- Full name Felix A. Pie
- Born 02/08/1985 in La Romana, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- Debut 04/17/2007
Organization Prospect Rankings
The best thing that may happen to Pie was hurting his right ankle sliding into a base in June 2005. The resulting bone bruise kept him out for the rest of the season, and ended the Cubs' plans to promote him when they tired of Corey Patterson in July. Unsure whether Pie would be ready to jump to Chicago after missing most of 2005, they traded for Juan Pierre in the offseason. So instead of being rushed as Patterson was, Pie got a full year of development at Triple-A Iowa in 2006. He wasn't ready for the majors, hitting just .248 with seven homers in the first three months. He adjusted and batted .322 with eight homers in the final two months, reaffirming that he's by far the Cubs' best position prospect. Success has followed Pie throughout the minors, as he has appeared in two Futures Games and won championships with each of the first four clubs he played with. The best athlete in the system, Pie has tools reminiscent of Carlos Beltran's. He's a power-hitting center fielder with basestealing ability. His bat is so quick that he can make hard contact against any pitch he can reach, even out of the strike zone. Though he always has been one of the youngest regulars in his leagues, he consistently has hit for average. In the last two years, Pie has started to incorporate his legs more into his swing and to turn on more pitches, allowing him to realize more of his power potential. He has well above-average speed, making him dangerous on the bases and able to run down most balls in center field. His arm is strong enough for right field, and he led Triple-A Pacific Coast League outfielders with 18 assists last year. In addition to his physical skills, the Cubs also like his makeup. They like how he turned his season around last year, and they say it's no coincidence that his teams have won consistently. Pie still needs to refine his instincts in all phases of the game. He doesn't control the strike zone, resulting in few walks and too many outs on balls he shouldn't chase. Chicago had him bat at the top of the Triple-A lineup to have him work on his plate discipline, with only moderate success. For all his speed, Pie was caught stealing 11 times in 28 tries in 2006 and has succeeded on just 63 percent of his attempts as a pro. Though he's the system's best defensive outfielder, he'll occasionally take erratic routes. Though the Cubs seemingly filled their outfield by signing Alfonso Soriano to a $136 million contract, they'd prefer to trade Jacque Jones and play Soriano in right. That would leave center open for Pie, who would offer a lefty bat in a predominantly righthanded lineup. If Chicago can't deal Jones, more development in Triple-A wouldn't hurt, as Pie showed by hitting a soft .216 through 125 at-bats in the Dominican Winter League. He'll make his major league debut at age 22, though it may be a few years before he can become an offensive force.
Pie, then 14, had played only street baseball when he stopped by a tryout in his hometown of La Romana in the Domincian Republic in 1999. Jose Serra asked Pie to show what he could do, and his skills impressed the Cubs scout enough that he got Pie involved in more structured baseball and signed him once he turned 16. Pie came to the United States at 17 and since has blazed a trail of success throughout the minors. He won championships with each of the four teams he played with in his first three seasons, and he played in the Futures Game in 2003-04. Both of those streaks ended in 2005 after he injured his right ankle when he slid late into a base in mid-June. A bone bruise initially wasn't expected to sideline him for more than a few weeks, but he never returned, forcing him to bow out of the Futures Game and leaving him unable to contribute to Double-A West Tenn's playoff run, which ended with a loss in the Southern League finals. If he hadn't been hurt, the Cubs say they would have called Pie up when they shipped Corey Patterson to the minors in early July. Pie has been the best athlete in the system since he made his pro debut in 2002, and his tools are similar to those of Carlos Beltran. Despite being one of the youngest players in his league each year, he consistently has hit for average. He has an uncanny ability to make hard contact even when he chases pitches out of the strike zone. After hitting just 16 homers in his first 287 pro games, Pie started to deliver on his power potential with 11 in 59 games in 2005. He improved his setup, used his legs more in his swing and started to pull pitches more often. His speed is his best tool, making him a basestealing threat and giving him the range to cover the gaps in center field. He also has a strong arm that would fit in right field if needed. Pie is still raw in many phases of the game. Though it has yet to catch up to him, his plate discipline has slipped as he has risen through the minors. He rarely walks because he lacks patience and is able to put balls out of the zone in play. Intrigued by his newfound power, he fell into ruts where he became too focused on trying to hit homers. Despite his well above-average speed, he's still figuring out how to steal bases and was caught nine times in 22 attempts in 2005. Defensively, he can improve his routes, especially when he comes in on balls. Losing three months of the season cost him valuable development time, though he did return to play with Licey in the Dominican Winter League. Patterson has fallen short of his considerable potential in part because the Cubs rushed him through the minors without forcing him to address his shortcomings. They contemplated doing the same with Pie but ultimately decided to trade for Juan Pierre in December. That move should give Pie time to add polish to his game at Triple-A Iowa. If Pierre stays in Chicago for the long term, Pie will slide over to right field for the Cubs.
Pie has won championships with each of the four teams he has played for as a pro. He also played in his second straight Futures Game in 2004. Florida State League managers recognized Pie's varied tools, voting him the circuit's best batting prospect, fastest baserunner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player. From the Cubs' perspective, he's their best athlete, top defensive outfielder and strongest outfield arm. His speed stands out the most, and he consistently has hit for average despite being young for his leagues. While Pie has more than held his own, his skills remain raw. His plate discipline slipped in 2004, and he won't show much power until he adds strength and lift to his swing. He's still honing his basestealing, getting caught 16 times in 47 tries last year. He plays a shallow center field because he's not smooth coming in on balls, and needs to improve his routes. Pie has a lot of work to do, but he's just 20 and has plenty of time to do it. He'll move up to Double-A and is on course to arrive in Chicago in 2007.
Pie appeared in the 2003 Futures Game at 18 years and five months, just two months older than Florida's Miguel Cabrera was in 2001 when he became the youngest ever to appear in the prospect showcase. Pie, who hit .429 and drove in the winning run in the Midwest League playoffs, also won championships in the Arizona and Northwest leagues in 2002. Pie shows four intriguing tools, most noticeably 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. He had no trouble hitting for average as a teenager in the MWL, where managers rated him the league's best defensive outfielder. He plays a shallow center field and has a solid arm. Though Pie will add strength, he won't hit for much power because his swing and approach are designed more to make contact. Though he runs well, he lacks basestealing instincts and was nabbed 13 times in 32 tries in 2003. He has a good concept of the strike zone for such a young player, but he still needs more discipline. The Cubs envision Pie as their leadoff hitter of the future, and he could push Corey Patterson to an outfield corner. He'll spend 2004 in high Class A.
The Cubs touted Pie as their top position-player signing on the international market in 2001, and Pie went out and proved them right in 2002. In his pro debut, Pie led the Arizona League in triples and extrabase hits en route to being named the Rookie league's co-MVP and No. 1 prospect. He played on championship teams in the AZL and at short-season Boise. The top all-around athlete in the system, Pie already shows four tools. His best at the moment is speed, which allows him to steal bases and cover plenty of ground in center field. He also shows a solid arm. For a teenager, Pie has an advanced approach at the plate. Pie has a quick bat and he's wiry strong, and he's already capable of driving the ball into the gaps. His enthusiasm is another plus. Pie just needs time. With more experience, he'll make more contact and learn the art of basestealing. As he fills out his frame, he should develop at least average home run power. Chicago won't rush him, so Pie might go to extended spring training before returning to Boise. He's three or four years away from the majors.
Minor League Top Prospects
One of the league's more exciting players for two years running, Pie continued to improve his power game and his strike-zone discipline. He earned his first big league callup in April, and he spent all of June and most of August with Chicago. A high-energy player with plus speed, Pie improved still has work to do with his baserunning, as he was nabbed in six of 15 stolen base attempts. Pie struggled against lefthanders (.190/.250/.286), even after a winter spent frequently facing them in the Dominican League. He has such tremendous bat speed and hitting instincts, though, that it should be just a matter of time until Pie figures it out. He started using his legs in his swing more in 2006, and he tapped more into his above-average power potential with a career-high .563 slugging percentage this season. Pie is an above-average defender in center with a strong, accurate arm. "He took away four or five extra-base hits that most center fielders in this league don't get to," Las Vegas manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "As an opposing manager, you know he's dangerous, but you like to see him come up anyway because you like to see him play."
The Cubs challenged Pie this year by batting him leadoff as a 21-year-old in the PCL. He responded by getting off to a strong start in April before struggling with batting averages of .230 in May and .222 in June. He worked his way through his difficulties by batting .322 over the final two months. "He's not your prototypical on-base guy," Iowa manager Mike Quade said. "He's more productive than typical. We led him off in hopes of improving his basestealing and his ability to get on base, and in his own way he had success. He's raw and has a ways to go, but I like how he responded when things weren't going his way." Pie continued to show all the tools, including enough bat speed to drive the ball, particularly into the gaps. His strike zone discipline also improved considerably as the season progressed. Defensively, he's capable of running down most everything hit between the alleys and shows a strong, accurate arm.
Pie finally started to translate his plus raw power into home runs before a bone bruise in his right ankle ended his season in mid June. He previously had shown the other four tools, most notably his speed. He always has been able to hit for average, even against lefthanders, and that didn't change even when he fell into the trap of swinging for the fences too much this year. Pie still is raw. He's still figuring out how to use his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield, where his routes are sometimes suspect. He needs the most work on improving his strike-zone knowledge, though like Francoeur he still gets the bat head on the ball when he chases pitches out of the zone. "He just creates excitement with his play--period," Dickerson said. "He's also got some pop in his bat. I see him as a guy who could potentially hit in the middle of a lineup and drive in runs, be a real exciting Carlos Beltran-type player."
Pie flirted with winning the FSL batting title at age 19 before enduring a late-season slump. He demonstrated above-average bat speed and foot speed while playing the shallowest center field managers had seen in a while. What keeps Pie from ranking higher on this list is power. He can turn on fastballs and drive pitches to the gaps, but he's more of a slash-and-speed guy who likely will hit at the top of the order. To do that, he'll have to greatly improve his plate discipline. Pie has other holes to polish as well. In the first half, he was vulnerable to high fastballs and breaking balls off the plate. He plays shallow in part because he's not comfortable coming in on fly balls. He worked on those weaknesses and showed improvement as the season went along. He became a better bunter and learned how to lay off pitches outside of the zone.
The league's best defensive outfielder, Pie played shallow in center and was the bane of hitters across the MWL. His glove was easily the most polished of his five tools, but at age 18 he has plenty of time to develop. Pie has a quick bat, the potential for average power, plus speed and solid arm strength. His plate discipline must improve, and he's a poor basestealer because he hasn't learned how to get good reads and jumps. While his upside is huge, a National League scout who saw him at the Futures Game thought Pie needed to overhaul his stance. "I was disappointed," the scout said. "I had heard so much about him, but he wasn't what I expected. He was crouched at the plate and was just a slap hitter who hit the ball with no authority. He's a good outfielder and he can run, but he's not going to hit homers with his current swing. He needs to stand more upright and get his hands in a better load position."
Pie (pronounced PEE-ay) excelled in his first exposure to pro ball. He shared league MVP honors with Creighton and showcased four above-average tools, power proving his only shortcoming. "He was by far the best prospect," Mariners manager Darrin Garner said. "He's got a great idea at the plate and an excellent approach to the game for a 17-year-old. He just needs to mature." "He needs to learn plate discipline and walk more often," said Cubs manager Carmelo Martinez, though Pie's 21 walks in 248 plate appearances weren't bad at all, considering his age. "He's only 17, so it will come." Pie's best tool is his speed, which was most evident as he chased down balls in center field. He got good jumps and covered a lot of ground. He doesn't run the bases all that well yet, but managers say better technique should come with experience. A small but powerfully built lefthanded hitter, Pie specialized in driving balls to the alleys and dashing around the bases. He had more than twice as many triples as his closest competitor. "He doesn't have much power now, but it should come down the road," A's skipper Ruben Escalera said.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Pacific Coast League in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2007
- Rated Best Athlete in the Chicago Cubs in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2006
- Rated Best Athlete in the Chicago Cubs in 2006
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Chicago Cubs in 2006
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Chicago Cubs in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2005
- Rated Best Athlete in the Chicago Cubs in 2005
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2004