Vine Line EXTRA: Two (of 50) names you should know
Year after year, Vine Line readers — not to mention Cubs minor-league instructors and staff — tell us that one of their favorite features is our annual Minor-League Prospectus. Nowhere else will you find so much depth on 50 of the organization’s most intriguing players.
We do that by talking to our player development staff, including those in the front office and on the field. And we’ll give you key components of their scouting reports and stats to tell you what development path these players are on.
It was an exciting year down on the farm, too: A number of hitters flourished, giving the system its most promising set of athletic position players in years.
Here’s a preview of two players who can be expected to make a “splash” in 2010.
Though Cubs fans probably won’t see LeMahieu in Chicago that quickly, it won’t be long either. After a stellar prep career at Brother Rice (Mich.) High School, the former Michigan “Mr. Baseball” continued his winning ways at LSU, helping lead the Tigers to a national championship in 2009.
An elite hitter, LeMahieu shows terrific plate coverage, a selective eye and hits lots of line drives with a smooth level swing. While he hasn’t hit for much power, LeMahieu still is growing into his 6-4 body. Cubs brass is convinced his power will come later. They also are not worried about whether LeMahieu will stay at shortstop or move to third base.
“He’ll tell us himself when or if he needs to move by his performance. And so far the kid’s been great,” said VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita.
— Michael Huang
While the hype for Lee hasn’t exploded lit it has for fellow shortstop Starlin Castro, Lee might reflect the state of the Cubs system best. He’s not only ridiculously athletic but also a left-handed hitter signed out of South Korea, where the Cubs have built a stronghold.
As a raw 19-year-old at short-season Boise, Lee hit for average, got on base and stole bases efficiently. He might gain some power when he fills out his 6-2 frame, but his swing uses the entire field. Boise manager Casey Kopitzke praised Lee’s ability to battle deep into counts and take walks.
In the field, Lee’s fluidity and style are unmatched, but it is his instincts and plus-plus speed that make him seem more like a one-man infield. Kids with his size, ability and flair don’t come out of the Pacific Rim very often.
“He’s got his own style,” Fleita said. “Always in the right place, always in the center of all hte action.”
— Sean Ahmed
See the full list of 50 Cubs prospects as well as coverage of Andre Dawson’s trip to the Hall of Fame and the start of spring training by subscribing to Vine Line.
Photo by Jason Wise