The Farm Boy Files: 2011 Preview

Vineline magazine’s annual minor league prospectus issue arrived in my PO box last week. As a lover of prospects, you must know that this is usually my favorite issue the folks at VL put out all year. I pride myself on keeping a good knowledge of the Cubs system. Sadly, the traditional “50 Names from the Farm” feature was this year slashed to just “20 Names from the Farm.” This was disappointing (I mean, we didn’t lose that many kids in the Matt Garza trade) but I still enjoyed the article. I was inspired enough to compile the following thoughts on our Cubs farmboys for the 2011 season.

Before I launch off, let me remind you to think of none of these lads as geese who will lay us golden eggs. Rather, think of them as flesh-and-blood young men with the potential to help out the team some day.

OK. Away we go.

First, I’m just going to throw some names at you…

Chris Rusin: VL calls him a “crafty lefty.” And it looks like he’s got a Rich Harden-ish nose. That’s all it really takes to get me on your good side.

Alberto Cabrera: I don’t know who you are, but I think you have a good face (an Angel Guzman-Esmailin Caridad sort of face) and VL thinks you will “make a splash” this season.

Kyle Smit: I wrote up young Mr. Smit in September, and consider myself a cheerleader for him. He is so going to make any Baseball America snobs and scouts that spoke un-highly of him eat their words. I am officially calling it. On a side note, look how skinny he is!

Hayden Simpson: The same sort of goes for Hayden as for Kyle. There was a more-than-warranted amount groaning last year when the Cubs drafted him in the first round. People said he wasn’t first round material. People also once said that Tyler Colvin wasn’t first round material. I respectfully disagree and expect Hayden Simpson will show minor league hitters no mercy 2011.

Brett Jackson: Looks like a lion. Try and tell me it isn’t so.

Josh Vitters: I’m going to say that this is a make-or-break year for the much-hyped but oft-injured Mr. Vitters. Not that he isn’t still young or anything, but I feel that it’s about time for him to step up and make an impression if he is going to do it.

Trey McNutt: I don’t have anything in particular to say about Trey, but (as he is reckoned by most to be our #1 pitching prospect) I wanted to throw his name in here anyway. Also,  I accidentally found his MySpace page

Farm boy filed already: Kyle Smit, Chris Carpenter, Ryan Flaherty

On the short list to be farm boy filed soon: Tony Campana, Trey McNutt, Chris Rusin, Rafael Dolis

Prospectus first-timers: Kyle Smit, Micah Gibbs, Hayden Simpson, Aaron Kurcz, Reggie Golden. It should be noted that none of these fellows was actually in the Cubs organization at the start of last year. Gibbs, Simpson, Kurcz, and Golden were all 2010 draftees while Smit was acquired by trade.

#20 by position:

C: 2

IF: 3 (4 including Logan Watkins)

OF: 3 (4 including Logan Watkins)

RHP: 8

LHP: 2

Didn’t crack the top 20:

Matt Szczur: Probably just because he hadn’t committed to the Cubs yet. But he has now! I suggest we all start learning to spell and pronounce his name.

Marwin Gonzalez: Don’t you just want this kid to get called up ASAP so that we could have Darwin, Marwin, Marlon, and Starlin all on the same team?!?!

Kyler Burke: Somehow Kyler went from being the Cubs minor league player of the year in 2009 to being completely left out of Vineline’s Names from the Farm. What gives?

“Successes” from 2010’s List: Darwin Barney, Justin Berg, Andrew Cashner, Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Casey Coleman, James Russell, and Tyler Colvin all jumped from last year’s list to the major league roster. Not too shabby, eh?

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