There are several prospects getting a lot of publicity this spring training at the Cubs camp. One prospect raising eyebrows is Arodys Vizcaino. After two years of injuries, Vizcaino is now on the cusp of joining the major league roster once the games begin in Arizona. Vizcaino, however, is not coming out of nowhere. He has been at the top of the Cubs’ prospect list since he was acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade. Not every prospect in camp is on the top of the list. There are several prospects who could sneak their way onto the list here in the next two years once the current top prospects make it to Wrigley. Many of these players are not going to fill up a stat sheet, but they can be essential parts on a winning team. They do a lot of the little things to help you win.
Dallas Beeler – Dallas Beeler spent the better part of the past three years struggling to stay healthy. Last year, when healthy, Beeler put together a good half of a year at Tennessee and then followed that up with an outstanding jaunt through the Arizona Fall League. This year is critical to his development as he likely starts the year at Iowa. Facing competition within the organization and at the plate, if Beeler can get to 140 innings this year, he could be capable of making it to Wrigley in 2015. Beeler is no finished product. He does not have any overpowering pitch, nor does he get a lot of strikeouts. Using control, Beeler is able to coax ground ball after ground ball.
Dillon Maples – Let’s make no mistake about this: Dillon Maples did not have a good 2013. He struggled mightily at Kane County with an ERA of over 8 in 7 starts there. When he went back to Boise, he went 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA. At only 21, Maples is still extremely young. With a fastball that has a little giddyup to 95 at times, Maples simplified his approach and arsenal at Boise. When he returns to Geneva to pitch for Kane County, Maples may stick with that 2 pitch arsenal and slowly work in a third.
Carlos Pimentel – Pimental was an afterthought this winter when the Cubs picked him up on waivers from the Rangers. Then, Pimental went out and dominated the Dominican League this winter. All of a sudden, Cub bloggers are scrambling to find out information about him. He is tall at 6’3” and has an array of pitches and he has had troubles with control. He has continually had an ERA around 4.00 ih his career with the Rangers. When he was 20, the Rangers considered him one of their top prospects. Now at 24, Pimental’s release may have spurred him to get his ship right and throw strikes. Sometimes, a new home can be the best motivator.
Dustin Geiger – For the past two years, Dustin Geiger has done well at low A Peoria and high A Daytona hitting 17 home runs each year. He just hits. He is not going to light up any prospect list because he doesn’t physically profile that way. What he is, is a grinder. At 21, Geiger hit .281 with a .365 OBP. This was up dramatically from the .251 average he hit at Peoria in 2012. Another great sign was that he hit 28 doubles in 2013, up from 14 the year before. Gap power is an underestimated stat. However, Geiger’s OPS in 2013 was at .824. I think this year at Tennessee, the right handed hitting first baseman/DH will continue to improve his approach especially since he will be splitting those duties with Dan Vogelbach, another great hitter, and one who I think is undervalued.
Cael Brockmeyer – at 6’5” Brockmeyer is a big catcher. In a system that has no real big catching prospect, Brockmeyer’s turn at Kane County could be important to the organization. While some like Wilson Contreras’s bat, I, for one, am interested to see what he can do in a full season. What I am most interested in seeing is his bat. Brockmeyer has the reputation of a good defender, but I would like to see that large frame hit some home runs or at least display some gap to gap power.
John Andreoli – for the last two years, John Andreoli has flown under the radar despite having two great seasons at the plate in Daytona and Tennessee. What Andreoli does not do is hit home runs. What he does do is get on base in bunches, steal bases and score runs. After getting caught stealing 20 times in 2012, Andreoli cut that to five in 2013 while hitting over .300 on the year. He does the little things to help clubs win. In an organization desperate to get men on base, he does it. This year, he will likely start out at Tennessee.
Bijan Rademacher – When I saw Bijan Rademacher play for Kane County, I was impressed. He has a nice fluid stroke, great hands, and nice positioning in the outfield. He got off to a great start at Kane County and earned a promotion by hitting over .300 playing alongside the more hyped Albert Almora. At Daytona, Rademacher hit .279 and should start out the season there again. I like his approach at the plate and it should play well as he moves up the system
Jorge Soler – Wait a minute? How can one of the Cubs top prospects be on the list? Here’s how. Jorge Soler had a nightmare of a season in 2013. There was the bat wielding incident, lackadaisical play, and injuries. Because of all of these, Soler slid down the prospect rankings for the Cubs. In many cases, Soler is now the number 5 or 6 player in the Cubs system. I think he will rebound this year. In fact, I think he will just terrorize the ball. When I saw him in 2012 with low A Peoria, he took a sharp slider and just destroyed it. This was not a pitch someone hung and the ball sat and spun like it was on a tee. Rather, it was a good pitch going down in the zone. Soler turned on the ball and pulverized over the trees in left field. I don’t know if he can supplant any of the prospects who passed him on the list this year, but if Soler can stay healthy, he can just be a monster for the Cubs.
What I would love to see happen this year is to be surprised by someone not on this list or even a draftee from this summer. I think with all the arms beginning to flood the system, there might be an arm or two that could charge up the list. I would like to see someone like Jacob Rodgers come charging. I think the Arizona Rookie League Team from last year did not have anyone that stood out at the plate. That could all change by the middle of summer when those prospects make it to Boise.