Results tagged ‘ Josh Vitters ’

A New Wave of Talent

The Cubs called up two of the organization’s strongest farmhands in outfielder Brett Jackson and third baseman Josh Vitters for Sunday afternoon’s matchup in Los Angeles.

Jackson, who many analysts feel was the Cubs’ best prospect prior to the season (Baseball Prospectus rated him the organization’s only five-star talent), was the team’s first-round pick in the 2009 draft. This season in Triple-A Iowa, the projected center fielder was hitting .256/.338/.479. The major hole in the 24-year-old’s game is his 159 strikeouts (34 percent strikeout rate), the most of any player in professional baseball this season.

Vitters is the Cubs’ 2007 first-round draft pick. Baseball Prospectus rated him the organization’s sixth-best prospect prior to the season, and the 22-year-old has impressed with Iowa. His .304 average and .869 OPS is top 25 in the Pacific Coast League. Vitters’ situation is unique because he could get the lion’s share of playing time at third base with no clear-cut corner infielder blocking his path.

Cubs All-Star Recap

Josh Vitters took part in Wednesday night’s Triple-A All-Star Game, wrapping up the Midsummer Classics for each level of the Cubs organization. Vine Line recapped how Cubs players and prospects performed in their respective All-Star Games.

Major League All-Star Game:

Starlin Castro: 0-for-1, flied out to center, two defensive innings played
Bryan LaHair: 0-for-1, ground out to shortstop, three defensive innings played

MLB Futures Game:

Jae-Hoon Ha: 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, started at CF

Triple-A All-Star Game:

Josh Vitters: 0-for-1, BB, K, four defensive innings played

Double-A Southern League All-Star Game:

Jim Adduci: 2-for-2, double, RBI, four defensive innings played
Frank Batista: 2/3 IP, 0 R
Justin Bour: 1-for-3, BB, started at DH
Kevin Rhoderick: 1 IP, BB, 0 R

Single-A Florida State League All-Star Game:

Arismendy Alcantara: 0-for-1, three defensive innings
Austin Kirk: 1 IP, 0 R, starting pitcher
Nelson Perez: 1-for-3, double, RBI, BB, started at left field
Greg Rohan: 0-for-4, started at DH

Single-A Midwest League All-Star Game:

Kyler Burke: 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER
Zeke DeVoss: 0-for-1, three defensive innings played
Paul Hoilman: 0-for-2, started at 1B

Minors tracker: Week one prospect report

We’re only a week into the minor league season, but some young stars already are starting to blossom. A few of the Cubs affiliates are playing better than others, but there’s no denying some individuals left Spring Training ready to go.

High-profile corner infielders Josh Vitters and Anthony Rizzo have powered Triple-A Iowa to a 5-3 start. Vitters (.458/.500/.500) has racked up 11 hits in 24 at-bats, driving in six runs. Rizzo, who the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner, has been just as impressive (.387/.424/.677), smacking three home runs and driving in 10.

Welington Castillo, a backstop who narrowly missed a spot on the Cubs Opening Day roster, is hitting .357 with a 1.214 OPS in 14 at-bats.

Top prospect Brett Jackson has recorded a .276 average with four RBI.

Ace Randy Wells is 1-0 in two starts, posting a 5.25 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and seven strikeouts.

Double-A Tennessee, resting at .500 with a 4-4 record, has plenty of bright spots in both the lineup and on the bump. Shortstop Elliot Soto has a .476 OBP and is slugging .500. Michael Burgess (.333/.417/.524) has a home run and 11 total bases.

Nicholas Struck (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 15 K, 12 IP), Dallas Beeler (1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 11 IP) and Trey McNutt (0.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8 K, 7.2 IP) have all been consistent members of the rotation early on.

Despite Daytona’s 1-6 record, a few individuals still have something to smile about. First-round pick Hayden Simpson has a 3.60 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in two starts, and outfielder John Andreoli has a .429 average with a .600 OBP, drawing six walks in 20 total at-bats.

Pitching has been the key for Class-A affiliate Peoria. The Chiefs, who sit at 3-4, have gotten two solid outings each from Michael Jensen (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP) and Patrick Francescon (0-1, 3.48 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 12 K, 10.1 IP).

Future Watch: Arizona Fall League preview, Part II

Former third-overall pick Josh Vitters hit two first-pitch home runs in the Arizona Fall League opener yesterday. With that, Baseball Prospectus’ prospect guru Kevin Goldstein continues with his second of three Cubs prospects to watch in the AFL. Subscribe to Vine Line today to receive Goldstein’s monthly update and for more coverage from top to bottom of the Cubs organization.

Josh Vitters, IF

The Cubs had high hopes for Vitters when he was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2007 draft, but his development has gone slower than expected, mostly due to an inability to lay off pitches outside the zone. While his 22 walks in 2011 aren’t much, they still represented a career high, and there was progress in his overall offensive game as well. while he no longer looks like a future star, a strong 2012 showing could at least get him back on the map.

And today, in his daily Minor League Update for Baseball Prospectus, Goldstein wrote, “The progress is incremental, but it is in the right direction, and the swing is still awfully pretty.”

Inside the Numbers: Delayed gratification?

ESPN SweetSpot’s Christina Kahrl, who contributes analysis to Vine Line and Vine Line Game Day Edition, discusses the reasons Cubs fans may or may not see Josh Vitters (left) and Brett Jackson (right) at Wrigley Field this September. (Photo by Stephen Green)

So the 2011 season isn’t going to involve a renewed bid for contention, and fans are understandably turning the page and wondering when they’ll get to see the organization’s top prospects getting called up. Chances are, you’ll be waiting for a while. The way baseball’s rules work, there are significant disincentives for the Cubs to add their best kids to the 40-man roster.

First, there’s the disincentive to bring somebody up if they’re not likely to make the team next spring. This is strictly economic: Why would a team unnecessarily grant a prospect already under team control early ignition on his service-time clock? Doing so now means very little in terms of improving the Cubs’ chances for 2011. By granting service time, the team is already putting the prospect down a path toward arbitration eligibility—and an escalating pay scale—while not necessarily guaranteeing the Cubs that they’ll control the player’s best seasons before free agency.

The second challenge for a player looking to get called up between now and Opening Day 2012 is the question of whether or not the Cubs need to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December. Although a player taken in the Rule 5 draft would have to be kept on the big league roster all season or else offered back to his original organization, clubs prefer to avoid the risk of losing a prospect this way whenever possible. (more…)

Watch top Cubs prospects in AFL Rising Stars Game

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgWant a sneak peek at some of the top prospects Vine Line has been covering in the Minor-League Notebooks?

Tune in to the MLB Network this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT to see pitchers Andrew Cashner and Blake Parker, and infielders Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters. All four will be playing for the East Division in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.

And when it comes down to top prospects in the Cubs organization, you can’t get much bigger than these four. Vitters and Cashner are the Cubs’ 2007 and 2008 first-round draft picks, respectively. At just 19 years old, Castro might just be the Cubs prospect gaining attention the fastest. And Parker is a converted infielder who looked good as a part-time closer in Double and Triple A this season.

Vitters J Futures batting.jpgVitters is hitting for a .360 AVG/.385 OBP/.460 SLG line over 12 games in the Arizona Fall League, but he has made it his goal to work on his third-base defense while playing with the game’s top minor-leaguers.

“I know my bat will be there,” Vitters told Vine Line earlier this year. “I want my defense to be up there with the best of them.”

With the system stocked with good infielders, vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita has been able to slowly move Vitters up the ladder, splitting his time between Class-A Peoria and Daytona this season. But the 20-year-old’s natural hitting ability has only drawn rave reviews.

“When you first watch him take batting practice, he can really drive the ball,” Peoria manager Marty Pevey told Vine Line. “He has as quick of hands as any young player. I’d say his hands are as quick as Bob Horner back with the Braves when he came out of Arizona State.”

The Vine Line blog will have more on Castro, Cashner and Parker later this week.

– Sean Ahmed

Photo credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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