Tag:Chicago Cubs
Posted on: April 17, 2012 6:38 pm

Minor happenings

-I'm keeping tabs on the right-field situation in Houston. Brian Bogusevic has gotten off to a less-than inspiring start, while prospect Fernando Martinez is tearing up Triple-A pitching. Remember, F-Mart was a top prospect in the Mets' system for years, but he was plagued by injury. He gets a fresh start with the Astros, and if he is recalled, then he heads to a hitter-friendly park. We might finally see what the scouts have been talking about for years, if Martinez can stay healthy and eventually join the big-league roster.

-Another outfield situation to monitor is on the North Side of Chicago. Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd is off to an awful start in 2012 and Chicago fans will surely be clamoring for prospect Brett Jackson's promotion. However, we shouldn't expect a knee-jerk decision from Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who usually likes to give players a full year at Triple-A. Jackson did appear in 48 games at Triple-A last season, which could speed up his progression to the majors. To be conservative, I'd expect a mid-summer promotion, especially if Byrd keeps sliding and Jackson keeps surging like he has to begin the Triple-A season at Iowa. He has a .393 OBP, .532 slugging percentage and .925 OPS in 11 games.

-I can't wait until Tyler Thornburg becomes a Fantasy relevant player. This kid continues to impress me with everyone outing. His latest effort consisted of 7 1/3 perfect frames. Thornburg has a 2.32 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 178 1/3 minor-league innings. The scouts like Thornburg, but have some concerns, especially about his durability and command because of his unique delivery. Thornburg could end up in the bullpen down the road, which will scare off some long-term keeper owners. But I sure hope Thornburg overcomes those issues because it looks like he has the potential to be a high-end Fantasy option at the current pace he is progressing.

-Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez has piqued my interest with a fast start to his pro career. The 2011 first-round pick owns a 1.64 ERA, .139 opponents' batting average and 18 strikeouts in 11 innings in his first two starts for Class A Greensboro. Fernandez has a fastball that can reach the high-90s. He also has a plus curveball and slider, and he's working on adding a changeup to his arsenal. If Fernandez shows the same dominance he has a few starts into his pro career, then we will be talking about him plenty down the road.

-Another 2011 first-round pick I can't wait to see develop is Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes. The former UConn ace (Go Huskies!) has opened his pro career at Class A Greenville with 10 scoreless innings. He's allowed just three hits in that span, while striking out 16. Most impressively is that no left-handed hitter has gotten a hit off the right-hander and he's struck out 12 of 16 left-handed batters he's faced. If Barnes continues to dominate, then he has the pedigree to move quickly through the minors.

-One guy who probably won't move quickly since he was a high school draftee, but nonetheless impressive, is Diamondbacks' 2011 first-round pick Archie Bradley. The 19-year-old hurler has a 1.12 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in three starts for Class A South Bend. He also has 22 strikeouts in 16 innings. The scouts are already raving about this kid. He seems advanced for his age, but don't be surprised if Arizona handles him with kiddie gloves. They are plenty of quality arms in its rotation right now and plenty of quality prospects further along than Bradley. The Diamondbacks will make sure to build up his strength and stamina, so Bradley is likely a few years away from the majors.
Posted on: April 10, 2012 2:47 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2012 3:20 pm

Omar, not just a tent maker

It's really weird to see Omar Infante as the third-highest scoring Fantasy player behind Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp following his two-homer performance Monday against the Phillies. 

Infante has homered three times in five games, and has more combined home runs than teammates Hanely Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes. 

Logic tells us, though, that Infante won't keep this pace up. Infante has had just one season with 10-plus homers -- 2004 -- and never hit more than four homers in a minor-league season, so the odds of him staying in the home run race are slim.

I do, however, view Infante as an underrated Fantasy option and I wouldn't hesitate to take a flier on him in any format. In fact, in one of my NL-only Fantasy leagues (10-team) this spring, I punted on the second-base position feeling I could grab Infante in the late rounds as my starter. And I did.

Why was I that confident? Because of what Infante did in the second half last season. Infante had a .314 average, .493 slugging percentage and .842 OPS in his final 57 games last year. 

I'm not going to group Infante among the elite Fantasy second basemen, but I think he can pass as a low-end starter in deep mixed leagues if he mirrors the numbers he posted in the second half last season.

Minor Rumblings

-Cubs minor leaguer Anthony Rizzo clubbed two homers fro Triple-A Iowa on Monday. He already has three homers and nine RBI in five games. There's no arguement those numbers are great, but we have seen them before from Rizzo. He's too good for the Pacific Coast League. Now, he just needs to show he's not a Quad-A player -- too good for the minors, not good enough for the majors. One of Rizzo's big weaknesses is hitting left-handed pitchers. He's gone 2 for 5 with one homer and four RBI against lefties thus far, but it appears the Cubs won't be quick to recall Rizzo. General manager Jed Hoyer will probably be a bit more conservative this time with Rizzo after calling him up too early in San Diego. I'm still not buying Rizzo will be in the minors for most of the year. I'm stashing him in an NL-only Fantasy league and I think it's going to be different the next time Rizzo gets promoted. He will be in a more favorable park for left-handed hitters and that should help him gain confidence in the majors.

-I'm disappointed I'm not in any long-term Fantasy keeper leagues. If that were the case, though, I would have drafted Miguel Sano and stashed him for no matter how long. The 18-year-old Twins' farmhand is a star in the making. He's already got great power -- he has a .581 slugging percentage and .947 OPS in 131 minor-league games -- and he's still growing into his body. He's continued to climb the prospect rankings, checking in this year as Baseball America's 18th ranked prospect. The only negative is that Minnesota has shown it will be patient with the rising Dominican star, so we might not see Sano make a Fantasy impact for years to come. He's at low Class A right now.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com