is still TBD and is based on Hill's performance this year. So, as a Cubs fan, would you rather see Hill continue his path down the Corey Patterson road or come back strong, giving the Cubs a better return on the trade?

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TD's Top Prospects- #24 Pitcher

Posted by Lionel on March 2, 2009.

Hung-Wen Chen

Rank: #24 Pitcher (TD), Unranked Prospect (BA)

Age: 22

Position(s): SP, RP

Team(s): Peoria, Daytona

'08 Key Composite Stats: 4-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 0.20 WIP, 29 appearances (22 starts)

Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent April '07
Breakdown: Chen started the year in Peoria before a mid-season promotion to Daytona in his first full season in the Cubs system (he pitched only 5 innings in 2007). His post-promotion ERA jumped up half a point, but he shaved 20 points off his batting average against. The most impressive stat for Chen is the number of walks he yielded in 2008, giving up just 25 in 128 innings pitched. The only concern you can find in right hander's repertoire is the number of HR's allowed (12 in 128 innings), but that isn't too surprising for a pitcher who goes after hitters.

For more on Chen, check out Team Taipei in the WBC.

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TD's Top Prospects- #25 Batter

Posted by Lionel on March 1, 2009.

Starlin Castro

Rank: #25 Batter (TD), #7 Prospect (BA), N/A Prospect (BP)

Age: 18

Position(s): SS

Team(s): AZL Cubs

'08 Key Composite Stats: .311 BA, 5 triples, 6 SB's, 12 errors in 51 games

Acquired: Signed as Free Agent in 2006

Breakdown: According to scouts, Castro brings an interesting sets of skills to the table. He's only 18 years old, has a good eye, the frame to hit for average power, above average speed, and is good defensively. But the stats don't exactly bear that out. His 5 triples rank him 9th in the organization, but 2 AZL teammates have more, showing that Fitch Park is a big park, perfect for triples. He does seem to have a good eye, K'ing in less than 17% of his AB's. As well, he has shown some speed, but has barely above a 50% stolen base success rate. As for his defense, his 12 errors in 51 games would be 36 over the course of a full season. Granted, the numbers he's putting up at age 18 are impressive, but the rookie league is a hitter league.

Where Castro goes this year will be interesting. He was splitting time at SS with another touted SS prospect Junior Lake and has 1st round supplemental pick Ryan Flaherty about the same level in the organization.

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