The Cubs’ top prospects are good, but not yet to point that would make you say “this guy could definitely impact the team right now.” There are a few who, after a little more time, could play a role with the club in 2013.
Some still need a little seasoning before next season—whether that means a late-season call-up, playing winter ball, extended spring training or a combination of all or some of these.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, most of their best prospects are still at the A, A+ or Double-A level leaving their chances for a promotion to the North Side in 2013 as slim.
But the Cubs do have a handful of prospects that could see themselves playing at the Friendly Confines come August 2013.
And in no particular order…
Prior to his MLB debut, LHP Chris Rusin was not guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation for the rest of the season. Cubs manager Dale Sveum told the Chicago Tribune: "There are a few different scenarios," Sveum said. "But yeah, there's a chance he can stick.”
But after Tuesday night’s performance it is safe to assume Rusin will remain in the starting rotation for the rest of the season and receive an invite to Cubs’ Spring Training to compete for a spot behind Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Matt Garza—if they decide not to move the veteran right-hander in the offseason.
Regardless of the fact the Brewers are nine games under .500, Rusin’s MLB debut was nevertheless impressive, as he allowed one hit and one run in five innings pitched.
Rusin will never light up a radar gun with his fastball topping out at 90 mph, but his command along with being a lefty could be what earn him a spot as the No. 4- or 5-starter in 2013. His command is such that Baseball America labeled him as having the best command and best changeup in the Cubs’ farm system after the 2010 season.
If the rest of Rusin’s starts resemble anything like Tuesday night’s and he has another successful season of winter ball, I see no reason he does not open the 2013 season as the Cubs’ fourth or fifth starter.
In 2013, Dave Sappelt could be the second of three players the Cubs acquired in the December 2011 trade that sent standout relieve Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, to ply his trade at Wrigley Field—this time wearing Cubbie blue.
In 38 games with Cincinnati in 2011, his batting line was what you would expect from a call-up—.243/.289/.318. His fielding numbers were good as well with 51 PO and zero errors in 53 chances.
Even though his numbers this season at Triple-A Iowa haven’t quite mirrored those he put up in with the Reds’ farm system in 2010-2011, if he continues his pace of the last 10 games—.333/.348/.595—for the rest of the season, another invite to Mesa will be in the offing and a chance to earn his way onto the Opening Day roster.
I’ll be honest: In this day in age, looking as his statistics makes me wonder about this player.
Before 2012, when he split time between Double-A and Triple-A, his numbers were incredibly unimpressive. In 2011 with Cleveland Indians’ Double-A Akron affiliate, his average was a meager .184, and in 2010 split between Boston’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliate, and Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate, his average was .236 with both years posting a less than ideal BABIP.
If Juan can continue his 2012 production through the end of the season, he should be in the running to challenge Steve Clevenger as the Opening-Day backup to Welington Castillo in 2013 if he can improve his CS%.
**Completing the equations to find out if my numbers equaled those of Fan Graph’s numbers makes me: 1) Thankful for taking three math courses in college; and 2) Believe universities should offer a sabermetrics math course.
Although I said players at Double-A and lower have only a sliver of a chance at seeing Wrigley Field in 2013, none of the others had a showing at the MLB Future’s Game this past July like Jae-Hoon Ha did.
In front of a national audience in Kansas City, Jae-Hoon Ha displayed his offensive prowess that played a part in earning his selection as the Cubs’ representative in the All-Star Future’s Game. While his home run was exciting to see, fans should not believe him to be a big power guy—only 25 home runs in his entire minor league career.
Ha’s greatest tool is his glove.
Rated the Cubs best defensive minor league outfielder by Baseball America after the 2011 season, from 2011 in A+ and Double-A ball until now at Tennessee, he has amassed only 10 errors in 549 chances and made 518 put-outs giving him a fielding percentage of .988.
He has averaged a decent OPS throughout his minor league career since being signed from South Korea in 2008. If he can have a good showing in winter ball and produce a higher average than the .265 he has posted this season, an invite to the Cubs' spring training could be in the cards.
Whether he makes the roster then, a promotion to Iowa to start the season is likely. Then, if he plays well at Iowa, he could be in line for a late-season call-up to Chicago if for nothing more than a little seasoning.