The Cards of Spring Training – Ready to Make More New Ones This Week

By Todd Johnson

This has been a very enjoyable off-season when it comes to making cards. Somewhere around Christmas, I started making more modern templates for the cards rather than going with the classic 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Thanks to some much-needed time off in December, I updated my template library to include the ability to make cards from the 90s to 00s to the 10s.

There are a few cards made from pictures from last season, but most of the cards in today’s list are from the last six weeks of spring training. There’s no real theme to this month but there are several cards that would make any regular season card of the month list.

Honorable Mention
  

Rick Carlson captured a prospect unicorn in Fernando Kelli in spring training. I really like the picture but Kelli does have a weird finish to that swing. The second honorable mention comes from the Eugene Emeralds with a close-up of Miguel Amaya in a 1999 template. I also really liked this rare picture of Thomas Hatch in an away uniform. It was taken by Jen Nevius, a photographer who does work on the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Carolina League.

10-8.
  

Coming in at number 10 is Yu Darvish in a card template I like to call the “John Arguello Special,” or a 1975 card, which was John’s favorite year of card. At number nine, Rikk Carlson found another unicorn for me in Mesa in 2017 draft pick Luis Vasquez. I love the light and how the blue reflects light while the crowd is somewhat muted in the background. Justin Hancock debuts in a 2007 card with a shot from Dylan Heuer and the Iowa Cubs. I’m a sucker for any picture of a pitcher with the ball flying towards the plate.

7-5.
  

The Chicago Tribune’s picture of Javier Baez is great because of how the background fills the card. It’s rare to find a picture where the background fits the certain structure of certain words and labels on the card. It really does make the card without you noticing it. The Trib returns again at number six with an up close and personal look at Duane Underwood. What I like most about this picture and card are the many shades of blue in the uniform, frame, and background. And at number five, the Eugene Emeralds appear again with the classic shot of one of my favorite arms to watch, Bailey Clark. I really like the shadows mixing with the sunlight and the ball hurling towards the plate.

4-2.
 

Starting on Monday last week, I bet I rearranged the top four cards five to six times. Coming in at number four is the newest man on Cubs 25 man roster, Victor Caratini. While he is decked out in blue, I like how the white and the red pop off the picture. For the number three card, he was number one at least twice during the week but I still love this picture of Wilson Contreras in the dugout. And at number two, the newly trimmed Kyle Schwarber is about as good an action picture of a player that you can get. Rikk Carlson captured the shot and I put it in a 2007 frame. And not surprisingly, it is one of my favorite cards of the spring.

#1.

He seems to be the cover boy of Cubs Central baseball cards. I just love everything about this picture from Daryl Sullivan of Blount County’s The Daily Times. I love how Trevor’s white jersey and red hat contrast to the kids beside him and perfectly captures his personality. Had I seen this picture last summer, it probably would’ve been the number one card of the year…easily

Now that spring training is over, I’m excited to start making cards. I am 900% sure that Rikk Carlson will be there taking pictures of the prospects in their new uniforms in South Bend and Larry Kave in Myrtle Beach. One of my favorite things about any new season is just seeing familiar players in new uniforms.

Make sure and bookmark our Facebook photo album page to keep up with the latest in cards. And come every Sunday, “The Weekly” will always have a card of the week.

I will be back tomorrow morning with my MiLB Preseason First Half All-Star Team.

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Spring Training Notes: Caratini, MiLB Action, Eugene Diversifies, and Rotations Are Still Unclear

By Todd Johnson

25 Man Roster
In a surprise move, Victor Caratini made the Cubs 25 man roster. As a result, Caratini’s inclusion for opening day allows the Cubs the ability to snag up someone else who could get cut in the next couple of days. The 40 man roster stands at 38 with Gimenez going to Iowa.

Much More Action This Week…
Minor League Spring training is at that point where every team is pretty close to playing with the roster that they are going to hope in the season with. However, it saddens me a little bit this year to not have reports about what’s going on from John Arguello. It always seemed like John and Arizona Phil split up the duties of reporting what was going on out in Mesa. This year, Phil is doing what he can and that’s mostly home games for any of the affiliates. Once extended spring training starts, Phil will not be torn between where to go or who to cover. Back to the action…

The big hitting star of the week was none other than Kevonte Mitchell who hit a grand slam. Other players who had good weeks included Vladimir Galindo, Fernando Kelly, PJ Higgins, Austin Filiere, Jhonny Bethencourt (whose bat I really like), Bijan Rademacher,  Luis Hidalgo, and Christopher Morel. On the pitching side, it looks like Jose Paulino might be back to 2016 Jose and Oscar de la Cruz, even though he will start at Myrtle Beach, seems to be unhittable in every outing. Erich Uelmen, Manuel Rodriguez, Jesus Camargo, and Keegan Thompson all were outstanding this week.

The affiliate previews are slowly being built on my end. Iowa and Tennessee are, for the most part, done. Myrtle Beach and South Bend should be finished sometime after breakfast this morning. I am still waiting for the starting pitching rotations to gel and be assigned. Arizona Phil described the dilemmas in this comment the other day on The Cub Reporter.

IOWA: Tseng, Mills, Farrell, Zastryzny, and Underwood have the inside track right now, with Roth and/or Camarena (and perhaps eventually Bass) in the mix as piggy-backers or swing-men. Hedges, Pugliese, and Markey have been used only as relievers so far. Webster, Hultzen, and R. Williams are in the Rehab Throwing Program and almost certainly will be left behind at EXST.

TENNESSEE: Alzolay, Clifton, Hatch, and Robinson virtual locks, with Rucker, Kellogg, and/or K. Miller competing for the 5th slot (the other two could be piggy-backers/swing-men). Morrison, Bloomquist, and Perakslis have been used only as relievers so far but could possibly be piggybackers/swing-man (but not rotation starters).

MYRTLE BEACH: de la Cruz and Paulino are virtual locks, with Hudson, Moreno, Lange, Thomas, Thompson, T. Miller, and/or Swarmer competing for the other three slots and probably two piggy-back/swing-men slots. A couple could get moved-down to South Bend by the end of Minor League Camp. Leal and M. Rondon are in the Rehab Throwing Program and will almost certainly be left behind at EXST.

SOUTH BEND: Albertos, Little, Uelmen, Abbott, Assad, Camargo, and/or B. Clark are competing for five slots, with the additional possibility that a couple of the Myrtle Beach SP candidates could move down to South Bend by the end of Minor League Camp.

That’s a lot of starters competing within the organization for pitching time. That’s a good problem to have. It should all be sorted out by next weekend as my affiliate previews are scheduled to begin rolling out on April 2.

In sad news, pitcher David Garner was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a drug of abuse. He was scheduled to be at Iowa this year.

Eugene’s Rebranding
In one of the coolest things I’ve seen this offseason, the Eugene Emeralds announced that they are taking part in Major League Baseball’s diversity program, “Copadela Diversion.” As a result, every Tuesday home game during the short season team’s schedule (June 19th, July 3rd, July 17th, July 24th, August 14th), the Emeralds will be known as the Monarcas de Eugene. I really like that hat as it has a lot of little bit of history embedded in the logo. The Ems/Monarcas enlisted some former players to break in the new hats.

Coming Up Next Week
Justin Montgomery gets profiled tomorrow on Draft Prep Monday, Bryce Montes de Oca get his day in the sun on Tuesday, and I also will talk about a wave of Latin Cubs coming stateside later this week. On Saturday, the “Baseball Cards of Spring” get some love.

Baseball Card of the Week

Photo by Rikk Carlson


Spring Break This Week
For the first time in a couple of years, I don’t have a lot planned for spring break. It is going to be nice to focus mostly on baseball, touching up my affiliate previews, doing a few things in the yard, basement, and garage while adding a few more resources for my unit on the Vikings for my world history classes.

Opening Week Post Schedule
April 1 – Preseason All-Star Team
April 2 – Iowa Preview
April 3 – Tennessee Preview
April 4 – Myrtle Beach Preview
April 5 – South Bend Preview
April 6 – Recap of Opening Night
April 8 – The Weekly Returns with the first Players of the Week

 

A Decision About “Bullpen Men” Is Coming Soon

By Todd Johnson

Yesterday, I talked about the dilemma for the backup catcher spot. Today, it’s all about the bullpen. Or, as Joe Maddon now refers to them, bullpen men. The Cubs are likely to take eight of them east to Miami. Seven of those have been pretty set in stone since the beginning of camp in Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards, Jr., Pedro Strop, Brian Duensing, Mike Montgomery, and Justin Wilson.

With just five days left until opening day, the Cubs have kept two spots open on their 40 man roster. One is likely for catcher Chris Jimenez and the other might be for one of the players they could be taking for the bullpen.

Lefty pitcher Randy Rosario has some MLB experience and is on 40 man, but I don’t think he wowed anybody this spring. As a result, he was sent down yesterday to trim the roster to 34. But pitchers Anthony Bass, Kyle Ryan, and Justin Hancock are still alive and all put together good springs.

Former starter Eddie Butler more than likely looks to have one spot locked up as he is out of options. Another spot could be open as Pedro Strop is not quite ready to return and could begin the year on the DL.

Just yesterday, reliever Justin Hancock pitched two scoreless innings to close out a game, even though it was against mostly minor league players. When spring training began, I didn’t think that Hancock stood much of a chance of making it through spring training, let alone this long. His ability to throw mid to upper 90s heat and to locate that heat made him an extremely viable candidate to make the team. According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Joe Maddon said the following about Hancock’s arsenal: “He’s got a lightning bolt for an arm” and “He’s got A-lister stuff.” A pitcher is not going to get a much better rec than that. Hancock would need to be added to the 40 man if he did.

When Theo talked about adding strike throwers, he wasn’t kidding. Anthony Bass fit that bill this spring along with Kyle Ryan. Ryan did not have a good 2017. However, he was pretty good before that in Detroit. Being a lefty gives Ryan a distinct advantage over the other two. The 6’5” 26-year-old is an intriguing option who put up a 3.07 ERA in 56 games in 2016. But will Joe Maddon want to go with four left-handers in the bullpen?

Ryan pitched just 8 innings so far while Bass only got in 5.2. Those totals don’t seem enough to judge an extra reliever/bullpen man.

Part of me also wonders how much the Cubs will be looking at the waiver wire here the next few days to see if there’s a player with substantial talent that gets cut right before the season starts.

Another part of me says the Cubs are going to go with the more experienced player. In that case Ryan has the most experience and has actually had some success at the major-league level. On the other hand, Bass had the best spring, but is the oldest player at 30. As for Hancock, I think he has the most talent. And to be honest, talent usually wins out.

In the end, though, the bullpen on March 24 is not going to matter that much in the big scheme of things. I look more towards how the bullpen develops over the course of the summer and the names that are going to be there in October.

At some point, Dillon Maples will enter the discussion later this year along with my guy, Dakota Mekkes. A lot can happen between now and August 31, the day playoff rosters are due. The Cubs have a lot of time to sort things out for October. For now, though, they will have to make a decision just about who begins the season on the 25-man roster.

The Backup Catcher Debate: Just a Week Left – For Now

By Todd Johnson

Every off-season, I rank every position in the Cubs system. This year was no different. Six years ago, catching was a major weakness in the system and now is one of the strongest positions in the organization. This goes for both major and minor league levels. With an All-Star and possible MVP candidate in Willson Contreras, the Cubs are trying find a backup for Contreras for the upcoming season. This spring training has seen prospect Victor Caratini battle with journeyman catcher Chris Gimenez for that spot for this season. With a week to go, there is still uncertainty about who is going to make the club.

When I start to think about who would be best for the spot, my mind starts to wander in a variety of ways. There’s the concept of what is best for the team versus what is best for the individual. Going in that direction, you have to think about whether playing once a rotation would be best for Victor Caratini and his development, or would he need to play two or three times a week. I think Gimenez might actually be more suited to that type of arrangement where he only has to play once every five days.

Then again, come the playoffs, do you want Gimenez exposed in a key situation/game or would you rather have Victor’s bat? This is an important way to look at the position for later in the year. In fact, this dilemma might not be solved until then. Who knows, maybe all three will be on the playoff roster. .

One could look at Victor as a high-value prospect to include in a trade. That he is. But what if something happens (God forbid) to Wilson or Gimenez this year. What does that leave you with. I don’t think Joe Maddon wants to pencil in journeymen every day. Joe’s going to want Victor to play as much as Wilson did. I like the idea of having Caratini around as an insurance plan. However,  when you have that kind of bat with improving defensive skills, someone is going to want to acquire those talents in one player. The Cubs can probably hold them off for another year, but it’s not doing Victor any good just to use him as insurance in the prime of his career.

The Cubs do have some prospects in the minor leagues that might be better suited to be back up catchers in the long run. The problem is they are not ready yet. PJ Higgins will be at Tennessee this summer. He is very good defensively but he is still working to improve his offensive side of the game. Will Remillard might be the best hitting catcher but he missed 2 and 1/2 years after two Tommy John surgeries. He looked great on a rehab assignment in Eugene last fall and has been outstanding catching runners this spring according to the box scores by Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter. Remillard should be at Myrtle Beach this spring.

In the end, the catcher that everybody’s going to be looking at in two-three years is going to be Miguel Amaya. He’s got a rifle for an arm and a potential power bat. Then again, Amaya’s not destined to be a backup either.

It should be interesting to see what the Cubs do here in the next week for the near future and how they deal with this issue this summer. My guess would be Victor goes down to Iowa, for the time being, until his talents are needed.

In the end, it’s a good problem to have. You know your team is doing well when you spend 626 words discussing the backup catcher and the implications for it years down the road.

Spring Training Notes: MiLB Teams Get Some Action In and Rosters Begin to Take Shape

By Todd Johnson

Getting Some Action In
While the major league players have just 10 days left in camp, the Cubs minor-league prospects are just now getting in the swing of it after 10 days as there season does not begin until April 5. Games started being played this week out in Mesa and the surrounding areas like Scottsdale in Yuma. Two key highlights of the week were four perfect innings from Jen-Ho Tseng and three scoreless from Jose Paulino. In addition, both Zack Short and Wladimir Galindo each cranked out home runs. And according to Arizona Phil, the source for all the Cubs minor-league news this spring, outfielder Eddy Martinez is off to a really strong start.

In the major league camp, the Cubs cut the roster down to 37. One of those cuts was World Series champion Justin Grimm. The writing has been on the wall for a little bit since he actually wound up going to arbitration against the Cubs. As a result, Grimm’s contract was not guaranteed this year. I don’t think the Cubs are going to try and re-sign him to a lesser deal. On Thursday this week, I wrote about who could possibly be the last reliever standing. Grimm’s cut narrows it down to Eddie Butler and what looks to be dark horses in Anthony Bass and Justin Hancock. Not quite sure how that is going to play out over the next 10 days but there are only 3 non roster invitees left in Bass, Kyle Ryan, and the hard throwing Hancock, who pitched at Tennessee and Iowa last year.

Roster Fluidity
With just 37 players left on the major league roster, minor league rosters are starting to take shape. They are far from final, though. For example, Iowa currently has 37 players on its roster along with four players on rehab. Let’s say that 7 out of the 10 nine roster invitees get signed to minor-league deals for 2018, that puts the roster at 44. Close to 15 of those players are going to have to either be moved down to Tennessee or cut. That will start a chain reaction to adjust the rosters for opening day of the minor league season. However, that’s not going to happen for another two weeks. I imagine rosters will be released on April 1 or 2 for most of the minor-league clubs.

A New Toy
My wife and I broke down and used some of our income tax refund to buy a new camera. We got a Canon EOS T6 with 3 additional lenses to zoom in. She wants to use it for the birds in the backyard and I want it for baseball…imagine that! I cannot wait to take some pics with it next month.

On a Personal Note…
My busy season at school officially ended on Thursday night when my academic team won the conference tournament!!! It was a pretty sweet victory and I have a mostly young team that loses just two seniors, but my leading scorer this year was a sophomore. I also had three underclassmen in the starting lineup every night. It was fun to watch them grow by leaps and bounds.

As a result, I have all kinds of free time now. I began flushing out the affiliate previews a little bit more this week and I also had time to write two articles. One was for Cubs Insider on the recent minor-league pace of play changes and the other was for BP Wrigleyville on which minor league affiliate to watch this spring.

My Annual Fantasy Team
I used to play in a lot of fantasy baseball leagues. Now, I have it narrowed down to one. It’s the same ten team league I have been playing in for years and we held our live draft yesterday. I think my team looks decent, although I am one starting pitcher short. Here is who I have:
C – Salvador Perez, Welington Castillo
IF – Votto, Altuve, DeJong, Moustakas, Starlin Castro, Chapman
OF – Judge, Reddick, Hoskins, Austin Hays, Marwin Gonzalez,
U – Logan Morrison
Bench – Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Acuna, and Nick Senzel
SP – Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, McCullers, Arrieta, Taijuan Walker
RP – Wade Davis, Edwin Diaz, Sean Doolittle, and Brandon Kintzler (I will be replacing him with a starting pitcher in the next week)
Bullpen – Walker Buehler, Zach Britton

I like my team better for the summer than I do for April as I took some risks in adding a lot of future rookies on the bench and drafting Britton, who is currently injured.

Coming Up Next Week
The final article in the “Leveling Up” series comes out on Wednesday. Outfielder Brandon Hughes, who should be at South Bend in 2018, has his possible future profiled about what kind of player he’s going to be.

After that, I don’t have anything planned for two more weeks until MiLB opening week+. Nothing is pre-written as most of the off-season is. So, I’m just gonna go with the flow of what is happening for about 10 days. It should be a lot of fun for a change. And I will probably make some cards … just like this jem.

Baseball Card of the Week

Made from a photo by Jen Nevius

Spring Training Notes: Happ Stays Hot and MiLB Camp Gets Going

By Todd Johnson

There seems to be a lot of good things happening in spring training. Ian Happ has just been tearing it up and looks to be the leading candidate for CF and the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, Albert Almora had a pretty good week this week after getting off to a rough start. This week also saw most hitters getting three at bats a game and some starting pitchers were stretched out to about 50 pitches. For Jon Lester, that happened to be 5 innings in an excellent start on Friday.

After a rough first inning Tuesday, Yu Darvish settled down in his Cubs debut and was fantastic in the second inning which resulted in a “Wow!” description from Wilson Contreras to manager Joe Maddon. The Cubs also reassigned a few players back to minor league camp with Adbert Alzolay and Thomas Hatch going to Tennessee after neither saw any action in camp (by design).

There are just a little over 2 and 1/2 weeks until the season begins and I am still a little bit unsure about the two roster spots to be determined. Catcher Chris Gimenez got off to a blazing smart but it seems he has come back to Earth a bit. Fellow catcher Victor Caratini now looks to be catching fire after a homer yesterday. Meanwhile, Dillon Maples seemed poised to breakthrough after last year, but appears to need some a lot more seasoning to get to Chicago after giving up 3 runs last night to push his ERA to 12.60.

One of the highlights of spring for me has been the play of three players who could play utility roles in case of injury later this summer. Ryan Court, Mike Freeman, and David Bote have all put together excellent springs. While Court has the highest average, David Bote has shown to have the most power. Bote’s strength is a bit more than I thought he had at Tennessee. He seems to be evolving every year into a better and better hitter. What makes Bote more attractive as a utility player is that he can play three infield spots very well and he got in 13 games in the outfield last summer. That’s a pretty versatile player to plug in and play.

MiLB News
The minor-league camp now seems to be in full swing. A few things have come trickling back in including some positive news about certain pitchers. According to the message boards at The Cub Reporter, Trevor Clifton seems to be throwing, well, like 2016 Trevor Clifton. In addition, Oscar de la Cruz (who was sent down to Tennessee Thursday) was reaching the mid 90s in his last game with the major league club on Friday. It’s encouraging that Oscar was sitting 92 to 93 and touching 95 after being a couple clicks lower earlier this spring. 

Some prospects got in an exhibition game against the Chinatrust Brothers (from Taiwan) per Arizona Phil. Duncan Robinson got the start and gave up a run in two innings. Trevor Clifton and Michael Rucker also got in two innings apiece. Clifton whiffed 4 while Rucker allowed a 2 run homer. Austin Upshaw went yard and Chris Pieters drove in three runs while Zack Short went 2 for 3 while playing some 3B.

Also, Gioskar Amaya is back from TJS after missing all of 2017. This year, Amaya is not behind the plate and is back at his original position – second base. He switched to catcher after the 2014 season. Now 25, Amaya should be at AA Tennessee to begin the year.

Coming Up Next Week

Tomorrow’s article looks at some guys that are starting to pull away from the Cubs and head towards the top of the draft, some names moving up in range of the Cubs, and some names that are falling down. In addition, I have some info on 2015 draft pick John Cresto from Santa Clara.

Austin Filiere is the next to the last player to be profiled in the “Leveling Up” series this Wednesday. And on Thursday, I have an interesting article coming out on BP Wrigleyville about which affiliate might be the team to watch this summer. 

On a  Personal Note…
My Scholastic Bowl team went 12-6 this year and got the #2 seed for the Conference Tournament to be held Thursday. I will let you know how that goes.

Baseball Card of the Week

Spring Training Notes – Week 2: Lester, Happ, Gimenez, Underwood, and Some Draft Risers

By Todd Johnson

My busy season now has just a week left. After last Saturday’s history fair and two sets of Scholastic bowl matches, it is nice to get some rest this weekend and catch up on everything in the Cubs’ universe. This week will be my busiest week as I have the IHSA Scholastic Bowl regional on Monday and then five conference matches over two nights on Tuesday and Thursday. By Friday, my butt is going to be dragging.

Meanwhile, the Cubs starting pitching rotation looks to be set. Manager Joe Maddon coronated veteran Jon Lester to be the Cubs’ opening day starting pitcher. While Lester is clearly not at the peak of his performance in terms of velocity anymore, I think he’s going to have a much better year under new pitching coach Jim Hickey than he did in a conflicted 2017 with Chris Bosio. After Lester, Hendricks, Darvish, Quintana, and Chatwood will follow. I thought that was an interesting way to break up the lefty-righty combos. And it also looks like a way to take pressure off of Darvish and Quintana in the three and four spots. It’s almost as if the Cubs have four number two pitchers and a number five.

As for the action on the field, Ian Happ has been the center of attention the first week plus. Cranking out three home runs from the leadoff spot will do that.  Theo Epstein even called him his breakout player for 2018 on 670 The Score the other day. In addition, Happ has been flashing the leather and looks a little bit leaner as a center fielder.

Most pitchers that have seen any action have only gone one inning. As a result, it’s really hard to evaluate what is happening as the Cubs have mainly relied on arms that should be at AAA Iowa in 2018. Still, Zach Hedges and Duane Underwood, Jr. have each been impressive in their two outings. The Cubs starters really haven’t gotten much work in other than an inning or two apiece. Yu Darvish has yet to pitch.

Catcher Chris Gimenez has destroyed the baseball in the first week of camp. Then again, he is not exactly been facing major league pitching. It’ll be interesting to see how he does over the next 3 and 1/2 weeks. I think as he sees more major league arms in spring training games, Gimenez might struggle more than he is right now.

In an article on the Cubs website, Carrie Muskat did a great job talking about Duane Underwood and his new physique and mental outlook this spring. Even Joe Maddon chimed in on the new Duane:

“His body is better, he’s leaner. When he came into camp this year, he had a different look about him. This is a guy with a high ceiling, and he hasn’t realized it. There’s a lot of conversation from the front office, coaches, etc. I think this winter he went home and did a little soul searching. He’s much more assertive, he’s attacking the zone.”

The Allen Webster signing on Friday made little sense to me as it could possibly take a AAA roster spot from a prospect the Cubs drafted and developed. The Cubs are taking a lot of gambles on some former big names this spring like Webster and Danny Hultzen in hopes that the player can either salvage their career or catch lightning in a bottle. Odds are that most of them will be cut in early April. The low risk/high reward flyer has been part of the Cubs’ modus operandi since 2012 with little effect other than Hector Rondon.

Draft News

Baseball America beefed up their top 200 draft prospects to a top 300 list. As usual, they redid some of the rankings near the top just based on how some of the college players are doing. The biggest riser so far has been Stanford pitcher Tristan Beck. The big right-hander is skyrocketing up their list and might soon be out of reach of the Cubs. In addition, Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm has gone from the late 20s to the low 20s. Considering that most high school teams, especially in the north, don’t start for a couple more weeks, these moves up could be temporary or they could be permanent. But both players bear watching. Missouri State Shortstop Jeremy Eierman and Duke OF Griffin Conine could be on the Cubs radar now along with Kentucky pitcher Sean Hjelle. 

Topps Heritage

As an avid fan of baseball cards, and not so much a collector anymore, I have been checking out the Topps Heritage Series as it kind of resembles what I have been doing for the past six summers. Topps, however, has been doing it since 2001. It takes old cards and puts current players in them. Over the course of the past week, I downloaded a few cards and made a couple adjustments to some players the Cubs picked up over the winter. While Topps only does one season per year in the series, they do change the throwback card every year. 

What I am Working On

Once I survive this week, I have a couple things that I have been quietly assembling. The first one is my preseason minor league All-Star team. So far, I just added pictures/cards of who I think will be the top Cubs players in the first half. Because Eugene does not start until the second half, a few of the Cubs’ top prospects won’t be on that list. I am also adding two breakout players who I think will really shine at either South Bend, Myrtle Beach, Tennessee, or Iowa.

And as for the affiliate previews, I have done a little more than to assemble the position players. With minor-league camp just starting, I think it’s too early to try and figure out just exactly which prospects are going to be pitching where. With as many arms that they have selected in the draft and signed internationally the past two summers, there is going to be a ton of competition for what amounts to be 22 spots from AAA down to low class A. 

Coming Up Next Week

Because of my schedule, I already have this week’s posts pre-written and uploaded, it’s just a matter of clicking the publish button. On Monday, I take a look at a few high school bats that the Cubs could be interested in following this spring. On Wednesday, Austin Upshaw returns. This time I will profile him in the “Leveling Up” series. And on Friday, if all goes well, I return with a post about the Latin infusion of talent coming north of the border at some point this summer.

Baseball Card of the Week