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Chicago Cubs

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

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Player Reports

  1. 1. Hee Seop Choi | 1B
    Hee Seop Choi
    Born: Mar 16, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 235

    Choi became the first Korean position player to sign with a major league team when he agreed to a $1.2 million bonus. He homered in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 1998 World Championships in Italy--as a 19-year-old--and hasn't stopped hitting since arriving in the United States. He led the Arizona Fall League in homers in 2000 but was waylaid in 2001 by severe inflammation in his right hand. Healthy again last year, he was one of the most dangerous hitters in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and made his major league debut in September. He played only sporadically because manager Bruce Kimm was more concerned with Fred McGriff becoming the first big leaguer to reach 30 homers with five different teams. Choi did hit his first two big league homers, then starred in the AFL again after the season. The top power hitter in the system, Choi launches balls to all fields. He shortened his swing last year without sacrificing any pop. Even better, he's more than just a one-dimensional slugger. He hits for average because he combines the ability to make adjustments with patience at the plate. Choi led the PCL in walks last year. He initially struggled against lefthanders but conquered them in Triple-A. For his size, Choi moves well. He should be a solidaverage to plus defender at first base. Because he's big and has some uppercut to his swing, some questioned Choi's ability to hit inside fastballs, and whether he'd do damage against quality pitching rather than just feast on mistakes. Others pointed to his approach and ability to use the entire ballpark and weren't concerned. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Choi will have to watch his body. He still has work to do defensively, particularly with his footwork and receiving skills. Though McGriff wasn't re-signed, the Cubs traded for Eric Karros (and Mark Grudzielanek) in the offseason. That deal was more about exchanging bad contracts (Chicago dumped Todd Hundley) than consigning Choi to the bench. Choi and Bobby Hill should man the right side of Chicago's infield for years to come. They'll ease into starting roles in 2003, with Karros and Grudzielanek serving as insurance.

  2. 2. Angel Guzman | RHP
    Angel Guzman
    Born: Dec 14, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 3-3 | 2.81 ERA | 87 SO | 26 BB | 89.7 IP

    The Cubs thought Guzman was headed for a breakout 2002 season, and they were correct. In his first taste of full-season ball, he breezed through two Class A leagues and led Chicago minor leaguers in wins (11) and ERA (2.19). That earned him a nonroster invitation to big league camp. After his promotion to high Class A Daytona, Guzman regained the curveball he had when he signed three years earlier. At times, all three of his pitches graded as 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also throws a 91-96 mph fastball with explosive sinking life and the best changeup in the system. He's athletic, throws strikes and has a feel for pitching. His delivery is effortless. Guzman needs only to make subtle adjustments, such as improving his location within the strike zone and pitching inside more often. Maintaining the curveball he had in the second half of 2002 would be huge. Guzman is set to begin the year at Double-A West Tenn. Some Cubs officials believe he could move from there to Wrigley Field as quickly as Mark Prior did last season.

  3. 3. Andy Sisco | LHP
    Andy Sisco
    Born: Jan 13, 1983
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'10" Wt.: 270
    Minors: 6-8 | 3.54 ERA | 99 SO | 31 BB | 94.0 IP

    The Cubs may have found not one but two No. 1 starters in the 2001 draft. After taking Mark Prior No. 2 overall, they also landed Sisco in the second round. A former defensive end who turned down football scholarships from several Pacific-10 Conference schools, Sisco signed for $1 million. He was the short-season Northwest League's No. 1 prospect and strikeout leader in 2002. Because he's an intimidating 6-foot-9 lefthander, Sisco draws inevitable comparisons to Randy Johnson--and he's much more polished than Johnson was at the same age. Sisco made impressive strides with his mechanics last year, when he regularly threw 90-96 mph. Besides his arm, he also earns high marks for his athleticism, feel, poise and work ethic. Sisco still needs to make his delivery and his pitches more consistent. He has a slurvy breaking ball that should become a curveball once he maintains a higher arm slot. He throws his splitter too often and needs to develop a true changeup. His command can be shaky and lead to high pitch counts. Chicago's strength is pitching from top to bottom, so Sisco won't be rushed. He'll open 2003 at low Class A Lansing and won't see Wrigley Field before late 2005.

  4. 4. Felix Pie | OF
    Felix Pie
    Born: Feb 8, 1985
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 190
    Minors: .285/.346/.388 | 4 HR | 19 SB | 505 AB

    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.

  5. 5. Nic Jackson | OF
    Nic Jackson
    Born: Sep 25, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .253/.315/.384 | 11 HR | 17 SB | 458 AB

    Since signing, Jackson has been fully healthy for only the 2001 season--when managers rated him the most exciting player in the high Class A Florida State League. In his draft year of 2000, he had a ligament injury in his right middle finger. Last season he fouled two pitches off his right leg, fracturing his right shin, and didn't play after May 11. Jackson is athletic in the mold of fellow University of Richmond product Brian Jordan. He hits for average and power, runs well and can play all three outfield positions capably. His worst tool is probably his arm, but it's solid average and doesn't keep him from projecting as a right fielder. Jackson lost a year of development. He tried to make up at-bats in the Mexican Pacific League this winter, but tweaked a hamstring and left at mid-season. He's still refining his plate discipline. With several outfielders pushing their way up from high Class A, Jackson could begin 2003 in Triple-A. The Cubs expect him to reach the majors at some point in 2004, and he could make it easy to decline Moises Alou's $11.5 million option for 2005.

  6. 6. Francis Beltran | RHP
    Francis Beltran
    Born: Nov 29, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 255
    Minors: 6-2 | 2.96 ERA | 33 SO | 19 BB | 48.7 IP

    Though he had a 5.02 ERA in five pro seasons, Chicago protected Beltran on its 40-man roster after the 2001 season. He showed why last year, when he emerged as a dominant closer in Double-A and reached the majors. At the Futures Game, Beltran threw 96 mph and struck out Joe Borchard and Jason Stokes with sliders. Managers rated Beltran's 95-98 mph fastball the best in the Double-A Southern League. No one in the Cubs system has a better heater or slider. He throws the latter pitch in the mid-80s. He also uses a splitter to give hitters something else to think about it. Beltran didn't have as much success as a starter because his changeup and command were spotty. He doesn't need the changeup now, but he does need to improve his control, both in terms of throwing strikes and locating pitches within the zone. Though his age was revised upward eight months last spring, that didn't alter his prospect status. While with the Cubs, Beltran showed he needed more seasoning. After Chicago signed Mark Guthrie, Mike Remlinger and Dave Veres as free agents, Beltran will go to Triple-A Iowa.

  7. 7. Luke Hagerty | LHP
    Luke Hagerty
    Born: Apr 1, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 230

    Hagerty played second fiddle to No. 1 overall pick Bryan Bullington at Ball State and to Bobby Brownlie in Chicago's 2002 draft. While the Cubs still hadn't signed Brownlie in January, their sense of urgency was reduced by Hagerty's performance in his pro debut. He was more consistent than he was in college and looks like a steal for where he went (32nd overall) and what he signed for ($1.15 million). He'll need time to develop, but Hagerty oozes potential as a strong 6-foot-7 lefthander. He throws 88-94 mph with late life, and he projects to add velocity. His slider is average at times and should give him a second plus pitch once he refines it. For a pitcher his size, Hagerty has fairly smooth mechanics and throws without effort, which gives him good command. Hagerty was up and down during the spring at Ball State, which is why he fell from the top half of the first round. His changeup has a ways to go, and his fastball and slider also need work. But all the ingredients are there. The pitching-rich Cubs have the luxury of letting Hagerty move at his own timetable. They'll probably start him at low Class A in 2003.

  8. 8. Brendan Harris | 3B
    Brendan Harris
    Born: Aug 26, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .280/.364/.425 | 5 HR | 6 SB | 435 AB

    Area scout Billy Swoope has a knack for finding talented hitters at Virginia colleges. After cutting his pro debut short to work toward his government concentration degree at William & Mary--which he completed in December 2002--Harris was spectacular in his first full season. Playing through a nagging knee injury, he hit .328 and reached Double-A. Harris has supplanted David Kelton as the system's top pure hitter and best hope to end the Curse of Ron Santo. He hits for gap power and, unlike Kelton, has demonstrated the ability to play the hot corner. Managers rated Harris the Florida State League's best defensive third baseman and he has the strongest infield arm among Cubs farmhands. An all-New York basketball player in high school, he also offers athleticism and speed. He can play second base if needed. Harris has a fiery temper that sometimes gets the best of him. Then again, his drive allowed him to play through his knee problems, which didn't require surgery, and recover from a .217 April last year. He'll begin 2003 as a Double-A third baseman but could push for a quick promotion. He should be in Chicago's lineup somewhere by the end of 2004.

  9. 9. David Kelton | OF
    David Kelton
    Born: Dec 17, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 205

    How Kelton fared in 2002 is in the eye of the beholder. In his sixth pro season, he still didn't make it to Triple-A and had continued difficulty playing third base. On the other hand, at 22 he wasn't old for Double-A, led the Southern League in homers, RBIs and extra-base hits, and managers rated him the league's best batting prospect. Kelton owns a pure swing and there's little doubt that he can hit .275 with 20-25 homers in the majors. He has the hands, range and quickness for third base, and perhaps to become an average outfielder. Kelton never has looked comfortable at third, where his bat would fit best. He had shoulder surgery in high school, and he has had mechanical and mental problems throwing from the hot corner as a pro. He played just six games there in Double-A last year, and committed 11 errors in 43 games at third in Mexico this winter. Offensively, he needs to tighten his strike zone. The Cubs plan to send Kelton to Triple-A to play third base, his clearest path to the big leagues. If he can't cut it defensively or Brendan Harris is ready for a promotion, Kelton may have to move again.

  10. 10. Todd Wellemeyer | RHP
    Todd Wellemeyer
    Born: Aug 30, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 6-6 | 5.26 ERA | 90 SO | 43 BB | 87.3 IP

    Wellemeyer might not have played college baseball if Bellarmine hadn't offered him a last-minute scholarship, and he didn't get much exposure until he pitched in the Coastal Plain League in 1999. Though he was raw, the Cubs picked him in the fourth round in 2000 and haven't been disappointed. He has improved each year and was an Arizona Fall League all-star after last season. Wellemeyer always has shown arm strength, and he pitches at 90-95 mph with his fastball. He upsets hitters' timing with a changeup that features splitter action. In 2002, he made significant strides with his command and his slider. One scout who saw him in the AFL compared him to Todd Stottlemyre, though not as athletic. The biggest thing Wellemeyer needs to do is maintain the consistency he started to show with his control and breaking ball. He missed a month last summer with back problems, but should be ready for spring training. Wellemeyer likely will begin 2003 in Double- A, where he pitched better last year than his ERA would indicate. Because the Cubs have so many starters, his long-term role might be as a reliever.

  11. 11. J.K. Ryu | RHP
    J.K. Ryu
    Born: May 30, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 225
    Minors: 8-7 | 3.35 ERA | 124 SO | 55 BB | 150.7 IP

    The last major signee for former Pacific Rim coordinator Leon Lee, who's now coaching with Japan's Orix Blue Wave, Ryu has been impressive since agreeing to a $1.6 million bonus in June 2001. He was untouchable in the Arizona League that summer, and easily held his own as one of the youngest pitchers in the Northwest League last year. Ryu initially struggled after a late-season promotion to the low Class A Midwest League, but he came on in the playoffs to win his first start and strike out 10 in 52⁄3 innings in his second. Ryu throws a 90-96 mph fastball on a nice downward plane, and his curveball gives him a second plus pitch. He uses both a deceptive splitter and a changeup to keep hitters off balance. His mechanics are smooth and he has decent command. At this point, Ryu just needs more innings to refine his command and improve the consistency of all his pitches. He doesn't use his fastball as much as he should. Ryu didn't know how to prepare and lacked a place to work out when he returned to Korea after the 2001 season, so he wasn't fully ready for spring training in 2002. Those situations have been rectified, so he could make even more progress this year, which he'll start back in low Class A.

  12. 12. Justin Jones | LHP
    Justin Jones
    Born: Sep 25, 1984
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 3-5 | 2.28 ERA | 87 SO | 32 BB | 71.0 IP

    Because he hailed from the same area as B.J. Upton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, Jones often pitched in front of scouting directors and national crosscheckers last spring. Jones performed unevenly yet still went in the second round based on his projectability. He didn't waste any time delivering on his potential after signing. He won the Arizona League ERA title as his fastball jumped from 86-91 mph to 90-93. His curveball became more consistent and he wasn't afraid to throw it at any count. He also showed tremendous poise for a 17-year-old. Jones still needs to refine his slurvy slider, changeup and control, and he has plenty of time to do so. He should add velocity as he fills out his lanky 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame. The Cubs have been searching for quality lefthanded starters for years, and they have three intriguing ones coming through the pipeline in Andy Sisco, Luke Hagerty and Jones.

  13. 13. Felix Sanchez | LHP
    Felix Sanchez
    Born: Aug 3, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 180

    Entering 2002, Cubs officials believed that Angel Guzman and Sanchez were poised for breakout years. Sanchez wasn't as spectacular as Guzman, who rocketed to No. 2 on this list, but he excelled when shifted to the bullpen in August. Blister problems precipitated the move and he'll return to the rotation in 2002, but he may have given a glimpse of his future when he topped out at 96-97 mph and earned four saves in the Midwest League playoffs. As a starter, Sanchez worked mainly at 92-94 and struggled with his below-average slider. Though he has a decent changeup and throws strikes, he sometimes got hit hard because opponents didn't respect his stuff. Sanchez limited lefties to a .237 average and one extra base hit (a double) in 76 at-bats, but needs better stuff to combat righthanders. If he can't improve his slider--and some scouts question his ability to do so--the Cubs eventually may just let him deal heat as a late-inning reliever.

  14. 14. Lou Montanez | OF
    Lou Montanez
    Born: Dec 15, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 195
    Minors: .253/.305/.333 | 5 HR | 11 SB | 486 AB

    The No. 3 pick in the 2000 draft, Montanez has been promoted aggressively, reaching high Class A at age 20. In each of his two full seasons, he has started slowly before finishing with a strong second half. In 2002, he batted .240 through June 11 and .287 afterward. He's still viewed as an offensive middle infielder, with differing viewpoints as to whether he'll wind up at shortstop or second base. Montanez has the arm and hands to play either position, but he doesn't have the speed and range typical of most shortstops. He has made 64 errors in 213 games at short the last two seasons, many coming on errant throws. He looked good when he played second base for the first time as a pro last year. Since he won the Arizona League MVP award in his pro debut, Montanez' offensive production has leveled off as he has been challenged. He has good juice in his bat for a middle infielder, and his plate discipline improved last year. He should continue to improve, especially if the Cubs give him a chance to catch his breath. Montanez will play in Double-A at age 21 this year.

  15. 15. Alfredo Francisco
    Alfredo Francisco
    Born: Aug 27, 1984

    The Cubs' three-decade search for a successor to Ron Santo continues. If Brendan Harris and David Kelton don't pan out, Francisco gives them another hope. Signed in February 2002, he came straight to the United States for his pro debut, playing in the Arizona League at age 17. As would be expected, he was quite raw but showed flashes of considerable talent. While he was at times overmatched because he had never faced anything approaching the quality of pro pitching, Francisco's upside was obvious. He's athletic, uses a short swing and has power potential that he'll tap into if he gets stronger and learns the strike zone. Defensively, he has soft hands, a strong arm and solid footwork. He'll need time to adjust to the United States and to pro ball. As a result, Francisco likely will start this year in extended spring training before joining Boise or the AZL Cubs in June.

  16. 16. Steve Smyth | LHP
    Steve Smyth
    Born: Jun 3, 1978
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 195

    Smyth led the Southern League in ERA and was on the verge of a callup in 2001 when he came down with shoulder problems. He had surgery to tighten his capsule and clean up fraying in his rotator cuff, which also cost him the first month of the 2002 season. While he made his big league debut last year, Smyth's stuff didn't come quite all the way back and he was exhausted by the end of the season. His command was fine as usual, but his fastball usually sat at 87-89 mph, down from the low 90s. He throws both a slider and curveball, and his breaking pitches were breaking too early. Smyth also has an average changeup. He got shelled with the Cubs, especially by righthanders, who hit .351 and slugged .727 against him. Given the winter to rest and put the surgery further behind him, he should be at full strength again in 2003. Chicago has signed lefties Shawn Estes, Mark Guthrie and Mike Remlinger as free agents this offseason, which probably means Smyth is destined for Triple-A.

  17. 17. Billy Petrick | RHP
    Billy Petrick
    Born: Apr 29, 1984
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 240
    Minors: 2-5 | 4.76 ERA | 64 SO | 27 BB | 64.3 IP

    The seventh player drafted by Chicago in 2002, Petrick is the third member of that crop to appear on this list. The Cubs believe they got excellent third-round value in the home-state product, who turned down a Washington State football scholarship as one of the nation's top long-snapper recruits. After signing for $459,500, Petrick won the Arizona League championship game and reached 95 mph in instructional league. During the season, he usually pitched at 88-92 with heavy life. He should throw harder more consistently as he fills out his athletic 6-foot-5 frame. His arm action is loose and easy, which allows him to throw strikes. Petrick also shows the aptitude to spin a curveball and use a changeup. Because the Cubs have a logjam of starters ready for their two Class A clubs, he'll probably pitch at Boise in 2003.

  18. 18. Matt Bruback | RHP
    Matt Bruback
    Throws: R

    Selected out of a Texas high school in 1997 as a raw draft-and-follow, Bruback piqued the Cubs' interest by throwing 94-97 mph at Manatee (Fla.) CC. He might have been a first-round pick in 1998 if they hadn't signed him before the draft. Since refining his mechanics, he now throws in the low 90s and doesn't have as high a ceiling. But he did make major strides with his command and confidence last year, which enabled him to lead the Southern League in strikeouts and crack Chicago's 40-man roster for the first time. Bruback's changeup is his second-best pitch, and his slider became a more reliable option in 2002. His next step is to solve lefthanders, who batted .280 against him last year. He's erratic defensively with a career .839 fielding percentage. Bruback has struggled in his first exposure to each full-season level, a trend he'll hope to avoid this year in Triple-A.

  19. 19. Ricky Nolasco | RHP
    Ricky Nolasco
    Born: Dec 13, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 235
    Minors: 11-5 | 2.96 ERA | 136 SO | 48 BB | 149.0 IP

    He hasn't attracted nearly the attention of fellow 2002 draftees Mark Prior and Andy Sisco, but Nolasco has started his pro career with a flourish. The younger brother of Brewers minor league righthander Dave Nolasco, he tied for the Boise lead in wins last year as part of a talented rotation that also included Sisco, Luke Hagerty and Jae-Kuk Ryu. Nolasco can touch 96 mph but is better off working in the lower 90s and getting more sink with a two-seam fastball. He throws over the top, so he doesn't have a lot of natural life on his pitches. The velocity fluctuates on his promising curveball, though that might be more by accident than by design. Nolasco has solid command but his changeup requires more work. Already filled out at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he doesn't project to add more velocity and must watch his conditioning. He's ready to make his full-season debut in 2003.

  20. 20. John Webb | RHP
    John Webb
    Born: May 23, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 5-8 | 4.50 ERA | 85 SO | 52 BB | 132.0 IP

    Like Matt Bruback a product of Manatee (Fla.) CC, Webb emerged in the shadows of Juan Cruz at Lansing in 2000 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery the following season. Before he hurt his elbow, Webb threw a low-90s sinker, a plus slider and a changeup. He showed the same quality of stuff only sporadically in 2002 as he worked his way back to full strength. He tired toward the end of the season after he was promoted to Double-A. Webb competes hard and learned to pitch at less than his best, which should help him once his pitches and his command bounce back as expected this year. More of a shortstop as an amateur, Webb is athletic and even was used as a pinch-hitter last year. He'll return to Double-A in 2003.

  21. 21. Chadd Blasko | RHP
    Chadd Blasko
    Born: Mar 9, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 10-6 | 1.95 ERA | 137 SO | 48 BB | 147.3 IP

    After two so-so years at Purdue, Blasko pitched himself into 2002's supplemental first round with a strong summer in the Cape Cod and a solid junior season. Like many Scott Boras clients, Blasko held out for all of his first pro summer. After signing for $1.05 million, he reported to instructional league. The Cubs didn't get much of a look at him because he was hit in the foot by a line drive while shagging balls in the outfield in his first week. Blasko's main weapon is a 90-96 mph fastball. Still projectable at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, he could dial his fastball up a couple of more notches as he gets stronger. He'll need to flesh out the rest of his repertoire. Blasko supplements his heat with a splitter, slider, curveball and changeup. He has a long arm action that worried some scouts, but it hasn't hampered his command and Chicago has no immediate plans to change him. He'll compete for a spot in the low Class A rotation during spring training.

  22. 22. Brian Dopirak | 1B
    Brian Dopirak
    Born: Dec 20, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 225
    Minors: .248/.323/.441 | 15 HR | 0 SB | 270 AB

    Despite bidding goodbye to Fred McGriff and his 478 career home runs, the Cubs have no shortage of power-hitting first basemen. Starting with Hee Seop Choi, McGriff's heir apparent, their list also includes Brad Bouras, Kevin Collins and Micah Hoffpauir. David Kelton and Brandon Sing also ended the season at first base. Choi has the most usable power, but no one in the system has more home run potential than Dopirak, a 2002 second-rounder. Considered to have the most raw pop in the 2002 draft, Dopirak didn't homer in his pro debut. He's going to have to adjust his approach, as he's a free swinger who doesn't make consistent contact. Before the draft, scouts described him as a hit-or-miss player who could hit 50 homers in the majors or top out in Double-A. They also thought he needed to spend more time on conditioning and less on showing off his tattoos. Dopirak's lightning-quick bat will have to carry him, because he's rough at first base or in left field. His development will require patience, which probably means sending him to Boise in 2003.

  23. 23. Brandon Sing | 1B
    Brandon Sing
    Born: Mar 13, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .222/.287/.367 | 9 HR | 2 SB | 275 AB

    More than one Chicago official compares Sing to Richie Sexson because he's tall, rangy and offers plenty of power. He tied for fourth in the Florida State League in homers last year. His .248 average was his career high for a full-season league, though he did offer hope for improvement by showing better plate discipline. Sexson put up roughly similar statistics at the same age, though in Double-A. Sing is agile and has arm strength, but he's still in search of a defensive home. A shortstop in high school, he played third base for his first 21⁄2 years as a pro before the Cubs decided his struggles there were detracting from his bat. He spent the end of 2001 at first base, then played most of 2002 on the outfield corners (more in left field than right) before returning to first in August. At some point he'll have to step up his offensive production regardless of where he settles. Sing will move up to Double-A in 2003.

  24. 24. Jason Wylie | RHP
    Jason Wylie
    Born: May 27, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 1-2 | 1.38 ERA | 54 SO | 22 BB | 58.7 IP

    Wylie is the most pleasant surprise from a potentially outstanding 2002 Cubs draft. His size and projectability were obvious, but he also went 13-11, 7.14 in three years as a starter at Utah, so he lasted until the 12th round. He threw 90-91 during the spring, with scouts predicting he one day could reach 95 mph. Wylie did just that as a a reliever after signing, topping out at 94-95. He can make his fastball sink or bore in on righthanders. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup and showed a better feel for pitching than the Cubs might have expected. Wylie finished two of Boise's three wins in a sweep of the Northwest League playoffs. Chicago would like to move him back into the rotation this year, but that might be difficult because its Class A teams are overloaded with starting candidates.

  25. 25. Renyel Pinto | LHP
    Renyel Pinto
    Born: Jul 8, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 280
    Minors: 3-8 | 3.22 ERA | 104 SO | 45 BB | 114.7 IP

    Pinto has some power in his left arm but doesn't display it consistently. Julio Garcia, his Midwest League manager the last two years, has seen him touch 93-94 mph. One member of the Cubs front office says he never has seen Pinto show that kind of velocity, while another has watched him top out at 96. Pinto recovered from mild elbow problems that bothered him in 2001, but he wasn't able to handle high Class A at the beginning of last season because his secondary pitches aren't effective. Throwing from a deceptive, low three-quarters delivery, he's tough for lefthanders to pick up. They batted .224 and went homerless in 98 at-bats against Pinto in 2002. If he can't develop a couple of pitches to complement his fastball, a move to the bullpen may be in his future. That could happen as early as 2003, because competition for spots in the high Class A rotation will be spirited.

  26. 26. J.J. Johnson | SS

    For three straight years, one of the Cubs' better offensive prospects has been hampered by a hand injury. Following Nic Jackson and Hee Seop Choi, Johnson was the victim in 2002. After winning top-prospect honors and the MVP award in the Northwest League the year before, he never got untracked because of a severe bone bruise in his right hand. He was hit by pitches on the hand twice early in the year, which affected his ability to grip the bat and to throw. Johnson insisted on playing through that injury as well as later hamstring troubles, with dismal results. He has the swing, bat speed and whole-field approach to hit for power and average, assuming he tightens his strike zone. Johnson also has average speed and an arm suitable for right field. He may return to low Class A to start 2003 in order to boost his confidence.

  27. 27. Carmen Pignatiello | LHP
    Carmen Pignatiello
    Born: Sep 12, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 205
    Minors: 9-11 | 4.27 ERA | 151 SO | 57 BB | 162.3 IP

    Pignatiello won a gold medal with the U.S. national 18-and-under team at the 1999 World Junior Championships and was the 2000 Illinois high school player of the year. He came out of the same Providence Catholic High program that produced big leaguer Bryan Rekar and White Sox 2001 first-rounder Kris Honel. But Pignatiello doesn't throw hard and was committed to Mississippi State, which enabled Chicago to draft him in the 20th round. He has made consistent progress since signing. His fastball ranges from 82-88 mph, though the Cubs could see him developing an average fastball if he gets stronger. Pignatiello pitches better than his velocity because he's not afraid to pitch inside and does a fine job of commanding his curveball and changeup, both of which are average. Given his stuff, he draws the inevitable comparisons to Jamie Moyer and Kirk Rueter. It's difficult to project Pignatiello starting for the Cubs because of all the quality arms ahead of him, but it also would be foolish to bet against him. He'll continue proving himself this year in high Class A.

  28. 28. Ray Sadler | OF
    Ray Sadler
    Born: Sep 19, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .288/.347/.432 | 7 HR | 17 SB | 465 AB

    A cousin of Rangers utilityman Donnie Sadler, Ray has a more well-rounded game than his speedy relative. He's a rare player in that his tools have improved as he has risen through the minors since signing as a draft-and-follow out of Hill JC. Sadler is now stronger, faster and quicker. He has 65 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, getting from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.15 seconds. He has improved his play in center field and can play any of the three outfield spots. Sadler's line-drive approach, hitting ability and speed are well-suited for a leadoff role, but his plate discipline needs improvement. He has gap power and can handle good fastballs. He'll spend 2003 in Double-A.

  29. 29. Russ Rohlicek | LHP
    Russ Rohlicek
    Throws: L

    The Cubs' 67-95 record last year was a major disappointment, but their fall from grace did allow them to trade veteran spare parts for minor league depth. Acquisitions of note included righthanded relievers Jared Blasdell (from the Cardinals in a trade for Jeff Fassero) and Jeff Verplancke (Giants for Bill Mueller), and athletic outfielders Jackson Melian (Brewers for Roberto Machado) and Aron Weston (Pirates for two minor leaguers). The best of the lot was Rohlicek, who came from the Astros in an August deal for Tom Gordon. Rohlicek showed a live arm and a pro body at Long Beach State but little command of his pitches. He has improved significantly as a pro, showing much more consistency with his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup. He also has added a cut fastball. Rohlicek throws from a deceptive low three-quarters arm angle, but needs to maintain his arm slot on his offspeed pitches. Strong and durable, he has been compared to Denny Neagle. He'll pitch in high Class A this year.

  30. 30. Jon Leicester | RHP
    Jon Leicester
    Born: Feb 7, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 6-7 | 4.04 ERA | 110 SO | 55 BB | 111.3 IP

    Given Leicester's career record and 2002 Arizona Fall League performance (8.29 ERA, .341 opponent average), the Cubs' decision to add him to their 40-man roster might seem curious. Given that he has one of the best arms in the system and that several clubs had expressed interest in him, though, the move makes sense. Leicester missed time last year with a sore arm and blisters, but threw 92-95 mph when he was 100 percent. He's still working on the rest of his game. His curveball has its moments but also reverts to a slurve, and his changeup isn't effective. Leicester's lack of confidence doesn't help him throw strikes. He'll try to put it all together this year in Double-A.

View Players 11-30

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