Monday, August 1, 2011

Cubs Farm System Inadequate?

Let me rant a bit more about the Cubs' minor leagues. I continue to hear people on talk radio, both callers and hosts, suggesting that the Cubs' minor leagues is in good shape and is the one bright spot in this organization.

I disagree.

If I understand correctly, the top non-pitching prospects in the system include DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Brett Jackson, Matt Sczur, Welington Castillo, Reggie Golden and the draft pick from this year (Jose Baez?). Already in the majors are young players Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Tony Campana.

Aside from Castro, who, as a shortstop, hits really well with outstanding range and a great arm and who MIGHT be a really good player (he currently looks pretty good), no one screams out "future all-star" from that crew.

No I don't know what Baez, Golden or Sczur will do as they move up the ladder. Maybe they'll make quantum leaps as they move up and go from good to really good to great. Perhaps one or all of them becomes the major league star whose production has so far eluded the Cubs. But you just can't count on it.

Knowing that the Cubs have few outstanding, impact-type players in their system, what did they do this year? They drafted a high school player.

Drafting these youngsters is all well and good. But for this team, at this time, it sort of smacks of self-preservation. Why would I say this? After all, if you want to show production, you might be inclined to draft a college player who is really good. Picking as high as the Cubs picked this year, there should have been one or two of those types available. There usually are.

So why do I say that drafting from high school could be from self-preservation? Because you cannot evaluate these kids for at least 3 or 4 years, not really. So you can't say that the pick is a failure. Again.

All you have to do is look at Josh Vitters. Baseball America touted him as the best prep hitter in that draft. But he isn't showing much in the minors; certainly not enough to count on him in the majors next year. He looked good his first couple years in rookie, short season, low-A ball, wherever he played. But now, several years later, it's sort of looking like another busted pick.

Will the HS kid be Josh Vitters or will he be Joe Mauer? You don't know. The time frame for evaluating a HS player is longer than it is for an older college player. So you can't say Tim Wilken failed again.

Wilken's picks so far in the first round are underwhelming. Colvin showed flashes in the majors, but he's a flawed player anyway. Since then, we don't know about the pitcher he took from the college ranks last year (Hayden Simpson) or any others. So far it's not inspiring me as a somewhat casual watcher of the Cubs' farm system.

So it's a couple more years before we can really evaluate the latest first rounder of the Cubs. A couple more years before we can really evaluate the 2011 draft, and evaluate Tim Wilken.

Oh well.


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