The Cubs aren’t a competitive team. They are determined to grow from inside and the farm system is churning out a fair amount of intriguing prospects. Unfortunately we aren’t likely to see any of them donning a Cubs uniform for a significant amount of time in 2013. Still they’ve added some fairly decent pieces who could have value right away.
Here are 10 to watch in 2013.
Anthony Rizzo (1B): Rizzo hit 33 home runs last year with a .291 average and has landed hard on draft sheets all over fantasyland. A star right? Not so fast, those numbers were driven by a ridiculous HR/FB rate (18%). While it’s possible he can keep it up, odds are those power numbers are going to take a step back. He’s still a nice player and a keeper in dynasty leagues. There is a lot like here.
Kyuki Fujikawa (RP): The Japanese closing king comes to America and not to become middle reliever. The Cubs probably won’t give Fukikawa a chance to close until they ship Carlos Marmol out of town, but since Marmol has a no trade clause, they might do it just because they think Fujikawa is going to be the better. That said don’t expect him to grab the job out of spring training, the Cubs will want him to get his feet wet in lesser situations and get a gauge on Major League hitters. Jeff Samardzija (SP): The last two seasons have been great for Samardzija who has taken several steps forward. His raw stuff and strikeout rate are impressive, but it was just a few years ago that he struggled with walk rate and command. His increased ground ball rate the last two seasons, however, could be driving his success and giving him the confidence he needs. Ace type potential, but everyone knows it.
Starlin Castro (SS): Not elite but one of the higher end shortstops out there. 15-15 is definitely possible, maybe even 15-25. There is plenty of upside here but even if he doesn’t take a step forward he’ll probably still net you 75 runs scored and 75 RBIs.
Alfonso Soriano (OF): You can practically hear him creaking from where you sit, but Soriano at age 36 managed to hit 32 home runs last year and once again will bat cleanup for the Cubbies. Last year’s power spike was driven by the first 500 AB season he had since 2007. If he can dodge injury he should make another run at 25 home runs, but think of 2012 as a freak year.
Wellington Castro (C): Castro is a sneaky pick at the position with double digit power and improving plate judgment. He struggled badly against righties last year, hitting just .194 against them, but he’s hit them much better in the past. If he can solve that issue, he could set a career high in ABs and that could lead to bit of a power spike.
Ian Stewart (3B): After all these years Ian Stewart’s potential still teases us. If he’s healthy there is upside here. He’s just 28, in his prime and still possesses 20 home run power. Best of all he’ll be dirt cheap, no one believes in him anymore despite the skills he once flashed. Keep an eye on him.
Edwin Jackson (SP): Not flashy in the least, Jackson simply is a workhorse who reliably eats innings strikes out 7 or so per nine with decent ERAs and WHIPs. There is upside here and he’s just entering his prime. If he ever approaches his xERA, he could a strong 2-3 starter.
Scott Baker (SP): Baker is returning from Tommy John surgery but it might be a little bit early to be bidding on him as full recovery takes about 18 months and Baker is just a year out. He’ll get the call back to the bigs at some point, possibly as early as May. He’s certainly flashed the skills before and he could be a very pleasant surprise.
Carlos Marmol (CL): The erratic Marmol is the closer, at least for the moment. He’ll probably get some saves, maybe even the bulk of them for the Cubs as the team isn’t really going to be competitive. However his days are numbered. If you own him, now’s the time to trade him, and if you are considering him as closer option, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.