The Mailbag: Which Cubs Prospect Is Going To Be A Bust?

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Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.

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In the minors every Cubs prospect is the greatest player of all time, but there have been plenty of can’t miss prospects in baseball that missed. That means at least one of the Cubs top prospects is going to be a bust. Which one is the most likely? – Eric Stone

Are you even allowed to say that one of the Cubs top prospects isn’t the greatest baseball player of all time?

You’re right, though, at least one of the big guys is going to be a bust. Now, I’m no scout, nor do I spend nearly as much time following all of these kids as many Cubs fans do, so I wouldn’t take my word as gospel here. But I will say that I’ve had somebody in mind who I think isn’t going to live up to the hype for a while now.

Last year a lot of people began to write off Jorge Soler as he dealt with injuries and had a decent season at High-A Daytona, but didn’t blow people away. He’s responded this year by putting together a slash line of .394/.491/.766 across three stops (Arizona Rookie League, Double-A and Triple-A). Now everybody loves him again, and the odds are he’s going to be in Chicago come September since he’s on the 40-man roster and signed a 9-year $30 million deal with the Cubs, and they don’t have to worry about service time.

Soler may end up being a bust, but he’s not the guy I’ve suspected for a while. No, that would be Javier Baez.

I’ve only seen Baez play a few times, and when I have I’ve seen him hit some big ass bombs. The dude has big power, and if he’s able to stick as a middle infielder, he’d be incredibly valuable. The problem is that when I watch Baez hit, I can’t help but think of Dayan Viciedo. And his numbers in the minors don’t really dispute it.

When Viciedo was 21 and in Triple-A he put up a slash line of .274/.308/.493 while hitting 20 homers and driving in 47 runs.

This season, at 21, Baez is hitting .256/.316/.480 with 17 homers and 67 RBI.

Now, obviously, having similar slash lines doesn’t mean they’re the same players. What concerns me are their other similarities.

In his three full seasons in the White Sox minor league system (all at Double-A or Triple-A) Dayan Viciedo struck out in 17.8% of his plate appearances, while walking in only 5.6% of them. So far in his time in Double-A and Triple-A Javier Baez has struck out in 29.5% of his plate appearances and walked only 7.8% of the time.  So Baez has a slightly better walk rate, but it’s wiped out by his propensity to swing and miss.

He seems to me to be a very all-or-nothing kind of hitter.

And even though he has a lot of power in his bat, in his four seasons in the minors, across all levels, Baez’s OBP is only .334. Viciedo’s was .331. MLB average this season is .321, so both players are just slightly above MLB average in the minors. In my mind, that’s not a good sign.

Now, obviously, the good news is that Baez is still only 21 years old, and as I mentioned, he has big time power. In 1,176 minor league at bats he’s managed to slug .537 with 70 homers and 72 doubles. That’s good! It’s just that I really worry that once he’s exposed to Major League pitching, the power in his bat won’t mean nearly as much as pitchers will take advantage of his aggressiveness.

So, in my mind, Javier Baez is a prospect with a lot of power, but he’s not a great hitter. Because of that I think he’s the most likely to be a bust since it’s not like it’s his defensive prowess that has him rated so highly.

And now that I wrote this he’ll go on to be a Hall of Famer.

He’s not bad at baseball. He’s actually pretty good at second base. He’s just not very good at hitting the ball when he’s not at second base.

This won’t come as a shock to any of you that’s been paying attention, but I’m done with Gordon. I really do appreciate what he brings on defense, but there is no longer any hope that he’s going to figure things out as a hitter. He’s 27 years old, the time when a player is supposed to be entering his prime, and he’s having the worst season of his career. He currently has a line of .224/.272/.355, two of which would be career lows (he had a slugging percentage of .337 in 2011) if that’s how his season finishes, and he’s being paid $4.175 million this year.

He’s been so bad that I’m not sure the White Sox will even be able to find a taker in a trade. At least not if they want anything remotely resembling a decent player in return.

I’m honestly starting to think that if Beckham doesn’t finish the season in Chicago it’ll be because he was designated for assignment, not because he was traded. The Sox have a lot of middle infield prospects waiting in the wings that deserve a shot of their own at this point, and I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to let Beckham stand in their way. If he does finish the year in Chicago, he’ll likely be non-tendered and let go rather than go to arbitration.

It’ll be a depressing end to a White Sox career that started out so promising. I guess we’ll always have the summer of 2009, Gordon.


Well, all right, I’ll do my best, though it’s somewhat hard to make bold predictions about either the White Sox or Cubs at this point of the season.

White Sox – There will be no “big” trades before next week’s deadline. Now, I don’t mean a blockbuster deal, I just mean that of all the players typically mentioned on the trade block (John Danks, Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo), none will be involved in a deal before the deadline. I don’t think anybody really wants to be responsible for Danks’ contract just yet, the Sox don’t really want to part ways with Alexei, Adam Dunn isn’t exactly a need for anybody, Beckham is terrible, and so is Viciedo. Now, there’s a chance that a guy like Dunn could be moved before the waiver deadline in August, as could a few others, but if the Sox make a trade before the deadline, it’ll be something we didn’t expect. Like somebody taking an arm out of the bullpen.

Cubs – Anthony Rizzo will finish the season leading the National League in homers. I know, it’s not that bold considering that he currently leads the league, but he does have to hold off Giancarlo Stanton to do so. Rizzo is currently on pace for 40 homers this season, but I’m going to say he finishes with 43.

Bulls – Derrick Rose will play in at least 75 regular season games next season, and he’ll be very good while doing so. It’s kind of sad that saying Rose will stay healthy is a BOLD PREDICTION, but I think at this point it qualifies. He also improves his shooting from the floor, and I’ll say he finishes the year as a 35% shooter from three.

Blackhawks – It’s hard to make a bold prediction for the Blackhawks. If you say they’re going to win the Stanley Cup again, well, that wouldn’t surprise anybody. If you say they’ll miss the playoffs you’re just full of shit. So my bold prediction will be that Brandon Saad scores 30 goals.

Bears – The Bears will reach the NFC Championship Game, though they will not get to the Super Bowl. That’s pretty bold, right? It’ll also be an awesome season if that’s the case. I’ll also say that Lamarr Houston will have the biggest impact of any of the new free agency signings, and that Jared Allen will get hurt and miss at least five games.

I’m not sure how it qualifies as either. I love Taj Gibson as much as any Bulls fan, but if you’re asking me if I’d rather have Kevin Love or Taj, well, sorry Taj. As for Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, we’ve never seen either play in an NBA game so it’s somewhat hard to be upset about the idea of losing either.

But that’s what I like to refer to as THE MYSTERY BOX EFFECT when it comes to being a sports fan. When a player hasn’t shown you what he’s capable of you tend to think he’s capable of anything.

Doug McDermott could be the next Larry Bird!

Nikola Mirotic could be the next Dirk Nowitzki!

The truth is both are more likely to be role players. Kevin Love is not a role player. Kevin Love is one of the best players in the NBA, and I have to think he gets you closer to an NBA title than the trio of Gibson/McDermott/Mirotic do.

Now, yes, you’d have less depth after making this trade, and as everybody is so quick to point out these days, depth is one of the reasons the Spurs just won an NBA title. What people usually fail to mention when bringing that up is that San Antonio’s depth includes three future Hall of Famers.

So, you know, the talent is still important.

I have no idea, I don’t read Bleed Cubbie Blue, nor do I follow him on Twitter. The only connection I have to Yellon is seeing other Cubs fans bitching about him on Twitter. From what I’ve gathered, though, you’re all kind of the worst.

First of all, if you don’t like him or his opinions on the Cubs, why the hell do you concern yourselves with him so much? There are multiple Twitter accounts made to mock the man. This seems like a colossal waste of time to me.

Secondly, from what I can tell, Yellon isn’t young. I don’t know how old he is, but I’m guessing middle-aged. Well, this may come as a newsflash, but somebody who has been watching the Cubs for a lot longer than you have might have differing opinions on things than you do.

When youth is still on your side it’s a lot easier to be patient about the current Cubs rebuild, because as far as you know, you’ve still got plenty of life left to live to wait on them to finally win it. When you’re older? Not so much. You’ve already put up with the losing your entire life, and you get tired of it. You’ve been told “wait til next year” or “just a few more years” multiple times during the course of your lifetime, and you’ve been let down every single damn time.

If somebody keeps telling you they’re going to do something, and then they don’t do it, you’d stop trusting them after a while, wouldn’t you?

Well, why should the Cubs be any different? Because this latest savior really is the one?

You don’t have to agree with what Yellon thinks or feels, but you don’t have to pay attention to him, either.

C’mon, man, it’s 2014. Nobody listens to albums anymore, they listen to playlists.

But in the spirit of the question….

  1. ELO – Eldorado
  2. Rush – 2112
  3. Justin Timberlake – Justified
  4. Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  5. Music From The O.C. – Mix 1 (it’s Kristin’s)

There you go.


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